It's certainly a strange time to be a moviegoer, especially for fans of the MCU. While the recent drops of the final trailer for Eternals and the first for Spider-Man: No Way Home have given the Marvel faithful plenty to talk about, the specter of COVID-19 continues to hang over theaters.

Now that Venom: Let There Be Carnage could end up being delayed until 2022, many are wondering what the future holds for upcoming MCU projects like Eternals and No Way Home. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be locked in for its September 3 release date, but the fate of other films is less certain.

It seems that it could all come down to Shang-Chi to determine the slate's destiny.

SHANG-CHI PERFORMANCE TO DECIDE ETERNALS RELEASE

Eternals Angelina Jolie Thena Celestial
Marvel

According to Vulture , while a pushed-back release for Venom is likely, other big-name films like the highly anticipated Dune are still on schedule for their fall debut.

In regard to Eternals , however, it seems Marvel Studios is playing their next en. Whether the film—which was originally to release November 6, 2020 before shifting to its current slot on November 5, 2021 —will be delayed again reportedly hinges on how Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings performs as a stand-alone release at the box office.

ALL EYES ON SHANG-CHI THIS FALL

It seems a lot is going to hinge on how Shang-Chi performs . With only a few weeks until release, the MCU's first kung-fu spectacle will have to contend with rising fears about COVID-19 variants at a time when it seemed like the film industry was returning to solid ground.

Marvel has chosen not to follow the release tactic used for Black Widow and in so doing has made a huge bet on Shang-Chi's ability to draw in audiences despite the rising anxiety. The film is well anticipated and looks fantastic, but the most recent comparable release, DC's The Suicide Squad , underperformed industry expectations. It should be noted that The Suicide Squad had the same dual debut format on streaming and in theaters that Black Widow had: a move Shang-Chi will not be repeating.

Perhaps the more interesting takeaway from this news is that it is focusing entirely on Eternals . The new trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home proudly displayed its release date, while the latest one for Venom did not. It could simply be a question of confidence in Eternals' ability to draw in viewers. Spider-Man is among the biggest names in superheroes and has been the focus of many films over the years. The Eternals, much like Shang-Chi, have not.

It's likely Marvel will be looking to Shang-Chi 's ability to draw in moviegoers despite COVID-19 concerns to determine whether Eternals will be able to do the same. Spider-Man: No Way Home practically sells itself; there's not nearly as much risk.

Everything hinges on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings when it strikes theaters on September 2, 2021.

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