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Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige Adds Marvel Chief Creative Officer Title; He; ll Oversee All Creative; Story Initiatives

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige Adds Marvel Chief Creative Officer Title; He’ll Oversee All Creative & Story Initiatives

Mike Fleming Jr

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A prophecy of doom

In 1993, while Marvel and the comics industry as a whole seemed to be in rude health, Sandman writer Neil Gaiman stood before about 3,000 retailers and gave a speech which few in attendance wanted to hear.

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In it, he argued that the success of the comic book market was a bubble – one brought on by encouraging collectors to buy multiple editions and hoard them up in the hope that they’ll one day be worth a fortune. This, Gaiman said, was akin to tulip mania – a strange period in the 17th century when the value of tulip bulbs suddenly exploded, only for the market to collapse again.

“You can sell lots of comics to the same person, especially if you tell them that you are investing money for high guaranteed returns,” Gaiman said. “But you’re selling bubbles and tulips, and one day the bubble will burst, and the tulips will rot in the warehouse.”

The bubble Gaiman described had begun several years earlier, when comic books, once considered disposable items by parents, were becoming prized items by collectors who’d grown up with their favorite superheroes as kids. By the 1980s, comic book collecting had gained the interest of the mainstream media, which latched onto stories about Golden Age comics selling for thousands of dollars.

Publishers were themselves courting the collector market by introducing variant covers, sometimes with foil embossing or other eye-catching, fancy printing techniques. These were snapped up hungrily by readers, but also by speculators assuming that they’d stumbled on a sure-fire means of making money by storing copies up and selling them for a profit in the future.

The Marvel universe

The shared storytelling palette known as the Marvel universe was unveiled in 1961, when Goodman responded to the growing interest in superhero books by commissioning writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four. With the release of Fantastic Four no. 1 (November 1961), readers were introduced to a superheroic setting that was, nevertheless, rooted in the real world. Lee and Kirby attempted to make their comic book characters more original by allowing them to interact with each other in a realistic fashion, including heroes often fighting or arguing with each other. This trend continued with a flood of other superhero characters introduced by Marvel Comics during the early 1960s, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men. Lee wrote the majority of Marvel’s books during that time, and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were the most important and influential artists.

This more realistic approach to characterizations built up Marvel’s reputation and began to attract university-age readers. Stories also began to deal with social issues such as pollution, race relations, and drug abuse. A Spider-Man story arc from 1971 dealing with drug abuse had to be published without the approval of the Comic Code Authority—the self-regulatory body that had policed comic content since 1954—despite the fact that it was portraying drug use in a negative light. This caused the Comic Code Authority to revise its policy in such matters.

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a new generation of creative talent emerge at Marvel. In 1967 Jim Steranko began to write and draw stories featuring secret agent Nick Fury in the anthology book Strange Tales. Steranko was influenced in his work by James Bond films and the psychedelic and Op art movements, and the resulting stories melded groundbreaking visuals with equally innovative storytelling techniques. Writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne began a long collaboration on The Uncanny X-Men in 1975. The pair revitalized the flagging series with characters such as Wolverine and complex story arcs that soon made the X-Men franchise one of Marvel’s best sellers.

In 1985 Mark Gruenwald started a critically acclaimed 10-year run as the writer of Captain America. That same year he also began the miniseries Squadron Supreme (1985–86), a deconstructionist take on superheroes that preceded Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen, published by DC Comics. The 1980s also saw Frank Miller’s stint on Daredevil, which took that book in a darker and grittier direction, reviving sagging sales and making it one of Marvel’s best sellers. In 1988 Todd MacFarlane began a popular run as artist on The Amazing Spider-Man. Four years later MacFarlane and a number of other popular artists, including Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, and Rob Liefeld, left Marvel to found rival Image Comics, a company that allowed creators to retain the copyrights of their characters.

During the 1990s and early 2000s a new wave of writers, including Brian Michael Bendis (Daredevil, The Avengers), Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four), and Ed Brubaker (Captain America), became well known for their mature and sometimes controversial takes on Marvel’s characters. The 2010s saw the emergence of another new wave of talent, with writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja turning in a visually arresting run on Hawkeye, longtime Spider-Man writer Dan Slott teaming with artist Mike Allred for a bold take on a classic character in Silver Surfer, and writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona breaking new ground with their critically acclaimed Ms. Marvel.

Marvel was at its vulnerable stage

Many people believed that it was not only the cost but also the quality of comic books, affected its sales.

