The Dumpster fire that is MCU phase 4
Posted:Sept. 12, 2022, 9:38 a.m.
Only a couple of years of ago it looked like marvel could do nothing wrong. They’ve struck gold with every movie they made and forever changed the industry’s outlook on theatrical business model. MCU’s success meant that Hollywood studios which are notoriously repetitive and their executives whose only concern is their “YEARLY RETURNS” are going to try to replicate it with their own IP’s. And that is exactly what they did. Warner Bro’s tried it with DCEU to disastrous results and Universal’s plan to kick off Dark Universe backfired so spectacularly that they ended up scrapping the project after one movie. Even Star Wars the other major Disney franchise crashed and burned after a stupendous take off with The Force Awakens. Only MCU remained unscathed, only MCU.
However, 3 phases and 23 movies later things are not as they once were. It started with the death of Iron Man in End Game. Tony Stark brought to life by Robert Downey Jr is one of the primary reasons for the success enjoyed by MCU today. Iron Man is the most popular superhero by a mile and did most of the heavy lifting in The Avengers which gave Marvel its first billion-dollar movie. Even with the rise in popularity of Captain America and others, Iron Man remained the de-facto leader. But with the passing of Iron Man a vacuum was created which needed to be filled, who is going to be the heir apparent. The answer is in front of our eyes as bright as the sun, SPIDER-MAN. And MCU handled it quite well in Far from home & No way home setting up Peter Parker as a newbie haunted by the ghost of his mentor into growing to be his own man. However, the fact remains Spiderman is owned by Sony who are going to want their piece of pie if they are to allow MCU to borrow him which means that going forward Spiderman’s presence is going to be limited. And this is least of the many problems currently plaguing MCU.
The most obvious and painstaking one is MCU has become a factory that keeps on churning out products that no one wants or cares about. Disney which owns marvel has always been an evil corporation right from its inception whose greed knew no bounds. And it looks like the greed of Disney combined with their incompetence has started to affect MCU just like it tanked Star Wars. It does not matter if the stories being told have a purpose or not, does not matter if character arcs move forward as long as the content sludge is being dumped our Disney overlords are happy. And that right there is the real problem, Disney treating these stories as products/content instead of movies/tv shows.
Barring No way home none of the phase 4 films has even half way decent writing and don’t even get me started on those shitty TV shows which are plainly made to increase Disney+ subscriptions rather than to tell stories that fit in the grand scheme of things. Black Widow is plainly made in response to the criticism of not giving one of the beloved characters her own film especially after Wonder Woman. Shang-Chi was made to reap the Chinese box-office and Eternals to put up a facade that MCU films can break free of their formulaic story telling. But these recent failures really haven’t put a dent MCU’s brand as they are movies of C grade comic characters (not Black Widow) no one ever heard or cared about and with the threat of covid looming about MCU was given a pass as they still have MOM and Thor 4 to count on to deliver back-to-back blockbusters. But it is the poor reception of these movies which are headed by beloved characters really which gave rise to doubts that maybe all is not well at MCU. That it might no longer be the unstoppable force of nature it once was.
Multiverse of madness promptly throws Wanda Vision finale out of the window where wanda realises her mistake and repents for all the harm she has done. Instead of building on that the writers/director chose to discard her entire character arc over the course of 6 episodes and go back to square one where wanda is outright evil who doesn’t mind burning down anyone and everyone in her path. But perhaps the most egregious mistake is portraying Dr Strange as a secondary character in his own film who is highly incompetent and only manages to save the day because wanda chooses to give up, doesn’t sound like the Stephen Strange we know does he. But even MOM pales in comparison to the heap of garbage that is Thor Love and Thunder. Helmed by a man child who thinks he is too cool to direct a superhero film and takes delight in mocking fans who have travelled with the character far longer than him it is in every possible way an unmitigated disaster. Taika Waititi treats Thor the most powerful avenger who almost took down Thanos on his own, withstands the full power of a star as a buffoon. Yes this is how Thor was portrayed in Ragnarök too but in that movie Thor also reaches his full potential and is finally ready to take his rightful place as king of Asgard and that childish sense of humour which was a departure from the first two Thor movies which weren’t as well received as the other MCU movies was seen as a welcoming move. But this time around Taika Waititi cranked the silliness to eleven and didn’t offer any character development for Thor. He is again portrayed as a bumbling fool accompanied by Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson with the charm and likability of a dead cat) and the mighty Thor (A dying jane foster). I honestly have no idea who this movie is supposed to appeal to other than sissy idiots with the IQ of an 8 year old. Yes I personally like dark superhero stories but I have no problem with humour as long as jokes are organic and carry forward the movie but here it feels like the movie was made to crack a few jokes.
