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The Real Reason Marvel Is Skipping San Diego Comic-Con 2020

San Diego Comic-Con 2020 (a.k.a. San Diego Comic-Con@Home) is officially underway, though this year's event will feature far less of the headline-grabbing spectacle we've come to expect.

That's because, like pretty much every other beloved event set to take place over the past few months, concerns over COVID-19 forced SDCC 2020's organizers to cancel the singular entertainment event that's essentially served as the geekiest time of year for comic fans and creators from all mediums. The difficult decision was naturally made months ago by convention organizers, who quickly followed it with the news that the Con of Cons would carry on via a free online event slated to unfold over the original Comic-Con 2020 dates of July 22-26.

While that free online approach has obviously made the event available to infinitely more attendees this year, the lack of Hall H-style spectacle left many of Comic-Con's usual primetime players wondering if the probable lack of primetime media exposure would make taking part worth the trouble. For perennial Comic-Con mainstays like DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios, the answer was clearly no, as the comic book movie and TV series powerhouses have no panels scheduled over the Con's virtual weekend. 

For DC, the reasoning is pretty clear, as they've already planned their own little mini-con with the upcoming DC Fandome online event slated to go down on August 22, 2020. Marvel Studios, on the other hand, has no such event in the works. With no movies or high-profile Disney+ series ready to hit theaters or streaming platforms — and apparently no press events scheduled for the foreseeable future — skipping Comic-Con 2020 altogether feels like a pretty big missed opportunity for the minds behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly in the Summer movie season that simply isn't. 

No news may just be that for Marvel in 2020

So, why is Marvel skipping San Diego Comic-Con 2020? As is the case with most questions in 2020, COVID-19 is a probable answer, with the pandemic playing unholy havoc with any plans Marvel might've had for promoting pretty anything this year. That's largely the result of Marvel and every other studio in Hollywood having to press the pause button on several high-profile productions for months already. Coupled with the inability to release new content theatrically due to the complete shutdown of virtually every movie theater on the planet, those production delays have led to vast uncertainty in release schedules for every film or series currently on the docket.

That release date shuffle continues to play havoc for upcoming MCU projects in particular, as the extended universe's house of cards-style narrative construct means the overarching story can be dramatically affected by standalone projects. Case in point: Scarlett Johansson's long-awaited Black Widow movie was tapped as, more or less, the table-setter for the MCU's Phase 4, meaning it sort of has to hit screens before any other Marvel stories.

The good news is that there's really only one other MCU project (the anxiously-anticipated Eternals) that's wrapped principal photography, so the prospect of shuffling release dates should be a little easier as other projects reach the end of production. Until then, Marvel may have simply deemed there not enough available material from those future projects to fill a Comic-Con panel. Either way, it's clear Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and company are bent on keeping a tighter clamp on MCU news than ever, even if there really isn't much to cover for now. 

They're clearly hoping MCU fans will understand, and will still be around when things calm down, productions can safely resume, and Marvel can be certain when their various projects will actually be released.

Marvel just delivered a Comic-Con MCU blowout for the ages in 2019

Of course, 2020 is not the first time Marvel has skipped San Diego Comic-Con. They were also absent in 2018, when they were fully focused on sticking the landing for the Infinity Saga via 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Endgame. The success of those films was understandably celebrated at the 2019 SDCC, and we can't help but wonder if Marvel's conspicuous Comic-Con 2020 absence may just be the result of Kevin Feige and crew delivering a Hall H event for the ages in 2019. 

That momentous event was easily among the most star-studded happenings in the history of Comic-Con, with untold numbers of MCU stars past, present, and future gracing the stage over the course of an epic 90-minute session. As a reminder, Marvel's 2019 Hall H spectacular was also one of the biggest information dumps in MCU history, with Feige and his seemingly endless train of A-list stars and filmmakers using the occasion to lay out Marvel's master plan for the next few years. 

We'd have to assume that, at the very least, Feige and the rest of the Marvel team knew they'd never be able to match that 2019 Hall H event in terms of sheer spectacle — not any time soon, at least. It's likely enough Marvel brass also came to believe they'd put more than enough information regarding Phase 4 and even Phase 5 of the MCU out there just last year. And with continued uncertainties surrounding not just productions, but release schedules, they're likely happy to let said info simmer until the future becomes less murky.

When that will be is anybody's guess. But if there is a light at the end of this hellish pandemic tunnel, it's that there's still loads of superhero material on the horizon, and we'll surely be hearing about all of it soon enough.