James Gunn, the Director of Guardians of the Galaxy, set off a media frenzy with one simple reply to a Facebook question:
(BTW: Who were the 3 people that ‘Liked’ James’ answer. Let’s find those people and kick them)
Soon thereafter, Twitter was filled with a range of emotions spanning Hulk-like anger to disbelief, denial, and utter astonishment. Could it be possible that the very catalyst that has brought the meteoric fame to San Diego Comic-Con will remove itself all together?! Since this first appearance of the cast of the Avengers in 2010, Saturday afternoon in Hall H has been the focus of the pop culture universe ever since. The Marvel Studios block can account for countless hours of online speculation, the generation of pre/post media, and of course, long nights spent on the grassy knoll of the infamous hall. 12 little words from Mr Gunn may have shattered that streak. With that said- we saw this coming. For years now, Marvel has been tipping their hat that they would eventually stand on their own two Hulk feet. Last October, Marvel held an independent event announcing Phase 3 clearly sending a message that they no longer need SDCC as a platform. After picking ourselves up from the Twitter floor on which we fell, let’s ponder the possibilities and implications (with my theory at the bottom):
This could be a ruse just to keep things interesting and to keep us guessing. As master marketers, I seriously doubt an announcement of this magnitude was leaked without Marvel Studios permission. If they wanted to create some buzz and misdirect, Gunn would have been a perfect person to execute it. He is credible yet unpredictable enough deliver the message. He followed up saying “I have never lied to fans, ever.” which are pretty strong words but not airtight. Either way, Marvel now can just sit back and make us sweat. The studio can still show up in the 11th hour, to take their place as the rightful king of Comic-Con. Gunn can claim he was wrong or misinformed, fans are elated, the Marvel machine grows and we live happily ever after.
They have decided to cut the umbilical cord and are forging out on their own. Much like Ultron, it’s time to become the master of their own destiny. If this is the case, the safest way to do it is through a leak. It creates pandemonium based on either the legitimacy of the claim or what SDCC will be like without Marvel. As a result, it actually takes some of the direct heat off of the studio (for now) and focuses on the news itself. It’s a cunning way to dip their toe in the waters of controversy without having to jump into the deep end. Then when Marvel decides to officially announce it- it’s more of a confirmation than news. Emotionally, we’ll already there and thus our hate tweets will be diluted. Not bad…not bad at all.
Marvel Studios is unsure what they want to do given D23 and the ability to host their own media events. San Diego Comic-Con is still the one con to rule them all, so I am sure there are conflicted leadership all throughout Marvel Studios over this issue. I don’t think this is the case, given how strategic they appear, but if they were unsure, this would be a great way to test out the collateral damage.
I honestly think it is Scenario 1. I think James Gunn is enough of a rogue to get away with this and the fan base is ravenous enough to eat it up. In just the past 12 hours, Twitter has been ablaze with responses and tons of outlets have already posted their thoughts. Like a good Marvel movie, it’s all about setting up tension, conflict, and the villain. The hero is seldom early, but never late- and arrives just in time to save the day. Could we be living out a Marvel storyline in real time?? With that said, I think it’s very possible that Marvel rolls out a diminished presence in Hall H. They currently ‘own’ the primetime spot on Saturday night with DC/WB licking their chops to take up the mantel given the opportunity. While Marvel seems to have little the worry about from their studio counterpart, I do think they will find it hard to give up that spot completely. Plus, Marvel PR has done such a good job nurturing the relationship with fans that it’s hard to imagine they would want to throw it away in this manner. However, all good things come to an end, but my gut says it’s not quite yet.
There are a lot of ramifications and questions to think through if Marvel Studios breaks free from SDCC. A common question being asked online is what will happen to Star Wars? While all owned by Disney, it doesn’t necessarily mean Star Wars will also be mandated to skip Nerdvana as well. Star Wars could be the compromise for the diminished Marvel presence. However, I still think there is greater chances that Star Wars is completely out rather than Marvel. Given D23 (Aug) and JJ Abrams secretive tendencies, I would think he would skip SDCC since Episode VII would be only 6 months away. Other implications would be if Marvel Comics is affected by this news- which I don’t think it will. The publications division is separate enough and no one over there would be stupid enough to pull out of the largest comic convention in the world. If it does turn into a worst case scenario, it certainly opens the door for DC to up their game. Good or bad, this publicity is only helping Marvel so DC is going to have to come strong on Saturday. Not sure many of you know this, but Marvel has always had a stronger relationship with ReedPop’s NYCC while DC/WB has had a longterm relationship with SDCC. The silver lining in this otherwise bleak news is that Hall H could use a break away ways from all the drama. The stress and overnight camping has certainly become a negative factor on many levels- so giving it time to cool off might be a good thing. That may be a sliver of silver, but it’s silver nevertheless.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the whole thing. How would you be affected if Marvel didn’t show up? Do you think it’s a time for change anyways? Does this affect your desire to go to Comic-Con now? Leave your insightful comments below!