In 2012, Marvel’s The Avengers drastically changed the landscape of the superhero genre by bringing together a cast of A-list actors who had previously headlined their own standalone films. Before this unprecedented cinematic events, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was only linked through a number of subtle references and post-credit scenes that hinted at a much more ambitious undertaking.
But now, only five years later, crossover films have miraculously become the norm in the superhero genre thanks to the Avengers‘ sequel, Captain America: Civil War, and the forthcoming Thor: Ragnarok, which finds the Hulk going along for the ride during Thor’s third solo outing. While fans of the MCU couldn’t be happier to see these comic book characters interacting with one another so regularly, meanwhile, the DCEU has had rocky few years trying to play catch up. You still have to wonder if there’s a downside to having these Marvel storylines becoming so intertwined that they run the risk of alienating new viewers.
While we never want the MCU to abandon Easter Eggs and crossover cameos entirely, we certainly hope that Marvel doesn’t stop making solo movies altogether. Here are 15 Reasons Why Marvel Needs To Stick To Standalone Movies.
15. More New Marvel characters Will Be Introduced
Out of the next eight MCU movies that will be released sometime between now and 2020, only one of them will have a totally new superhero headlining the movie. That film is inevitably going to be Captain Marvel, which is set to be released on March 8, 2019, with Brie Larson starring as the title character. But beyond that, every other film is either a sequel or a solo movie for characters that have already been brought to the big screen.
Kevin Feige has been understandably silent about the future of the MCU beyond Phase Three, but he has promised that it’s going to be “very, very different.” Hopefully, that means they’ll be drawing from the plethora of other Marvel characters that are deserving of their own solo movies. For instance, Moon Knight — who is often referred to as Marvel’s Batman — is just begging for a big screen adaptation, especially considering that director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) has already said that he’s up to the task.
14. More screen time for the villains
One of the most criticized aspects of the MCU is its lack of compelling antagonists, which is often a result of not giving the villains enough screen time or killing them off at the end of each film. The exception to this would, of course, be Loki, who was given an intriguing character arc over the course of a number of films — a treatment that is usually reserved for the heroes.
With so many characters slated to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, we have to wonder Thanos will be given the amount of screen time that he deserves. Though the supervillain has made cameo appearances in three films to date, he still feels in drastic need of further development before facing off against the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
However, this is a problem that standalone superhero films don’t have to deal with, as there is plenty of screen time to properly establish the villain, making for a more intriguing antagonist for the hero to face off against.
13. One bad movie wouldn’t ruin the others
If you happen to find yourself in the majority of fans who were underwhelmed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad last year, you might also feel as though many of those characters will remain imperfect no matter how much you enjoyed Wonder Woman or the forthcoming Justice League. This is inevitably the risk you run when grouping your universe’s heroes into one movie.
Though Marvel has proven time and time again that it knows how to successfully balance a crossover movie, just imagine if Infinity War turns out to be Marvel’s first serious misstep? With directors Anthony and Joe Russo helming the project we seriously doubt that will be the case, but there would be an awfully lot of characters involved if things don’t go as smoothly as the other films.
This is a big advantage for standalone films, which could easily be forgotten if they prove to be a step in the wrong direction since they rarely impact the other characters within the rest of the franchise.
12. More interesting and weird superpowers
If Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, or Ant-Man have taught us anything, it’s that audiences are on board with getting weird. No longer does a superhero have to be a man who stops crime with sheer super strength and the ability to fly; now, superheroes can literally be a talking raccoon, a man with a magical cape, or a thief who can shrink down in size and literally talk to ants.
Hopefully, 2019’s Captain Marvel will continue to bring more unusually superpowers into the franchise, but there are still a ton of unorthodox superheroes from the Marvel comics that deserve their own standalone film, including Moon Knight, whose powers wax and wane with the moon, along Beta Ray Bill, a bizarre alien life form who was one of the few worthy of also wielding Mjolnir.
And, of course, there’s always Squirrel Girl.
11. Interesting action sequences > city-destroying set pieces
Captain America: Civil War was smart enough to read the audiences’ mind and ask the question just exactly how many more cities do we need to see be destroyed? Since the cinematic universe tries to ground itself in realism far more than the comics ever have, it’s only logical that the world would deem many of these superheroes as downright destructive.