Sales had dropped by 70%

By 1995, Marvel Entertainment was in heavy debt, due to which it also, laid off its 275 employees.

Later, in 1996, Ron proposed a plan to save Marvel from bankruptcy.
He planned to merge Marvel with Toybiz. Due to this, he further spent $350million for the remaining shares of the Toybiz,

Marvel’s shareholders resisted this and argued that the financial damage to Marvel’s share prices would be too great.
Perelman’s response was to file for bankruptcy, as it will give him the power to reorganize Marvel without the stockholders’ consent.

This struggle raged for almost two years.

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Carl Icahn, an American businessman and a known stockholder, opposed Perelman
He stated that,
Perelman is like a plumber you loan money to get him started in business; then he comes in, wrecks your house, then tells you that he wants the house for nothing”.

The battle, when finally ended in December 1998, had a strange outcome which few could have predicted:
After a lengthy court case, it was decided to merge both the ToyBiz and Marvel Entertainment Group, keeping Perelman and his nemesis Icahn ousted in the process.

With the financial intrigue in the boardroom finally settling down,
Marvel began to turn its attention towards the movie business…

Kevin Feige’s Promotion Means Trump Pal Ike Perlmutter Has Far Less Influence

Oct 15, 2019 4:43 pm

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Kevin Feige, who revitalized comic book fandom with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel, in addition to his current status as president of Marvel Studios. The move means that all of the company’s key film and television executives will report to Feige, according to Deadline. It also means that Feige, responsible for the all-encompassing Marvel Cinematic Universe brand, will additionally oversee Marvel’s overall creative decisions and storytelling for all content platforms, such as Marvel TV and Marvel Family Entertainment, which will now be placed under the longtime producer’s Marvel Studios banner.

Feige’s remit was formerly just Marvel Studios, the in-house production arm of Marvel that’s overseen not by Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter, but by Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn. Perlmutter continued to oversee Marvel Entertainment, which includes the company’s comics publishing arm — and Marvel TV, which produced shows based on Marvel comics and characters for multiple platforms.

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Perlmutter is a controversial figure among Marvel fans. The 76-year-old billionaire is known for his extreme thrift — when the first “Iron Man” was released in 2008, he still controlled Marvel Studios and notoriously itemized each bag of popcorn and soda given attending press and advance screenings of the film — and for his connection to Donald Trump. The president stayed at Perlmutter’s Florida mansion over the the holidays in 2016, after he had become President-Elect. ProPublica has also reported that Perlmutter has been tapped by Trump to wield some de facto control over the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Feige and Perlmutter worked closely together to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Feige serving as his direct report on Marvel Studios until September 2015, when Disney reorganized the org chart and had Feige report to Horn. Feige has been very tight-lipped about his working relationship with Perlmutter but rumors have circulated for years that it was fraught.

Since September 2015, Perlmutter continued to oversee Marvel TV, at which point Marvel’s shows for Netflix, ABC, and Hulu noticeably began to diverge from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ostensibly, when Netflix’s “Daredevil” launched in 2015 it was connected to the MCU, with key events such as the Battle of New York from “The Avengers” being referenced. ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” which launched in late 2013, even featured movie tie-in episodes. But that largely ended following Feige’s split from Perlmutter.

Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley, who oversees Marvel TV, will now only report to Perlmutter for Marvel games, events (such as the Marvel Universe Live! arena show), and licensing. He, and Marvel TV, will otherwise report to Feige directly.

The stage had already been set for Feige’s takeover of Marvel TV, when it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con this summer that the many new Marvel streaming series planned for Disney+ would be produced by Marvel Studios directly, and not Marvel TV. This allows for closer integration of those series — such as “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “Hawkeye,” “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and “What If…” — with Marvel Studios’ big screen offerings, including even sharing talent with the films. Tom Hiddleston will appear in “Loki,” Elizabeth Olsen in “WandaVision,” and so on. Fans took that move as a sign that those series were “canon” in a way that properties being developed at the time by Marvel TV, such as a “Ghost Rider” series for Hulu, were not. That “Ghost Rider” series has since been shelved.

Feige’s new role comes a few weeks before the launch of Disney+ on November 12. Prior to his Marvel Cinematic Universe work, Feige, who was hired by Marvel in 2000, was involved in a handful of other Marvel-branded movies, such as Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy and the first three installments in the “X-Men” film series.

