“Kevin Feige, you have failed this cinematic universe.”
Okay, Arrowverse co-creator Marc Guggenheim didn’t put it quite like that, but he does has some pretty strong advice for the head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “There’s just too much content,” Guggenheim said on The Aarthi & Sriram Show. “If I was suddenly in Kevin Feige’s role, basically I would do what [Disney President Bob] Iger was saying, which is prune the tree,” Guggenheim explained. “You know, there’s just too much content. I’m like the biggest Marvel nerd ever, and I haven’t seen Moon Knight. I just can’t keep up.”
Opinions like this can be found everywhere, but Guggenheim knows a thing or two about shepherding a successful superhero universe. Along with Greg Berlanti, Guggenheim created the Arrowverse on the CW Network. Beginning with the relatively grounded Arrow in 2012, Guggenheim and Berlanti launched a bonkers shared universe that included a gorilla attacking Barack Obama and Z-listers like Wild Dog and Ragman. Even with the budget and scheduling restrictions of television, the Arrowverse created a coherent cinematic universe, one that sometimes even outdid the MCU.
After eleven years, the Arrowverse came to an end with the series finale of The Flash this past May, which means that Guggenheim knows as much about ending a shared universe as he does about building it, knowledge that also comes from years of following comic book universes.
“I think honestly what the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going through right now is the same discovery that Marvel print universe and the DC print universe also went through,” he explained. “I think of these universes like ships, and the longer a ship sails, the more barnacles get attached to its hull, and the more that weighs down the ship and the more it affects how fast the ship can move through the water. And every now and again, you need to do some sort of reboot that scrapes off the barnacles, like Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by George Perez, Crisis on Infinite Earths forever changed shared superhero universes, proving that continuity could be radically reshaped. Guggenheim himself followed the series lead by adapting the story in the Arrowverse, streamlining the TV universe while insisting that every DC story remained canon.
For Guggenheim, Crisis and other reboot stories are unavoidable for long-term superhero stories. “I mean not for nothing because obviously, DC is much older than Marvel is, not for nothing has DC had all these reboots over the years,” he reminded viewers, even pointing to Marvel’s Ultimate universe. “And my guess is what they are building up with Phase 4 is … it’s Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars which basically was sort of like a reset for the Marvel Universe.”
Of course, Avengers: Secret Wars isn’t set to release until 2026, and with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, superhero fatigue has certainly set in. Will Secret Wars come in time to save the MCU? Or should Feige have followed Guggenheim’s lead and ended the franchise after just over a decade?