Will 2020 Be the First Year in Over a Decade Without a New MCU Movie?

No one can predict what the rest of the movie season is going to look like, even if some minor efforts are being released theatrically soon. For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether their Black Widow will release as said in November is still as unpredictable as to when a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine becomes ready.

Based on the state of things (and a fearful public not showing up to theaters when they do reopen), one can surmise Black Widow may not open at all this year. What it all depends on, it appears, is how well Disney does with their upcoming video on demand (VOD) release of Mulan.

Will this really be the litmus test for a Black Widow theatrical release, or a risky VOD experiment?

(L-R) David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson in front of 'Black Widow' sign
(L-R) David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

How are MCU fans handling the gap in movie releases?

Some MCU fans are so in need of a fix, many have had trouble adjusting to the idea 2020 might be the first time they never see a new Marvel movie. It may seem like an eternity now since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home released nearly back-to-back last year.

At least many of the past MCU movies had some interesting and thorough analysis thanks to fans watching them on Disney+ during quarantine. While America moves into fall, though, the public might start to feel antsy not seeing something new with powerful entertainment value.

The big question, of course, is whether the public would really show up to theaters if Black Widow lives up to releasing in November. Many analysts think most people will feel too worried going to a theater by fall when the virus possibly becomes worse due to the flu, according to Variety.

As noted in the above Variety report, American theaters already expect things to not normalize until well into next year. With that, Black Widow may end up as a VOD experiment after Mulan becomes one of the first high-profile digital guinea pigs.

Would fans agree to seeing ‘Black Widow’ on VOD?

RELATED: Why Some MCU Fans Are More Excited About Upcoming TV Shows Than Movies

Fans on Reddit are already expressing their dismay at the possibility of 2020 being an asterisk year for Marvel. It would become the longest gap for an MCU movie since between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2.

Marvel basically spoiled their audiences always having some kind of product out at least once or twice per year for an entire generation. No wonder fans on Reddit are saying things like: “I expect Black Widow to get the Mulan treatment for Xmas soon. What better way for Marvel to hold their biggest license high up then drop it on Xmas eve as a family event for people to watch on Xmas after opening their gifts and stuff.”

Will Marvel be forced into the VOD route with a specialized price to bring a level of exclusivity? A lot of fans on the above thread are open to it and are not panicking at the idea of a two-year break in MCU theatrical releases.

Many reiterate at least the pandemic did not occur during Phase 3, as in delaying Endgame indefinitely. Such a scenario might have brought the first proof of MCU fans climbing walls.

How much money would ‘Black Widow’ make on VOD?

Considering how many people already own large-screen smart TV’s, the VOD experience may bring a theatrical experience for many anyway. All of this depends on whether Disney’s Mulan does well in the same format.

Should Mulan make millions this way, fans can probably expect Black Widow on VOD at a similar price point if the theatrical release is bypassed, according to Forbes. Or, maybe it will be a combination, leading to a balance of profits for the sake of theater chain stability.

Going ahead with some element of theatrical release with VOD may mean 2020 avoids having an overly large asterisk for the MCU.  Then again, it may be better to have an asterisk for a new, innovative VOD model than risking lives in theaters with a still unsure public.