Marvel's Kevin Feige talks about criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's films having similar tones while promoting Thor: Ragnarok. As one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood today, prompting several film studios to also take the cinematic universe route, the MCU is not exactly immune to backlash from fans and critics. One recurring criticism is its monotonous projects having the same tone and tropes, and only differing in characters and settings.
As Marvel gears up for its 17th film project since its inception in 2008's Iron Man, many are genuinely intrigued with Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok. The film not only looks different compared to the rest of the series, it also reinvents Chris Hemsworth's MCU sub-franchise with his signature narrative sensibilities and humor. It's almost as if the Kiwi's filmmaking style is front and center - something that we don't hear a lot coming from a Marvel film. Despite this, some still argue that Marvel should be bolder in their storytelling, as sooner or later, fans will eventually get bored with their movie-making antics.
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Amidst these criticisms and concerns, Feige addressed the issue in an interview with Uproxx while promoting Ragnarok. The mastermind behind the $11 billion cinematic empire tackled MCU criticism such as retreading similar narratives (case in point: Iron Man and Doctor Strange) making the films a little bit too formulaic:
"I think it’s just the way we make the movies. I think all the movies are relatively different. I think there’s a narrative that people like to write about because they’re all produced by the same team and they all inhabit the same fictional cinematic universe. That we look for common similarities. And I’m not saying there aren’t common similarities throughout it, but I think Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming are two totally different types of movies. They’re both fun. People both enjoy them. Is that a similarity? If so, I’ll take it. If that’s a criticism, I’ll take that, too. But really, yeah, Homecoming, Ragnarok, Panther, into Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp after that. And a ’90s-set Captain Marvel after that; these are six very different movies. If what they have in common is they’re all really enjoyable and fun to watch, then I’ll take it."
In retrospect, the backlash is not unfounded. Marvel tends to dip their toes in darker storylines but they never really fully immerse themselves in it; they dance around the concept of death but there's always a joke to break the moment when a scene gets too intense. The villains are almost always half-baked and there is really no sense of threat to the characters. And while there is obviously a market for these kinds of movies, those who tend to criticize this blueprint perhaps just want to see something drastically different from the MCU knowing very well that they can up their game by taking bigger risks.
While there are definitely mandatory tropes and plot points that each Marvel film needs to hit in order to make it into the franchise (after all, they are in a franchise), Marvel tends to diversify itself by changing up the genres. Movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy are great examples of breaking the set mold, with Ragnarok and Ryan Coogler's Black Panther looking to be very different from what we have seen before in previous MCU projects. We also have to remember that for the most part of the MCU's existence, it was under a Creative Committee, now that that is no longer the case, we can expect that the filmmakers have more liberty in crafting their films under the banner.
With six more films - four standalones, and two Avengers spectacles - to go before Marvel caps its initial 22-film narrative, there is a promise that the franchise's Phase 4 will bring something entirely different to the table. Whatever it is, we hope that the last several Phase 3 movies are a sign that the film studio is ready to deviate from their set narrative structure and play a little bit outside their boundaries farther down the line.
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019