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Added by PvtCaboose91 on 17 May 2015 07:14
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Is The Marvel Cinematic Universe In Trouble?

I've been watching Marvel movies since the beginning. I was there for Iron Man on opening weekend in 2008, and I've been following them ever since. But the cracks are already starting to show, and one has to wonder if Marvel's winning streak in terms of box office and acclaim will suddenly come crashing down...
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The Movies Are Becoming More & More Factory Like

Red flags about the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with Iron Man 2, which was hindered by studio involvement which basically rendered it an extended trailer for The Avengers, wasting Mickey Rourke in the villain role, and not giving the actual story enough development. Jon Favreau had overseen the first two Iron Man movies, but he soon left before completing the trilogy, saying that the studio was impossible to work with.

To be fair, this has not always been an issue. Outside of Iron Man 2, the Phase One movies really did feel like the vision of their respective directors - Thor had something of Kenneth Branagh's Shakespearean weight to it, Captain America was very much a period action movie, and The Avengers felt like a Joss Whedon pic.

But now, the likes of Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron might as well have been wrapped in cellophane. Alan Taylor had a notoriously difficult time with Thor: The Dark World, bemoaning studio involvement, while Whedon has been talking about how AOU nearly killed him. Personality is disappearing from the MCU. And with Edgar Wright stepping away from Ant Man after Marvel heavily tampered with his script, it's becoming increasingly apparent that Marvel want no creative input from filmmakers and want to keep producing factory-made blockbusters the way that they want. In simple terms, producer Kevin Fiege and the other head honchos at Marvel know that this is technically the best way for them to keep ahold of the MCU: hiring directors who can take orders from the top without ego, can direct as they're told to, and are just happy to have been given the work. As a result, the movies are beginning to feel blander and blander as we go onwards...

Guardians of the Galaxy did admittedly feel like an auteur effort, but even then, the movie featured a studio-mandated Big Noisy Climax. So did Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The fact that James Gunn and the Russo Brothers are staying with Marvel is a positive sign, but then again, they're not exactly doing much else. Who knows how much of their original ideas were lost in translation...

The Veteran Actors Are Going To Start Leaving

After Phase Three, it's doubtful the MCU will still be populated by the actors that we currently associate with the franchise. Robert Downey Jr's contract keeps getting extended as he asks for more and more money, Chris Evans is no longer contractually-bound to the series after Phase Three... Even Sam Jackson's contract is running out, and Chris Hemsworth won't be around forever. The big hitters will soon be moving on. And that really doesn't sound enticing, does it?

Some of the actors may choose to return, but most are talking about how they'll happily depart the MCU when their contract expires. Who wants to see an MCU without Iron Man, Captain America or Thor? They're the founding members. They'll likely be re-cast, and that'll be weird. Rumour has it Bucky will pick up the Captain America mantle, but it remains to be seen how successful that is. Besides, nobody can replace Downey Jr as Iron Man. NOBODY!

A small caveat: Yes, I KNOW that actors have already been replaced in the MCU. But the original actors for those characters (namely Rhodes and Bruce Banner) only appeared in one MCU movie before being replaced. It's a different kettle of fish for an actor to be replaced after spending so long in the MCU and truly making the role their own. Any replacement will likely be encouraged to mimic.

People Are Getting Harder & Harder To Please

After Iron Man 3, armchair critics decried that there was too much humour and the Mandarin twist was insulting. It split people right down the middle. After Captain America: The Winter Soldier, some people said it was too dark and they didn't enjoy it. With AOU entering cinemas, now people are complaining that the movie is "sexist," among other things.

No movie is going to please everybody, but continued complaints like this are just going to lead to every MCU movie played it safer and safer. Characters are going to get shoved into various movies even if the story doesn't necessitate it (did Guardians of the Galaxy REALLY need Thanos?). Black Widow might be pushed to the fore simply to combat the sexism arguments, which might not make sense in context. Point is, if Marvel are listening to the complaints and try to appease everyone, it's not going to end well.

There's Too Much Baggage And Too Many Subplots

This has been an issue for a while. At the end of the first Thor, the bridge to Earth was destroyed and Loki assumed dead. When The Avengers checks in on the situation, Thor can suddenly travel to Earth again and Loki is alive. No explanation. Righto. Iron Man 3 ended with Tony Stark ostensibly leaving to start a new life away from all his tech, but Age of Ultron finds him as Iron Man yet again. No explanation. Hm. There's just too much baggage popping up and not enough space for it all to be worked out. There's surely an entire movie's worth of baggage to deal with between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.

When it comes to comic books or television, it's easy for baggage to be dealt with, and it's easy to cover more story material as the format allows for more drama, more character development, and more stories. You can forgive a necessarily weak episode of a TV show because you know it'll pick right up next week, but at the same time that episode was necessary to work through all the baggage. It works.

Motion pictures are far scarcer commodities, however. Every movie has to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. There's no room to breath or tread water. Marvel started using short films for various bridging purposes, but they've just kinda fizzled out, and they introduced more subplots. One short told us there is a real Mandarin, and he's not happy about Trevor Slattery having sullied his good name. But where is that going to lead? Iron Man 4 is not happening any time soon, and if it does, we'll have a new Tony Stark. It's just a new subplot which is going to amount to nothing.

And with the MCU bringing in more and more new characters, there just won't be enough movies to cover everything. Spider-Man is being introduced in Civil War without any build-up, which is going to feel jarring. Eventually, the MCU may crumble under the weight of all the baggage and loose ends.

