To say the past two years have been weird would be an understatement, as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended every area of daily life. Limiting ourselves to the entertainment industry, among the biggest upheavals, cinemas were closed for an extended period from March 2020. Although the pandemic is still not over, cinemas have been able to rebound for more than a year now, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has played a big part in that resurgence thanks to the release of Marvel movies like Spider-Man: No Coming Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. However, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige wants to make sure people don’t just attribute his company to people returning to movies.
CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell chatted with Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con after Marvel Studios’ Hall H panel, which featured the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer, unveiled the official Phase 5 slate, and revealed some details about Phase 6, among other things. Sean asked Feige how it felt to “lead the charge” in getting people back to theaters after so long, and the executive replied:
Whereas Black Widow was available both in theaters and with a Disney+ subscription (especially for people who paid for the Premier Access tier) when it was released in July 2021, it was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings the following September which marked the return of the MCU to theatrical release of exclusive films. Since then, Marvel has enjoyed huge success at the box office, with Spider-Man: No Coming Home becoming the highest-grossing film of 2021 and Shang Chi take 9th place. Looking at 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder rank at No. 2 and No. 7 respectively in the world box office hierarchy, and you can be sure Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will also attract a lot of people to the rooms.
But as Kevin Feige noted, audiences aren’t just interested in watching superheroes battle the forces of evil in the MCU. Last year, no time to die and F9 were among the films that performed admirably on the big screen, and the highest-grossing films of this year include Jurassic World Dominion, The Batman and Minions: The Rise of Gru. And, of course, we can’t forget Top Gun: Maverick. Not only has the Tom Cruise-directed sequel garnered critical acclaim from professional critics and the general public, but maverick is also the only film this year to exceed $1 billion so far. So while Kevin Feige is obviously thrilled that people want to experience upcoming Marvel movies in a theatrical setting, he’s even happier that this kind of community experience has made a comeback overall.
The MCU will be back to entertain people in theaters when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released on November 11. Before that though, Disney+ (opens in a new tab) subscribers should keep an eye out for the premiere of She-Hulk: Lawyer August 17. You can also now stream Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on the Mouse House streaming platform.