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To Infinity and Beyond: The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I think that's an excellent summary of what's gone wrong. After 33 (!) films there's never been any question of one of these godlike vigilantes ever going bad, or suffering permanent inconvenience. There's been one death of a non-villain and a couple of maimings, but one of those retrospectively doesn't count. Nothing about the effect it has on family. The earlier stories flirted with that a bit, and it's why we like those heroes. I'm not saying I want Watchmen, but some kind of depth beyond "this one's a bit of an immature dick" might make me care a bit.
 
I thought about it yesterday evening (picture Winnie the Pooh pondering really hard about Marvel content), and I realized the problem: I no longer see any conflict in Marvel products. In Pokémon Concierge, there is a problem where a pikachu and their trainer are not getting along, and I feel genuine sympathy for the pikachu that is not being understood by their master (pikachu just wants to ride a tube with you, you fool!). I do not know how they are going to fix this emotional problem, and when it is resolved, I feel satisfaction in them arriving at a conclusion that makes pikachu happy. 90% of Marvel content I can immediately recall has a conflict that is "x needs to be stopped or the world is going to end!", and, shocker, this problem can eventually be out-punched (or out-raced, I guess). And, like, that's cool... but I am not all that convinced the world is ever in danger at this point. Doubly so when they make a point of the world not even being a "relevant" world at all. I genuinely cared about the fate of Iron Man's daughter (Morgan!) in Endgame. I could not tell you the name of a single Eternal (okay, I'm lying, but only because I remember Ikaris and Sersi from the comics).
I don't think this is right. Not that your evaluation is wrong for you, but that apathy can't just be because there's no conflict anymore.

Eternals had genuine conflict of the not-Justice League all having completely different morals and world views - so much so that they ended up in direct opposition to one another.

In No Way Home, there was genuine conflict arising from Peter having to really struggle with what it means to be a hero, and the personal sacrifices he'd have to make to be one.

In HawkEye, there was genuine conflict arising from the fact that Hawkeye is living with survivor's guilt and that he never fully recovered from his crisis of faith stemming from breakdown after The Snap.

Ms Marvel, Kamala struggling to thrive while being divided between worlds (her conservative family vs liberalized western society; being a regular kid vs having super powers).

Moon Night, dude is literally fighting himself.

There's a lot that happens in these films/shows, and I could go on for a while. The problem I don't think is a lack of conflict. Maybe how sanitized and Disney-perfect each conflict wraps up in? But that didn't stop everyone from liking what was essentially the exact same formula for Phase 1-3.

What I think is more likely, is not just fatigue, but people's Monkey Spheres not being broad enough to enjoy all of this anymore. Phase 1-3, the pantheon of The Avengers was still relatively small compared to now. You had your handful of main heroes, each with a handful of supporting characters. It was a lot but not overwhelming. Now, there's just A LOT. It's the same problem comics have. Where the DC or Marvel Unvierses are huge, rife with hundreds/thousands of heroes. All trying to split the finite attention span of a finite readership. And even though you've got a thousand different, unique, interesting (on paper) heroes to pick from, the best selling comic books on a regular basis are still going to be Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. Your perennial, evergreen favorites.

Individuals contain multitudes, but people as a group are simple. And we tend to latch onto on a limited number of things because we haven't evolved all that much from our ancestors whose comprehension of the world around them could never really handle the abstract very well. One loss is a tragedy, a million losses are a statistic; etc.

There's just too much Marvel stuff now, divided amongst too may ancillary characters for people to care like they once did. I'd guarantee if Marvel announced an Iron Man 4 and brought DRJ back, that movie could be dogshit and people would line up around the block to see it.

Tangental to this idea, is also the fact that people are uneased and threatened by change. Something genuinely new and refreshing is nice. But once you introduce things that threaten to change something they already enjoy, there is always going to be a large segment of the population that will reflexively reject that change, based on no actual merits or demerits. Just because they're subconsciously uncomfortable now and can't handle that cognitive dissonance. This happens with fandoms A LOT. I see it happen literally every fandom I've ever observed or interacted with. I've even experienced it myself a lot in the past as well. It really doesn't matter how good something new is based on its own merits, if it's different enough from what makes people feel comfortable and safe. MCU is facing this now. I bet if you gave Kevin Feige a mulligan, he would have made the Phase 4/5 transition away from the original core Avengers a lot less abrupt feeling, because everyone kinda just retiring all at once in order to get immediately replaced by a younger generation is low key really interesting and commendable in its daring, but clearly hasn't worked out in the court of public opinion.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I dunno, I'm a bit conflicted. I definitely feel less interested in MCU stuff, but at the same time I feel like phase 4 is mostly good. There are some clear differences, but it's hard to put a finger on exactly why.

I don't think the issue is that there's too much Marvel stuff now. The earlier phases had a ton of TV shows (Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, Inhumans, all the Netflix series, Cloak and Dagger, and Runaways), and by phase 3 they were releasing about as many movies a year as they are now. If anything, I think there are fewer hours per year of marvel stuff these days.

The shows are a bit more integrated into the movie universe, but the movies still kind of ignore them when they want to. A lot of the shows have issues with villains or the finale, but they're mostly good. I totally skipped Secret Invasion based on word of mouth though.

Overall quality has dropped a bit, but a lot of that is due to bad luck outside of their control (Covid, Boseman's death, Majors being a sack of shit). Overall I like Phase 4 about as much as or a bit better than Phase 2. A little step down from the series height, but still worth watching. Also, Phase 3 was outstanding and the break right after Endgame before Phase 4 started probably built up expectations too much.

