Thanks To Infinity War, Marvel May Need A New Strategy To Promote Its Upcoming Releases

Avengers: Infinity War really did turn Marvel upside down. Photo: Disney

Once you've seen Avengers: Infinity War and processed your emotions, the questions begin to sink in. Did that really happen? What's next for them? And then you look at the bigger picture and think, what about next year?

We'll be seeing Captain Marvel in March of 2019, the as-yet untitled fourth Avengers movie just a few months later in May 2019, and a new Spider-Man film just two months after that - which should be interesting considering, well, everything that happens in Infinity War.

As you well know if you are reading past the spoiler warning, Infinity War kills a good number of its main characters, including Spider-Man. This is a fact that, hopefully, most of you learned in the theatre because Marvel is so good at keeping secrets.

Despite that, it's almost certain many of the deceased characters will return in Avengers 4, simply because they're too valuable to the franchise as a whole and/or have future movies coming out themselves (notably, the much-anticipated sequel to Black Panther).

So the question is, if future movies are coming out starring characters who are currently dead, how does that work from a marketing and licensing perspective in terms of spoilers?

Let's think about Avengers 4. Do the dead characters appear on posters? In TV spots? As toys? Do the actors portraying them do late night talk shows? Press junkets? Or does Disney completely pretend that they aren't in the movie at all?

It isn't as though these are small names. It's big stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman and Chris Pratt - plus Marvel favourites such as Tom Holland, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Names that people know, love, and will come to a movie to see.

Those issues extend even further with Spider-Man and the Homecoming sequel. At least with Avengers 4, Disney could hypothetically centre the release on characters such as Thanos, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and the incoming Captain Marvel. They're all played by famous names whose characters are still alive in the universe.

The Spider-Man film doesn't have that option. Spider-Man is dead and he won't be resurrected before Avengers 4, which comes out in the US May 3, just about two months before the Homecoming sequel's US release on July 5.

Movie trailers and posters generally start coming out six to 10 months before a movie is released. Considering Peter Parker is the main character of the movie, one would assume we'd see some marketing or merchandise for the Spider-Man sequel before Avengers 4 comes out.

Can Sony market a Spider-Man movie without putting Spider-Man on the poster? Not unless they want to confuse a lot of people. His name is the title of the movie, so just putting that on a poster will spoil the fact that he isn't going to stay dead - along with seeing any footage of him in a trailer, or a new Spidey toy on the shelves.

Mr Stark, we have a problem. Photo: Disney

We reached out to both Sony and Disney about this problem created by Infinity War's plot. A Sony representative would only say the studio will work with Marvel to figure out the Spider-Man strategy.

A Disney executive wouldn't even say that much, they just pointed out there are two Marvel movies coming before Avengers 4 to worry about first (Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel). However, Disney's licensing timeline is months, sometimes years, ahead of the release schedule, so there's a good chance these discussions have already happened on some levels.

Warner Bros. faced a similar dilemma in 2017 with Justice League. Superman dies at the end of the previous film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but was also set to star in the follow-up. Everyone knew he was in the movie and would be coming back to life, we just didn't quite know how that fit into the story.

However, instead of leaning into that, Warner Bros. decided to cut Superman out of the marketing entirely, pretending like he wasn't in the movie. Whether or not that worked for the film, we can't exactly quantify, but you have to think making a movie with arguably the most iconic superhero in history in it, but then not telling people he's in it, probably didn't help. And all to protect what? A telegraphed second act reveal.

Watching countless films, many of them in the superhero genre, roll out their marketing over the years makes me think the best way Disney and Sony could handle this is to ignore Infinity War. That movie is done. It's a massive hit. What's next? Are Spider-Man and Black Panther in Avengers 4? Show us!

Not having them promote the film is only holding it back from its true potential. Instead of trying to keep some ridiculous secret, you build a mystery and curiosity about how they come back. It could create a whole new level of interest about the film while having all the stars front and centre, as they should be (although you should keep an eye on that Holland guy).

In fact, Infinity War's marketing is a great example of how an onslaught of familiar faces can mask the fact that very little information is actually being revealed about the plot.

Yes, some fans will be mad about the "spoilers", but those are the same fans who are complaining Infinity War had no real stakes because Marvel is making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Black Panther 2. Fans who know about these kinds of things are different from fans who are influenced by film marketing or licensing. Disney and/or Sony don't really need to aim at them specifically, they're going to see the films no matter what.

The studios need to sell to the fans who don't know what's coming next, who aren't online every day - the audience who buys toys for their kids because their kids like how they look. The families who want to see a cool movie with stars they like in it. And the more stars you can parade out, whether or not their characters are dead or alive at the end of Infinity War, is a good thing.

How this will play out will reveal itself in the coming months, and we admit we're very interested to see how the studios proceed. No matter what happens, it will be a fascinating chapter in one of the most impressive stories in Hollywood history.


Comments

    It's a huge non issue.

    Last edited 09/05/18 7:22 am

    Honestly it's a huge non issue.

      Pretty much. I doubt anyone will be complaining about a cool new Spider-Man trailer as look as it looks good. Also (most) people aren't stupid so no need to treat them like it in marketing. I'm sure they're already working on a movie poster for the next avengers with those certain characters on it half in ash or something

        Indeed, they're going to focus on the characters they need to, such as Captain Marvel etc. Not those who they want to have as part of the mystery as 'how do they come back'.

