The Guardians of the Galaxy are taking Marvel Studios to a place they’ve never been before: the world of ultra high definition.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2,” available now on Blu-Ray and digitally, is Marvel Studios’ first home video release in 4K, the format that’s the next level up in terms of picture quality, and is available on many of the newest TVs and Blu-Ray players — but only for the shows and movies that offer it.
It’s the one area where Marvel Studios has been behind the pack in the world of superhero cinema. 20th Century Fox’s last three “X-Men” films (“X-Men: First Class,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”) as well as Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine, “Logan,” have all been released in 4K on home video. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have released “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad,” and the upcoming fall release of “Wonder Woman” in 4K as well.
There’s also Netflix, which offers its Marvel (not affiliated with Marvel Studios, the film arm) shows (“Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” and “The Defenders”) to stream in 4K.
So Marvel Studios is late to the party, which could be for a number of reasons. It’s owned by Disney, which has been cautious about the format, as it has not yet put any of its classic animated movies or recent live-action adaptations in the 4K format on home video just yet. Disney could be waiting to see if home audiences care about the quality difference and actually buy the necessary products, including a 4K television and a 4K Blu-ray player.
Marvel Studios and Disney also have had to consider younger fans who likely consume their superhero entertainment on their phones and tablets. Some mobile devices have 4K streaming capability and more might have it in the future — but their young users are not so likely to want to purchase a 4K Blu-ray disk. Younger viewers may be drawn into the format if their video game console offers a built in 4K player (like the Xbox One), but otherwise it might not be high on their viewing radar.
4K viewing provides brighter and stronger colors. Details on those super-suits are more crisp. If you’re a high definition junkie, the difference is noticeable and enjoyable.
We should now expect future Marvel Studios releases such as November’s “Thor: Ragnarok” and next year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” to also get the 4K treatment, and all of their current home video releases to eventually getting converted as well. And if Disney gave the OK for Marvel Studios to go 4K, could its “Star Wars” video library be far behind? Perhaps this December’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will have a 4K release on home video in 2018.
The viewing future of Marvel Studios home entertainment releases and possibly others under the Disney umbrella (we mean you, Kylo Ren) is now brighter and a whole lot more clear.