Perlmutter became CEO of Marvel Comics, the predecessor to Marvel Entertainment, in 2005, following years of investment in the brand through his company Toy Biz. He was reported as saying that he opposed making films based around female superheroes because of the failure of films such as 1984’s “Supergirl” and 2004’s “Catwoman,” laying the blame on the title characters rather than on the quality of the films.

Feige is set to produce next year’s “Black Widow” and “The Eternals,” which will kick off Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other upcoming films in the franchise include “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

Corporate history

The precursor to Marvel Comics was founded in 1939 by pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman. In order to capitalize on the growing popularity of comic books—especially those starring superheroes—Goodman created Timely Comics. Timely’s first comic book was Marvel Comics no. 1 (cover dated October 1939), which featured several superhero characters, most notably the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. Timely Comics introduced many superhero characters during comics’ “Golden Age” in the 1940s, most importantly Captain America, who first appeared in Captain America Comics no. 1 (March 1941). Timely characters were often portrayed as fighting against the Nazis and the Japanese even before the United States entered World War II. As the 1940s came to a close, superheroes fell out of vogue with comic book readers, and Timely canceled the last of its books in this genre in 1950. In 1951 Goodman formed his own distribution company, and Timely Comics became Atlas Magazines. Though there was a brief experiment in bringing back superheroes such as Captain America in 1953, Atlas’s output was mostly in other genres such as humour, westerns, horror, war, and science fiction.

In 1956 rival company DC Comics ushered in the so-called Silver Age of comics by reintroducing superhero titles with significant commercial success. In the early 1960s Atlas changed its name to Marvel Comics. For several decades Marvel and DC were the top companies in the industry. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s Marvel changed hands numerous times, becoming a publicly held company in 1991. Questionable management decisions and a general slump in sales in the comic book industry drove Marvel Comics into bankruptcy in 1996. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 1998 and began to diversify its output, launching imprints aimed at a variety of demographics and expanding its cinematic offerings under the Marvel Studios banner. In 2007 Marvel began publishing digital comics. In 2009 the Walt Disney Company purchased the parent company of Marvel Comics.

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KEVIN FEIGE: THE PRESIDENT WHO RAISED THE BAR

2007, was a year of crucial decisions.

As Marvel had taken the risk and promoted junior executive Kevin Feige to be President of Marvel Studios. He started working with Marvel since 2000, as a producer. But with this promotion, he made Marvel into a billionaire.

This was a crucial decision that paved Marvel’s path toward success, starting with the release of Iron Man in 2008.

After nearly 70 years in the making of the history of Marvel Studios, it was the 2008 release of Iron Man that catalyzed its success.

And, from then Marvel began delivering consistently fantastic films.

In June of 2009, Marvel Entertainment was acquired by Disney, for $4 billion along with the distribution rights for The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

Kevin Feige is attributed with the later success of Marvel Studios.


Due to his shrewd and creative decisions, such as adding cameos of Stan Lee in every movie, then adding the “After-Credits’, and the most major decision was casting Robert Downey Jr. and his vision of an inclusive Marvel Cinematic Universe, allowed Marvel Studios to emerge as one of the first film franchises ever—and definitely the most successful—in film history, now worth more than $17 billion.

This further continued with other movies, like Captain America: Civil war, Avengers: Age of Ultron etc.

In 2018, Black Panther along with Avengers: Infinity War, had broken scores of box office records in the world.

Now, there is no shortage of fantastic Marvel movies and TV series to watch, or binge for that matter, and everyone loves them and waits for the other one to release soon.

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EXCLUSIVE: A major structural shift is taking place at Marvel. As the brand looks to put even more of its stamp on the Walt Disney Company with the upcoming launch of Disney+, all of Marvel’s creative personnel is moving under Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Deadline hears that Feige is adding the title of Chief Creative Officer, Marvel, to his title. What that means for the brand is that all of the company’s key creative executives across film and TV now will report to him, sources said. Already master of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige’s oversight will extend to the overall creative direction of Marvel’s storytelling and content creation platforms. As part of this, Marvel TV and animation generator Marvel Family Entertainment will move under Feige’s Marvel Studios banner.

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Disney/Marvel

I’ve heard this move is being finalized this week, and it makes strong sense that Feige would extend his oversight even further than it stretches now. He was a major presence at Investor Day, when Disney launched its OTT streamer Disney+ plans, and Feige mapped out Marvel’s series contributions to the service that includes The Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, What If? and WandaVision. He was also the frontman for Marvel’s upcoming product at D23 and San Diego Comic-Con.

