Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe still special?

This week I had an interesting conversation with a friend regarding the MCU. Through the discussion, an interesting idea was raised. With the MCU becoming so vast across movies and television shows, will the release of a new Marvel property ever feel special again?

I initially scoffed at the idea. Marvel properties, both TV and movies alike, are often incredibly hyped up online. Whenever a new trailer is dropped by Marvel Studios, it almost instantaneously jumps to the top trending video on social media. At release, records are often broken by a new Marvel property. Last year, Captain America Civil War became one of the highest grossing films of the year. The release of Luke Cage and Iron Fist on Netflix broke long standing viewing records for the streaming site. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is poised to be one of the biggest movies of the year. Considering all that, how could anyone see Marvel as not special.

But then I considered the idea more closely. I sat on the idea of just how much Marvel stuff is out in the world. I considered how much MCU related materials I myself have consumed and evaluated the last time I felt truly excited beyond belief for a Marvel property. When all was said and done, I came to an interesting conclusion. I haven’t been over-the-top excited for a Marvel property since the first season of Daredevil.

Now as I write this I’m not saying the Daredevil TV show is the best Marvel property there is. It is an incredibly well-made, true to the character series that has a few pacing and villain issues. What I am saying is I haven’t been giddy with excitement for a new MCU property since the first season of Daredevil.

avengers-movie-poster-1
Poster for The Avengers (2012)
Let’s look back at the history of the MCU. From Iron man in 2008 up until Captain America the First Avenger in 2011, the general public had no idea what Marvel Studios was building. People saw the films, but it was completely lost on the general public what a cinematic universe was and what the full implications of a connected universe meant. Then in 2012, The Avengers arrived. That movie fundamentally changed everyone’s understanding of how to make a superhero movie. It blew the doors wide open as to what was possible when making a franchise. For the first time, different heroes with entire films all to themselves could join together and make one of the biggest franchises of all time. The Avengers changed film-making.

Marvel Studios saw their bold experiment succeed beyond measure and they reaped the rewards. They convinced millions of people, myself included, to pay to see every single one of their movies. A new Marvel movie become an event not to be missed. Even if the movies were disappointments in compassion to The Avengers, they were still the next adventures for these heroes.

 

Then came the TV shows. First it was Agents of Shield, then Agent Carter, and now there are the four Netflix shows all leading to The Defenders. With such an abundance of MCU it’s easy to think we’ve become spoiled. And we have. While I’m writing from my own experience, it’s an experience that I’m sure others are feeling. Marvel Studios made something special with their inter-connected universe. They pulled off something the film industry had never seen before. Their success has bled across not only films but TV as well. But now I fear it’s lost what was special to begin with.

The MCU isn’t special because it’s a massive superhero franchise. It is that for sure but what I find special about the MCU is that the universe is telling a story. It’s perhaps the most expensive story ever told, having to encompass close to 20 films and dozens of TV shows. But it’s a story that should be building to one gigantic climax. But I fear as the MCU becomes more and more diluted, that grand finale wont be as special as it should.

Consider for a moment the upcoming Avengers Infinity War. The war with the Mad Titan Thanos has been building in the background since the first Avengers film. He has been hinted at in several MCU films and we’ve now seen most of the Infinity stones somewhere in the universe. Marvel Studios has been building this for years to be the ultimate culmination of the universe. And yet, when the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy finally face off against Thanos, I know in the back of my head I will be thinking ‘I wonder what the Defenders are up to during all this?’, or ‘I bet the agents of SHIELD could lend a hand.’

The problem with putting out as much MCU material as possible is that the crazy obsessed fan will consume it all and fragment the universe. The Avengers worked because it was the singular culmination of several solo movies into one cohesive vision. But now with all the MCU-related properties out, we may never get that singular vision again. Agents of SHILD often deals with the aftermath of the latest Marvel film but no film, as of yet, has acknowledged that SHIELD still exists in the universe. Worse than that, the show has introduced the Inhumans to the universe and yet no one in the movies even acknowledges this huge addition. The same can be said for the heroes of the Netflix shows. As far as the movies are concern, nothing that happens on Marvel TV matters to the universe as a whole.

If the movies continue to outright ignore anything the shows are attempting to contribute to the universe, we, as fans who watch all MCU material, will never again get the special singular culminating vision that inspired the universe to begin with.

What do you think? Is the MCU losing what makes it special or is the universe stronger than ever? Sound off in the comments down below or chat with me on Twitter @bloodyrojas21.

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