The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was once an incredible spectacle of storytelling and fan-favorite characters debuting on the big screen, has now become something far less lucrative.
I remember seeing the trailer for “Iron Man” in 2008. I had never been so excited for a superhero movie in my life. When I saw the film in theaters with my dad and brother, I felt like I was flying at Mach speed along with everyone in the theater.
Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark, sold this universe to me at the ripe age of 11 years old, and I was determined to see every bit of the MCU.
Fast forward to the one of the most thrilling midnight premieres I’ve ever been to: “Avengers: Endgame.”
Over 10 years of plot and character building led to one of the best finales to any film saga I’ve ever seen. Even after such an incredible send-off, I couldn’t help but want more. I clearly wasn’t the only one as the film is the second highest-grossing film of all time at the time of writing.
The MCU continued to entice me for a while thanks to the likes of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” However, something seemed to be missing, and I couldn’t quite figure it out.
That is until I talked to Nate Snow, an assistant professor of communication. Snow specializes in pop-culture, so I decided to ask for his opinion about the state of the MCU.
Snow said: “It comes down to what I call homework. People have been putting in homework into the MCU since 2008, and that homework has just built and built, and the universe is getting bigger and bigger. It’s gotten to the point where after Avengers and Thanos, I think audiences needed a reset. They needed a break, but instead, it just feels the universe just continues to grow.”
Along with a multitude of films, the MCU now has a surplus of TV shows on Disney+ that often doesn’t contribute to the larger story as a whole. Snow said in order to truly keep up with the MCU’s developments, you have to watch hours upon hours of content.
This has led to what I would like to call content overdose.
The producers at Disney thought more content is better content, and quantity over quality is what we got. Fans liked the quips of the main characters; they made every character comedic relief. Fans like big CGI spectacles, and visual effects artists struggle to make quality effects on a strict deadline.
The MCU genuinely needs time to breathe. If we just had a 3-year break after “Avengers: Endgame,” then the current reception to films like “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” would have been received better by fans and critics.
Another possible solution would be to build more personable stories in the MCU instead of trying to match the scale of previous films. “The Batman” is a perfect example of this method of storytelling in superhero films. No tease of some overarching plot line; just great storytelling that focuses on making the characters feel genuinely unique to watch.
I have not seen any of the MCU movies since “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” It’s not like I haven’t had the desire to see “Thor: Love and Thunder” or “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” but that desire has diminished greatly since I’ve noticed the degradation of quality in these Marvel films.
The ironic thing is “She Hulk: Attorney at Law” actually made a joke about the problems of formulaic plots and the struggle to produce quality visual effects in Marvel films, but then they continue to make the same mistakes instead of correcting them.
The MCU is proof that too much of one good thing can turn sour. It’s like finding a new favorite ice cream flavor; it’s good in small doses but can often sour for the worse when one eats it all of the time. Here’s hoping the MCU can find a new flavor to bring me back to the movie theater.