Why Cameos Hurt Marvel, DC, and Star Wars

The word cameo has been used a lot lately in the world of pop culture. When it comes to recent projects in the worlds of Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, fans are constantly speculating which iconic fan favorites will pop up for a surprise appearance. But many misunderstand what the word cameo actually means.

The dictionary defines a cameo as “a small character role in a play or film, played by a distinguished actor or celebrity.” With the exception of a few specific cases, it’s very rare that these so-called cameos in recent projects actually fit this definition.


For the past two years, nearly every Marvel, Star Wars, and DC project has been plagued with speculation about which characters will make a surprise appearance, which largely seems to only hurt each of the universes.

How Star Wars Started the Cameo Trend


Come to think of it, the trend of speculation around cameos and surprise characters really started during the hiatus between Phases 3 and 4 of the MCU when the second season of The Mandalorian took over Disney+. The first season may have delivered only minor ties to the Star Wars mythos, but Season 2 took it up a notch with Boba Fett, Bo-Katan, Ahsoka Tano, and Luke Skywalker offering guest appearances. unexpected.

Fans were quick to label all of these characters as cameos, but none quite fit the definition. After all, each had a major role to play in the show’s story. Boba Fett’s Book followed a similar trend as several unheralded fan favorites appeared on the show, each once again having fleshed out roles to play – with the possible exception of Ahsoka in Episode 6.


Luke Skywalker Ahsoka Boba Fett

The Mandalorian was the only hit Disney+ series to debut before Marvel Studios kicked off Phase 4 with Wanda Vision, so many people assumed that the trend of surprise character appearances would continue in the MCU. However, for the most part this did not turn out to be the case.

Even though Star Wars is taking its first steps away from the MandoVerse on Disney+ with Obi Wan Kenobispeculation is rife about what “cameos” the show might offer.

That’s not to say Star Wars mishandled its shocking appearances. In fact, he did it in an excellent way because all of them fit naturally and served a purpose in the script. The problem comes especially since many viewers focus more on the Star Wars characters who will appear in projects such as Obi Wan Kenobias opposed to the main character and the main story itself.


Marvel suffers from cameo obsession

WandaVision Cameos
marvel studios

The Mandalorian Season 2 delivered many of the biggest theories with its surprise characters and shocking twists, naturally leading fans to expect the same from Marvel Studios when the MCU debuted on Disney+ with Wanda Vision.

With the Disney+ series promising to not only be a game-changer, but also lead directly to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessexpectations for its long-term impact on the MCU were high from the start.

These wild expectations and theories have only been fueled throughout the series – who can forget the famous Aerospace Engineer and Mephisto debacles. The show itself offered a basis on which these theories would lead to something, but the cast and crew comments were undeniably misleading and set expectations that weren’t met.


Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany both made a shocking appearance to rival Luke Skywalker mandalorian appearance, but these turned out to be jokes referencing Bettany’s white vision. Monica Rambeau actress Teyonah Parris even shared her excitement over revealing her aerospace engineer, who was ultimately non-existent.

There’s no denying the casting of Wanda Vision disappointed fans by fueling wild theories that they already knew wouldn’t pay off. Since then, audiences really haven’t learned from their mistakes in the sitcom series, as every show since has had surprise character expectations – of which, only Loki really delivered with Jonathon Majors’ Kang reveal in the finale and Hawk Eye by its monumental aspect of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin.

Spider-Man No Way Home Tobey Maguire Tom Holland Andrew Garfield
Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: No Coming Home offered a prime example of Marvel doing fan service well, and thankfully the theories are paying off. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as Spider-Man were breathtaking and surprising; at least it would have been without the leaks, but one can only imagine the reactions if they weren’t in the movie after all.


Not only did the Spider-Man team live up to expectations and provide enjoyable fan service, they made a legitimate contribution to the plot. Their older heroes’ influence on Tom Holland’s Peter was integral to his arc in the film and helped him finally complete his heroic origin. Thing is, they weren’t just there to appease the fans; they served a purpose.

Doctor Strange Illuminati
Marvel Studios​​​​

With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness being Marvel Studios’ second multiverse-centric adventure, and directly following Spider-Man: No Coming Home, expectations were high for more surprise characters. Rumor has it that every Marvel character under the sun will appear in the film, from returning favorites to major debuts.

Unfortunately, Doctor Strange 2 did not act on theories to the same extent as Spider-Man: No Coming Home, but it was not necessarily to the detriment of the film. The Multiversal surprises were really contained in the Illuminati of Earth-838, four of the six members of which were confirmed in the lead up to release anyway.


In the case of Multiverse of Madness, most of the “cameo” hype stemmed from unreasonable fan expectations and false insider reports. But now Marvel Studios faces a problem where fans now treat every movie as if it’s the next. avengers epic, while most are simply standalone adventures centered around their titular hero.

Even if the strange doctor the sequel did not offer as many surprise characters as hoped, those present have a purpose, but not as important as No coming homeis the return of heroes and villains. The Illuminati’s primary role was to underestimate Wanda and demonstrate her newfound power, which is why the movie took them down as quickly as it did.

Maybe later Multiverse of Madness failed to deliver, fans will be more cautious in the future, which could help Marvel surprise audiences and subvert expectations.


What’s the solution to the pop culture cameo problem?

Peacemaker Justice League
Warner Bros.

DC provided perhaps the best example of how cameos should be handled with the Peacemaker Season 1 finale. After the battle against the butterflies was won and John Cena’s team was proven victorious, the team emerged from the rubble to see the Justice League arrive to help. Most of the team are only seen as shadows, but Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ezra Miller’s Flash each receive a brief line of dialogue that references a joke from the start of the series.

In a sense, Peacemaker‘s Justice League offers the perfect example of how a real cameo should be handled. The team’s arrival was a complete surprise and their brief screen time didn’t overshadow the main cast or storyline, meaning it was one of the few examples of this trend that actually matched. to the definition of a cameo.

That’s not to say Marvel or Star Wars mishandled their surprise characters; the problem arises when the promise of cameos, surprises and shocks is integral to the marketing and construction of a film or series. In many ways, it just disappoints fans when wild, unsubstantiated theories don’t pan out.


At least as things stand, the problem with these cameos isn’t with the studios, but with the fans themselves. So far, neither DC nor Star Wars have fallen victim to this trend, but Marvel has suffered countless times before and it’s getting harder and harder for them to keep fans happy.

From the studio’s perspective, there may be no solution to this problem short of avoiding the word “cameo” altogether. But from a fan perspective, maybe it’s time to get out of that obsession and get back to the days of stories for what they are. After all, cameos, surprise characters, and fan service can round out a project and add to the hype, but that should never detract from the main character and her story.

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