The Marvel Cinematic Universe; a juggernaut, a behemoth of box-office dollar massing proportions, is the worst movie franchise in the history of cinema. But not for the reasons that you might be thinking. First, I’ll give credit where credit is due.
Marvel brought the unknown elements of the Marvel universe to the big screen, and did it with style. I grew up with all the DC characters, Superman, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern. The only Marvel character that was part of Saturday morning cartoons was Spiderman. Marvel changed that in 2008 with Ironman. They took the lesser loved characters such as Ironman, Captain America and Thor, and have all but eclipsed the DC characters with their success.
I remember watching The Avengers for the first time in theaters. I’m a Justice League kind of guy but I loved it. Getting to see all those heroes on screen together was special. Marvel did what DC, despite it’s decades of movie-making success, had never done; put all the big stars in a movie together. It was movie magic.
Then I watched The Avengers on DVD at home. It was lacking something. It was lacking the magic. Every line came off as hokey and campy. They were cheesy one-liners that served the purpose of pleasing a crowd gorging on popcorn, drunk off movie-theater butter, sprung off of sugary soda and incapable of critical thinking.
Many Marvel movies later it started to become clear. Every super-hero blockbuster played out exactly the same way. There wasn’t any art or inspiration behind the scripts, it was pure formula. But it gets worse from here. Much worse. Marvel/Disney has managed to make billions of dollars by producing comic book films that don’t even tell a story.
A movie, a truly great movie, has an overall moral to the story – that makes you think. There has to be a point in telling it. The success of The Dark Knight wasn’t simply because of Heath Ledger’s Joker. It had a moral to the story. It was a struggle of power. It showed that right and wrong are not always black and white. In order to defeat the Joker, Bruce Wayne had to wrestle with the limits he placed on himself. Was he willing to break his “one rule”? It made you think. Movie fans (i.e. everybody) are still talking about the power behind The Dark Knight Trilogy, because the movies went beneath the surface.
Marvel is guilty of filling 90 minutes of film with nothing but one-liners, jokes and cool special effects. If you could tell a story about Captain America without any references (or very limited) to a duty to God, country, liberty, the Constitution or patriotism, Marvel did just that. If you could fill up a trilogy of a guy in an iron suite without any true moral struggle or reason behind his crime fighting endeavor, outside of pure ego, Marvel is guilty. If you could develop a demigod throughout four (soon to be five films) and have nothing to take away other than, “hey, he’s really cool,” then Marvel has done just that.
I would break down the formula for Disney/Marvel magic like this; a hero who also serves as a comic relief, a comic relief side-character, the villain who also serves as a comic relief, a big battle to save the city/world filled with comic-relief and end scene (with a lot of comic relief). 1 billion in box-office revenue.
Marvel/Disney are the Kardashians of the film industry. All looks and no beauty. They show you what looks good on the outside but they’re afraid to go deep into the psychology. They produce hollow shells. And they have to be hollow if they want to make fists over fists of cash. If they dared go beneath the surface of the metaphors they pretend to represent they’d be in the same boat as DC. That is rough Rotten Tomato scores.