Marvel Studios quickly noted that the addition of Spider-Man into their film universe has resulted in four projected films’ debut dates being changed. The third Thor film, “Thor: Ragnarok”, has been pushed to November 3, 2017; it had previously had that July 2017 spot. New film franchises “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” have been pushed to July 6 and November 2, 2018 (respectively), while “The Inhumans” has been shifted to July 12, 2019. The dates for the fourth and fifth installments of the “Avengers” team films (“The Infinity War Part One” and “Part Two”) remain unchanged at May 4, 2018 and May 3, 2019 (also respectively). This presents an amusing (albeit understandable) bit of hypocrisy within Marvel Studios’ itself. After Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow saw significantly more screen time and thus popularity in 2012’s “The Avengers” than she’d seen in 2011’s “Iron Man 2” and her popularity within that role seemed to reaching a peak, Marvel Studios brass began being bombarded with questions about whether the super spy would get her own film. The gist of the response was an insistence that Marvel Studios plans films so many years in advance and can only produce so many films at once that there was absolutely no way that an unplanned Black Widow film could work out (despite the fact that a script for a “Black Widow” film written by David Hayter had existed since 2004-2006). Not even Johansson’s exceptional supporting role in 2014’s “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” swayed Marvel Studios’ official response. As a result, “Lucy”, a film starring Johansson as a woman who gains superhuman powers in an R-rated, modestly budgeted affair wound up earning almost $459 million worldwide based almost exclusively on Johansson’s increased popularity and the audience’s desire to see more of her as a lead heroine. Now, another arachnid hero has emerged within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and all of a sudden the studio can move heaven and earth shifting around four film production schedules to make room for him. While it is easy to explain this in terms of sheer popularity, it is also hard to shake the sense that this deal was done because Spider-Man’s cinematic star had begun to dim, while Black Widow’s seems to only get brighter. It also doesn’t help that due to this deal, the rising voices demanding more diversity in big screen heroes will have to wait longer to get Marvel Studios’ first starring hero of color and their first lead super heroine.

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