Marvel Studios has worked out a formula that’s both popular and well regarded, and they’re sticking to it. Nearly twenty films in since they began their run with “Iron Man” in 2008, you know what you’re getting when you buy a movie ticket to a film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes the movies do take a few minor risks, effectively changing an ingredient or two in the recipe at times resulting in some playful if somewhat slight tonal shifts. But they stick to a structurally sound plan which puts mass audience appeal and satisfying their fan base front and center.
You can’t argue against their financial success or their decision to appeal to their base, but their artistic success can be debated and the criticisms leveled against their films have taken on some commonalities over the years. Weak & underwritten villains, forgettable scores, a uniform visual aesthetic and homogenous story beats, etc. you could well argue there’s enough similarities to make the movies somewhat interchangeable.
Even when they try an actual narratively daring decision, such as was done with The Mandarin reveal in “Iron Man 3,” they were effectively crucified by their base for stepping out of line. Speaking with Uproxx this week, Marvel’s Kevin Feige reflected on those criticisms and puts it down to the fact that by being a part of a linked universe, people are automatically putting the focus on the similarities:
“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,’ ‘[Black] Panther,’ into ‘[Avengers:] 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.”
Feige certainly has no reason to change his approach thanks to mostly high review aggregate scores and stellar box-office with a film series that, unlike so many others this year, isn’t showing signs of audience fatigue at this point.
“Thor: Ragnarok,” which really is one of the most different of the Marvel films, opens in cinemas on November 3rd.