Feige continues to report to Walt Disney Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Alan Horn and Co-Chairman Alan Bergman. The decision to place all film and television production and the creative aspects of publishing under Feige comes at an important inflection point for the company: Marvel is moving into a second phase of its superhero film franchise launches, after an unprecedented record of success in its first decade. And the move comes as efforts to generate Marvel TV series for other platforms has wound down but soon will begin a new phase as Marvel creates premium content for Disney+.

Here is how the reporting structure will line up right under Feige: Dan Buckley will continue as President of Marvel Entertainment, where Ike Perlmutter remains Chairman. Long a creative collaborator for Feige in publishing and television, Buckley will have a dual reporting structure going forward, Deadline hears. He will continue to oversee publishing creative/editorial, and in that capacity, he now will report to Feige. Buckley also is responsible for publishing operations, sales, creative services, games, licensing and events. There, he will report to Perlmutter. It is expected that Joe Quesada will remain a creative lead for Marvel Entertainment, reporting to Buckley. It is expected that all the creative execs in publishing will report to Buckley.

This streamlining of reporting structure at Marvel comes as Feige’s importance to the superhero factory got underscored several times this year. That included a summer-long standoff between Disney and Sony Pictures over his services as producer and major creative influence on Spider-Man, after Far From Home became Sony’s highest-grossing film of all time at $1.13 billion. A truce recently was drawn that makes Disney a 25% co-financier and gives the studio a corresponding profit share for one movie. It also puts Spider-Man in one more separate Marvel movie, continuing the strategy that helped establish Tom Holland’s wall crawler in Captain America: Civil War before Spider-Man: Homecoming and bolstered his appeal with appearances in the two Avengers films directed by Joe and Anthony Russo.

On the film front, Feige capped a first decade that saw myriad superhero franchise launches without a single misfire, helped by that cross-pollination strategy. Those films had a collective global gross of $26.8 billion. This year, Feige produced all-time box office champ Avengers: Endgame, and two other billion-dollar global grossers in Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home. That on the heels of Black Panther becoming Marvel’s first Best Picture Oscar nominee, after grossing $1.3 billion. Feige separately was just set to produce and develop a Star Wars film under Lucasfilm’s Kathy Kennedy.

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Enter Ron Perelman

While the comics were flying off the shelves, Marvel attracted the interest of a man named Ron Perelman. Often pictured with a broad grin and a huge cigar in his hand, Perelman was a millionaire businessman with a variety of interests: in 1985, he’d made a huge deal for cosmetic firm, Revlon through his holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes. In early 1989, Perelman spent $82.5 million on purchasing the Marvel Entertainment Group, then owned by New World Pictures.

Within two years, Marvel was on the stock market, and Perelman went on a spending spree: he bought shares in a company called ToyBiz, snapped up a couple of trading card companies, Panini stickers, and a distribution outfit, Heroes World. All told, those acquisitions cost Marvel a reported $700 million.

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Through the early ’90s, Marvel was buoyed by the success of Spider-Man and X-Men, which were selling in huge numbers. Sales of a new comic, X-Force, were similarly huge, thanks in part to a cunning sales gimmick: the first issue came in a polybag with one of five different trading cards inside it. If collectors wanted to get hold of all five cards, they – you guessed it – had to buy multiple copies of the same comic. With the boom still in full swing, that’s exactly what collectors did – as former Comics International news editor Phil Hall recalls, fans were buying five copies to keep pristine and unopened, and a sixth to tear into and read.

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Then, just as Gaiman predicted, the bubble burst. Between 1993 and 1996, revenues from comics and trading cards began to collapse. Suddenly, Marvel, which at one point seemed invincible as it grew in size, now looked vulnerable.

“When the business turned,” observed then-chariman and CEO of Marvel Scott Sassa, “it was like everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

Some in the industry went further, and argued that Perelman’s tactics had endangered the entire industry:

“[Perelman] reasoned, quite correctly, that if he raised prices and output, that hardcore Marvel fans would devote a larger and larger portion of their disposable income toward buying comics,” wrote Chuck Rozanski, CEO of Mile High Comics. “Once he had enough sales numbers in place to prove this hypothesis, he then took Marvel public, selling 40% of its stock for vastly more than he paid for the entire company. The flaw in his plan, however, was that he promised investors in Marvel even further brand extensions, and more price increases. That this plan was clearly impossible became evident to most comics retailers early in 1993, as more and more fans simply quit collecting due to the high cost, and amid a widespread perception of declining quality in Marvel comics.”

