Big decisions for Marvel superhero stories in future

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Stan Lee and Chadwick Boseman, star of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, speak onstage at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on August 2, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. 

David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of print, sales and marketing was criticized for comments he made last year regarding declining comic sales in relation to diversity.

“We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against,” Gabriel said in an interview with iCv2, a trade publication that bills itself as covering “the business of geek culture.”

Gabriel later explained that his comments reflected what Marvel was hearing from some retailers in the comic book marketplace and complaints about the “false abandonment” of core characters. The Marvel executive stressed that the company was sticking with the new characters, and said another reason for the sales slump could simply have been that there was too much product.

“Contrary to what some said about characters ‘not working,’ the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes,” Gabriel said. “And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere!”

Marvel Studios has to move in new directions after the Avengers era ends, said Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst, or it will face an even bigger risk: bored moviegoers. “The risks of moving in new directions are the same as with any series. It depends on how interesting the plot and characters are. If Marvel doesn’t move in new directions they would almost certainly face familiarity fatigue. As with all in the cinema world, new and fresh is needed.”

—By Donovan Russo, special to CNBC.com

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