The last few years have not been kind to fans of Robert Pattinson. Since his split from his wife, Kontiki, the “Bardot beauty” has mostly kept to himself, rarely making public appearances or engaging in publicity stunts.

The former couple’s divorce was finalized in March 2019 and marked the end of an eventful year for the actor. Not only did he have to adjust to life as a single man, but he also had to film two of the biggest blockbuster franchises of all time. In January 2021, he made his debut as the iconic and fearsome Marvel villain, Venom, in Marvel’s eagerly anticipated upcoming film, Venom. Right before the cameras started rolling, he also had to appear in Gucci’s campaign for their 2021 spring/summer collection, as well as show up for the premiere of his friend and collaborator, James DeMonaco’s latest movie, Truth or Dare.

Pattinson’s Absence In Public Is Painful To Fans

Pattinson’s low profile has not gone unnoticed by his fans, and they have been desperately trying to gain some kind of attention from the actor or someone affiliated with him since the divorce. One would think that due to his wealth and fame, Pattinson would have indulged his fans at least once or twice over the past three years, but it seems that the popular singer and his family have been the only ones to benefit from the actor’s newfound privacy. For example, in June 2021, Vogue China reported that the singer’s fans had staged a hunger strike to get him to listen to their pleas for help. The magazine noted that they have been waiting for the actor to notice them for years but have grown so frustrated that they are now resorting to extreme measures.

Vogue China’s report follows many other similar stories, published about the same time, documenting the many ways in which Pattinson’s low profile has caused his legion of fans untold suffering. The reports all note that since the divorce, the actor has not made any public appearances and has mostly stayed in his homes, either in England or Scotland, mostly avoiding people and cameras.

Two Huge Franchise Premieres In 2021

The year 2021 will be remembered as a banner year for franchise films. Not only did Marvel’s Venom premiere to critical and commercial success, raking in over $922 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of 2021 so far, but DC’s Shazam! also turned out to be a major player, making its premiere at #2 on the box office charts and going on to gross over $773 million globally.

Of course, these are only the top two films of a banner year for Hollywood blockbusters. Far from disappointing, fans’ appetites were seemingly not sated by the mega-hits and even more big-budget films followed, including Black Widow, Fast & Furious 8, and Deadpool 2, which beat Venom and Shazam! to be named the #2 highest-grossing film of 2021 so far.

Venom Confirms The Return Of The King

While Venom may not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, the critical and commercial success of the movie has surely not been diminished. As reported by The Guardian, in an interview with Forbes, actor Tom Hardy said that he and the crew of Venom “returned the king” when they gave their all to making the movie.

When asked if he was referring to Chris Evans, who played the title character in 2014’s Fantastic Four, Hardy replied, “Yeah, it’s the return of the king. Or in this case, the return of the prince. Let’s be honest, this is a fantastic opportunity to work with the king. And you know what? We all had a lot of fun.”

Hardy went on to say that he thought that the movie would be remembered as “one of the more interesting times” in superhero cinema, especially since “we were just trying to make a good scary movie and had no idea where it was going to go.”

Indeed, with its twisted, dark sense of humor, pop culture references, and fascinating characters and plot, Venom was an unexpected hit amongst fans of the genre, confirming that the superhero blockbuster is now a thing of the past. While Hardy was seemingly echoing the sentiments of many fans when he called the film “interesting,” he may have also been referring to the way the movie changed the game for the big screen adaptation of a comic book. Until Venom, superhero movies were typically played completely straight, favoring action over humor and lacking any sort of dark sense of humor.

Hardy, alongside his co-stars Tom, Zizi, and Danny DeVito, will be honored at the San Diego Comic Con for their roles in the film. In addition, Marvel have revealed a host of exciting plans for Hardy, including a standalone Black Widow film and a possible Captain America 3.

Shazam! A Tandem Collaboration With Marvel

As if confirming the return of the king didn’t make for enough headlines, DC and Marvel’s cinematic duos didn’t stop there. The big news in the superhero world in 2021 was that Marvel and DC finally worked together on a film, with Shazam! marking Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) return to the big screen after a four-year hiatus.

The Wrap’s Oliver Ng reported that Marvel and DC’s parent company, Warner Bros., are so excited about the possibility of bringing the rivals together on screen that they are already working on a second collaboration between the cinematic brands.

Ng wrote that, while the Marvel and DC cinematic brands are nominally separate entities, both companies are so eager to make a super-team movie that they are already developing a follow-up to their first collaboration, Shazam!, which will also star Henry Cavill, who plays the role of Superman.

The news comes at a time when Marvel are in desperate need of a win after two fairly disastrous years, while DC are riding a wave of popularity thanks to their dark and gritty take on the superhero genre. While everyone was excited about the prospect of Marvel and DC finally working together after years of rivalry, the fans were ultimately left disappointed, as both films underperformed critically and commercially, taking in a combined total of only $640 million at the box office.

Venom Vs. Shazam! A Showdown In Court

Despite the box office disappointment that was 2021, Marvel and DC weren’t just collaborating on films. In addition to the previously mentioned Black Widow and Captain America 3, they also showed off their collaborative side by teaming up for what was, essentially, a legal case against 20th Century Fox. In February 2021, Deadline reported that Disney, Marvel, and DC had reached an agreement, ending their legal battle over the ownership of the ‘Fantastic Four’ franchise.

The three companies were at one point engaged in a legal battle over who, exactly, owns the rights to the Fantastic Four. While 20th Century Fox maintained that they owned the rights to the Fantastic Four due to having the film in production at the time of acquisition, Marvel and DC contended that they, in fact, owned the rights. In the end, the parties were able to come to terms, with Disney purchasing 20th Century Fox’s stake in the franchise while Marvel and DC maintained full ownership.

Through all of this, we have seen that both Marvel and DC, despite their differences, have been operating under the same rules of thumb when it comes to pursuing film projects. Following their own internal processes, both companies have largely avoided publicity, eschewing social media in favor of focusing on making great movies. This has resulted in a dearth of information about what is, for all intents and purposes, two giant entertainment companies pursuing the same goal of providing fans with a cinematic experience that they enjoy.

The Rise Of The Cinematic Blockbuster

While Marvel and DC have been busy making movies, a new trend has been emerging, one that hasn’t been seen since before the dawn of the 21st century. Thanks to the explosion of online video platforms like TikTok, Amazon, and YouTube, along with the rise of the home video market, the cinematic blockbuster has experienced something of a revival. And, in fact, the resurgence of the epic film has been so great that the phrase ‘blockbuster year’ has been used to describe 2021.

According to Box Office Mojo, during the first five months of 2021, the phrase ‘blockbuster year’ was used more than 300 times in conjunction with describing upcoming movies. To put that into context, in 2020, there were only 16 films that were described as ‘blockbuster’ more than 50 times. In 2019, that number was 23. In 2018, it was 27.