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‘What if…’ Marvel is overwhelming the market?

Superhero fatigue is a concept that has been thrown around before and since Steven Spielberg said that the blockbuster phenomenon would “go the way of the Western” in 2013. But will 2021 be the year audiences say goodbye to the superhero?

This year, Marvel Studios has released or will release seven TV shows on Disney+ along with four movies. These streaming titles include the acclaimed “WandaVision,” the comparatively grounded “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” the mind-bending “Loki,” the animated series “What if…?” and the upcoming “Hawkeye” and “Ms. Marvel” series.

From a film standpoint, the House of Ideas has put out the spy thriller “Black Widow,” with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” and the highly anticipated “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on the way.

That being said, there’s most likely a gritty, prestige-television “Squirrel Girl” limited series I’m missing.

When talking about this with my friends, I often have the thought, “Oh, that’s coming out this year too? Who has the time to keep up with all of this?”

Up until now, going to watch Marvel movies was an event. I could wait in anticipation for months because I knew exactly what movie was coming out and when. It’s hard to savor each movie when the next one is just right around the corner. Even with TV, I distinctly remember racing to finish my homework before “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” came on.

If dedicated fans are this confused about the jumbled rush of content tumbling over each other to pry away the attention of the masses for the briefest of moments, how will the casual viewer respond? There’s just so much to watch and so little time.

At the box office, “Black Widow” underperformed due to a combination of many movie theatres across the country remaining closed and a simultaneous “Premiere Access” (an additional $30 fee) release on Disney+. The decision prompted star Scarlett Johansson to sue Disney for breach of contract over lost earnings.

Called “an experiment” by Disney CEO Bob Chapek, the immediate theatrical future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe falls to “Shang-Chi.” Despite such immense pressure, the promotional material was seriously lacking when the film was first announced. Only recently has Marvel picked up the pace with their marketing campaign. When “Black Widow” came out over the summer, I was hard-pressed to scroll through Instagram without seeing a few ads. This time around, however, the main promoter of “Shang-Chi” has been the man himself, Simu Liu.

Even before he was cast in the Marvel project, Liu has been very vocal about the need for Asian heroes and positive representation in popular media. Now starring in the latest entry of one of the most successful media franchises with potential sequels on the way, Liu’s message seems to have hit home.

At the end of the day, will I still watch everything Marvel makes? Yes, but I sincerely hope they pace themselves.

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