The Humour Is Becoming More & More Forced

The Iron Man movies have always been about humour and one-liners, with Downey Jr proving himself to be a comedic powerhouse. The Avengers was full of belly-laughs thanks to Downey Jr and other members of the cast. Whedon's script was witty as hell. It was a masterstroke - a film that could have easily burst under its own self-importance was made deliriously entertaining when these icons jabbered just like regular people. And Guardians of the Galaxy was a big winner thanks to its comedic elements.

But it's definitely being overused. Thor: The Dark World was given extra comedy at the eleventh hour when Whedon flew in to doctor the script. As a result, it felt forced. We certainly didn't need Kat Dennings running around spouting snarky one-liners as the end of the universe neared. And now Age Of Ultron has humour because it just kinda has to. The wisecracks are feeling increasingly forced rather than organic. Every five minutes, some random hero is making a meta observation irrespective of what's going on around them or whether or not it actually serves the story.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the only movie which went really easy on the jokes. With the Russo brothers returning to direct Civil War and Infinity War, there's hope this element will be played down, but that doesn't speak of the rest of the upcoming slate.

They've Used All The Best Characters Already

Phase Three is introducing a whole bunch of new characters, like Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Ant Man. But really, we associate the MCU with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk.

The end of Age of Ultron showed a new line-up for the Avengers squad, with the likes of War Machine, the Falcon, and the Scarlett Witch all reporting for duty, but really, the roster just looks drab without all the other characters. Marvel MAY be able to make iconic characters out of the newcomers, but that's entirely dependent on how those movies pan out. It's just going to be a tough sell.

Admittedly, bringing in Spider-Man may be a benefit, but we already associate Spidey with those awful Amazing Spider-Man movies and it's going to take a while to adjust. We will see.

Superhero Fatigue Is Coming - It Might Already Be Here

I'm officially getting over it. I'm getting over the whole $200 million superhero blockbuster scene, with plenty of CGI and characters doing fantastical things. I'm just getting sick of it, especially since the MCU is very unwilling to shake up the formula. Watching the newest Mad Max, I realised how much I miss the days when movies with predominantly practical effects and good ol' gun battles entered cinemas.

I consider myself a fan, and already I'm getting over it. I used to see an MCU movie in the cinema multiple times, but now once is enough. Cinema-goers are GOING to get sick of superhero movies, and when the crash happens, God knows what'll happen to the MCU. It might be cut down to one movie a year. The over-saturation of animated children's movies has already led to DreamWorks laying off staff and cutting back their annual slate, even cancelling a bunch of movies. Sony had a grand master plan for Spidey, but with just one movie underperforming, they had no choice and decided to make a deal with Marvel.

Can Marvel really sustain themselves?

Will We Care When The Inevitable Reboot Comes Around?

Ah, reboots. It's the word that every studio head loves. Cutting loose all the baggage and wiping the slate clean. Spider-Man got rebooted, and now he's being rebooted again. Green Lantern failed and is getting rebooted. Nolan capped off his Batman trilogy just a few years ago, and that's being rebooted.

Eventually, Marvel may hit the reset button. If the MCU crashes and burns, or gets too convoluted or confusing, there's a very real chance that the gang at Marvel and Disney will wait a few years, and then try again with a whole new cast. And trust me, that WILL happen. Disney are going to want to milk their purchase of Marvel for everything that it's worth. Just as Sony kept raping Spidey to keep the rights, Disney are gonna order Marvel to keep their movies going.

But would you really care anymore if it was rebooted?

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Really Isn't That Good

I mentioned that Marvel has a tonne of loose ends and subplots. From what I hear, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fixes some of those problems and provides some in-between material, though I could be wrong because I've only ever watched one episode. Agent Coulson coming back to life was a big thing.

But here's the problem: The show really isn't that good. Marvel have the right idea by using a TV show to fill in some of the loose ends, but it's hard to care about the show when it's not exactly engaging. Joss Whedon himself directed the pilot, and I found it a total bore. If a Marvel fan like myself has trouble getting into a show like this, and gives up after one episode, what hope does the casual watcher have? Hell, even hardcore fans have told me that the show doesn't pick up until like 3/4ths of the way through season one. That's a BIG problem. Especially since each season contains in excess of twenty episodes. It's a big commitment for anyone.

I did like Agent Carter, and will be tuning in for season two. It only had eight episodes, which ensured that each episode was indeed quality. We need more like that.

The M-She-U Is Here

The woke takeover of Hollywood has sped up in recent years, with intersectional feminism creeping into virtually every major franchise from Terminator to Star Wars. I have no issue with female superhero movies, but it's clear that the MCU is determined to push ahead with agenda-driven flicks dripping with propaganda and politics, which is not something we need in our popcorn-munching blockbusters. In Captain Marvel, the script and story were specifically designed for the titular character to be as flawless as possible, without any actual arc or hero's journey, because the filmmakers seemed terrified to portray Carol as an actual human with strengths and weaknesses. The script even went so far as to have the Tesseract give Carol her powers, as opposed to a man (like the comics).

If this sort of thing continues, it's going to get harder and harder to care about the MCU. And since Captain Marvel was a hit (thanks to the Avengers connection and nothing else, period), I don't think the wokeness and feminism angle will go away anytime soon. I'm just glad that Avengers: Endgame was a worthwhile endpoint for the franchise.

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