Kevin Feige has recently stated that the currently dead heroes are not going to be featured in Avengers 4 marketing. But, knowing Spider-Man and co. really are coming back, how can Marvel do it in the most effective way?
Considering that next year's still-untitled Avengers 4 is touted as the ultimate culmination of the MCU's first decade, it's quite odd that the movie has fewer key players compared to Avengers: Infinity War. But with a smaller herd of heroes coming into play, the film is expected to have a more complex storyline since there are fewer characters to shine a spotlight on.
Seeing the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and some other independently operating heroes convene to foil Thanos plans of galactic genocide was undoubtedly one of the biggest draws of Avengers: Infinity War. But with that key selling point now gone for Avengers 4, Marvel needs to focus on a different aspect of the film to pull people in. Here's how Marvel Studios can go about selling Avengers 4 to the movie-going audience without almost half of its heroes.
- This Page: Marvel's Best Option For Avengers 4
- Page 2: How To Market Avengers 4 While Still Pretending Heroes Will Stay Dead
Will Marvel Really Keep The Secret?
First things first, all the Avengers who died due to Thanos' snap are not permanently gone, despite continued insistence from those at Marvel Studios. Star-Lord (and his Titan crew), Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther will be back; they're too important to lose, with most having confirmed sequels set after the events of the two-part Avengers film. It's currently unknown what state they were put in after the galactic genocide but, one way or another, Avengers 4 will see them coming back from the dead.
Considering that this is far from a theory but a known fact, Marvel Studios would be better off coming clean. The more they insist the characters are really dead, the more they risk turning off fans - especially when they see Tom Holland's Peter Parker alive and well on the set of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is set after Avengers 4.
Supposing that they do choose to admit the trick's failed, how could Marvel Studios continue marketing the film without spoiling Avengers 4 at the same time? Quite simply, focus on the "how" instead. By confirming that these heroes are indeed coming back but not telling how they're able to poses a more intriguing mystery without the studio backing themselves in a corner regarding these so-called fake deaths.
Given the MCU's track record when it comes to quickly overturning character deaths in their films, this is especially critical. There are already some who find the massive death toll of Avengers: Infinity War cliffhanger to be weak, and needlessly prolonging the charade going towards Avengers 4 might also negatively affect people's perception of next year's movie - something that they can afford to happen considering that they've been building on it for 10 years.
Marvel Has A Full Cast Of Living Heroes
If Marvel Studios decide to stick with their ruse for a bit longer, though, it can still work. Looking at the remaining roster of heroes, there's actually enough power and skills set that could defeat Thanos; it'd be possible to market the next Avengers movie on just this set. Indeed, Avengers 4's leaked promotional artwork focused exclusively on the confirmed heroes: the OG team, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Nebula and Rocket. While it doesn't hold a candle to the number of heroes featured in the marketing for Avengers: Infinity War, this is a top-tier set of characters who mean a lot to the MCU's past, present and future.
Bigger needn't mean better. 2012's The Avengers had just the six principal heroes and become one of the most successful movies in the franchise. As all of those heroes are front-and-center in the Phase 3 capper, Marvel Studios can lean on their long history to sell the film. It's been four years since the core Avengers fought side-by-side in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so it's a no-brainer that long-time MCU fans are itching to see them all re-assemble; especially since Infinity War deprived fans of seeing them team-up like the old days; teasing that the band is finally all back together with Cap and Iron Man finally patching things up after their conflict in Captain America: Civil War will be great material for trailers.
Further, considering that most of these heroes (including Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk) were sidelined in Avengers 3, it only makes sense that they get the spotlight in Avengers 4 - something that the directors Joe and Anthony Russo have previously teased about. As for Clint/Hawkeye, between missing him in this year's Avengers and the promise of his own mini-arc with him assuming a brand new persona in Ronin, hinting at his return will be another great selling point for the film. Meanwhile, the two newbies (Ant-Man & Captain Marvel) also sat Avengers: Infinity War out, and coming off of their own films will be prime additions. The heroes we have may simply be enough.
We Don't Know How Prominent The Dead Avengers Are
Ultimately, however, this discussion of marketing assumes that the returning heroes have a key part to play. After all, little is known regarding the story of Avengers 4, with next to no official word on anything plot-wise. It's accepted care of set photos that time travel plays a key part, with the heroes go back and/or forward in time in an effort to defeat Thanos. And this may be key; if we are dealing with a time-jumping movie, then this provides a way to include the dead heroes yet still maintain pseudo-ambiguity about their return.
It's entirely possible that Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and the rest will be in the movie, just as earlier iterations of themselves, something that is hardly a spoiler once the time travel nature of the movie is revealed. This means the cast can appear in marketing - from trailers to interviews - and Marvel can keep up the questionable pretense of permanent deaths.
On the flipside, given they've not been overly prominent in the discussion thus far, the characters may not actually factor much into the main events of Avengers 4 at all, only returning to the land of the living near the movie's end. If this is the case, then - while Marvel is still being duplicitous saying they're not coming back - it's hardly possible to market the movie on these heroes' return: that would be a massive, third-act spoiler.
Avengers 4 has a tough marketing task with its dead heroes, but it may not be as complicated as some have worried. The big question isn't about the lost Avengers' return, but what other shocks and spoilers are in store.