End Game is drawing closer and closer and even though this whole journey started 11 years ago, I still don’t think I’m quite ready for it to end. It took me two and a half hours to get tickets to End Game, and this got me thinking. How has the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) become what it is today? And are we getting sick of it?
The start of it all
Before the rise of Marvel, I never really paid much attention to superhero films. My uncle sat me down one day to watch the first Iron Man and I couldn’t get enough. Before the big screen was bombarded with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), most people had no idea who Iron Man or Thor were. Now, in 2019, 21 films deep and $18 billion later, the MCU has one of the biggest followings in the film industry.
Back in 2008 Iron man was a C-Lister superhero. Which, in retrospect, is weird to think about now knowing what a big part Iron Man plays in the MCU. Before his movie debut, he wasn’t a major player in the Marvel Comics and so it was a huge gamble, especially when director Jon Favreau insisted that Hollywood ‘bad boy’ Robert Downey Jr. was to be cast the lead role of Tony Stark. Again, in retrospect, I don’t think anyone else could play the part of Tony Stark any better.
But was the risk worth it?
From a strictly financial perspective, of course it was. Of the top ten highest grossing films of all-time, four of them are Marvel films. Infinity war just misses out on the top three in the fourth spot; The Avengers is at number six; Age of Ultron reaches number eight; and Black Panther comes at number nine. There’s no doubt that the MCU movies practically print money.
2019 sees the end of phase three and conclusion of what the past 11 years has been building up to. The question is, aren’t we getting a little sick of it all at this point?
The Marvel Formula
You can’t deny that the Marvel films have become formulaic. What would once surprise the audience is now to be expected by those who have invested their time in the franchise over the past couple of years. Marvel have cracked the code to what makes a good superhero movie and they’ve run with it. One could argue that these films have gone stale. Yet we still bow down whenever the bring us a new film. For loss of a better phrase, Marvel have us all whipped.
With that being said, Marvel never fail to surprise shock me. Even when I’m expecting something to happen, I’m not quite sure what it is I’m expecting. The ending of Infinity War? Shook.
But why do we fall at their feet? Because Marvel have taken their time to build up their universe. We are invested in seeing the fate of these characters. We’ve had time to find our favourites to fall in love with and despise those villains who harm the heroes (with the exception of Loki, who we hate to love – but love it really). And we need to know what happens to them.
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The Marvel Monopoly: TV
It wasn’t enough for Marvel to master the big-screen. With the help of Netflix, Marvel bought us The Defenders, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, The Punisher, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Despite their success, Netflix has cancelled these shows but I have my suspicions this has something to do with the new Disney streaming service: Disney+.
But is it all a bit much?
The success of the MCU and the introduction of Disney+ sees a new wave of streaming series: WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Solider, to name a few. Money-machines Disney are clearly cashing in on the fact that people have become invested in these characters and their giving us what we want? But is it actually what we want?
For me, no. It’s all a bit over-kill in my opinion. It takes away from the magic of the whole universe. We used to be left in the dark, waiting and wondering what would come next but now every film is pretty much a glorified trailer for the next glorified trailer. And with all these shows announced, we know that the ending of Infinity War wasn’t as ghastly as it first appeared.
Does that make me any less of a fan?
Not in the slightest. And that’s all down to the way Marvel have marketed themselves over the past decade. As I’ve already mentioned, because they’ve taken the time to build their universe up slowly. Recent years saw DC try to launch their own cinematic universe. But instead of taking the time to introduce us to the characters and what they stand for, they launched us straight into a collaboration film and for me it didn’t have the same effect. The films are rushed and lazy and I have no intention of re-watching them.
Despite the predictable formula and the over-selling, Marvel won me over a long time ago and I may have lost a little bit of the giddy excitement that used to takeover when they announced a new film, but you can be damn sure that I’ll be in the cinema, popcorn in hand, ready to watch whatever they throw our way next. I’m intrigued to see where the universe is headed after End Game unfolds.
Are you a Marvel fan? What are your thoughts? If you are, are you ready for End Game?