Realizing that I was finished with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) was a freeing moment. This is odd, because I don’t hate the MCU. For the most part, every Marvel Cinematic Universe entry has been competent and pleasing. Yet, after producing over twenty movies- there is no masterpiece. There’s no movie that’ll change your life, or make you think in a different way. Sure, not every movie is going to do that. However, because Disney has spent billions on this franchise, you do expect something better.
This blog post contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame
As I watched the Spiderman: Far From Home trailer, I realized how much I had outgrown the standard superhero stock. Now let me put a disclaimer: not all superhero movies are like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve ever seen Watchmen (2009) or Unbreakable (2000)- you know what I’m talking about. Adding onto that, I appreciated the vision and direction Christopher Nolan took his Dark Knight trilogy in. Because of Nolan’s care, he created an unforgettable trilogy with character and personality.
The standard superhero stock is a brightly-lit film that features a mediocre character journey with funny quips. There’s a boring villain, a bland soundtrack and average visuals. The standard superhero film ends on a high note- with the superhero realizing their worth and reaching a realization. Repeat twenty times.
Discussing the formula to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing new. There are countless blog posts, YouTube videos and critical reviews about it. Yet I didn’t really listen to them until I saw Endgame and Captain Marvel, two movies that feature generic stand-offs and battles, witty lines, characters discovering their worth, hearty melodrama, etc. Because of that, I had reached my breaking point of being finished with the MCU. There’s only so much average cinema I can tolerate. I know the next MCU film will be ordinary, and not much to talk about. So why would I waste $20 on a film that’s just going to be okay? We should demand more from the movies we watch.
Because of that, I believe the biggest crime of the MCU is how average and unremarkable it is. Sure, it has a wide scope spanning over twenty films. But don’t confuse scope and length for ambition. They are seperate things. Lavish special effects and sets does not automatically translate into interesting writing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe shows ambition with their quantity, but not their quality. Because of that, it’s time for me to bid it farewell. Sure- the Marvel Cinematic Universe is huge, yet it feels so small.
What sealed my decision was Tony Stark’s death. That was the crowning moment of realizing that I was finished with the MCU.
Now, it makes sense as a narrative decision, and I’m not being critical of it. I thought it was the perfect ending moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the MCU being well, the MCU- there are twenty more films lined up, with leads nowhere near as captivating as Iron Man. Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel is leading the charge (so I’ve heard) but she lacks the character chops to lead a superhero franchise. She’s not interesting enough.
As the films have strong formulas, it limits what characters can do. This is a shame because how characters act can determine how interesting they are. What’s thrilling about shows like Vikings is their ability to upset the established order. Why? Because the characters in that show make choices with consequences. Judging from the Spiderman: Far From Home trailer, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will aim to appease as many fans as possible.
Because of the lack of consequences and stakes, I am finished with the MCU.
What I Want Out of Cinema
As a filmgoer and cinema buff, appeasing me all of the time is bad. I need movies that make me think, that change me, that make me reflect. As I said earlier, not all movies are going to do that. But considering I have spent well over 48 hours watching these movies, yeah, it’s frustrating. When I voice my frustrations, some fans are very quick to shout ‘what did you expect? Can’t movies just be fun and not serious all of the time?’ Well… yeah. But that doesn’t translate into worthwhile cinema or good storytelling. It certainly doesn’t justify the high ticket prices for cinemas, either.
It’s okay if the ocassional blockbuster is unfussy and unremarkable- but when a company is actively striving to be like that, and repeat their formula over twenty times- it’s ludicrous. There’s only so much mediocre cinema I can accept before I get bored.
Another element that irritates me is the Black Widow solo movie- which seems to exist not out of love for the character, but to satisfy fans who demanded one. As Natasha Romanoff perished in Endgame, why would fans watch a prequel without her having a future they can be excited about? Instead of answering that question, Disney write in ‘Thor is fat’ jokes. As if that makes good humour.
The reality is, satisfying everyone results in pleasing no one. Eventually, the MCU will become tired and people will stop watching. The once electric franchise will lose its fuzz. Remember: future generations are going to enter into our world. Are they really willing to watch 20 previous films to understand the next? It’s not like the MCU has a James Bond-esque flair of mixing things up.
To conclude this post, I have nothing against people who still like the MCU. But it’s not for me, and I think that has to do with its unremarkable quality. The more I think about these movies, I become convinced that they have nothing compelling or unique to say. At the very least, I don’t see myself watching Spiderman: Far From Home in the cinema. Even though seeing some Venice eye candy appeals to me.
Personally, I think the format of film can do alot better. If Kevin Fiege took more time in improving the quality of an individual film, the franchise would improve. As of writing this blog post, I am finished with the MCU.
It’s been a wild ride, Disney. Now it’s time for me to see what the cinema format is really capable of.
What are your thoughts on the MCU? Comment below!