Opinion | New fans will struggle to get into the new Marvel movies
I have loved Marvel movies for the majority of my life, and have wanted to write about the MCU since I began writing for The Pitt News 10 months ago. I know so much about the series and could talk about the intersecting plot lines for far too long if I’m allowed. But lucky for you, reader, I’m only allowed a set number of characters to express my opinions.
However, no matter how much I love Marvel movies, I can’t help but feel disappointed in the films and TV shows that have come out in recent years.
Maybe it was the pandemic that forced Marvel to take a year off from their theatrical releases, or maybe it’s because the movies are becoming too large for new and current fans to keep track of. From scarily bad CGI in recent releases to the dull one- sided characters, I think most Marvel fans would agree the MCU’s struggles have been apparent for a while now.
Their highs were incredibly high, like the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and the lows are quite low, with the star-studded cast of “The Eternals” falling flat. Even when the content is liked by most fans , misogynistic and racist viewers go in and review-bomb the ratings, leading to misconstructed numbers and upset fans who did enjoy the show. This is incredibly evident in the low ratings of “Ms. Marvel,” a show about a young Pakistani-American superhero.
Marvel took a chance when they released the first “Iron Man” movie in 2008, starring Robert Downey Jr. That very first movie was the spark that created the Marvel Cinematic Universe most of us know and love. This franchise created movie stars like Chris Hemsworth , who plays Thor, brought back successful actors from the brink of unemployment like Paul Bettany, who plays Vision, and are continuing to cast wildly famous actors, like Angela Bassett as the queen of Wakanda in “Black Panther.”
And all of their risks and decisions paid off. The Marvel universe is crazy successful, producing four of the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time, including “Avengers: Engame” which holds the second spot on the list with a lifetime gross of $2.8 billion.
These first generation of movies were successful in part because anyone can watch them without prior knowledge and still be able to enjoy it, and for those who knew the overarching plotline, it was even better. Each movie tied into one another in creative ways, all leading to the big event in the “Avengers” movies.
But now, in the second saga, lots of viewers are getting lost. There are so many characters to keep track of, each with their own singular and overlapping plotlines. And with hints at new characters in the backgrounds of scenes and even the introduction of entirely new ones in the post-credits, there’s just a lot going on. How is anybody supposed to keep track?
As of July, before the new “She-Hulk” series on Disney+ aired, it took 99 hours to watch the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if you want to go even more in depth and watch the Netflix “Defenders,” “Agents of SHIELD” and “Agent Carter” series, which are somewhat but not officially canonical — thank you , multiverse — you’re looking at another 258 hours. This doesn’t even include the Tobey Maguire and the Andrew Garfield “Spiderman” movies which are also now canonical. And please, don’t even get me started on the Sony “Spiderman” universe with the “Venom” movies and the upcoming “Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web” films.
I will admit that Marvel is usually pretty good at summarizing everything that’s happened within their films — “Infinity War” and “Endgame” probably being the best examples — but I worry about how new fans who don’t know the comics and haven’t seen the TV shows will respond to the upcoming movies.
Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, had her own TV show called “WandaVision” where she essentially became the villain throughout the series. Then in “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” she was the villain fighting Strange. People who haven’ t seen the TV show definitely could’ve been confused, as there was only a short recap of the events in “Wandavision.” And with the upcoming “Captain America: New World Order” movie coming out in a few years, in which Anthony Mackie’s Falcon takes on the Captain America mantle, nobody would know how he got the new title without watching the “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” TV show.
I’m even worried about the upcoming Avengers film, “Avengers: the Kang Dynasty,” because they introduced Kang in the show “Loki.” These examples are only the half of it. How is anybody supposed to keep the plot straight when so much is going on and half of it is behind a paywall? I certainly can’t.
Marvel has stepped away from creating great action movies that anybody can watch. Now it seems that the MCU has found reason to create more content that, while enjoyable, is only understandable if you watch the massive amounts of content that comes before it.
I love the shows on Disney+. It’s a controversial opinion, I know, but I do enjoy them and think they add a lot to the MCU. But that’s the problem — they add so much that if you don’t have a subscription there’s a good chance you’ll be lost when the movies reach theatrical release.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to reign in their massive catalog and create the simpler content that made everyone love them in the first place.
Livia LaMarca mostly writes about American political discourse and pop culture. Write to her at [email protected].