Why Some Are Getting Tired of The Marvel Cinematic Universe? (And How To Fix The Issues) - Part 1

Source, "Excelsior!"
Hey there, true believers! You must be getting tired of a lot of our Marvel-related posts. Well, we obviously can see why, given that writing about the same things would just make us one-sided, and honestly, we are getting a little bit worn-out ourselves, even if we do enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe's mythology to the core. To remedy ourselves, and you, the readers, from the overabundance of Marvel-centric posts, we decided to show the not-so perfect side of the multimedia franchise.

For our latest editorial, Dateline Movies will explore the common and uncommon criticisms that surround the franchise, once more through the eyes of the critics' and the moviegoers', and as usual, we will offer solutions to address these concerns. Man, after writing this, I hope Doctor Strange could fix many of these issues.

Source, "Mission Report: December 16th, 1991"
1. New Look; Still Same, Same Old (Formulaic Structure of Stories)


Shall we play a game? Can you name the Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, based on the following hints? It has a charismatic lead, who has problems within the family or friends that affected his personality. It has a villain, who wants the protagonist/s dead because they are only bad for the sake of the plot, and their plans are usually world-threatening, and involve the powers of the protagonist/s, or an intergalactic MacGuffin. After a first or second encounter with the main villain, the movie would feature the hero/es retreating to an isolated area, using civilian clothes such as a cap, and shades as disguises, as their secret identities are known by the public. This is not applicable to characters not of Earthly origin. Prior to the climactic battle, someone close to the protagonist/s, or someone random such as the President of the United States, would be in danger. They can also be in groups. By the end, the main villain dies, unless that villain is Loki (Because why not?), usually through the direct or indirect use of the plot device of the movie, or any other weapon the villain uses. And of course, it either has a mid-credits scene, a post-credits preview, or both, as well as a Stan Lee cameo, and tons of references to past installments. Do you know what movie it is? You may or may not know, because all MCU movies follow this precise formula.

Source, "Avengers Assemble!"
The Solution: Unlike Mathematics class, a formula is never a good thing when it comes to filmmaking, as the use of a movie formula, which basically means ripping-off the core story of another movie, while adding minor changes, you are deliberately stating that you would rather get a quick paycheck instead of going beyond conventional means. It means that you are afraid to put effort, to innovate, to try something new. And if you are not willing to surprise moviegoers, then you are treating your audience as if they are not capable of change. To simply put, the writers should discard the formula, and add some twist and turns. Although the movies are utilizing literary types of conflict (Man Versus Self, Man Versus Society etc.), which is really interesting, they should at least make some new material to keep the audience guessing until the conclusion. Captain America: Civil War removed some key elements of the MCU formula, such as the death of the main villain, and the world-threatening sinister plot. Yes, and I just realized this now, while it does still suffers from cliches, it is a breath of fresh air to see some new story directions. However, they can keep the part wherein a character is in danger, because without that, we would not be able to see some superheroes doing heroics.


Source, Producer Kevin Feige
It is also worth noting that the addition of directors and writers that are known for unconventional styles of filmmaking are welcome inclusions to the franchise's course, so as to create a modern cinematic masterpiece out of seemingly cartoonish source materials. Directors such as The Russo Brothers, frequent episode directors in the series Community, and James Gunn, an indie director known for tackling bizarre topics, are good examples of trustworthy project heads. Comedy filmmaker Edgar Wright's involvement in the development process of Ant-Man is indeed a good option, but like Wright, who clearly has a much more distinctive take on the Mighty Mite prior to leaving the film, there are chances that writers and directors' trademark gimmicks would not suit the characters well. This is where Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, comes in, as it is his responsibility to oversee these projects, and to ensure that not only are these flicks successful in release, but also the intellectual properties are handled properly.

Source, "You'll Never See Me Coming!"
2. The Marvel Cinematic Universe Supervillain Problem

And speaking of villains, we now go to the most frequent complaint that you will hear in every single movie review that focuses on an MCU movie, the use of generic antagonists. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now known for its mismanagement of various villains, ranging from henchmen to potentially powerful ones, which is a contrast to how DC Comics usually handle their villains. The aforementioned claim can be seen in The Dark Knight, and Man of Steel, wherein the villains of the movies have been made memorable enough to be a good antagonist. So far, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak), is the only villain to prominently appear more than once, but it is because of the villain's popularity, other potentially influential adversaries are left to be one-dimensional stereotypes. Malekith the Accursed, played by Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later), is by far the weakest main villain in the franchise, as almost no backstory is given to his motivations, and the lack of redeeming qualities that should have at least been shown in some action scenes did not help either.