It isn’t the first time MCU films have missed the mark or have failed at box-office. Most MCU fans don’t even know that the incredible hulk movie is part of MCU and there are very few superhero movies as bad and forgettable as Thor: The Dark World. But they were considered anomalies as remaining movies more or less hit their mark. Normally MOM and Thor 4 too might have been treated as such and would’ve been given a pass if not for Disney’s decision to flood that market with web series based on C grade comic characters no one gives a damn about and which were received piss poorly (No surprises there). Superhero fatigue is real and Disney created it in the last couple of years with their moronic Disney+ shows. To say these shows are abomination is an understatement. Of these numerous shows I could tolerate only Wanda vision (for Elizabeth Olsen) and Loki (for Tom Hiddleston and for being slightly better than the rest). TFAWS is a pathetic show which tries to take on racism, immigration with little to no nuance and fails miserably to offer a solution. And to make matters worse the show’s antagonist and her followers has to be the most pathetic bunch of incompetent idiots who have neither the experience nor the intellect to resolve the horrors faced by immigrants across the world some of whose very lives are upended. Instead, they sound like a bunch of blue haired freaks you’d come across in American universities majoring in gender studies and who recently subscribed to Marxism rather than bunch of vigilantes. And just a couple of weeks ago we are treated to a steaming pile of shit called She-Hulk. All I had to do is just watch a promo released couple of days before the premiere of the actual episode to realise how big of a fuckup this one is gonna be. Jennifer Walters appears to outperform the hulk in every way immediately after being transformed as she-hulk (quiet a quick learner huh) and proceeds to lecture Bruce banner how she is better than him at controlling anger because she gets catcalled every now and then and because of sexism at her work place. Lady you are talking to a guy who has been hunted by the government, saw his life upended, worked as doctor in slums of Calcutta to escape terrorists, couldn’t date the women he loved due to condition, tricked into rampage across a city killing innocent civilians by scarlet witch devastating him, was trapped in his mind on an alien planet for two years, couldn’t say good-bye to the woman he loved as she died on another planet and saw his best friend sacrifice himself in front of his own eyes. But yeah go ahead and tell us all how you are better than Bruce Banner, fuck off Jen. Moon Knight has an interesting premise and might’ve been fun to watch if it was told as a movie instead of a series and the end result is it feels like butter that is spread too thinly on a piece of toast. I’m not even gonna comment on Hawkeye which massacred Kingpin made Clint Barton a secondary character in his own show and I couldn’t bring myself to watch Ms. Marvel (Hated captain marvel don’t think I have it in me to watch a show on an individual who belongs to the same family)
Ranting about these latest marvel projects made me realise how much I’ve loved the first three phases of MCU. Though I’ve never been a die-hard fan of MCU I’ve always watched every single one of those movies multiple times (except Captain Marvel), even the movies I didn’t like on first watching after a certain amount of time grew on me. But I don’t think I can ever bring myself to watch phase 4 content again and I am slightly startled by the fact I enjoyed Drax’s poop jokes in GOTG2 more than any of the phase 4 marvel projects. Almost every single marvel content these days reeks of laziness, incompetence and superiority complex. Just take a look at couple of interviews given by the creators of She-Hulk where they openly admit that they have no idea how to write legal dramas so contended with writing cheesy jokes. Despite of their incompetence they also have an air of superiority about them, something you’ll never see in Jon Favreau or Russo brothers. Fuck even Joss whedon is more likable than these folks. All of this results in unlikable superheroes about whom audience doesn’t give a damn. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor are all beloved characters with a loyal fanbase because those franchises were helmed by competent actors and an able team of writers/directors. How many can say that is the case with phase 4 projects. If even 1 percent of MCU fans say that their fav character is Captain Marvel, Falcon, Moon Knight or She Hulk over the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Spider-Man I’ll eat my shoe.
That being said and despite all the missteps, the fact remains that MCU is still the most famous cinematic brand to exist and with that comes problems of its own. Because of how successful MCU is they have a bright red target on them now and everyone is just waiting for them to falter further. MCU is no longer David but Goliath. Back in summer of 2008 when Iron Man kickstarted MCU no one imagined that this movie has laid seeds to a franchise that will trump every other studio’s flagship and will forever change the face of movie making business. Iron Man’s WW gross of 585 million $ (3rd highest grossing movie of that summer) is hailed as a victory for marvel which was on the verge of bankruptcy. And to give perspective if a marvel summer blockbuster ends up in third place today that movie is by default considered a failure (even if it makes back the production costs). This is a curse for MCU as every MCU movie is expected to make a billion when in fact, before Black Panther and Captain Marvel no other Marvel solo superhero film breached the one billion benchmark barring Iron Man 3. And the reason those two movies crossed billion-dollar mark can’t be attributed to the quality of movies or the popularity of their leads, but it is because of clever cultural marketing (BP) and being released in the wake of Infinity war and on the heels of Endgame (CM). But the king-sized grosses of last two Avengers instalments coupled with over performance of BP and CM have created an illusion that one billion $ is the norm for Marvel movies which is another reason why MOM and Thor4 are considered failures when in fact they are profitable ventures (I still stand by the fact that they are god awful movies). It remains to be seen whether MCU will learn from their recent mistakes and go ahead with full throttle or will they be content with the fact that they still are biggest bully in the playground and try to rake in as much cash as they can before finally fizzling out.
Tags MarvelStudios MarvelPahse4 Hawkeye TFATWS MarvelCinematicUniverse MCU
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