The rise and fall of the MCU

October 28, 2022

Classic+Marvel+characters%2C+like+Iron+Man%2C+Black+Panther%2C+Thanos%2C+Black+Widow+and+Captain+America+are+part+of+what+made+the+MCU+great.

The Delphi Staff

Classic Marvel characters, like Iron Man, Black Panther, Thanos, Black Widow and Captain America are part of what made the MCU great.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular movie series of all time. With 29 movies including eight Marvel tv shows, Marvel has left a big impression on fans. The characters, the stories and the continuity in all of the MCU movies is loved by many.

With a lineup of many great movies spanning across more than a decade, most of the MCU movies have a consistent amount of quality which is really impressive for over 10 years of projects. These movies have grossed over $22.59 billion dollars so far and have even won an Oscar.

Of course, that level of consistency has declined recently. With bad movie after bad movie, weird decision after weird decision, the MCU has become a mess. The question is: When did this dip in quality start?

The rise to glory

The MCU began with Kevin Feige, a producer who wasn’t well-known.

Feige set out to build a universe with Marvel characters from the comics, and in 2008, ‘Iron Man’ debuted. It was a huge success, grossing over 580 million dollars. With that success, the MCU was born.

Marvel Studios first built up the main four Avengers with their own movies: Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor. After those movies, ‘The Avengers,’ the first team-up movie, was made.

Then sequels, solo movies and team-up movies that introduced new characters were produced, earning a mass amount of money and popularity. These movies were also critical successes as well, with most of the movies being loved by fans.

Fans of the comics loved these movies, as did people who may have never read the comics. People loved the characters and stories these movies provided. They also loved that the movies were connected. It was always a treat when an MCU movie would come out.

The success of the MCU showed no signs of stopping, and the quality of these movies was pretty consistent.

Then in 2018, ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘ was released. This is one of the best, and monumental, movies of the MCU. Characters across the MCU, like Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and Thor all come together to fight Thanos.

It is epic, fun, and as Thanos would say, “perfectly balanced.” Some didn’t think the film could balance every character in the MCU in one movie, but fans were pleasantly surprised. It was also the first MCU movie where the villain succeeded with his plan. The movie was amazing and suspenseful, which had fans hyped for the sequel.

A year later, ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ was released and is an amazing sequel. It has one of the best final acts in the MCU and is a great conclusion for many characters. Honestly, it would have been a great conclusion to the entire MCU, but Disney would obviously not just end this highly successful franchise.

Spider-Man: Far from Home‘ concluded this story and is a good film. After 2019, though, the movies definitely dipped in quality.

The fall from grace

Of course, due to Covid-19, no MCU projects were released in 2020, the first year that had happened since 2009.

In Jan. of 2021, the first MCU tv show released on Disney+ and was one of the factors that led to the fall of the MCU.

The show, ‘WandaVision,’ isn’t bad. The first few episodes are engaging, and the show is a nice look into Wanda’s character and the struggles she goes through.

Two months later, ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘ was released. The plot doesn’t always make sense, as some characters have weird motivations, but the show is okay.

In May 2021, ‘Black Widow‘ was released, and it isn’t good. The exciting feeling of watching a new MCU movie in theaters with your buddies and a bucket of popcorn was replaced by the bland feeling of watching movies on a streaming service at home because of Covid-19.

Covid may have contributed to the fall of the MCU. It obviously affected the many projects the MCU had been working on. Marvel could have postponed everything and continued working on the MCU when Covid died down, but the production team did not do that.

Loki‘ came out one month later, and the show is also decent. It is boring at times, and the writing severely downgrades Loki’s character, but it is entertaining.

These three Disney+ shows, however, feature rough CGI/VFX effects. Then two more shows came out with mixed results.

Don’t you see the pattern here? The MCU pumped out five shows in one year. Two to four MCU movies get released a year, and now Disney and Marvel somehow produced even more shows in addition.

‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ released next, and it is a fun movie. The action is amazing, but the story falls apart in the last act. ‘Eternals‘ premiered two months later, which is boring and forgettable.

The next month saw the release of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home.‘ It is a fun watch and made over one billion dollars at the box office, which provided hope for the MCU.

The downward spiral

2022 hasn’t been the best year for the MCU by a long shot.

Moon Knight‘ was the first Marvel property released this year. The show is boring at times and the protagonist’s main persona (he has multiple), Steven Grant, is annoying. The show would have been better as a movie.