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Whether Perelman was directly to blame or not, the consequences for the industry as a whole were painful in the extreme. Hundreds of comic book retailers went bust as sales tumbled by 70 percent. Suddenly, the boom had turned to bust, and even Perelman admitted that he hadn’t anticipated the dark future Gaiman had warned about in his speech.

”We couldn’t get a handle on how much of the market was driven by speculators,” Perelman said; “the people buying 20 copies and reading one and keeping 19 for their nest egg…”

Kevin Feige’s Promotion Means Trump Pal Ike Perlmutter Has Far Less Influence

Oct 15, 2019 4:43 pm

  • Share This Article
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  • LinkedIn
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Kevin Feige, who revitalized comic book fandom with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel, in addition to his current status as president of Marvel Studios. The move means that all of the company’s key film and television executives will report to Feige, according to Deadline. It also means that Feige, responsible for the all-encompassing Marvel Cinematic Universe brand, will additionally oversee Marvel’s overall creative decisions and storytelling for all content platforms, such as Marvel TV and Marvel Family Entertainment, which will now be placed under the longtime producer’s Marvel Studios banner.

Feige’s remit was formerly just Marvel Studios, the in-house production arm of Marvel that’s overseen not by Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter, but by Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn. Perlmutter continued to oversee Marvel Entertainment, which includes the company’s comics publishing arm — and Marvel TV, which produced shows based on Marvel comics and characters for multiple platforms.

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Perlmutter is a controversial figure among Marvel fans. The 76-year-old billionaire is known for his extreme thrift — when the first “Iron Man” was released in 2008, he still controlled Marvel Studios and notoriously itemized each bag of popcorn and soda given attending press and advance screenings of the film — and for his connection to Donald Trump. The president stayed at Perlmutter’s Florida mansion over the the holidays in 2016, after he had become President-Elect. ProPublica has also reported that Perlmutter has been tapped by Trump to wield some de facto control over the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Feige and Perlmutter worked closely together to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Feige serving as his direct report on Marvel Studios until September 2015, when Disney reorganized the org chart and had Feige report to Horn. Feige has been very tight-lipped about his working relationship with Perlmutter but rumors have circulated for years that it was fraught.

Since September 2015, Perlmutter continued to oversee Marvel TV, at which point Marvel’s shows for Netflix, ABC, and Hulu noticeably began to diverge from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ostensibly, when Netflix’s “Daredevil” launched in 2015 it was connected to the MCU, with key events such as the Battle of New York from “The Avengers” being referenced. ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” which launched in late 2013, even featured movie tie-in episodes. But that largely ended following Feige’s split from Perlmutter.

Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley, who oversees Marvel TV, will now only report to Perlmutter for Marvel games, events (such as the Marvel Universe Live! arena show), and licensing. He, and Marvel TV, will otherwise report to Feige directly.

The stage had already been set for Feige’s takeover of Marvel TV, when it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con this summer that the many new Marvel streaming series planned for Disney+ would be produced by Marvel Studios directly, and not Marvel TV. This allows for closer integration of those series — such as “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “Hawkeye,” “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and “What If…” — with Marvel Studios’ big screen offerings, including even sharing talent with the films. Tom Hiddleston will appear in “Loki,” Elizabeth Olsen in “WandaVision,” and so on. Fans took that move as a sign that those series were “canon” in a way that properties being developed at the time by Marvel TV, such as a “Ghost Rider” series for Hulu, were not. That “Ghost Rider” series has since been shelved.

Feige’s new role comes a few weeks before the launch of Disney+ on November 12. Prior to his Marvel Cinematic Universe work, Feige, who was hired by Marvel in 2000, was involved in a handful of other Marvel-branded movies, such as Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy and the first three installments in the “X-Men” film series.

Perlmutter became CEO of Marvel Comics, the predecessor to Marvel Entertainment, in 2005, following years of investment in the brand through his company Toy Biz. He was reported as saying that he opposed making films based around female superheroes because of the failure of films such as 1984’s “Supergirl” and 2004’s “Catwoman,” laying the blame on the title characters rather than on the quality of the films.

Feige is set to produce next year’s “Black Widow” and “The Eternals,” which will kick off Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other upcoming films in the franchise include “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

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