‘We are the ones who changed everything.” Yes, Marvel, you did

In a brief clip from ACADEMY AWARD-WINNER Chloe Zhao’s upcoming “Eternals,” Gemma Chan’s Sersi says, “we are the ones who changed everything,”

Indeed, you did. 23 films and counting into a gambit that started with a gamble being taken on a troublesome actor named Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Feige and Marvel have reformatted how a comic book/superhero movie has to look and feel like. Instead of being 100% gloom and doom like DC Films, Marvel produced the lighter yet-still-make-an-impact form of entertainment.

Think about 2008’s “Iron Man,” a movie directed by Jon Favreau (best known at the time by “Swingers”) starring the in-and-out-of-jail Downey Jr. This is the kind of idea that burns a producer’s career just about every summer. Instead of turning to ash, the first official movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a smash hit with audiences and critics alike, scoring a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing $415.8 million at the box office. Sequels happened. New characters came into the mix, like Chris Evans’ Captain America and the late Chadwick Boseman’s “Black Panther.”

Lately, the women of the MCU are growing stronger in the spotlight, with Scarlett Johansson’s long-awaited “Black Widow” arriving in July and the Natalie Portman-included “Thor: Love and Thunder” arriving next year. You can’t say “top billing” and “female” without Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers in “Captain Marvel,” which took in $443 million at the box office. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Florence Pugh, who portrays Natasha Romanoff’s sister in the next Marvel film.

It seems like years ago when “Avengers: Endgame” closed the storied first chapter (or novel?) of MCU entertainment and “Spider-Man: Far From Home”  kicked off the next one. COVID-19 set off a pandemic that is just now starting to lose some of its grip on society, especially their ability to watch new movies in theaters.

While most studios either decided to jump offsides or unleash a pass too soon-Disney saw success with “Mulan” while Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” wasn’t as successful going into theaters only-Marvel held onto the Johansson-led vehicle. They could have released it dually on Disney+ and in theaters, or dropped the Rachel Weisz and David Harbour co-starring flick into every open movie theater. Instead, they waited and could put a stranglehold on this year’s serving of movies.

While the bigger films still come out mostly in the second half of 2021, Marvel’s release is seen by many as the official launch. Justin Lin’s “Fast 9” kicks things off on June 25, but many prognosticators can’t help but keep their eyes fixated on a particular “Widow.”

Judging by the new footage, there could be a couple spin-offs in a movie that closes the book on its first female force in the film saga. Over the past decade, ever since she flipped Favreau’s Happy Hogan in a boxing mat, fans have begged for more of her character. While her per-film time servings have been steady, if a tad underdeveloped at times, Cate Shortland’s film gives her that spotlight.

I can’t wait. That’s a true statement. How many studios can you say don’t waste much of your time while producing complex (“WandaVision”) and all-around satisfying (“Captain America: Winter Soldier”) for over a decade straight. How many misses do they have? No, “Age of Ultron” and “Thor: Dark World” don’t count. They were sustainable and entertaining actions films at the very least-even if the latter is the most uneven feature in the MCU.

Can you wait to have that next emotional theater movie like Tony Stark’s snap or the triumphant return of Boseman’s King at the end of Ryan Coogler’s 2018 game-changing entry? I think one of these movies, or multiple, could deliver those kinds of moments.

When was the last time I cried in a movie theater? “Endgame,” and I see a LOT of movies.

Quite frankly, the shot of Angelina Jolie’s Thena from Zhao’s November film has me hyped more than any teaser for an upcoming teaser trailer ever could. If you want a badass female to lead the audience into a new chapter of Marvel heroes, Jolie is a good bet.

I’ll see you at the theater.

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