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Since Thor and now Captain America came out this year, I wanted to get what Tropers thought of the concept and execution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. Personally I love the idea and wonder why this idea hasn't been seriously tried before. It sorta seems to me like the DCAU in movie form (And well, ummm, with Marvel), and really 'gets' the comic book feel of a shared universe while not being completely alienating.
I like it, though it continues to boggle my mind some of the complaints the movies get. Especially Iron Man 2. I think some people fetishize parsimony in storytelling.
I like it. I wouldn't recommend it for future movie franchises, but I do like it. This Marvel Movie Universe seems to be what the DCAU was, something great and coherent and approachable. Though I'm having trouble figuring out if the Avengers movie is their Justice League or their Justice L Eague Unlimited. Don't ask why my mind is thinking of it like that, there are certain feels to the two that I feel could go either way.
I feel like this will work because even if this lasts years it's only "Oh here watch a few movies" instead of "Monthly comics. For years. Have fun!"
I wasn't happy with how Iron Man 2 completely threw away it's plot half way through to become a giant trailer for the Avengers.
I hear Thor and Cap are good and I might check them out later. I'll certainly watch The Avengers for Iron man at least. Overall I'm not sure, with Favreau leaving Iron Man 3 and Marvel going a little overboard with the nerd pandering I just don't know what to expect. Comics continuity seriously puts me off with how stupid and needlessly convoluted a lot of it sounds (sorry comics fans, that's just how it looks from here) and I doubt it could work on the big screen. If Avengers does turn out to be a great movie I'll throw those doubts away...even if it does mean Iron man 3 ends up suffering for it the way Iron Man 2 did.
I have mixed feelings about it.
Let's be blunt. There are two good movies in this group: Iron Man and Captain America. The tie-ins did nothing for Iron Man (and as noted above, hurt Iron Man 2). On the other hand, Captain America had Howard Stark.
Whether it was worth it or not is all going to come down to the quality of The Avengers.
See, that's the bit I don't get. What exactly hurt Iron Man 2? Yes, it had a lot of SHIELD involvement and some implied backstory as far as Howard Stark, but it was all relevant to the stuff happening involving Tony Stark. Its not like halfway through the movie, Nick yanked Tony aside to, say, build him a power supply for a big vehicle, that doesn't show up or matter to the movie, and then back to the main plot.
I've enjoyed every movie they've done so far, which is rare. Every movie, even the rushed ones like Thor and Iron Man 2, has plenty of moments that appeal to me in a way that I haven't felt since I first started reading comics.
In short, they do their job and they do it well.
^^The film starts off with Tony having his suicidal issues cause of palladium as well as his drinking issues and the problem with the government demanding the tech and stuff. There's a bit of moral ambiguity with Howard Stark and just how far he went with his tech and the lives he ruined as a result. It all feels very personal to Tony and him having to deal with his inner demons and the demons of his/his father's past.
Half way through, Nick Fury shows up says "Nope, Howard Stark was a total bro nothing ambiguous here" SHIELD solves his suicidal problem temporarily. Tony builds a particle accelerator in his freaking basement and suddenly synthesises a completely new element with a box of scraps (and Captain America pandering gets thrown in for no good reason) and all his problems go away in a very convenient deus ex machina. Ivan Vanko pretty much disappears as a result till the end where he makes some random taunting before dying- he ends up being handled a lot worse than Iron Monger (which was the only real issue with Iron Man 1...sadly they didn't bother to fix that with all the Avengers pandering)
And the film finishes up with some more Avengers pandering with Tony being briefed on whether or not he's in the Avengers instead of the more obvious issue like the future of Stark Industries and just what Tony plans on doing with his darn technology being used by nearly everyone (at best we get a line from Hammer about how this isn't over but it's quickly shoved aside in favour of some more screentime for Nick Fury).
