After attending zero Marvel events in 2020, the company has had a mediocre year thus far. As of Spider-Man No Way Home, it’s no longer a certainty that you are going to get your money’s worth if you choose to watch an MCU film or series.
During the last ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated Hollywood. Even though that isn’t going to change anytime soon, signs of cracks are emerging. It has had a mediocre year so far (if you are being generous) after a no-show in 2020.
In my opinion, it is no longer a guarantee that you will get your money’s worth if you watch an MCU movie or show in a nearby theatre or if you log into your Disney+ Hotstar account.
Even the worst MCU titles – The Incredible Hulk and Thor: Dark World come to mind – had some moments of fun, despite messy plotting and dreadfully dull villains. Spider-Man No Way Home
MCU’s releases this year have been a chore to go through, which is not something one usually says about the brand. Marvel Studios, the production company behind MCU, also entered the television world in 2021, with mixed results.
Marvel Studios’ movies follow a fixed formula. Typically, it goes something like this: the hero acquires powers, encounters struggles of a personal, or familial nature, overcomes them, and it all ends with a CGI, and special effects-driven whirlwind of a battle in the end. Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Eternals are all significant departures. Although even here, the usual MCU tropes – witty one-liners that often seem out of place, for example – are very much present.
But the studio doesn’t have a formula for its television shows, and perhaps for good reason. Writing is a medium defined by its writers (unlike movies, which are defined by their directors). Normally I don’t support studio interference, but a greater supervision from Kevin Feige might have saved their TV shows.
In our opinion, WandaVision and Loki had the best start out of the bunch. Their ideas were very creative. However, they wasted all that great buildup by offering atrocious (in the case of WandaVision) or unsatisfying (in the case of Loki) conclusions.
A slick action scene that would not have looked out of place in a Mission: Impossible movie opened The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, it all went downhill from there. Hawkeye has been a failure since the beginning and remains so to this day. The character may not have been very interesting to begin with. However, Hailee Steinfeld does an excellent job as Kate Bishop.
Why do I exclude What If…? According to our understanding, the alternate scenarios in the conversation will not impact the main MCU timeline. Currently, Marvel Studios’ television experiment has been mediocre so far.
Now, let’s see some movies.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Black Widow was originally scheduled to be released in the summer of 2020. In spite of being more grounded than most MCU films, it still embodied everything that makes MCU, well, MCU. Natasha Romanoff, who is said to be just a human, did not seem to be hurt when she fell from multiple stories, was thrown into a wall, fell out of a car, etc. The plot was also standard superhero fare, to put it politely.