2016: Batman VS. Superman VS. Captain America

Check out the big-ass BALLS on Marvel Studios, eh?

It’s been a story for about a year now that Disney was adamant about NOT moving a May 6 2016 date they’d set up for “Untitled Marvel Studios Feature” even though the delayed “BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN” slid into the same date. Most assumed that this was a publicity thing – namely that the date had been put aside for one of the new post-“AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” franchise characters and that the announcment of who the film was actually about would provide “cover” for the secondary news that they were backing down in the face of a stronger competitor for the date: “Hey kids, look! DOCTOR STRANGE MOVIE!!! Oh and by the way we’re moving him out of Batman and Superman’s way…”

But it turns out exactly none of that is correct: THR Reports that Disney/Marvel will drop “CAPTAIN AMERICA 3” as their early-May release for 2016… and they have no intention of moving – they want to open against “BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN.”

The substory here is that Disney/Marvel is NUTS about “CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.” The early reviews are beyond ecstatic – it’s being called the best Marvel movie, period, with comparisons being drawn to “THE DARK KNIGHT” and other bigger-deal sequels. They signed the writer/director team to helm the third one while the movie was still in post-production. Chris Evans has been signed for six more films, and Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) for nine. They believe they’ve got one of the biggest hits of the Summer, and maybe the movie that puts Captain America somewhere near Iron Man/Spider-Man/Batman levels of individual market-value.

The other substory? A gamble that the still not officially titled “MAN OF STEEL” sequel may want to move it’s date again before 2016 hits. The film has moved slowly into shooting, but they still don’t have a finished script and production is supposedly still very much in flux.

If you were betting money, obviously, the smart bet would be that one of the studios will blink and that “CAPTAIN AMERICA 3” will move; but I’m not 100% sure. This is, unquestionably, peacock-posturing on Marvel and Kevin Feige’s part: “We aren’t afraid of Batman OR Superman!” …but what interests me is that they’ve got a lot less to actually lose. Opening in second place is what people would expect of them in this scenario, so if they do it’s not much of a “defeat.” “BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN,” on the other hand, needs to make a shitload of money to justify what they’re pouring into it, and having another same-genre movie out at the same time would unavoidably eat into their boxoffice. It might actually be smarter for Warner Bros. to jump ahead a week or more and garauntee a big open (and limit Marvel’s repeat-business) but they’d have to suffer every single website and industry trade running with “Captain America Singlehandedly Defeats The World’s Finest!” as a headline.

Plenty of time for this to change, but you just don’t see public “Come at me, bro!” moves like this as much anymore.

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