Marvel creatives will not hold anything back.
When it comes to lashing back at fans’ opinions, Marvel Studios are taking no prisoners. To be fair, James Gunn (now) over at DC Studios’ DC Universe has done his fair share of ignoring what the fans think — but this Marvel creative is swearing and outright refusing to take what fans think into consideration — which perhaps sets an aggressive precedent regarding future Marvel Studios entries.
It’s been more than 10 years since the Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Studios, following the surprising success of Marvel Entertainment’s Iron Man (2008) movie, that brought Robert Downey Jr. back into the spotlight. The MCU has come a very long way since those early days, with those initial three Phases named the Infinity Saga ending in Phase Three’s explosively popular conclusion, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), helmed by brotherly directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (no, they’re not coming back to Marvel). 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. It was the ultimate superhero epic and nerd fantasy brought to life. It’s increasingly evident that those days are well in the past for Marvel, however.
Currently, a whole new Multiverse Saga based on the Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars storyline has begun, surrounding Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror and the Multiversal Council of Kangs as the new Marvel Studios Big Bad à la Thanos. Now, the first part of that era, iconically 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).
Now, the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five, Peyton Reed-directed Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has hit cinemas all around the world, putting current Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and partner Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), original Ant-Man and mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), wife and original Wasp, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) — against the terrifying Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), in the equally terrifying Quantum Realm.
Why will Marvel Studios ignore Marvel fans moving forward?
Why is Ant-Man 3 relevant, you ask? Because its writer Jeff Loveness has been conscripted by Marvel Studios HQ to take on the extremely hefty, and extremely anticipated Avengers 5, AKA Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. And he has some rather stubborn opinions when it comes to his own writing, and “giving fans what they want”. Or more accurately, denying fans what they want.
Speaking to Vital Thrills, Loveness addresses the controversy surrounding the much-debated appearance of the character MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing), portrayed by Corey Stoll in Quantumania. In the MCU, it appears that MODOK has a different backstory to the Marvel Comics and even the 2021 Hulu series created by and starring Patton Oswalt, MODOK. Here, Stoll plays Darren Cross AKA the villain Yellowjacket from the first Ant-Man (2015) film — a fact that has jostled many Marvel fans’ feathers. Responding to the backlash calling the writing decision to eliminate George Tarleton’s AIM-centric (Advanced Idea Mechanics) backstory to incorporate Darren Cross, giving MODOK a “stupid” characterization.
Loveness is asked if MODOK might return as an Avenger (presumably in Avengers 5) and pledges to directly oppose the fans, promising that “he will be even stupider” on account of him “refus[ing] to listen to the fans”, “as long as [he] is alive”. The fans are never going to a serious iteration, because “he’ll be a big dumb head”:
Uh… if I say yes, I promise you he will be even stupider. I refuse to listen to the fans on this. I will not make MODOK serious. As long as I’m alive, they’re not gonna get that serious adaptation that those four fans want. He’ll be a big dumb head. That’s all.
Of course, here Loveness is addressing what he clearly references to be merely “four fans”, yet it is wholly indicative of a baseline attitude towards writing and creation within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it’s a rather aggressive one — for Loveness is willing say “they’re wrong” and to “go to the mat” and fight the fans for his vision:
Let me just say, the people who are divided, they’re wrong. I will go to the mat for MODOK. I am so happy. And it was such a fight. And it was such a labor of love and passion and all that, just to get the comedy balance of this guy. And hey, I’m a big comics guy, I’m sure you are, too. We’re on the internet. People got opinions. Those motherf***ers are wrong. I’m sorry, you want to do a serious take on MODOK? I played that “Avengers” game on PS5, good luck.
This attitude coming from a key Marvel writer, and his approach to writing likely raises eyebrows — and several important questions.
Should we praise a writer for sticking to their guns and creative vision? Or should Marvel fans be worried that Marvel Studios’ writers seem particularly unwilling to listen to criticism, even going out of their way to antagonize fans? Should the works of the Marvel Cinematic Universe be fully subject to the wish fulfilment of fans, or should they be vehicles for the creator’s vision and simply enjoyed, as-is? Questions abound, but one thing’s for certain. Jeff Loveness is not letting fan opinions get in the way of his Avengers: The Kang Dynasty script.
Do you think Jeff Loveness and Marvel’s approach to fan criticism is good for the MCU? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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). Don’t want to watch a full series? Check out Marvel Studios Special Presentation short films — from the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) to Werewolf by Night (2022), there’s something for everyone.