Marvel Studios Faces Major Backlash Over Serious Quality Decline

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Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan scene

Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios is facing the ire of the crowds, once again.

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk roaring in She-Hulk Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Highly Anticipated Marvel Show Reportedly Scrapped Indefinitely

The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Studios is no stranger to projects in their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) getting lambasted by the public, but it seems that lately, the “superhero fatigue” has been setting in for many people — general audiences and Marvel fans alike.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had more than a decade of success, catching the eyes of audiences worldwide when the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle Iron Man (2008) hit the scene. The MCU has come a long way, with the first three Phases termed the Infinity Saga — by now long over, concluding with Phase Three’s iconic ending in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), by directors (and brothers) Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (no, they’re not coming back to Marvel).

The 'Portals' Scene in 'Avengers: Endgame' (2019)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Endgame saw Robert Downey Jr. (whose return to the MCU has been much-discussed) as the well-loved Tony Stark/Iron Man sacrifice himself to defeat Josh Brolin’s Thanos, while Chris Evans as Steve Rogers fully retired his Captain America mantle — thus beginning a whole new Multiverse Saga based on the Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars storyline. Now, the first part of that Marvel Entertainment era, termed “Phase Four” by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic Con’s Hall H, is already over with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). Since Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it’s been made clear that the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are now contending with an even bigger Avengers-level threat — in Jonathan Majors’ terrifying Kang the Conqueror, as the MCU ramps up to Phase Five and Phase Six’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2025) and Avengers: Secret Wars (2026).

But with the recent talk about superhero fatigue and Marvel Studios’ quality slipping, it may no longer be a given that current fans and audiences will stick it out that long.

Florian Munteanu as razor fist vs Simu Liu as shang-chi
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Tom Holland’s ‘Spider-Man’ Return Likely After ‘Spider-Verse’ Reports

Now, the latest controversy has drawn public ire, as Marvel Studios is being accused of significantly toning down their quality — with current Marvel Studios projects all begin to blur together into CGI-heavy, indistinguishable blobs. Ryan Broderick, in a quote tweet responding to a clip of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) ending, noticed something particularly disheartening about MCU characters. Apparently, characters “stopped interacting with objects around them”, as his Tweet garnering over 140K likes details:

It’s actually very weird how basically after Civil War, MCU characters stopped not just being in physical locations but stopped interacting with objects around them. The craziest part of this scene is the fact Cap has to react to a specific thing in the room that affects the plot

This clip of Captain America‘s ending shows Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers seemingly suddenly transplanted into the future. Waking up in a hospital bed, he notices the fake radio set to play 1940s baseball game coverage is reporting the wrong date — so he escapes the artificial set and is chased down by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to the middle of New York City’s Times Square. Surrounded, he is informed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) that he has actually been asleep for 70 years — thus setting in motion the events of 2012’s The Avengers.

Broderick expands:

It could be that I just don’t remember, but try and name a non-CGI location or object in an MCU movie from the last three phases that has a fundamental effect on the plot of the movie, one that if removed, would mean the movie couldn’t continue.

(continued) What’s so sad about trying to name any non-CGI physical objects that actors interact with in a meaningful way in the recent MCU movies is that the main one in Quantumania is a Baskin Robbins cake and the main one in Endgame is… the Taco Bell taco… 😕

The tweet went viral, with Marvel fans and the general public chiming in with their thoughts — as people realized that it is only now with contrast that the over-heightened, blue screen reliance of recent Marvel Studios projects stands out against the MCU’s more humble beginnings.

Harry J replied to Broderick, making the following observation:

Harry J: Imagine them bothering to film this in actual Times Square today

Ryan Broderick: That actually just made me insanely depressed wow

Paris Marx pointed out that it was probably cheaper for Marvel Studios and Disney to create films this way — instead of employ unionized workers to do the job:

Paris Marx: why employed unionized workers to built sets when you can just use underpaid and overworked vfx workers to fill in it later?

Ryan Broderick: Also how boring for the screenwriter! Your characters can’t do anything of any material value in the environment around them. To say nothing of the character development we lose. One of first ways we’re introduced to Thor is him smashing coffee cups in a diner.

Meanwhile, user @ArgentPhoenix noted that Christian Bale cited that working on Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) was a “terrible experience” due that reliance on VFX, which meant that he was kept in the dark (perhaps deliberately, as Marvel is wont to do) for most of the filming:

iirc Christian Bale literally said working on Thor 4 was a terrible experience and that he never knew what was going on in a given scene cause they looked alike due to the over reliance on CGI to make the sets

There are absolutely some exceptions to be made with regards to more recent MCU films, however, that do in fact utilize physical locations and objects to their benefit. User @Mezentine noticed that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) used a real bus to stage a fight scene involving Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi to great effect, while Broderick responded, bringing up the Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) knife fight and Netflix Marvel’s Daredevil (2015) hallway scene — all very visceral examples based in real physical locations and relying on live physicality in the MCU:

@Mezentine: I started thinking about this and honestly like the only thing I can think of is the bus fight at the opening of Shang Chi which also, not coincidentally, is one of the only good fights they’ve had in years

Ryan Broderick: Yes! The bus fight is probably the best fight scene in the MCU for me behind the Winter Soldier knife fight and the Daredevil hallway scene

Overall, it appears that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has moved away from staging scenes in prominent, real locations or having characters interact with real objects or engage with their senses. Recent examples of Marvel Studios still using some of these storytelling tools are the physical bangle in Ms. Marvel (2022) that Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) uncovers in the first few episodes, but other examples like Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) interacting with Tony Stark’s glasses containing the drone strike-capable AI, EDITH come to mind. But with movies like Phase Three’s Spider-Man: Far From Home slipping ever further away from today’s MCU landscape (we’re already in Phase Five!), it sometimes does feel like the tangible intelligence of Marvel movies is slowly decreasing.

Do you think the MCU is actually getting dumber, or is it truly superhero fatigue? Are you ride or die for Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

2022’s San Diego Comic Con and D23 Expo brought us a whole new Multiverse Saga roadmap to look forward to, courtesy of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. With Fantastic Four slated for 2025 likely dealing with Doctor Doom, and promises of more with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil/Matt Murdock on the “street-level”. The inclusion of beloved characters across franchises is almost a given, with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as variant Peter Parkers likely to return, alongside original Avengers greats like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, while heroes like Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and newcomers like Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) take the reins against Jonathan Majors‘ Kang the Conqueror.

Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics have definitely come a long way. Coming up next with Marvel Studios’ theatrical releases is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord and his space-roving pals on a final adventure across the galaxy. Upcoming Ironheart Disney+ series stars Marvel Studios newcomer Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, while Secret Invasion (2023), follows Samuel L. Jackson as Director Nick Fury and tells of his spacetime and Krull-centric exploits. Right now, you can watch Moon Knight (2022), She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022), and Netflix Marvel favorites like Daredevil (2016) and Marvel’s Jessica Jones (2015).

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