Not all of this was the fault of pandering to the Avengers, there was also a bit too much unnecessary humour which I wouldn't normally complain about cause it was funny but it kind of distracted from the actual plot. And the particle accelerator nonsense also wasn't the fault of the Avengers but I feel that subplot would've been managed better if SHIELD didn't keep showing up for no good reason. Basically, the point where Nick Fury shows up is the point where the film becomes a massive pileup and doesn't know what it wants to do.
edited 5th Aug '11 10:14:56 PM by ShadowScythe
But see, it wasn't "for no good reason," it was because Tony's problems were becoming problems for the country ( and world! ) as a whole. When that happens, it only makes sense that SHIELD would get involved. As for everything else, you seem largely to be complaining about the *entire* "Tony Stark is slowly dying and acts irresponsible thereof" plot. Which seeing as that's a good two thirds of the movie. . .
It only makes sense because SHIELD exists, which it only does because Iron Man 2 takes place in a shared universe.
I like the universe as a whole - and it's fun to play around/read fanfic of, but the films themselves are of varying quality.
I sort of agree with the above comment that they tend to be better when ties to the rest of the universe are best kept minimal/to Shout Outs and references, and the movie plots should be a bit more stand-alone.
...Though how The Avengers will fit in with this will be interesting to see.
A what if here: Movies at the moment are self contained. You expect a film to work on it's own, but it still can tie into other films. A good example is The Empire Strikes Back, it's a part of a trilogy yet stands on it's own.
However, what if this whole Marvel thing got taken futher. What if each film was not self contained, that they were instead deliberatly made to be seen as a whole, with cliff hangers and unresolved plot points everywhere. That's just bad film making you might say. But it's not with out precedent. The Film Serials of the mid 20th century did it. I think the Marvel films could be taken further. It'd be pretty cool, especially as the origonal Film Serials often stared comic book heroes.
But, I don't think that would or could happen. We're too attached to the idea that films need to work on their own. You can't treat a film series the same way as a television series, it's just not right.
The interweaving elements are certainly fun, but with so many projects going on you can't guarantee that they will all be exceptionally good. The best movies have been Iron Man 1 and Captain America The First Avenger because of how well crafted their stories were and how developed their main characters became.
Thor and The Incredible Hulk were strictly mediocre in my opinion, they had a lot of fan-pleasing moments and spot on gags but they didn't really reach high. Hulk felt very strictly by the formula, he's on the run and trying to tame the beast while a dangerous new enemy rises to challenge his power. Thor started off strong narratively but the middle section was excessively protracted and it didn't really explain the lesson he was supposed to learn and subsequent Character Development.
Iron Man 2 falls in between as it had multiple parallel plot lines going on simultaneously: Tony's paladium poisoning and self-destructive behavior, Vanko's revenge with Justin Hammer, the senate hearings and the Avenger initiative (Shield does factor in here and a little bit into his suicidal behavior, but they are still seperate stories). What makes it work nonetheless is because Robert Downey Jr is just such a magnetic lead.
Heh, I actually used the time when Nick Fury popped up in Iron Man 2 take a bathroom break and refill my soda. To me that's more of a case of bad plotting and pacing, but the idea that they had to shoehorn a lot of SHIELD stuff in to setup the Avengers movie ore was not a good idea.
In general though I like cross pollination when it enables something comic-booky without being really out there. My example is how the Red Skull's plan is based around Asgardian technology, which because the Asgard were introduced to moving going audiences, isn't completely out there, while at the same time its a relatively minor conceit in the larger scheme of the film.
I felt that Thor's moments of fun and interesting design aesthetic for Asgard made up for the moments of dragging and doing nothing in New Mexico. But it was noting more than a fun movie to me.
edited 6th Aug '11 1:15:19 AM by Scherzo09
Should the Avengers movie be a huge success, where do you think they could even go after that beyond the usual sequels for Thor/Iron Man/Cap which would probably be too much? Should they add new heroes or adapt other bits of the Marvel Universe like this proposed Guardians of the Galaxy movie?
