Guest post by Jared:
It’s amazing how your average moviegoer was blinded by the bread and circus of the MCEU for a decade. Years ago, the first Iron Man film broke a record. So did Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Black Panther, and Endgame. Those films broke global box office records despite being absolutely horrible, something no critic or audience review would admit. Only years after the ending of the Infinity War storyline are people beginning to understand that MCEU fireworks blinded them from the atrocious storytelling of those early films. The biggest flaw in the MCEU is the perversion of the heroic ethos in storytelling.
Marvel villains are simultaneously incredibly weak and incredibly strong. The villains appear in these films near the beginning, yet the heroes spend so much time fighting each other.
In Age of Ultron, despite having three villains to battle, the Avengers fight each other. The fight scene between Iron Man and the Hulk is one of the few memorable parts of the film (though I still wouldn’t recommend it). In the first Avengers film, it’s Hawkeye vs. The Avengers. Civil War has villains so pathetic that the whole plot centers around the heroes fighting each other. In both Guardians of the Galaxy films, the guardians fight each other. Thor: Ragnarok is primarily focused on Thor battling the Hulk.
The villains must be pretty weak if the heroes can fight each other and still end up with the win. Then again the villains are so strong that the heroes cannot beat them directly.
The villain of Thor: Ragnarok is Hela, goddess of the underworld. Despite Cate Blanchette looking hot as a raven-haired goddess, she just doesn’t work as a villain. Hela is far more powerful than Thor. She defeats Thor in battle but doesn’t kill him. Thor comes back stronger yet still cannot compete with her. Thor is so weak that he has to sacrifice Asgard, home of the gods, just so that Hela can be destroyed along with Asgard. Thor escapes. The mightiest of the Aesir, Thor the god of thunder, has never looked so pathetic.
Two of the three villains in Age of Ultron have a change of heart and become Avengers. That’s convenient because the Avengers couldn’t beat them earlier in the film. Captain America never could beat the winter soldier.
Marvel movies have the least heroic heroes in the history of heroism. Iron Man’s greatest skill is writing a software program that engineers a suit to do what he wants. The suit does all the heroics. Iron Man is a perfect hero for most males today. His superpower is writing software and that gets him billions of dollars, beautiful women, glory, etc… Tony Stark, the man inside the suit, just makes snide comments. He’s the tortured, asshole genius you love to hate until he lets his bitch shield down. Then you just hate him.
In another attempt to make the heroes more like the nerds who obsess over these films, the protagonists become fanboys in their own stories. Thor in Thor: Ragnarok plays the trekkie while the valkyrie plays the Captain Kirk. He’s supposed to be the strongest god in all of Asgard, yet he becomes a fanboy when he meets a lady warrior.
The biggest problem with the heroes in these films is that their story arcs promote mediocrity. In a good hero story, the hero faces challenges. If he fails to overcome them, which is common, he betters himself. He becomes stronger, more courageous, more creative. Once he has grown in that way, he faces the same challenge and overcomes it. This is why Dragon Ball Z and its successor Dragon Ball Super are good yet simple stories. It’s why they are still so popular. The heroes in those series lose, come back stronger after training relentlessly, and win. It’s a good moral and a good way to attack life.
The heroes in the Marvel films do not grow. They get in touch with their emotions. They come together as a team after hugging and crying. Their strength is eachother, but their weakness is themselves. What a poor message. In Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Strange’s idea of “growth” is stepping back and letting a teenage girl be the girl boss of the story. How heroic.
Marvel movies primarily subscribe to the J.J. Abrams method of covering up bad stories. This method involves keeping the plot moving at a blistering pace. Introducing seemingly dangerous situations, having a side character quickly explain the danger, letting the artificial tension build as the “dangerous” situation reaches a boiling point, and suddenly finding a way to survive the situation. Snarky, quick dialogue is rampant throughout but also alternates with moments of feigned sincerity. Actors do not stray from the elevator pitch of their characters. All of this serves to distract the viewer from the ridiculous plot that ultimately resolves in mediocre storytelling.
Did anyone else notice that Tony Stark and Dr. Strange are the exact same character?
Nothing has any weight in these movies. Ultron rips a guy’s arm off but there isn’t a drop of blood in the film. In Civil War, the heroes fight each other while simultaneously trying not to hurt each other. In that same film, Captain America and Iron Man are enemies for all of two minutes before they make up and become friends again. Thanos destroys half of all life in the universe and half the universe is then resurrected with time travel (the ultimate plot device).
Perhaps it is because our society is so perverted that the perversion of hero stories would be successful. It seems that way. At least people seem to have woken from the MCEU haze. Too bad it was 10 years too late.