Firstly, let me preface this: I’d like to not come off as preachy or arrogant in this article, even though that is often the nature of a review. I’d like to have a one-sided discussion using my opinions about the inherent issues with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as of recently, and why those have led me (and many other people like me) to become disinterested in the MCU’s new content. Let’s set the stage:
I was, and still am, a pretty big nerd. Although I was never a hard-core comics enthusiast, I was a huge fan of the Marvel movies for a large portion of my life. Throughout middle school and high school, my friends and I would go to every new release, spend hours talking about them, hooked on all the little intricacies within the lore and the creative ways the characters overlapped throughout the larger narrative. Movies like Captain America: Civil War and eventually the dual Avengers: Infinity War to Endgame were inspirational films that provoked much of my interest in the medium as a whole. I would say what Marvel Studios is calling the “Infinity Saga,” the series of movies from Iron Man to Far From Home was an absolutely impressive filmmaking achievement. Cramming several arcs of characters with solo movies and team-ups into one complete mass story, which held the entire genre of superheroes at the time on its back and which, in my opinion, proved that blockbuster, big-budget cinema has the potential to be complex and authentic and not just pander to the lowest cash-grabbing quality which it’s usually associated with (and yes, this is foreshadowing). That was a long sentence, but I think that the MCU before Avengers: Endgame, was genuinely quality cinema. And I was a huge fan and supporter of it, but now I am not.
Imagine a great story, one which you personally love and connect with; a story that reaches the hearts of millions and gets captured within time as a genuinely great addition to the likes of humanity and art – then imagine that piece being continued and drooled over, over and over again, maximized and generalized until it reaches such a low quality compared to its start that you as the viewer can no longer personally love that work. That is a dramatization, but a good summary of what happened to me as I tried to watch the newest releases in the MCU lineup. Most of them suck; where before the worst of the worst might’ve been a fun but mediocre Ant-Man film, now that level is absolutely boring, uninspired and frankly angering to think about – and that’s a large portion of the newest stuff! Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Widow, The Eternals, Wanda Vision, Hawkeye, She-Hulk; all movies or TV which provided low-quality cinema and were generally a waste of the viewer’s time, as well as an utter waste of the millions and millions of dollars spent to make them. And to that end, the reason all this happened is because Disney as a corporation saw an opportunity to expand the MCU tenfold, without regard for artistic value, with the endgame of making a boatload of easy money. They released show after show and dumb unfinished movie after another with big names and new characters and it was simply too much. Yes, they made a lot of money, but I believe they would have made just as much money if they did things the right way; the right way in my opinion. If focused on a few characters; let’s say Captain Marvel, Moonknight, Wanda, Shang-Chi, and a few more – released a few movies per character, developing interesting stories which overlap in neat ways, and led up to some next big bad with a full team-up (like the original Avengers). A solid foundation which is exactly where the original “Infinity Saga” drew from. Fewer characters, fewer introductions, more stories, more quality.
But hey, I am not a genius or an award-winning screenwriter, I am just a fan with some opinions. And maybe it’s a good thing that the MCU was messed up so severely – what? – yes, now I’m saying it might’ve been a positive development for the industry. Because people like me are tired of B.S. and are not going to go to see the next slop in the lineup, hoping it might be good because it won’t. Movies like the newest Ant-Man: Quantumania are dead-end examples of this; it was advertised to hell and back, cost a ton of money to make and yet it barely left a mark of its existence. Not a lot of people went to see it, both within the general audience and the hard-core Marvel fans like myself, and to that end, no one was talking about it. Films like Captain America: Winter Soldier drove fans crazy with discussion and review, but here there’s simply nothing to get excited about. The writer’s strike, which ended a few weeks ago as I’m writing this, and its actors’ strike parallel, are inherent messages of change within the industry and hopefully of change within the audience of that industry. Disney and other entertainment corporations are beginning to slowly learn that they can’t reproduce the same big-budget dullness over and over again. And that’s why all the smart people I’m friends with and I will not be going to see The Marvels.
Atticus Jackson is a first-year writing for film, tv and emerging media major who commands you to stop watching Marvel movies. You can reach Atticus at [email protected].