But it does feel a bit different. Maybe it's just the lack of Avengers movies? Phase 1 was a few origin stories then a team up, Phase 2 was a few sequels then a team up, and Phase 3 was a bunch of origins and sequels and then two big team ups. Now Phase 4 is all sequels and origin stories, and Phase 5 is looking about the same. There are a lot of teases and cameos and post-credit stuff, but for the most part everyone is doing their own thing. We're just past the middle of a 7 year gap between Avengers movies.

So maybe a small dip in quality (some outside their control) and a lack of teaming up in a significant way adds up.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I think there's some truth to that. In some ways it's kind of counterintuitive: if they had more team up movies and tighter integration of the TV shows with the movies, it could make people care more about keeping up and watching everything. Heck, an actual New Avengers movie coming out would probably actually make me catch up on everything I've missed so far. Instead it just feels like an interlocking set of Easter Eggs instead of anything with a big payoff building up.
 

SpoonyBard

Threat Rhyme
(He/Him)
All five episodes of Echo are released. I've watched the first one and it's honestly really good. It's been a long time since I've watched any of these Marvel shows and the first episode ends and I go "It's over already?", not because it was short but because I was getting into it.

Biggest criticism I have of the first episode is that it spends a bit too much time re-hashing things we've seen and learned on Hawkeye, but if that helps people get into the series without having to do homework then it's not a huge issue.
 

Vaeran

(GRUNTING)
(he/him)
I finished Echo over the weekend and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, as I thought Maya was fine in Hawkeye but that series didn't really leave me desperate to know more about her. Turns out she can hold the screen by herself quite well, and I found myself wishing we got more than just the five episodes here. The heavy focuses on Choctaw culture and on deafness/signing were well handled, I thought, but I suppose I'm not really qualified to make a judgment about either of those. The plotting wasn't always perfect (in particular the murky, convenient logistics of Vickie's attempt to hand Maya over to Zane in episode 3 had me scratching my head) and the finale felt a bit rushed, but the character work was really strong. This is one of the better Disney+ Marvel shows for sure.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Still feels wild that this one is happening, that Disney went ahead with it and that they got Jackman back.
There's a literal battle in the ruins of 20th Century Fox. I could see this as having a bit of a satirical edge but I could also see it going the route of Chip n Dale; amusing but when you unpack it, some... interesting messaging. Will probably still enjoy it, though.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
The Marvels was amusing but I think it might have the worst villain in the MCU. She has a sympathetic motivation for hating Carol, but her way of getting revenge is so unnecessarily evil that she might as well not have a sympathetic motivation in the first place.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
Hot Take Deadpool & Wolverine should have been Deadpool III and the roman numeral 3 should have been wolverine claws.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I really enjoyed both Deadpool Movies, but I'm concerned that Marvel lacks the strength of conviction to make one.
 
I really enjoyed both Deadpool Movies, but I'm concerned that Marvel lacks the strength of conviction to make one.
Over or under 1.5 times that there is a setup for a risqué joke, or a joke that’s too much at the expense of Disney, and then Deadpool is like sorry Mickey Mouse wouldn’t like that. To lampshade the fact they aren’t doing the thing they wanted to do.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
Over or under 1.5 times that there is a setup for a risqué joke, or a joke that’s too much at the expense of Disney, and then Deadpool is like sorry Mickey Mouse wouldn’t like that. To lampshade the fact they aren’t doing the thing they wanted to do.
There is no "Joke" crueler than the one that goes "sorry, turns out we're cowards."
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I am under the impression this movie is gonna be Marvel Studio's first R-rated film.

That's not really *THAT* special. The Deadpool Movies are far from the HARDEST R rated films out there. It didn't take THAT much editing to get Deadpool 2 down to PG-13 for the special release and all.

But I wouldn't be shocked if the final result feels exactly like a normal PG-13 Marvel movie with one extra F-Bomb ADR'd in to get it over the cutoff.
 

madhair60

Video games
I actively dislike the MCU at this point but I did enjoy both Deadpools enough to give this a look. I felt a real sadness well up when I saw the TVA goon squad arrive to take Deadpool out of Fun World and into corporate synergy. But I also smiled at some of the action and sillies in the trailer. I am convinced this will be the worst of the Deadpool movies, because I don't see how it could not be. But maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised again, like I was with No Way Home.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I watched the marvels and posted about it on the new site that's technically not twitter.

 
Getting "could this be so dumb it's good?" curiosity about Madame Web. Hoping it might be another dumb masterpiece like Venom, and not just another dull Morbius situation.

(Will not go watch it in theaters to find out, though...)
 
Well it shares screenwriters with Morbius, if that indicates anything

Hard to say because movies like this get reworked so much from misguided studio notes that there may or may not be a correlation between the script and what gets put on screen, for good or ill.

(Also, I think the biggest obstacle to Morbius being so dumb it's good was having Jared Leto in the lead role...)
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
Jared Leto is the kind of idiot who will make everyone's day miserable for no reason other than "he's Method" meaning that anyone stupid enough to cast him gets exactly what they deserve.
 

jpfriction

(He, Him)
Is the other one the unreleased 1994 one? If so, you have an excuse.

The gritty reboot was dumb but held my attention for most of a plane ride, that’s about all I ask out of a movie.
 
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