You can't please all of the people all of the time; or can you?
The latest installment of the ongoing Marvel juggernaut, Guardians of the Galaxy, is currently smashing records at box offices across the globe. At this point, Marvel could release a two hour gif of their logo into cinemas and it would break records. Everyone loves Marvel, right? Not quite. There are those of us who view the studio's approach as the most cynical marketing campaign ever to come out of Hollywood, turning cinema into little more than TV in public. But we're stuck with it; with its universe reportedly mapped out for the next two decades, Marvel isn't going away anytime soon.
So here's an idea that I think might just please everyone, from the hardcore Marvel diehards to those of us who dread each new release from the studio. It's not a radical notion, nor an original one, it's merely a return to how Hollywood studios presented their fare in the days before TV changed the cinemagoing experience.
Now you might think, given my dislike of their product, that I would argue for less Marvel movies, but my proposal actually argues for more Marvel. Presently, we get two movies from the studio each year; under my proposal we'll get six, and here's how...
Marvel movies currently run for well over two hours. That's great if you're onboard, a serious chore if you're not. So I'm proposing that instead of releasing two movies with extended running times each year, Marvel give us two 150 minute "blocks". Let's call it The Marvel Experience shall we?
Each 150 minute block will be split three ways, giving us three movies like so...
Movie 1: How Ant-Man becomes Ant-Man?
Running time: 15 minutes.
These would be the equivalent of the "one-shots" that Marvel release as DVD bonus features, and could be used to introduce new characters to the screen. A major issue many of us have with comic book movies is how much time is devoted to a character's origin story, so how about using these 15 minutes to establish a character, rather than wasting two thirds of a feature length movie? Do we really need 90 minutes to show us how Ant-Man becomes Ant-Man? Get it done here in 15.
With only 15 minutes to fill, these movies could be knocked out in a week, meaning Marvel could employ directors who normally wouldn't think about devoting a couple of years of their life to a comic book movie. It could also be used as a testing ground for characters Marvel is iffy about taking a chance on, particularly female heroes. Kathryn Bigelow's She-Hulk origin story anyone?
Running time: 50 minutes
This will be used for second tier characters like the Hulk, Thor, or even Black Widow, if Marvel has the balls to devote a movie to a hero who possesses none. Again, with a shorter running time, and thus shorter production time, more stellar directors may be tempted to get on board. If characters established in a previous Movie 1 were successful, they would advance in a tier system to Movie 2 later down the line.
Running time: 90 minutes
The main feature, reserved for the big boys: Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers. Or, if a character previously featured in a Movie 2 had a successful enough impact, we'll see them advance up a tier to the main feature. 90 minutes is more than enough time for a superhero movie, if written in an economical fashion, and villains could be previously introduced in one of the shorter films, negating the time needed for a villain's origin story.
So, the Marvel fans get more of the characters they love, Marvel gets a chance to give us more of their properties without taking risks, and all those websites that love speculating about upcoming Marvel movies will have a field day with all these characters and plot-lines. The rest of us will just be happy we don't have to sit through any more 45 minute long climactic set-pieces.
By Eric Hillis