14 films in and billions boasted in box office revenue, there’s no arguing that Marvel Studios is a force to be reckoned with. But despite a general, consistently favorable response from critics and filmgoers, lingering complaints have popped up about the MCU’s baseline style. In the broadest terms, some filmgoers have argued that “they’re all the same.” Sometimes this is an argument against a repeated, family-friendly tone, but it’s also one that’s supported by technical specifics of the filmmaking process.
One of these specifics, The Music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was recently called out by YouTube personality, Every Frame a Painting. While the discussion revolved around a larger, systemic problems with scoring a memorable film today, plenty of the blame was placed on Marvel Studios as an industry leader in driving a bland musical palette.
In a brand new video essay (see above), YouTuber Patrick (H) Willems recently followed up on this discussion with what he believes is the second sin that’s holding Marvel’s otherwise solid catalog back from greatness – color grading. Namely, he singles out the continually washed out black levels and muted colors for preventing the MCU films from feeling as beautiful as the comic books they are derived from.
While Willems admits that his argument is subject to personal taste, he definitely has the know-how to back up his opinion, even showing examples of how the MCU’s movies could look and comparing them to other films shot on digital cameras (like the stunning Mad Max: Fury Road and Jupiter Ascending). Willems also suggests that Marvel Studios may already be moving in the right direction, considering the inky blacks and poppy colors on display in the teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Whether or not this is due to it being the MCU’s first film shot on the Red Weapon 8k camera or simply a shift in aesthetic choices, Willems hopes that its a sign of a more cinematic new look for Marvel Studios moving forward.
Whether or not you agree with Willem’s arguments about what the MCU should look like, it’s certainly interesting to see what it could be. Millions of creative choices are made by thousands of creative voices concerning the look, sound, and story of every feature film. It’s fascinating to see how different something as simple as black levels can change the emotional punch a film can pack.
What are your thoughts the Marvel aesthetic? Sound off in the comments section and stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates and impressions on the Marvel movie catalog as they hit.
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