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5 Ways We Hope to See Marvel Play With Style in Phase Four

Disney+ recently announced their upcoming Marvel projects, and it seems like they’re going to try to break away from the precedent set of superhero movies that follow the same formulaic action movie conventions. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings took a really interesting approach to the superhero genre by modelling their fight scenes after martial arts films of East Asian cinema. Some scenes look similar to the intricately choreographed fight scenes of the Korean film Animal World. Here is a recap list of some of the announced upcoming projects and how developers could take different approaches to them. To any Marvel execs reading, consider this a list of soft pitches.

She Hulk

When not green and hulking out, She Hulk is a human lawyer that deals with superhero matters. That is ripe for comedy. NBC tried to tap into a similar idea with their sitcom Powerless that followed a law firm/tech company that specialized in litigation and products for humans negatively affected by superheroes. However, this ended up tanking before the end of the first season because NBC didn’t technically own the rights to the Batman franchise that they were trying to set their show in and the idea came across as not fully realized. Hopefully this is able to land the joke better. A workplace woman-driven sitcom makes me think of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and so many other examples from pop culture, and adding superheroes to that formula would really only make it better.

Secret Invasion

The whole premise of Secret Invasion is that shape-shifting alien Skrulls have been infiltrating the Earth in order to secretly take it over, and it’s up to Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop them. This is the perfect tone for a neon-noir space(y) thriller. In a situation where nobody can be trusted, lean into the lone spy trope of the darkly lit detective films. And peppering in alien details would add a level of whimsy and fantasy that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Marvel.

I Am Groot

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

When I looked up more details for this show, I couldn’t find any actors, or any descriptions outside of the very vague “stories about little Groot growing up.” I’m hoping that Marvel goes the direction of silent, YouTube video length shorts following Groot’s journey into adulthood (again). Baby Groot is such an endearing character that they really can’t go wrong if they decide to focus on short vignettes with a passive camera of Groot interacting with his environment. I imagine that the effect would be similar to that of Marcel the Shell with Shoes on, Jenny Slate’s series of YouTube shorts as a shell with one googly eye.

X-Men ‘97

The original X-Men animated series from the 90s is already available on Disney+, so at first I wondered what the purpose was of remaking it. But upon revisiting it, I realized that it was a very smart idea. They wouldn’t just be remaking the story, they would pick up where the heroes and the villains left off: in the throes of conflict with the Sentinels that were built with the intent to destroy all mutants. The series had a very poignant political message that stuck with me from the moment that I first watched it about the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia. And because it’s in the style of Saturday morning cartoons, there’s plenty of opportunity to play into the campy sensibilities of those shows.

Echo

This series is set to follow Native American archer Maya Lopez after her introduction on Hawkeye. This excites me because visually, the American Southwest is a stunning place to watch on screen. The Netflix horror show Chambersfound a great balance between beauty and desolation with their sprawling desert backdrops. There’s also a great opportunity to play off of the Western genre, which has mostly been dominated by true-to-form tributes that play more on the side of recreating them than building off of them.

Moon Knight

Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

The premise of this show is that the title character is suffering from a fragmentation of his sense of identity. He has multiple personality disorder that allows him to encompass both his human identity and the persona of Moon Knight, a mystical superhero in conflict with the Gods of Ancient Egypt. If they underplay this goldmine of a premise, this show could be a huge letdown. Hopefully Marvel embraces the divine and fantastic story set before them and takes the steps it can to fully realize it in the style of fantasy films like Clash of the Titans and God of Egypt.

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