Though it didn't release an Iron Man or an Avengers movie in 2014, the year was arguably a decisive one for Marvel's transition into being the dominant force in superhero movie-making. Between the release, and remarkable box office success, of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and Big Hero 6, the year was very much Marvel's.
The thing is, though - while Big Hero 6 may have been hugely successful, and may technically be based on a Marvel superhero team, it wasn't actually part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all - instead operating in its own, somewhat more Disney-fied bubble.
That sort of isolation, though, could soon be a thing of the past, as it looks as though...
Marvel is About to Bring Animation Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Or, at least, it seems as though that's very much under consideration.
Speaking at the Emerald City Comic-Con a little while back, Marvel VP of Animation Cort Lane was reportedly asked by a fan at the Marvel Animation panel whether or not there would be animated movies in the MCU any time soon. His response?
"I can't announce anything, but things are in the works"
Which, while not quite a full confirmation - and notably still unconfirmed - sure does seem to suggest that we're going to see animated movies in the MCU before too long.
The big question then?
What Sort of Animated Movies Would We See?
Well, Marvel's animated output in the past - and going into today - has typically skewed younger than their live-action efforts, with a majority of the shows very much aimed at younger children, with less concessions made for adult viewers than is now seemingly necessary on the big screen.
Offerings like Ultimate Spider-Man are on the more adult end of the spectrum...
...as is Avengers Assemble, but even then, there's a general movement towards the core cartoon market rather than crossover-able accessibility. The standard Marvel awesomeness is still there, and even in shows like Marvel Superhero Squad, there are a whole lot of geeky jokes...
...but the overall effect is still one that large parts of the audience for, say, Avengers: Age of Ultron, likely wouldn't pay to see in theaters.
Could we instead, then, see something far more like this in tone:
...combining the established connections of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the young-skewing marketing appeal of animation, and - crucially - the heart and character of Big Hero 6.