SDCC 2018: The Marvel-ous Silence, The Smoking Gunn, and The D.C. Spotlight

Another year, another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. The yearly gathering of nerd culture is one of the most anticipated (and most difficult) events to attend, as the big names in the entertainment industry reveal their plans for the coming year. There was one industry giant that remained silent, by its own admission no less. Marvel Studios made the decision earlier this year to have a quieter SDCC panel in comparison to past conventions where the Hall H Marvel Panel was the go to place for big MCU news.

 
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Kevin Feige was planning on keeping things under wraps this year. The recent release of Avengers: Infinity War left many fans demanding an explanation, and while we all wait desperately for Tom Holland to drop a hint or clue (albeit accidentally), it seems we must be content to wait for May 2019 for a true conclusion to the Russo Brothers story for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This was a decision made by Marvel and Feige, hoping to garner interest in the current Infinity film and hold off any demands for the second unnamed sequel. There was also the hope that Ant-Man and the Wasp would also hold our attention for the coming months until at least March, where a few more answers would be given in the new Marvel venture of Captain Marvel. Yet while these films await on the horizon, Marvel Studios chose to not push future properties this year, a first for the studio since 2007.

Things did not remain quiet as intended, however, as the announcement of James Gunn’s past tweets and subsequent firing left the Marvel world stunned. The MCU has greatly benefitted from Gunn’s writing and expert handling of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, bringing the ragtag group of misfits to the forefront Marvel’s troupe. With Draxx is perhaps being the crown achievement of Gunn, whose dialogue that Gunn wrote being some of the most memorable from Avengers: Infinity War. One individual, identified as Mike Cernovich with a questionable background of personal beliefs and ethics, took action and resurfaced old tweets that portrayed a darker humor of Gunn, leading to Kevin Feige’s hand being forced and removing Gunn from all current and future Marvel properties. Speculation now abounds for the future of the Guardians franchise. With Gunn now off the project, will the recently finished script by Gunn still be in play, or will Marvel look to a new name to helm the Galaxy’s Mightiest Misfits? 

This was a bold, but risky move for Marvel Studios. They’ve been the forefront of the superhero film since we all saw Tony Stark declare, “I am Iron Man.” Since that day Marvel has commanded the attention of the comic book world, much more than DC who was stumbling behind desperate to catch up. Now with the loss of a major writer, combined with the relatively sparse panel, the threat looms that fans may lose interest in the MCU films until next March. Meanwhile, we have a major player in the shadows that had finally emerged and is swinging hard.

While the MCU was dealing with darker days, it was the DC Extended Universe, redubbed Worlds of DC this year by Warner Bros., who shone out the brightest. Following the rebranding announcement, a slew of trailers premiered that helped put DC on top this year. Fan hype and internet buzz made clear that DC seized their opportunity to draw more attention to their franchises while Marvel decided to hold back on major announcements. Such a chance was a perfect opportunity to recapture some Marvel fans to consider the new lineup of films DC intends to release, and in the opinion of this writer DC struck hard and played all their cards perfectly.

The Worlds of DC’s first premiere was a trailer for the upcoming Aquaman standalone feature, pegged for December 21st of this year. Fans were particularly thrilled that Black Manta was seen as the main villain for the film, a character Arthur Curry has fought numerous times and has survived to live in the Rebirth comics that began in 2016 through the current running issues.

A new entry into Worlds of DC that fans have not seen yet is the new origin story for Shazam!, or as fans will argue is also known as Captain Marvel. Appearances suggest that the origin of Billy Baxton will not be the dark and grim story of a emotionally complicated character who we have trouble finding a silver lining for. Shazam! suggests a lighter, more innocent tone to the superhero lifestyle, maybe more evident in seeing Shazam himself doing the floss dance and looking more like a blooper scene than being an actual superhero scene.

Fans were treated to new footage of the highly anticipated Wonder Woman sequel, known as Wonder Woman: 1984. Little word has come through as to how Chris Pine’s character Steve Trevor will return to the life after his sacrifice in the previous film. At this point fans only know that he is shooting scenes for the movie but little explanation past his guaranteed involvement.

Both Marvel and DC also dipped their respective toes back into the TV pool, with Marvel confirming another season to the hit or miss show Iron Fist Netflix series, while DC premiered  their live TV adaptation of Titans, the adolescent hero team known more properly as the Teen Titans. The show has already drawn some criticism on character designs and dialogue choices (Dick Grayson’s disdain for Batman evident and a focal point of the character in this adaptation).

The fans of both Marvel and DC have much to look forward to and there is much more to speculate on. Will the Worlds of DC finally become a true competitor of Marvel’s might? Does the firing of James Gunn signal a change in creative process of the MCU, or is it just a symptom of the change in the Hollywood mindset? What is Kevin Feige keeping so secret that led to a silent Marvel SDCC showing?

May 2019 cannot get here fast enough.