Have you lost your Marvels?
Graham Ford, Contributing Writer
The day of superheroes is becoming less marvelous and more concerning.
For over a decade Marvel Studios has been producing superhero projects through what they call the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”. Throughout the decade, the MCU has gained a large following of comic book fans and movie lovers. After the release of “Avengers: Endgame”, fans began to question if Marvel Studios could keep up their consistent success with their projects.
The MCU is split up into sagas and phases. The first three phases were within the “Infinity Saga”, and the fourth through sixth phase will be set within the “Multiverse Saga”. The “Infinity Saga” focused on the powerful infinity stones and each movie led to the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame”. Now, the “Multiverse Saga” is here and is leading to something that isn’t clear just yet. Critic scores and Marvel fan’s opinions mostly show that the MCU was becoming better as the phases progressed. However, with fourth phase over, fans are feeling left with a sense of disappointment and confusion. Has the fourth phase the begun the downfall of the MCU?
As of right now, the fourth phase has just come to an end with the release of “Black Panther Wakanda Forever”. Phase four housed the first film in the MCU to receive a rotten score with critics in “Rotten Tomatoes”. Plus, the five lowest rated movies come from this phase. According to Paul Shirey at “Screen Rant”, and Jasmine Vengas at “Comic Book Resources”, Marvel’s Phase four has produced the most disappointing projects so far.
One question that might help is what made the MCU so special in the first place?
Ryan Longwell, junior at NGU and Marvel Fan, shared his opinions on why the MCU has worked up to this point. “I loved how all the films did such an incredible job of connecting and building up the universe as a whole. It was easy to see how each film was building to the next”, said Longwell. The clear connection of characters and storylines is attractive to him and kept him wanting to see what would come next for the characters. Like how in each phase one film fans could watch as Nick Fury or Tony Stark were setting up for the first Avengers movie in some form of fashion.
Another reason the MCU seemed to be thriving was because of the interest in the characters being portrayed. Spencer Harrison, with the “Harvard Business Review”, said, “At its best, Marvel Studios provokes an intense interest in characters, plotlines, and entirely new worlds. Its whole universe has the feel of a puzzle that anyone can engage with.” By using popular comic book characters, and building a huge universe with them, Marvel gains the interest of customers who want to see the finished picture of the puzzle. In “Avengers: Endgame”, Marvel was able to bring in almost every hero they had introduced since the 2008 to fight the final battle against Thanos to save the world. Seeing everyone team up the way they did was monumental, and it felt like a perfect final piece to the ‘Infinity Saga,’” said Longwell.
If the MCU was doing so well, why is beginning to be spiral downhill all of a sudden?
Something that Shirey touched on in his article, is how some fans are not as hopeful because they are building to something that isn’t clear. “Fans have no idea where any of it is going, let alone what the real threat is or who will lead the fight against it”, said Shirey. There is concern on how they are going to tie in all of the different storylines into a big project Marvel is leading to.
Another area that is raising concerns for the MCU is the amount of content they are releasing each year. Is Marvel starting to become more quantity over quality? Noah Murphy, junior, said, “It seems that Marvel is so focused on pouring out so much content, they forget to think about the need or quality of the extra content.” Shirey has a similar opinion to Murphy. “It may seem ironic to complain about having too much of a good thing, but when the good thing becomes monotonous, aimless, and without any real stakes or hype, the audience may lose its appetite altogether”, said Shiery.
Now that Marvel is under pressure and on a decline, how could Marvel improve in projects to come?
Going along with Shirey’s thoughts on the unclearness of the future of the MCU, Charlie Moat, with the “Collider”, thinks the MCU needs an end goal fast. Moat said, “Phase four has already racked up a whopping total of around 50 hours of running time. If Marvel doesn’t start to at least hint at an end goal tying everybody’s stories together soon, many fans are going to lose interest.” There is some good to mystery of a story, but when it seems like not even Marvel is sure where its headed, it becomes hard to stay involved. In phase five, Marvel’s chance of further success could depend on how fast they start to show clear signs of where the story is headed.