Why I Want… Nothing to do with Cinematic Universes

Fourth week of these ‘Why I Want’ posts already. How time flies when you’re having fun, eh? We’ve already had a look at Shadow of Mordor 2, Akira Toriyama and Opeth, and this week we’ll be going down a different route yet again. Movies. More specifically, the Marvel movies.

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I used to love a good Superhero movie. The likes of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy (even the third one) and the original two X-Men films received my utmost attention. DC was churning out great films as well as Marvel. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight & Rises were all excellent in their own right. Sure, there were some turds of superhero movies too, like Catwoman, X-Men 3: The Last Stand and The Green Lantern, but Spiderman was always okay at least, and we had those aforementioned incredible Christopher Nolan Batman flicks to keep us going.

We were happy enough with what we got. Superhero movies were fun popcorn blockbusters with pretty visuals and exciting set-pieces. Sure, they weren’t consistently good, but we were treated to some real gems. These days, superhero flicks are too consumed by the idea of consistency that most of their fun has been left out to die. We are given the same cookie-cutter CGI fest to chew through multiple times a year. It never used to be like this. The Amazing Spiderman may have had its flaws, but at least you knew you were watching a Spiderman movie, with a plot unlike the one before it.

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Nowadays, you don’t know whether you’re watching an Avengers film, Justice League movie or an Iron Man piece. I want to watch Spiderman being Spiderman, not talking to Iron Man or needing his help. If I pay for a ticket to watch the Avengers or Justice League, I’d know what to expect, but I don’t want multiple heroes in every movie. Where’s the fun in seeing stupidly powerful groups of unstoppable heroes all the time? We need one guy squaring off against his equal. A wise man called Syndrome once said “if everyone’s super, no one will be”. Those executives sitting on their thrones of gold in the Disney and Warner Bros. offices didn’t heed his words.

You can’t go shoving multiple heroes into every film, it takes out a lot of the tension that the superhero movies used to ride on. I don’t care for the constant shoehorned in continuity, either. No Marvel movie (with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy) can be viewed for its own merits any more. We are constantly reminded that what we are watching is part of a cohesive cinematic universe. The nods to other films within the cinematic universe feel forced, adding little to the heavily invested and only serving to confuse and alienate those who haven’t been paying attention to the seemingly infinite number of films seeing release.

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In order to contain this, each film shares similarly bland themes and directorial styles, a style I like to call ‘Chrome’. Modern superhero movies are shiny, but unexciting. Bland humour is thrown over serious shows of spectacle to create a more “natural” movie-going experience. These elements are proving popular however, with modern superhero movies consistently breaking records at the box-office. You’ll find the core elements of these movies writing and directorial styles are often imitated, too, with varying degrees of success.

I may find myself in the minority here, but I don’t want Robert Downey Jr’s grossly overrated Iron Man in my Spiderman movie, no matter the length or importance of his appearance. I don’t want Superman in my Batman movie, or The Flash in a Wonderwoman movie. Crossovers are fine, but they deserve their own, overblown jaunts to truly shine and bask in their fan-service. The cinematic universe is a bloated attempt at continuity across a huge swathe of individual series and characters and I think it needs to stop. Before you tell me that comic-books have been doing all this for years, I know. There’s a good reason I always struggled to get into them. Hey, what’s Wolverine doing in this issue of Spiderman?

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4 thoughts on “Why I Want… Nothing to do with Cinematic Universes

  1. All good points but if you pick and choose the best of the lot and ignore the crappy ones, you can still enjoy some great films. At the end of the day, the MCU formula has worked and produced good films, but by this point it has reached the point of saturation with all the Iron Man injections ‘n all, aside from a couple of Deadpools and Guardians. Guess those two aren’t really a part of it, though, so what the hey.
    Reuben

  2. I can see where cinematic universes might be bothersome, particularly if they’re not done well. I actually enjoy the Marvel cinematic universe, and I’m not generally a huge fan of movies. Yes, most of the films have a very similar structure, but I enjoy their blend of action and humor. I also like the continuity between films, which is only typically found in serial shows or movies within a cinematic universe. Putting in characters for no reason is definitely silly. But when it’s done in a meaningful way, I enjoy it more. For instance, I loved Captain America: Civil War for bringing so much about its movie universe together. It’s a movie better appreciated when you have been with the movie series.

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