However, it is not only in generic writing approaches are villains made unmemorable. It is also through the radical changes towards the source material. One instance of this would be how Ultron, played by James Spader (Secretary), is portrayed, as well as his origin story. However, the most notable example of this would have to be The Mandarin's portrayal in Iron Man 3, wherein the megalomaniacal genius has been made into no more than a persona of a washed-out actor named Trevor Slattery, played by Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast) created by an ambitious intellect that makes lesser impact to that of the much more threatening comicbook iteration.

The Solution: As we said in our first solution, the writers should shake things up by adding layers of morality in the villain's motivations. Make them more sympathetic and three-dimensional. With regards to the changes, there is no doubt that alterations are to be added, so as to shock audiences with major emotional surprises. However, if one is to change everything the original character was known for, then the writers are literally destroying the character. They should base at least some aspects of their renditions from comicbooks, and not just those of their own accord, because it will not respect the original works of the authors. Captain America: Civil War again, offered a somewhat different villain, as Zemo, played by Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds) is more than just a revenge-motivated bad guy, but rather one that is bounded by a realistically relatable tragedy.

Marvel Studios can also make use of their "Marvel One-Shots", their direct-to-video short films, as a means to redeem any of their villainous properties, so as to earn the trust of their audiences once more, and to give their antagonists another chance at truly becoming memorable menaces. They did this with the short flick "All Hail The King", which is said to be their apology to the fans for the changes, an inside look at what has happened to Trevor Slattery after being arrested for his involvement in the schemes of Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce (Memento). Ever since then, I have had hope that we will be getting a good Mandarin portrayal. But in all honesty, the "Mandarin Twist" was pretty great, as not only was it something that I did not expect, it was, for me, a brave decision that signals the studios willingness to experiment with their properties.

Source, Oh Ronan, You Could've Been So Much More
3. Being A Hero Ain't All Sunshine (Overuse of Corny Jokes)


And here is another complaint that you would hear, especially from many DC fanboys out there. While the DC Extended Universe was noted for its darker take on the superhero genre, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is recognized for doing the complete opposite. The MCU still has its mature moments, but the overall tone of almost all of their installments are lighthearted, and are accompanied by jokes. We did say that every once in awhile, a joke could have been heard to lighten things up, but we also said last time that it should not affect the overall tone of the finished product. Like the DCEU, the MCU is keen on committing this crime, only this time, their films are overly kid-friendly. The problem here is that a joke, especially if it is said during a supposedly heart-wrenching moment in the flick, it would ruin the emotional impact that is initially aimed at. Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Guardians of the Galaxy, received criticism due to this, as Age of Ultron is plagued by an unnerving amounts of obviously forced-in humor, specifically during the climactic battle against Ultron that featured jokes while fighting, while Guardians of the Galaxy made an anticlimactic final battle, as Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace (The Hobbit Trilogy), is defeated after being distracted by Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt (Jurassic World), who was dancing. Humorous, yes, but completely underwhelming.


The issue with regards to this is that it would give the impression that the writers are only playing it safe with their stories, and are not attempting to make thought-provoking tales. And besides, superhero movies are not just meant for the young ones, but also for the young at heart, and the more mature individuals

The Solution: We do not need to explain it any further, because the solution is obvious. Just avoid the overuse of jokes, and only make use of them only if there is a necessity to grant audiences the chance to relax and smile. In addition, needlessly inserting jokes and gags in every single scene, especially if it is a serious one, would result in the loss of stakes, which would inevitably make the film as boring and bland as watching paint dry.

Well, this post is getting lengthy. Dad here obliges me to make a second part for this one, which is basically our equivalent of a second page, if only we have the tools to create a "Next Page" option. If you wish to finish this post, click here for part two of "Why Some Are Getting Tired of The Marvel Cinematic Universe? (And How To Fix The Issues)". In the meantime, below is the short "All Hail The King", which we mentioned earlier. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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