I mean honestly, I can't see this continuity lasting beyond like say 2016 without putting all the current major characters on a bus. I think they'd all be starting to get worn out by that point. You could potentially do The Other Darrin with a few of them, like they did with Bruce Banner, but, for example, Robert Downey Jr. is almost completely inseparable from Tony Stark at this point.
I do agree with one op-ed though that said Iron Man was the most important Marvel movie though, by nature of its ability to take a relatively obscure Marvel superhero and make it resonate with the general public. This is something DC hasn't managed yet, as Green Lantern's flop attests to.
To me the Avengers film feels like a bad idea. Can anyone name a movie with that many main characters that manages to give all of them depth and show relationships between the (aside from the novel-based epic of Lord of the Rings)? It's likely to be another X-Men 3.
Haven't seen Captain America yet but looking forward to it. I liked the first Iron Man one. Haven't seen the Hulk reboot, heard it's ok. Maybe I'm an odd duck here, but I really liked Thor and thought it worked as a "stand alone" movie.
Definitely looking forward to The Avengers.
Also, there's kind of a chicken-egg thing, but I'm a bit fan of Avengers The Earths Mighiest Heroes, and the tone of that probably both borrows from/is a guide for the cinematic universe. Similarly, looking forward to Agent Coulson in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.
edited 6th Aug '11 11:01:13 AM by Jordan
So far I have been very impressed with what Marvel is doing. I do think some of the films are weaker than others, but even the weak films like Iron Man 2 feel very solid. Avengers looks like a barrel of awesome, which it's gonna need to be in order to be good.
Part of my hope for Avengers' success also comes from the implications of said success. Nothing like the MCU has ever been done before, and Avengers' success will cement the MCU as an experience that could be possibly continued for further success. I would totally want to see more characters get tied in. Maybe if it's successful enough the MCU can start including the big-name guys like Spider Man and the X-Men. Yeah, I know that's a really big "what if", but understand that whether or not the option is even possible depends entirely on if Avengers is good.
I'd like to see more "group releases" like novel series structures myself. Like a miniseries released through theaters.
Honestly, I'm happy with Spider-man and the X-Men not being part of the MCU. They'd distract, and in the case of the X-Men, detract from the work Marvel has been doing. I do hope Fantastic Four reverts, however, as they would work fine with the MCU as currently done.
As for the rest of the complaints, I really have to categorize them all as "Marvel Studios shouldn't be doing this in the first place." Virtually every one of the problems and issues I see people describing boils down to "Marvel should keep every movie independent of every other." I'd take this as just a difference of opinion, except the argument for why this is the case seems to a priori to me: 'Marvel shouldn't make an MCU because its a bad idea'- why is it a bad idea when no one has ever tried before? Yes, Marvel is taking a risk, but they are taking a risk to do something that has yet to be tried. I thought innovation was supposed to be encouraged?
In a nutshell, if your complaint about Iron Man 2 is that they should have excised SHIELD and all the related subplots from the movie, you aren't criticizing the Iron Man 2 movie that was made, you are criticizing the fact that Iron Man 2 was made.
The movies I've seen so far have been okay(Ironman, Thor, even Daredevil) but I aint happy about Marvel trying to reproduce its comic branches just because some audience members are fangasming for it.
On the other hand, if they make a point not to put everything in it, I might be more forgiving. X-men not being connected is a very large improvement. As long as they try to put it together in ways that makes sense I can tolerate it.
Your confusing movies. Daredevil is not part of the MCU, and never was. Likewise the X-Men, and there is no realistic prospect of their ever joining it. Which is good, IMO, since the X-Men don't really fit into the rest of Marvel even in the comics.
As for why Marvel is doing it, there's a simple reason: the Avengers. Nobody has ever done a traditional big league super hero team movie before, because it would be impossible to set up the characters. Well, Marvel found a way: stop treating individual movies as being totally independent, and let them all be part of a common world. Then you can set up the characters necessary for the big team in their own movies.
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