Perhaps as was to be expected, more of the films slated for release this year have been delayed, and that includes Black Widow. With the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pushed until 2021, that clears the entire year’s slate of Marvel films–making 2020 the first year since 2009 without any new Marvel movies to hit theaters.
That will come as a surprise one way or the other, whether you think it’s shocking it’s already been a decade of annual (or more frequent) entries or that it’s only been a decade. Either way, it seems fitting that what has been such a weird year will buck tradition in yet another way.
The release of new Marvel movies is like clockwork. This year will be not only the first time we’re not getting one in a given year in over a decade, it’s also the first time since 2012 that we’re not getting two (and the first time since 2016 that we’re not getting three in a single year). A new Marvel movie hits theaters almost as often as the seasons change. I clean the unfortunate gap between the counter and my fridge less often. Their debut is a signal that it’s a time for me to change my toothbrush head. It’s how I know it’s time to consider (but not actually follow through with) canceling my unused gym membership.
Marvel Movie Release Years
- 2008: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk
- 2010: Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger
- 2012: The Avengers
- 2013: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World
- 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy
- 2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man
- 2016: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange
- 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok
- 2018: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp
- 2019: Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home
If such a break had to come, this is the best time for it. Avengers: Endgame wrapped up the years-long story that had been set up over the course of the first three phases of the MCU. Marvel and Disney could barely wait two months to get the next movie into theaters, with Spider-Man: Far From Home coming along and teasing some things that looked like they might never pay off due to the now-averted crisis with Sony. It was time for the brakes to be applied–and that was the plan, with Black Widow originally scheduled for a May 2020 release. It just turns out the hiatus will be much longer than intended.
As a prequel, it doesn’t feel as if Black Widow will be the main kicking off point for Phase 4, even if it is technically the first of its movies that will hit theaters (eventually). Whatever the case, it’s not as if fans were left dangling on a cliffhanger.
And beyond that, we’re not completely devoid of any Marvel-centric content right now. Game fans got a surprisingly solid story campaign to enjoy in Marvel’s Avengers, while Disney+ subscribers will get WandaVision later this year. That’s another new release, like Black Widow, whose function in the MCU’s broader canon that is unclear at this point, although the recent trailer was certainly intriguing (and, frankly, another more standalone story would be welcome after so much time was spent building up to Infinity War and Endgame).
No doubt the Black Widow delay was in some part made for financial reasons–Tenet hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as many people understandably stay away from theaters–but it’s nonetheless welcome news that people aren’t being asked to go and sit in a room together. That said, there is a certain comfort in seeing the nonstop procession of Marvel movies hit theaters, and the prospect of now going almost two full years without one is just the latest indication that 2020 is not a normal year on any front.
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