Marvel Madness

Marvel’s recent projects face widespread criticism

Taylor Riley, Editor-In-Chief

   The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a staple for fans of cinema since its first film, Iron Man, was released in 2008 and grossed 585.2 million dollars in global box office revenue. Since then, Marvel Studio has released 31 films and numerous series in various “phases” of a grander interconnected cinematic plot. The conclusion of Phase 3, Avengers: Endgame, is the second highest grossing movie of all time at nearly 2.8 billion dollars. However the projects that followed in Phase 4 were not as well received by fans. 

   Phase 4 is distinctive when compared to other Marvel phases, both in quantity and quality of content. While earlier phases saw the release of one or two movies per year, Phase 4 was an onslaught of content, with eight projects being released in 2022 alone. While many fans are ecstatic about this change, many feel that the expansion has not been done well. 

   “The bigger the universe gets, the more they add to it, the more watered down it feels,” Middle School Dean Jeff Wilson said. 

   Wilson has been a fan of the Marvel comics long before the movies were released, and feels that new releases have not lived up to the standards that the earlier movies did.

   “The first three phases were, to me as a fan, fantastic,” Wilson said. “I was thrilled with the first three phases. The whole Infinity Saga, I was on board, I was all about it. Phase 4, we have not really hit the stride… and it hasn’t felt very connected to this point.” 

   Connection between projects has always been a large part of the appeal to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Junior Eva Chong believes that connection between the projects is what sets the movies apart from others of the same genre.

   “I think it’s really really cool how all of it’s connected,” Chong said. “It’s never just one thing: everything has a second layer, second meaning that gives it a lot more depth than a basic action movie.”

   However, the connection between projects in Phase 4 have recently come under the attack of intensely devoted fans on social media. Many of the newer projects have been said to service the larger Marvel plot and setting up later movies rather than focusing on their own complicated storylines.

   “It’s a problem that the comics also have: individual books often suffer because they’re part of a bigger tie-in,” Wilson said. “It’s a valid criticism when whatever you’re reading has to take an issue break because they have to tie into some whole big Marvel thing. it dilutes the momentum of where that book was going. So I think it’s a valid criticism that the [recent projects] are trying to do a little bit of fanservice and tell a bigger, deeper, richer story, which takes away some of the things they could be doing with these shows.”

   Marvel’s latest release, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, is the first project of Phase 5. It currently holds the second lowest Rotten Tomato score for a Marvel movie at 48%, ranking above Eternals at 47% and below Thor: Love and Thunder at 63%. These three films, the worst ranked in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, were released in Phases 4 and 5.

   Junior Rhea Choksey believes the reason behind these lower scores is the overarching Marvel plot taking over individual movies. 

   “With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it didn’t feel like a Doctor Strange movie. It’s part of the problem of why it didn’t perform as well, because they were clearly trying to set up Scarlet Witch as a villain and other projects with the multiverse. They kind of sacrificed like Dr. Strange’s arc and his character, which they should have focused on more because it’s his second movie.” 

   Choksey also believes the interconnected plot alienates new fans and casual moviegoers who lack the background knowledge often necessary in understanding the new films.

   “People will understand it better if it can be an enjoyable film without understanding the whole overarching plot,” Choksey said. 

   Although the criticism for recent phases has been intense, some fans, such as Wilson, have faith in Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and his vision of a grander plot.

   “Kevin Feige has a master plan,” Wilson said.  At some point, this will all come together. We’re probably too judgy because I’m sure there is a much bigger plan than what we’re aware of.”