- The MCU has previously incorporated the holiday season into its projects, providing a personal touch to its epic universe.
- Marvel Studios needs to have more holiday releases to drive up box office runs and merchandise sales.
- Having more holiday-themed projects in the future could appeal to both commercial and storytelling aspects.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. As part of MCU Phase 5, the franchise has tackled several storylines across multiple formats. While 2023 may have been a down year for the popular franchise, the MCU still garnered major theater-going and streaming audiences.
But, something’s amiss this year. Due to the writers’ and actors’ strike that took place earlier this year, several projects were delayed. On top of that, the year lacks a major holiday release for the MCU. In the past, the franchise has taken advantage of the season by incorporating elements from the festive period. That’s not the case this year. However, this shouldn’t become a prevailing trend down the line.
The MCU in the Past Has Provided Holiday Cheer Through Its Projects
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The MCU has long had a history of incorporating the holidays as a major element of its various projects. Projects centered around the festive season garner massive attention. In the last five years, the franchise has featured multiple TV and film projects revolving around the season.
Last year, Marvel Studios debuted its first-ever holiday special featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. Directed by James Gunn, the nearly hour-long special follows the Guardians as they attempt to give Peter Quill the best Christmas gift. The special had all the right ingredients, which included the team’s plans to kidnap Kevin Bacon. Furthermore, the special also set up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 through new revelations such as Mantis confirming that she is Quill’s half-sister.
Apart from The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, the MCU has had multiple projects set around Christmas. Films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Iron Man 3 were filled with elements of the holiday season, ranging from the snow-filled roads to decorations adorning the various set pieces. Similarly, Disney+’s Hawkeye was completely set around Christmas. The series saw Barton facing enemies from his past with Kate Bishop, as he attempted to get back to his family before Christmas.
While the MCU has used holiday trends in the past, why should Marvel Studios continue to incorporate such elements in the future? The answer lies in commerce.
The MCU Needs To Commercially Capitalize on the Holiday Season With Its Future Projects
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The holiday season stands out as an important period for the entertainment industry, especially due to its commercial significance. Many viewers have time off due to the holiday breaks. With more leisure time at hand, viewers are looking for new films and TV shows to watch during their free time.
Over the years, studios have had many of their blockbusters released during this season. Prime examples of such projects are The Lord of the Rings series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and many others. Marvel Studios has also made bank with its Christmas releases. The studio so far has had two films — Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man: No Way Home — releasing in December. Both films have a combined worldwide theatrical collection of over $3 billion. And it’s not just the box office performance that matters. The season provides the perfect opportunity for Marvel Studios to drive up its merchandise sales, as there’s no better time to shop for gifts and goodies.
Judging from the theatrical performances of MCU holiday releases, it’s easy to claim that the studio should green-light more themed projects. Currently, there are no films in the franchise under development with scheduled releases during the festive period. However, beyond the commercial appeal, the studio has other reasons to consider having more holiday releases.
Holiday-Themed Projects Provide a Personal Touch to the MCU and Its Characters
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Films and TV shows set around Christmas are the perfect viewing experience for the celebrating MCU fandom. These projects provide a personal touch to the MCU, which is filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains that have superpowers and perform crazy feats. By putting these characters in a real-world event, the MCU becomes more relatable to the audience. Moreover, the heroes in question become more endearing and connect to the audience, as they attempt to spread Christmas cheer during the film or TV show. In the past, the MCU did so with its big theatrical releases, Disney+ TV shows, and holiday specials. While there are no such projects in development right now, the studio should look to bolster its lineup by having such projects on its schedule down the line.
With the MCU’s recent struggles, a major holiday release could revive the franchise’s fortunes. The last time the studio had such a release was in 2021 when Spider-Man: No Way Home earned nearly $2 billion. A project of similar scale involving characters like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, or even Spider-Man should give the perfect boost to the MCU. Similarly, the MCU could find more success with some of its mid-budget films and TV shows. In 2021, Hawkeye had decent viewership figures due to its release during the festive season. A TV show like Daredevil: Born Again or Ironheart might receive a much-needed boost, thus reviving the stagnant course of live-action TV shows on Disney+.
The holiday season has all the right elements for Marvel Studios to incorporate in its future projects. Apart from the obvious commercial and box office factors, these elements help ground the franchise’s various heroes, who perform miracle acts in their quest to save the Marvel universe. In the end, the franchise needs to uphold its tradition of spreading Christmas cheer through its films and TV shows, as it’s the perfect gift from Marvel Studios to enjoy during the season.
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