With solo outings, the stakes are usually much lower, meaning we don’t have to watch skyscrapers gets smashed to pieces for the last half hour of the film.
Fortunately, standalone films usually feature their fair share of mano-a-mano combat, which, when done right, can provide the most captivating action sequence to unfold before your eyes. Ant-Man is the perfect example of this, as the film’s final battle doesn’t happen across a major city, but instead, near a child’s train set, which might as well be a high-speed subway compared to the shrunken characters. Not only is this scene extremely original, it’s also thrilling and downright hilarious all at the same time.
10. Genre mixing and fresh tones
Superhero movies will always fall into the broader genre of science fiction and fantasy, but some of the best Marvel movies to date have incorporated their fair share of sub-genres into the mix.
Guardians of the Galaxy couldn’t help but feel like the best kind of space opera in its own right, with Star-Lord venturing from planet to planet while the Nova Corps policed the cosmos. Meanwhile, Ant-Man was more of a comedy heist flick than your typical superhero endeavor. Not to mention that Thor: Ragnarok (while not quite a solo film) was inspired by the John Carpenter cult classic Big Trouble in Little China.
There are still plenty of superheroes and sub-genres that could be explored after Phase Three of the franchise wraps up. For instance, Camelot and the legend of King Arthur have been a part of the Marvel comics dating all the way back to the 1940s, which would make for a possible medieval superhero film. Meanwhile, the superhero Morbius, the Living-Vampire would lend itself perfectly to a gothic-horror film.
9. Avoid crossover fatigue
It’s hard to believe how much we’ve come to take for granted from the MCU in just nine years. Back when Tony Stark first popped up in the end credits of The Incredible Hulk proclaiming that he was putting a team together, comic book nerds everywhere couldn’t believe that a big screen Avengers was actually going to take place. But now, knowing that the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to crossover for Infinity War doesn’t inspire the same excitement and disbelief that we once felt.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these crossover films, but inevitably the more are released, the less exciting each one will become. Right now, it’s still thrilling when the Falcon pops up for a brief scene in Ant-Man, or when Spider-Man swoops in for a brawl in Civil War.
8. Introduce more obscure superheroes
Even with the extremely well-known characters of Batman and Wonder Woman, the DCEU received a massive amount of backlash for haphazardly introducing those characters into its universe without giving either of them a solo outing first. Now, just imagine if Marvel’s Doctor Strange suddenly popped up in Infinity War without mainstream audiences being introduced to him through an origin story?
Anyone other than hardcore comic book fans would’ve been totally lost suddenly meeting this brand new superhero who has the ability to travel from one dimension to the next.
Though superhero origin stories themselves often feel derivative and cliched, they’re still largely a necessity, as the audience is more likely to sympathize with the hero if they’ve seen the struggles they’ve had to endure. Especially now that Marvel has already introduced is most recognizable characters, these standalone origin stories will be more important than ever once the MCU enters Phase Four of the franchise.
7. Actual character development
Ant-Man may be the perfect example of the kind of standalone movies that the MCU needs to continue to turn out.
Even though the MCU was 11 movies deep into the franchise at the time of Ant-Man‘s release, the filmmakers weren’t afraid to take a step back and make a smaller scale movie (literally) about a rather obscure superhero which contained few references to the other films. What’s more, the hero is less interested in saving the world and is more focused on being a better father.
Though the film may be one of the more comedic MCU movies to date, it’s also one of the most heartfelt, keeping the viewer thoroughly invested in the story despite the smaller stakes. Even the story’s villain, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, is given a rather relatable character arc, as he longs for recognition of his achievements and is motivated by jealousy rather than the cliched thirst for world domination.
6. More screen time for each character
Marvel has a shockingly good track record when it comes to its ability to juggle an enormous cast of characters. To date, Avengers: Age of Ultron is possibly the only film that felt a bit uneven and overstuffed, while the original Avengers and Captain America: Civil War were able to give each of their many characters enough screen time along with satisfying story arcs. However, we can’t help but wonder if Marvel is pushing its luck with Avengers: Infinity War.
With well over 20 superheroes from the previous films slated to appear, along with a number villains, everyone will be fighting for screen time, and it’s impossible to imagine how all of these characters will be given the time that they deserve.
While some people inevitably only go to superhero movies for the action sequences and impressive special effects, others have a lifelong connection with these characters, meaning they don’t want to feel as if their favorite hero is only being used as a pawn in an expensive-looking action flick.
