It’s no secret that when the MCU launched with Iron Man, there was no intention of making it extremely accessible to children. With mature themes such as terrorism integral to the plot, commercialisation and attracting a young audience wasn’t the aim, the aim was to bring in comic book fans and give them a fun, wild film that was still capable of being true to the books. What I want to ask is, is it fair to say that the MCU lost it’s way? Was it too commercialised and too focused on broadening its demographic?
In a way, doing so worked in favour of both Disney and Marvel. Endgame grossed nearly 3 billion dollars, almost 2 and a half billion dollars more than the first installment in 2008. By making the films brighter, a bit more accessible, they were able to make more money. But bright an accessible was not always the point of Marvel. Many storylines in the Marvel comics are very dark, taking Civil War for example. In the comics, the events that take place are completely catastrophic and brutal, however in the film biggest fight scene takes place in an evacuated airport. I feel that by toning down, all that happens is that they stray further and further from the source material.
The Russo Brothers made the perfect entrance into the MCU with The Winter Soldier. It was a real call back to early MCU, and an homage to the thriller genre. It was an old school political thriller with superheroes mixed in, and I rather enjoyed that. It is somewhat the the first 2 Iron Man movies did well.
It is a known fact that the Netflix shows are also in the MCU, yet there are very gritty and mature. It remains a mystery why they exist in the MCU, unless marvel are trying to regain their dark name. This could be the case, with an MCU Blade movie releasing, as well as Dr Strange in the multiverse of madness (which has been pushed as a horror of sorts), possibly we will get a very brooding universe. There was also a reference to Marvel zombies in Far From Home with the Iron Man vision sequence that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I feel its important to keep the MCU light hearted with heroes like the Guardians and Ant-Man, but I also feel its important for them to embrace their roots and give the fans some grit… and it may not be too far away!
Words by Jack Horsley