Comic Book Movies have been a huge part of pop culture in the last ten years, but 10 years after the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is it time for them to die?
On May 2nd, 2008 Marvel Studios took a B list character and built the most successful movie franchise of all time around him with Iron Man. Marvel didn’t have the option to use some of its most popular characters like the Xmen and the Fantastic Four being owned by 20th Century Fox rather than Disney. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was unprecedented, being that no one had ever done anything like it; yet, in 2018, numerous other companies have tried to do the same thing, very unsuccessfully.
For years the MCU was doing great. There were so few critical and financial flops in comparison to how many thrived. I, like many others, was 100% on board with what they were doing, but once Avengers: Age of Ultron came out in 2015, everything changed.
Age of Ultron opened on May 1, 2015 and as one would expect, it doubled its budget in box office totals. However Age of Ultron was disappointing to say the least. By no stretch was it a bad movie, but for one of the most anticipated movies of that year it is very forgettable. Age of Ultron should have been another epic chapter in the Avengers saga but it felt like it was just filler to lead up to the next Avengers movie, Infinity War the event that the MCU has been building to for 10 years.
Avengers: Infinity War will make massive amounts of money purely because of the concept of all of the MCU’s most marketable characters on screen at once, but Infinity War can’t just be another forgettable blockbuster that the last few MCU movies have been. Infinity War needs to take risks and do the unexpected to save Marvel from its current creative rut.
While it seems like the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney, which brings X men characters into the MCU, is nothing but good for fans of comic book movies, a lot of fans of Marvel have noticed that great, original, and risk-taking movies like Deadpool and Logan, which is acknowledged by many as the second best comic book movie of all time behind The Dark Knight, would never be made by Disney.
Recently the MCU has developed a serious problem in which they occasionally treat their audience like children who want to see a one liner instead of actual heartfelt moments. Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 were comedies and aside from one scene in Guardians of the Galaxy that saw seemingly the first real death of a recurring character in the MCU the movies completely lack stakes because the protagonists just laugh of the fact that the world is ending.
Perhaps the most noticeable problem with the MCU right now is that they don’t succeed at being well made, good movies anymore. All of them are still watchable but there is now a double-standard for comic book movies. When Spider-Man: Homecoming came out, people thought of it as a great Marvel movie, but not a great movie.
That’s the problem with the MCU. Out of the 17 movies, at least 13 are considered good comic book movies, because they are compared to each other, not to other movies. The MCU has almost gotten lazy with their movies, many just feeling like they are there just to lead up to Avengers: Infinity War. Yet these movies that feel lazy are still reviewed well and make more money than any other movies of their years. This is because the MCU has no competition.
Before the 20th Century Fox deal, The MCU and 20th Century Fox had a rivalry to see who could make the better superhero film and then he DC Extended Universe entered the race and aside from Wonder Woman, utterly failed in trying to match the MCU’s and 20th Century Fox’s critical reception.
Now its a two person race between the MCU, which has 17 of the most acclaimed comic book movies under its belt and all the X Men movies now, against the DCEU, which has five movies, one of which has matched the quality of the typical MCU movie.
Without this competition the MCU just needs to make their movies light hearted and fun and they immediately pull in a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and tens of millions of dollars. Yet these movies still bring nothing new to the table. And now the MCU feels more boring than ever.
Black Panther however does look like it will bring something new to the table as it brings what many feel to be the best aspect of Captain America; Civil War to the forefront in what looks like a visually stunning action film with the best cast to grace the screen for the MCU to date.