For most readers, it isn’t news that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been commercially and critically tanking in recent years. While the pandemic disrupted many of their plans, other creative and administrative choices led to this as well. The year of 2023 has been the year that many of the building issues from Marvel Studios came to a head.

Just as the films have become repetitive, so have the criticism directed at them. These include scattered plots, a lack of worldbuilding, less familiar characters, poor effects, and many more. While many believe the MCU has run its course, hope has not vanished. Here are five ways to revive the MCU.

Don’t Rely On Shows

The first issue is the MCU’s reliance on Disney+ shows. As shown with The Marvels, needing to watch two entire shows to know who was who alienated enough viewers to turn the film into a box office bomb. This was made egregious due to the pertinent events of Secret Invasion going completely unacknowledged.

The fact is, the average movie goers and the hardcore Disney+ viewers are two separate groups, partly due to people’s differing schedules and budgets. As the MCU has been compared to a huge TV show, and splitting between the silver screen and Disney+ is like splitting it between separately bought channels. 

The solution to this is to divorce the plots of the films and shows. An example of this done right would be Moon Knight, which clearly established itself as set in the MCU without becoming required viewing going forward. The semi-canon Agents of Shield was another good example, as it continued the stories of the MCU separately.

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Have Unifying Elements in the MCU

One of the most important tools of storytelling is buildup and payoff. When you build tension and establish conflict, it will inevitably leave a greater impact. Therefore, this is why the Avengers films dominated at the box office, as they tied together the arcs of the films. Additionally, these films would usually do something to change the status quo and make the world come alive.

This has not been the case after Endgame. A frequently used analogy is that it feels like completing side quests after the final boss, and this rings true. Despite needing to watch half a dozen films to understand, each feels as though they start a separate plot ather than continuing any. However, despite relying on the aftermath of Endgame, none of them ever build upon a world torn in half and forced back together. 

For the first three phases, the Infinity Gems acted as the connective tissue between the films. Even if the sagas could be individually enjoyed, they provided some marginal step forward. The titular Avengers and their films also served as a central group of characters to follow. 

Of course, with Kang’s role in the MCU hanging in the balance, the executives of the MCU will have to be careful. What they should do is stick to a central group of characters to replace Tony, Cap, and Thor. Perhaps Kamala’s “New Avengers” will be able to live up to their name.

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Follow Up On Their Hooks

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One of the biggest complaints thrown at the MCU nowadays is how often we would get sequel hooks and teasers for future films with many never coming to fruition. While the post-credit scene is a staple of the MCU, it has since been overused as the trope became commonplace. 

Examples of abandoned hooks include Scorpion in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Eros is Eternals, Hercules in Thor: Love and Thunder, Shang-Chi’s rings, and many others who would have no place in the upcoming lineup of films. The most egregious example of this is the long-teased arrival of the X-Men to the MCU. However, no films besides Deadpool 3 are on the roster for the next few years. 

In order to solve this problem, what Marvel needs to do is stop taking on new projects before completing their current ones. An example of this would be the upcoming Thunderbolts film, which is a team-up of various minor characters across phase four. With all the story seeds planted, surely they can let the MCU thrive. 

Make Stories More Self Contained

While this may seem contradictory to the second suggestion, it is possible to have a more “modular” film saga. The problem with the above films that their connections are far less elegant. They are rarely related to other post-Endgame films, despite the heavy research needed to understand each. 

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Before then, the MCU used a number of independent arcs such as for the main trio that remained mostly self-contained. Two examples of this done right are Wakanda Forever and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. Both of these films worked because they directly continued not just the plots of their predecessors, but their character arcs. In short, what the MCU needs is not a mess of independent stories, but a handful of organized arcs. 

The MCU Should Slow Down

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Last but not least is for the MCU to slow down and give fans time to breathe. In 2022 Marvel released a total of eight shows and movies. While this barrage is understandable given pandemic delays, dropping all of them at once has certainly led to burnout.

No matter how good you make films (though many fans disagree on that for the MCU), no one can invest in that many a year. This MCU apparently has this as their strategy, as Deadpool 3 is the only film slated for 2023. Hopefully during this time, Marvel can think clearly and assess their plans for the future. 

To watch the films of the MCU, go to Disney Plus.

1 Comment

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