The first film of 2022, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ released next. The direction and the visuals are impressive, and Wanda is a good villain. The movie, however, is underwhelming. With the title ‘Multiverse of Madness,’ fans expected cool multiverses to be shown. Instead, the main characters goes to a universe with the main differences being that there are flowers everywhere and an empty void. Marvel could’ve done so much more with the concept, but the film presents the bare minimum and features confusing writing.

‘Ms.Marvel’ was the next show to hit Disney+. The first few episodes are good; they feature fun characters and the visuals are exciting. The later episodes become boring, and like ‘Moon Knight,’ it should’ve been a movie.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ is a weak movie. Jane Foster becoming Thor and her battle with cancer should’ve been its own movie. There is an even larger problem with the film, though. The movie is too silly. It feels like no one is taking anything seriously and everyone is making dumb jokes. The many jokes in ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ are okay because most of the movie is set on a goofy planet and with goofy characters.

‘Love and Thunder’ is about Gorr the God Butcher killing gods while Thor is going through an identity crisis while Jane Foster fights cancer. These topics should be taken way more seriously. The film wasn’t as epic as fans expected.

The jokes aren’t for everybody, and a lot of viewers didn’t find the film funny. The movie was underwhelming to say the least.

The most recent release is ‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.’ The show’s bad CGI, lame jokes and boring plot make for a bad show. The only cool thing about it was Daredevil’s cameo, and he was a delight to watch.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘ is set to release this November, but even if this ends up being the best Marvel movie of 2022, that doesn’t mean much for the MCU.

Many Marvel projects were recently announced, and even though the news is exciting, Disney and Marvel are producing too many projects.

Reflection

Phase Four of the MCU was a mixed bag to say the least. ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is amazing, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” might be better or just as good as ‘No Way Home.’ As a whole, Phase Four dipped in quality.

Comparing it to the other phases, Phase Four falls flat. Nothing amounted to anything monumental. All it does is introduce the Multiverse in three disconnected stories.

It’s clear why Phase Four had a weird dip in quality. It is because of Disney, or more specifically, Disney+.

Disney+ is different from other streaming services because it relies on the recognizable properties Disney has acquired, like ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and, of course, Marvel.

Many of the Marvel shows drag on for too long and would make better movies. Disney doesn’t want to do that because fans might choose to get a seven-day subscription, watch the new movies, and cancel the subscription. Fans don’t have that ability if a show releases episodes every week.

Disney is producing Marvel properties at a rapid pace, likely not giving the people working on it enough time to make quality projects.

Disney seems to prefer quantity over quality. This is why most of the Marvel Phase Four products are average.

In Phases One through Three, fewer projects were released but fans could appreciate the effort into these movies. Isn’t that want viewers want at the end of the day: a great movie that they can tell took time and effort to produce?

All of the great stories told through the MCU are amazing: stories of heroism, the triumphs and hardships these characters go though and the losses the characters have to endure. The consistent character development is strong in the first three phases.

‘Iron Man’ is about an arrogant, selfish and self-centered man named Tony Stark. The films depict his journey and how being a hero really changes him into a better person.

Ever since ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ Stark has to grapple with his feelings of guilt. He couldn’t save everyone. That’s why he signs the Sokovia Accords in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ That’s why he never wants to put Spider-Man, his surrogate son, in any danger in ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ When Spider-Man dies in ‘Infinity War,’ Stark is devastated, so much so that he doesn’t try to bring back half of the population at the risk of putting anyone else in danger.

Star-Lord was a kid who lost his mother to cancer and was taken away in a spaceship soon after. He has to kill his father who was going to take over the universe, and the only father-figure he had left died in front of him. He acts like a child because he’s stuck in the past, always thinking about the 80’s with its songs and movies. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies have an 80’s soundtrack to feature the songs that Star-Lord’s mom gave him before she died, preserving her memory.

Complex characters like these show how much effort was put into the MCU. Even though these movies are unrealistic, the characters and stories feel real.

Today, it feels like most of these Marvel movies aren’t made with the same passion and soul that the previous phases had. Something has changed.

If the people making these movies had more time, maybe Phase Four would have been better. I miss the old MCU, and I hope Phase Five will be a return to form for the franchise.

Step up your game, MCU; not just for me, but for all of the fans.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Gihon Warren
Gihon Warren, The Delphi Staff

Gihon Warren is a freshman at Delaware Valley Regional High School. He is an introverted, funny and quiet person. He loves to draw and watch tv shows....

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