By: Cal Parsons
I will be the first to admit that I am a huge fan of what Marvel Studios has created over the past 9 years. The way they’ve created a universe of characters and storylines woven together through multiple separate films that culminate to huge team-up films is not only impressive but unquestionably historic. Marvel has created a new age of superhero films that, in my opinion, has yet to be matched by other studios. I will also be the first to admit, however, that their films tend to be safe and formulaic.
The Marvel Studios brand has become the shining star of superhero blockbusters. From their first film Iron Man to their latest solo-origin Doctor Strange, Marvel has consistently made hundreds of millions of dollars from each movie all while turning C-list superheroes into A-list superheroes. No average movie-goer ever knew of Iron Man, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, or the Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, after solidifying themselves as the masters of superhero entertainment, their latest film Doctor Strange (2016) made more money than Man of Steel (2013). Who would have guessed four years ago that a Doctor Strange movie would beat Superman?
This shows just how dominant Marvel has become over the superhero genre. They are able to take C-list superheroes and make more money than Superman. Guardians of the Galaxy, which is arguably one of Marvel’s biggest risks, made more money than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Star-Lord beat Batman.
But the MCU is not without its flaws. They don’t always make the BEST movies, (see: Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2), but there can be an argument made that none of the MCU movies can be called “terrible”. They’re light-hearted, fun, entertaining movies that let the audience escape into these visually stunning worlds filled with interesting characters and energetic action. But that’s about all there is to these movies, for the most part. Doctor Strange, while a visually impressive, perhaps jaw-dropping, spectacle of a film, the plot is very similar to Iron Man. This can also be said about Ant-Man, all three having similar origin stories with similar plot points and narratives.
Without a doubt, the biggest flaw of the MCU has been how they handle their villains. Their villains are generic, one-dimensional angry people that add hardly any emotional heft or challenges to the heroes. Some villains, like Loki, Winter Soldier, and Zemo are given backstory and emotional connections to the heroes and are the few of the many that are handled very well. The other villains strive for power or world domination, which is getting old quickly. Their Netflix shows, however, have been doing a great job with all their villains, having the advantage of multiple hour-long episodes for development.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, with all its flaws, is an impressive feat that has yet to be matched. Marvel has done what was thought to be the impossible: they’ve created a comic book world with their films, and they don’t seem to be slowing down for a second. For the next few years we will be getting three Marvel Studios films a year instead of the usual two a year, and are impressively well-organized, thanks mostly to their head Executive Producer Kevin Feige.
There’s a lot more to be said about the accomplishments and the flaws of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but audiences can see for themselves every time they see a new Marvel Studios film. If you’re at all curious of a break-down of how vast the scope of the MCU really is, check this out.