5. Smaller stakes
This one may seem counterintuitive considering that viewers usually want their superheroes to be up against the biggest threat imaginable. With the onslaught of comic book movies in the last two decades, how many times can we witness the world on the brink of destruction before it feels like an empty threat.
Sure, there’s nothing worse than the entire planet (or universe) being destroyed. Unfortunately, that threat is a little bit too abstract to always get the audience emotionally invested in those stakes. But when the team of superheroes grows, inevitably so does the danger.
This is where standalone superhero films can truly succeed. Audiences may not know what it feels like to have the fate of the universe in their hands, but they know what it’s like to struggle with inner turmoil, which is really the conflict at the heart of films like Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange, where we become so familiar with the character’s struggles that the size of the threat becomes secondary.
4. Cosmic Expansion
Without the standalone Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy movies, audiences would have never gotten to explore the realm of Asgard or the many corners of the cosmos that Peter Quill and his band of misfits travel to. Doctor Strange also proved that you don’t necessarily have to leave Earth to leave Earth, as Stephen ventures into the Multiverse through the three Sanctums located in New York City, London and Hong Kong. And while Thor: Ragnarok and Captain Marvel will certainly take audiences to a few unseen corners of the Marvel universe, there’s certainly no reason to stop there.
In Ant-Man, we’ve already seen Scott Lang survive going sub-atomic, which will likely be revisited in the upcoming sequel, leaving a very real possibility that the Microverse from the comics could finally be explored on the big screen.
But as of right now, a possible Doctor Strange sequel could be our best bet at getting to see the far-away worlds featured throughout the comics, including Soulworld, Camelot, and the Nexus of all Realities.
3. Bring new writers/directors into the fold
Marvel has taken some fairly unorthodox risks when it comes to hiring writers and directors for its films. For instance, before Iron Man, Jon Favreau was better known for being a comedic actor rather than a big budget director. Meanwhile, director Scott Derrickson had been mainly involved with horror movies before Doctor Strange, while Jon Watts had only directed two small budget films before he was put in charge of Spider-Man’s first solo outing in the MCU.
With such a massively popular franchise, you would think that only blockbuster filmmakers would be chosen to helm these movies. Yet, these lesser-known directors have proven time and time again they don’t collapse under the pressure of a massive budget along with fans’ expectations.
Although producer Kevin Feige has been overseeing the franchise since the beginning, and no doubt keeping every film in line with his overall vision, these unconventional writers and directors have been slowly adding their own take on the superhero genre, which has worked particularly well with a number of Marvel’s standalone films.
2. Increased diversity
The MCU doesn’t necessarily get an F in the diversity department, but it could certainly do a lot more to represent those who have been marginalized in Hollywood and around the world. To date, all 16 of the MCU movies that have been released have been headed up by white males. While there have indeed been a number of strong African American and female characters featured throughout the franchise, including Nick Fury, War Machine, Falcon, and Black Widow, these characters are still relegated to playing second fiddle to the story’s primary superhero.
Marvel has received its fair share of backlash for its casting choices for Iron Fist and Doctor Strange, and it looks like the studio is beginning to reconcile this problem with the forthcoming Black Panther and Captain Marvel. But there are still plenty of intriguing comic book characters that could add some much-needed diversity to the franchise, including a Black Widow film has been talked about ever since Scarlett Johnson stepped into the role.
1. Ease new viewers into the franchise
There’s nothing worse than missing the boat on a popular TV series or film franchise that your friends can simply not stop talking about. While this might lead to a worth while binge-fest, other times the task feels like a massive undertaking and you end up skipping out on the series altogether.
While most movies in the first two phases of the MCU can be enjoyed with or without knowledge of the previous films, the current phase has been increasingly esoteric, beginning with the Avengers fracturing in Civil War.
The fact of the matter is that the more these movies get intertwined, the more likely the universe may alienate potential new viewers. Luckily, Spider-Man: Homecoming helped address this problem by bringing a younger superhero into the fold, and introducing the franchise to a whole new generation of middle and high-schoolers that would’ve been far too young to see Iron Man in theaters when it came out almost 10 years ago.
So do you think the MCU should turn out more standalone films? Or do you only want to see crossovers from here on out? Sound off in the comments!
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