Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe getting too massive?


It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Marvel. With each the season finale of the Disney+ restricted sequence Moon Knight and Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity releasing in shut succession, it’s felt just like the Marvel deluge has been quick and livid of late.

However then, doesn’t that describe nearly each week these days?

I’ve been religiously following the Marvel Cinematic Universe because the first Iron Man film dropped again in 2008, and was a fan of these items since lengthy earlier than that due to the 2000s-era Spider-Man and X-Males movies. And one thing about Section 4 of the MCU simply feels…totally different. They are saying that each one nice empires develop till they attain a degree the place they will now not maintain their very own weight, at which level they crumble. Sure, I’m drawing a parallel between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Rome, and no I’m not sorry about it. It’s the largest media empire of our time.

Having watched each Moon Knight’s finale and Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity, I hold discovering myself circling again to the identical query: is the MCU getting too massive to inform a coherent interconnected story?

Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW..Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)..Picture: Movie Body..©Marvel Studios 2020

Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe buckling below its personal weight?

Let’s be clear right here: in some methods the MCU shouldn’t be massive sufficient. Marvel Studios lagged method behind in the course of the first three Phases of its film universe by way of illustration, and it feels as if it’s simply now beginning to make critical strides. Regardless of followers lobbying for a Black Widow film as early as 2015, the disorganized DC Prolonged Universe beat Marvel to the punch in making a superhero film with a feminine character within the lead; 2017’s Surprise Lady got here out a full two years earlier than Marvel took the leap in its twenty first movie with Brie Larson in Captain Marvel. The truth that Marvel is now together with superheroes with totally different backgrounds is a superb factor, and unquestionably top-of-the-line points of Section 4.

What worries me in regards to the MCU is its storytelling. The Russo Brothers, who directed the latter two Avengers and Captain America motion pictures, lately revealed that Marvel Studios didn’t have a set-in-stone plan for his or her early run of movies. Relying on how motion pictures did, they adjusted. And clearly that’s true; there was a time when movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp weren’t on the docket for Section 3, till these characters turned widespread sufficient for the studio to take a position extra in them. And Robert Downey Jr.’s first MCU post-credits stinger, the place he appeared in The Unimaginable Hulk, was one thing that got here collectively on the fly as a result of he simply occurred to be on the town when that movie was capturing.

However attempt to inform me that Feige and the remainder of the brains at Marvel Studios didn’t at the very least have an inkling of the place they’d wish to go. The primary Iron Man film arrange The Avengers finally turning into a factor. The Avengers arrange Thanos, who wouldn’t be performed by Josh Brolin till 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel Studios might not have had a plan, however it by no means felt like they didn’t have a plan.

Proper now, it sort of does. As a substitute of two to 3 motion pictures a yr, as was the norm in Phases 1-3, the content material is so fixed it may be difficult to maintain up with. There have been 5 Marvel reveals and 4 Marvel motion pictures launched in 2021, all of which can presumably issue into future reveals and films in a technique or one other. These reveals and films overlapped to the extent that Might was the one month in all of 2021 that didn’t have new Marvel Studios content material. A part of that was the pandemic, however nonetheless.

Section 3 of the MCU consisted of 11 movies. Hour for hour, we obtained extra Marvel content material in 2021 alone than we did in all of Section 3, which spanned 2016-2019.

2022 will see at the very least three Marvel reveals, three Marvel motion pictures, two vacation specials, and the animated I Am Groot sequence on Disney+. That’s nonetheless greater than double the yearly content material we obtained throughout Section 3, the place all the pieces was rushing towards the endgame of the Infinity Saga. And that’s not even considering the precise hours it’s good to spend to look at every factor, since a lot of the reveals common shut to five or 6 hours complete. It’s rather a lot.

He Who Stays (Jonathan Majors) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, completely on Disney+. Picture by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Can the Multiverse tie all of it collectively?

Proper now, it appears clear that Marvel is working towards a Multiverse Conflict. And that’s a reasonably cool concept. There’s little doubt that if and when Marvel does an Avengers within the Multiverse or Secret Wars film, will probably be superior. However the massive query is how effectively the MCU can feasibly tie collectively all of the disparate plot threads it’s juggling. We’ve had 11 Marvel reveals/motion pictures complete in Section 4 up to now, and the plot threads tying them collectively are minimal at greatest. Once more, that’s the equal of your entire Section 3 slate, which had two Avengers motion pictures and the crossover Civil Conflict.

Let’s additionally take into account that on the finish of every of these earlier Phases, there was a crossover Avengers movie to tie a lot of the characters collectively earlier than releasing them to go on their particular person adventures within the subsequent Section. As far as we all know, the ultimate film deliberate for Section 4 is The Marvels. (It was beforehand Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, however the discharge dates for these two movies lately flipped). That will probably be a crossover occasion movie; we all know that Ms. Marvel’s Kamala Khan and WandaVision’s Monica Rambeau will seem in it. However that makes it extra of a mini-crossover than a full-scale Avengers occasion. Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity included a slew of cameos and Thor: Love and Thunder additionally brings collectively a bigger group of heroes. To some extent, the primary factor lacking from this slate of Marvel stuff is the large crossover movies. As a substitute we’re getting a bunch of smaller crossovers, as in The Marvels and Thor 4.

And possibly that’s simply the path issues are going. Perhaps that’s the one option to hold this all manageable while you’re coping with this many characters. I’m not right here to place down issues folks love; in case you’re having fun with Section 4, that’s nice. There was a lot of fantastic storytelling in it. However it feels much less centered than the primary three Phases, much less certain of the place it’s going.

And regardless of the machine gun of content material, it appears we now have to attend longer between appearances for characters. Take Anthony Mackie’s Captain America; Sam Wilson (Mackie) took up the defend in the course of the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in April 2021. As issues stand, Sam isn’t slated to reappear till Captain America 4, which has no launch date as of but and virtually definitely received’t hit theaters till at the very least 2024. There’s at all times an opportunity he’ll flip up elsewhere (the smaller crossovers can turn out to be useful for that), however he’ll nonetheless have an extended hole between Captain America motion pictures than at any time throughout Phases 1-2, when a brand new movie would come round sometimes each two years. And let’s not even get began on after we’ll see Shang-Chi, the Eternals, or a few of the different new characters once more. Who is aware of?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Picture: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings/Marvel Studios

Section 4 is Marvel’s victory lap

On the finish of the day, there’s a specific amount of religion that’s required to put money into a large movie franchise just like the MCU, and the bigger and extra convoluted it will get, the extra religion is required. Can Kevin Feige pull it off and tie all the pieces collectively? The person has engineered probably the most profitable film franchise of all time, who am I to say he can’t?

However because the Marvel Cinematic Universe stands proper now, Section 4 feels much more like Marvel’s victory lap for ending the Infinity Saga than an epic story constructing methodically towards a satisfying climax the way in which it did throughout Phases 1-3.

The present Marvel tentpole film is Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity, now in theaters. Subsequent up is Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8, and the Ms. Marvel Disney+ sequence premiering on June 8.

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