    I dont even remotely see this as an issue. For me it is pretty clear who is d.e.d. dead and the world of science fiction, tv and comics are full of 'do-over' episodes when they kill multiple main characters and you just know everything will go back to normal. Now I dont think the Russo's will make it as simple as that and there will be causalities ultimately. But even with new movies coming out it doesnt mean they are set in the 'now' nor does it mean characters have to appear 'alive' in a sense.

    Just look at how many times Arrowverse has found ways to bring back Captain Cold. The movies are no different, especially given the Marvel movies are moving in the magical and space realms. Or even Marvel with Coulson.

    Though i am interested in how they are going to advertise Avengers 4 without showing any shots of the departed, most of who are their biggest and most popular characters.

    Yeah, I don't really see the issue either.

    With the characters who actually died at the hands of Thanos (Heimdall, Loki etc.) they will most likely and unfortunately stay dead. As for everyone else who disappeared at the end of the film, they will most likely return somehow. I'd dare say, the time stone will be involved. There's a lot of theories claiming that they aren't actually dead, that instead, their souls are trapped in the soulplane.

    Also - In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange looks into over fourteen million outcomes of them facing off against Thanos, and there's only one outcome in which they succeed. At the end of the battle, just before Thanos tries to kill Stark, Strange steps in and offers Thanos the time stone in order to save Stark's life. Later, as Strange is disappearing into ash, he tells Stark "I'm sorry, it's the only way." Did you also notice that when they were trying to pry the gauntlet from Thanos' arm that Strange wasn't helping them? Especially when Peter Quill lost his shit? Strange let that happen, because it was all a part of the outcome.

    According to the directors of Infinity War, apparently in Avengers 4, not only will Captain Marvel play a big role, but so will Hawkeye, Antman and the Wasp, the latter three characters had absolutely no sight to be seen in the film, while Hawkeye/Antman were only mentioned in brief passing. So... they obviously survived Thanos' gauntlet-genocide.

    TL;DR - your heroes are coming back, except for Heimdall and Loki, probably. I'm sure toys, figurines and other merchandise will typically somehow spoil the next Avengers film anyway.

      I've got a feeling Thor will stay alive and restart the Asgard renewal/Ragnarok cycle.

        I agree. I don't see Thor dying, I see Thor's fate as essentially being the king of the new Asgard.

        The Russo brothers did confirm that in the next Avengers film, we will continue to see more character deaths... so I suspect that Tony Stark or perhaps even Captain America may fall.

      Did you also notice that when they were trying to pry the gauntlet from Thanos' arm that Strange wasn't helping them?

      Strange was holding down Thanos' other arm with his magic rope things iirc. Either that or he initially needed to tie up Thanos' gauntlet arm with his magic but then needed to release it once he was subdued to allow Spiderman to try to pull the gauntlet off.

      TL;DR - your heroes are coming back, except for Heimdall and Loki, probably.

      Well, the issue with that theory is that Gamora also died at the hands of Thanos...but we know there's a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 also on the way, so what happens to her?

        No idea. We'll have to wait and see.

        Perhaps her soul too could be trapped in the soul stone, because she was used as a sacrifice to get the stone to begin with?

        The Russo's have already revealed what Gamora's fate is/was in response to some fan questions. I think they revealed what happened to everyone at the same time, so if you want, go looking.

        Just google 'what happened to Gamora' and it'll pop up. I think they've tried to backtrack a little since, but the original story seemed to make it pretty clear where she stood in things. Whether it stays that way or not we wont REALLY know until this time next year :)

      My bet is that Loki is alive. Using illusions to trick people into believing he was killed while he gets away is his thing and always has been. Desperado heroic honourable death by clearly futile sneak attack is not.

        Nah I think he is not coming back. Hes getting a bit old as a villain these days.

    Shrug. People seem to forget that Guardians of the Galaxy, Spiderman and Black Panther are job titles, mantles to be worn by multiple characters. Even putting Tom Holland in the credits for the next Spidey movie could be an enormous fake-out, with him actually only appearing for the purpose of flashbacks/spirit guidance/whatever in a movie that centres around Miles Morales. Same with Black Panther. A Shuri-focused movie would still probably feature Boseman in the past-rulers' old-dead-boys spirit world club.

    It is entirely possible to accept the 'less deathy' deaths and just fucking run with it.

      Well see the problem with say a mile morales focused film is that their Peter is a mixture of regular peter and Miles. Ned is Gank in all but name. They could do it but, to avoid re-treading old ground there'd need to be some serious changes and then there's the ending of homecoming. we still don't know the fallout of May walking in on him. Not learning that would be a kick in the teeth.

        I think it would be a problem essentially rebooting Spiderman AGAIN so quickly. One movie and essentially two cameos isn't a good look, even if the story demanded someone like Miles Morales take on the role. Ditto Black Panther,.

        It is possible though, but I expect not a good business decision to reboot just as they've established the characters. GotG have options, like the Ravagers, but I expect its similarly not a good business decision to reboot them as well. Too much change at once risks killing the whole project, which has been painfully planned out for a decade.

        Allthough, all his happens in Phase 4, which wasn't part of the original planning (whole thing was meant to end with Avengers 4), so who knows. They might just want to reset everything and start again.

          They will roll back everyone that got killed by dusting while those killed by death like Loki are dead.

    Dude, just enjoy the ride.

    Seriously though - Superman comes back for Justice League?

    Its comic book world, hell look into the comics to the amount of heroes who have died and come back. I know of 3 times Captain America has 'apparently' died and came back

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