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From Doctor Strange to GotG, the MCU’s Big Problem Involves Waiting for Sequels

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows, so too does the wait for individual franchise installments. Here’s why that might be a problem going forward.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2021 alone, fans got four films and five TV shows, and there’s plenty of content to keep audiences entertained for the rest of 2022. Not only has the rate of production increased tenfold, but the diversity of the stories told has increased with it. There are so many new heroes and characters getting introduced to the MCU and so many more corners of the universe getting explored. But this rapid growth of the MCU comes at a cost.

In order to grow as a larger whole, Marvel has had to sacrifice the frequency of individual franchises within the cinematic universe. While fans are getting a new MCU thing practically every week now, the gap between installments of individual franchises has only grown larger and larger. This is a treat for fans committed to watching everything related to the MCU, but it becomes a problem for more casual fans who are only invested in specific franchises.

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In the early years of the MCU, it functioned more or less like a regular successful film franchise — it just happened to all take place in the same universe. The gaps between sequels were no different from any other blockbuster franchise. Both the Iron Man and Captain America trilogies were complete within five years of their respective first installments, which is a respectable and arguably fairly quick turnaround for a film trilogy.

However, as the universe grew, so too did the gap between sequels. It started in subtle ways; while Iron Man and Cap had to wait three years between the second and third films in their trilogies, Thor had to wait for four. But since the conclusion of Phase Three and Avengers: Endgame, it has grown to quite ridiculous levels.

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Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy only had to wait three years between the first film and Vol. 2, which is a fairly standard length of time to wait for a sequel. After all, that was the gap between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. However, with Vol. 3 releasing in 2023, fans have had to wait six years since Vol. 2 for the sequel. To be completely fair, part of that long wait was compounded by Disney’s firing and subsequent rehiring of James Gunn. But the sheer density of the MCU in its current state hasn’t helped.

For further examples, fans were treated to a whole Spider-Man trilogy from Sony in the time it took Marvel and Disney to make one sequel to Doctor Strange. That’s another gap of six years between films, and this is becoming the norm. The third Ant-Man film is coming five years after Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Thor: Love and Thunder is dropping in cinemas next month, a mere five years after Thor: Ragnarok. As more characters and franchises are folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the gap between sequels is only going to grow. And for viewers who are only fans of specific franchises within the MCU, the wait is going to be quite the struggle.

A graduate who has recently completed an English and Creative Writing degree – and a lover of all things nerdy. Has written for publications such as New Welsh Review, and Aberystwyth Student Media; having regularly covered film & TV for the latter. Also enjoys acting and performance in their spare time. They/He

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