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Marvel's plan to make you watch its superheroes all year, every year

Marvel's plan to make you watch its superheroes all year, every year

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For the next five years, you will always have something Marvel to watch.

Marvel solidified this fact when it announced its latest slate of movies yesterday, extending from 2016 to 2019. Between sequels to their existing major properties, and films centered on new characters like Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, Marvel’s Phase 3 run of films have expanded from the 6 movie cycle of Phases 1 and 2 to 9 films over four years. Forget having one big summer blockbuster: Marvel is aiming for three, every year.

And Marvel’s ambitions stretch to television as well, with two network TV series airing this season and five shows being produced for Netflix over the coming years.

They’ve fine-tuned their scheduling, alternating the returning second season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and the 8 episode Marvel’s Agent Carter mini-series over the course of the season, ensuring that whenever you turn on your TV this year, there will be a Marvel show on the air. And when SHIELD finishes it’s second season in May, Marvel’s five show deal with Netflix is right there to pick things up, beginning with Daredevil airing in May 2015.

And when you finish Daredevil, Marvel’s summer 2015 movie lineup will be out, with the massive, star-studded Avengers: Age of Ultron releasing out on May 1, followed by Ant-Man on July 17. If you set foot into a movie theater this summer, a Marvel movie will be playing.

Once the summer films have had their run, new seasons of the TV shows are waiting for you in the fall to keep your attention, reacting to the events of the summer movies and keeping you immersed in the Marvel universe until the next year’s movies in the spring.

Marvel is a creative company, but they’ve proven an additional, arguably greater expertise at massive scale organization.

It looks like for the next five years, there will always be a Marvel movie in theaters, a Marvel show on your television, a Marvel miniseries on Netflix.

There will always be a Marvel movie in theaters, a Marvel show on your television, a Marvel miniseries on Netflix.

It will be an endless cycle of interconnected media, all feeding off of and into each other. And it stands to provide Marvel and its parent company Disney a nearly endless fount of cash.

The unspoken question remains: how long can Marvel keep this up? At what point will the movies, which have achieved the mass market penetration in a way that their namesake books never really have, succumb to the same weight of accumulated lore and complexity that plagues long running comic books? With Civil Wars, Infinity Wars, a third new superhero team, the Inhumans (in addition to The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy), will people be able to keep up?

It’s not the fans Marvel has to worry about, many of whom have waited for years to see their favorite characters and story arcs on the big screen, but the average moviegoers, who won’t want to do homework on 20 movies worth of backstory just to be able to keep up with Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 when its released in 2019.

How long can Marvel keep this up?

Another, perhaps more important question, is how much longer can the movie industry in general sustain the big budget superhero movies? Cracks may already be starting to show, with recent rumors that Sony has had to scrap some of its larger Spider-Man plans after a lackluster box office showing for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And that playing field is only going to get more crowded, with DC’s recently announced cinematic ambitions - Marvel has had the last 6 years almost completely uncontested for super hero audiences, but now has to endure a flood of big budget Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman movies fighting for audience dollars. (And that’s not even mentioning Fox’s separate X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, both of which have multiple movies scheduled for the coming years).

But despite the challenges that lie ahead, and whether or not Marvel can succeed it it’s efforts to rule your screens, between Marvel’s recent successes and their extensive plans for the future, it’s clear that they have no intention of slowing down. Over the next five years, there will always be something Marvel to watch… but at a certain point, will we still want to?