This year has already seen one of the biggest superhero movies ever, “Black Panther”, hit the screen and smash multiple records. The film has already made over $1.3 billion dollars and had one of the biggest opening weekends to date. But the barrage of blockbuster movies doesn’t stop there: the new “Avengers” film is coming out this Friday and on May 25, the newest “Star Wars” film “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” will be diluting movie-goer’s summer movie palates.
These three films represent unique changes in the constantly evolving film industry.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” demonstrates the power of the behemoth that is Disney — which also owns Marvel, and seems to have a monopoly of my childhood movie obsessions — to continue to pump out new Star Wars films with formulaic consistency. Yet for Solo, it’s to the detriment of it. Early buzz for the film has been incredibly negative, with the film having to be rewritten and reshot when it changed directors from Phil Lord and Chris Miller to Ron Howard. Additionally, the recent trailer didn’t exactly bring everyone to the Rebel’s side. It seemed to be slapped together and didn’t add to the Star Wars universe.
This initial negative buzz is a first for the new Star Wars films. They represent an elite group of films that, by title alone, generally garner enormous attention and revenue. But “Solo” has been dampening the fire of Star Wars hype that has swept the world for the past three years. The actor who is stepping into the shoes of Harrison Ford, Alden Ehrenreich, allegedly had to get a personal acting coach, due to his inability to capture the role. All of this piles up to create an apprehensive mood around the latest trip into a galaxy far far away, a trip that many think will lag in the box office — new territory for the Star Wars franchise.
“Black Panther” represents a welcome deviation from the normal Marvel formula. They gave the reins of the film to an African American director, Ryan Coogler, and gave him the freedom to hire whomever he wanted and to take the film in his own unique artistic direction. This freedom of direction given to Coogler is a nice change: he is Marvel’s youngest and first African American director. This change in the film industry — albeit later than it should have been — is welcome and opens the door for the movie industry to give African American directors like Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins the resources they need to continue to create great films.
“Black Panther” was also a film that took a radically different marketing approach than other Marvel superhero films. They collaborated with musical god Kendrick Lamar to create an album for the film. While not every song in the album featured in the film, it was a brilliant marketing push. The album was a massive success, with songs like “All the Stars” and “Kings Dead” topping the charts, all with the title “Black Panther: The Album Music” creating a genuine buzz for the film within the generation that goes to the movies more than anyone, the tech-obsessed youth.
This switch to pushing towards peoples phones by the marketing teams of Marvel is showing that the bigwigs are realizing that times are changing. Instead of pumping millions into massive billboards and flooding local stations with trailer slots, they are posting sneak previews on Youtube, having their actors post to their massive social media followings on Instagram and Snapchat about their new projects and creating new ways of generating hype and buzz. The album for “Black Panther” shows the switch to a more media heavy marketing push from the film industry.
The newest Marvel project “Avengers: Infinity War” is a culmination of 10 years of universe building. It will be mixing together the stories of 18 films, a massive feat for any studio and directing team. Joe and Anthony Russo are at the helm of this film and will definitely be relying on the experience from their past Marvel films when it comes to pulling together a film with a cast of over 90, with 30 who are distinct superheroes like Ironman or Spiderman. How they will divvy out screen time to these stars is beyond me, and how they will crunch this massive plot into a two and a half hour film will be a surprise to us all.
“Avengers: Infinity War” is a new chapter for one of Disney’s biggest franchises. They are scheduled to do at least one more part to the Infinity Wars, but this gives them the option to possibly end this run of the Marvel Universe. While I doubt they will cook their biggest cash cow, superhero films haven’t been the hits they once were 10 years ago, and a break from the CGI-filled punch-fests may build gradual hype for them later on.
This summers headline blockbusters show an evolving Hollywood. Whether they choose the path of least resistance or push towards a better direction is left to be seen, though these films provide some insight into the changes going on in the castle on the hill.