Franchise filmmaking is a complicated enterprise that includes more than just casting and directing. Big studios register domain names and social media handles ahead of time to prevent jerks from posting dumb memes out of an “official” Avengers page on Facebook they may or may not need to use. Ahead of San Diego Comic-Con next week, a few sites discovered “secret” Marvel Facebook pages related to the studio’s planned “Phase 4” movie lineup that are registered but do not have any published content.
We at Inverse found a few more, including what could be a tease for the most epic Marvel crossover movie yet: Avengers vs. X-Men.
The news first came last Friday, when ComicBook.com ran a story reporting that “Facebook.com/BlackWidow” and “Facebook.com/MarvelsEternals” — referring to two movies known to be in varying stages of development — are registered by an unknown owner. Unlike even domain registration, figuring out any public records of Facebook page owners is a virtually impossible task.
Furthermore, it should be noted that, like a lot of brands, Marvel Studios does not have a consistent naming system for its pages.
While URLs with straightforward names, like “Facebook.com/CaptainAmerica,” “Facebook.com/Daredevil,” and “Facebook.com/IronMan” bring up official, verified pages for those respective franchises, the same cannot be said for characters like Jessica Jones, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel, whose URLs belong to private individuals.
Instead, Marvel has registered “Facebook.com/MarvelsJessicaJones,” “Facebook.com/CaptainMarvelOfficial,” and “Facebook.com/BlackPantherMovie,” which suggests that studios settle for whatever isn’t taken. (Sony registered its Facebook page for Venom as Facebook.com/VenomMovie because Facebook.com/Venom belongs to the energy drink.)
Which makes this next bit compelling: The following list of “Facebook pages” are pages that are registered but have not published content. There is a tell that confirms whether a page simply doesn’t exist or does exist and hasn’t published any content yet (meaning its owners, whomever they may be, are keeping it to themselves for a specific reason).
Let’s look at a page that doesn’t exist. For an example, let’s check out the non-existent biopic of my life, Eric Francisco: The Movie.
Now here’s what it looks like when a page is registered but still hidden from the public view. Our example is “Official Shang-Chi,” using Marvel’s typical naming convention (“Facebook.com/ShangChi” belongs to a private user.) and knowledge that Marvel is in production of a film based on the character.
As ComicBook.com explained, the above page is what you see when a Facebook handle is registered (By who? We don’t know.) and hasn’t published anything.
It should be noted that what could be happening here is Marvel taking a preventative measure against cybersquatting, or the practice of registering “official” domain names in order to sell it.
An example of cybersquatting can be seen in a 2006 case involving Canadian businessman Jeff Burgar, who registered the URL “www.tomcruise.com” that redirected to his entertainment site, Celebrity1000, which sold stuff that had nothing to do with Tom Cruise’s film career.
While pages for “Marvel’s Ironheart” or “Dark Avengers,” via MCU Cosmic, may be registered, it doesn’t mean Marvel (if Marvel is, in fact, the owner) is making an Ironheart or Dark Avengers movie. It just means Marvel has ownership of the page should the studio need it.
We found a few more registered pages with very interesting names: Marvel’s X-Men (“marvelsxmen”), Avengers vs. X-Men (“avengersvsxmen”), and — are you ready for this? — Moon Knight (“Moon Knight!”). All of these names bring internet surfers to the same error message belonging to other phantom pages.
While fans can hope that registered pages for X-Men, Ironheart, and Moon Knight mean there’s something in store, they might not have to wait for long. Marvel is expected to reveal its Phase 4 at Comic-Con in San Diego this Saturday.