Washington - Walt Disney Co. offered the first peek at "Avengers: Endgame" and moved up its release date, navigating a crowded year for superhero movies that may serve as the ultimate test of Marvel's appeal.
The "Endgame" film, the fourth cinematic chapter in the tale of the universe-saving team of superheroes, is now set to debut on April 26. (It had been slated for May 3.) Another of Disney's Marvel movies, "Captain Marvel," is coming out in March, so there's likely to be significant overlap in theatres.
Disney, its pending merger partner 21st Century Fox Inc. and Sony Corp. all have rights to various Marvel characters, and that's added up to a flood of movies in the coming months. Sony will release "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" this month. Fox has two X-Men films coming in 2019. And "Spider-Man: Far From Home," a collaboration between Disney and Sony, is slated for July.
That means a major new Marvel film debuts approximately every 40 days for the next eight months.
Disney's Marvel Studios released a trailer on Friday for "Endgame," which had been untitled until now. When we last left Iron Man, Captain America and the gang, they were reeling in defeat at the hands of Thanos, a supervillain who had eliminated half the population of the universe with a snap of his fingers. The how and why is complicated.
But what's important is that the series is a big moneymaker for Disney. The three Avengers movies so far have grossed at least $5 billion worldwide since 2012.
And the story lines for individual Avengers are extended in the trailer. Ant-Man, for instance, reappears. (His last movie ended with him stuck in the Quantum Realm after being shrunk to microscopic size. Again, it's complicated.)
Why is that important? Because Marvel's non-Avenger films, and there are a lot of them, have grossed about another $12 billion. "Endgame" will help tie them all together.
Still, the ultimate threat for Disney's Marvel universe may not be Thanos, but an oversaturated market.