The dawn of Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic universe is quickly approaching, with Captain America: Civil War premiering on May 6. The film looks to set the tone for the next 10 (!) films in the series to be released over the next four years, and will continue to add billions to Disney's war chest of what is already the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Yet despite the success of the films, or perhaps because of it, there are a lot of haters out there who happily criticize everything Marvel does. And Marvel fans are sick of hearing about most of these criticisms.
People have various reasons for sharing their disdain. Some people don't like comic books or superheroes. Some people are hardcore DC fans and love to go after Marvel because they view it as a rival. And some people prefer smaller, indie films and don't like blockbuster movies. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but all the hate can start to put a damper on what are, at the end of the day, some tremendously fun movies. So I'm going to take a look at some of the most common criticisms hurled at Marvel movies, and show why each argument is flawed.
1. It's Ruining Hollywood
There are six superhero movies being released in 2016, and once again the genre is expected to dominate the box office. Critics of Marvel blame the studio's popularity for this proliferation, and they detest how comic book movies have taken over Hollywood. But a lot of people enjoy superhero movies, meaning that the market will continue to be saturated with them. But superhero movies were already popular before Marvel Studios came along, they just figured out how to do them better than everyone else. And with every studio now jumping on the superhero bandwagon, I much prefer the Marvel approach of, you know, actually making the movies good, as opposed to some other studios' desperate cash grabs.
2. All The Movies Are The Same
There's a temptation to look at all Marvel films and treat them as the same story told with different characters, but this isn't even close to being the truth. Marvel has made a concerted effort to diversify their offerings, choosing directors with unique voices to helm films that fit into various genres. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy is an acerbic space opera, the Russo Brothers' Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a '70s-style political thriller, Peyton Reed's Ant-Man is a classic heist movie, etc. The movies offer something for virtually everyone, and are much more than just the stereotypical guys in tights punching each other.
3. There Are Too Many Movies
I'll admit that Marvel is definitely a commitment. All of the films are connected, though some more loosely than others, and there are a lot of them. But I view that as a good thing. Marvel is recreating the vast universe of their comics, where multiple characters interact across different series, and I think it's fantastic. Why settle for just the traditional trilogy when so much more can be explored with an ever-expanding universe?
4. All Of The Villains Stink
A few of the villains have come across as generic, but that's a problem with the superhero genre as a whole and not just Marvel. Overall, I think Marvel has done a better job than other studios with providing at least some iconic villains. Tom Hiddleston's Loki is the most obvious standout, but the Red Skull, Arnim Zola, Alexander Pierce, Ultron, and several others are all impressive.
5. It's Just A Bunch Of White Guys
This was a valid criticism a few years ago, but it's simply not the case anymore. Three of the five leads in Guardians of the Galaxy are non-white actors. Civil War features War Machine, Falcon, Black Panther, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Sharon Carter all kicking ass. And with other female heroes like Captain Marvel and the Wasp coming down the pipeline, along with the TV universe's already diverse group of heroes like Jessica Jones, Peggy Carter, Luke Cage, and Elektra, things are only looking up when it comes to Marvel's level of diversity.
6. The Universe Is Too Complicated
The interconnected universe leaves some casual fans too confused to keep up. I admit, you have to really pay attention to see how these films connect sometimes (like with the Infinity Gems), but for me it's worth it. The films are like one big puzzle, and fitting the pieces together is just one aspect of the Marvel experience that sets the films apart from the imitators.
7. The Movies Are Not Dark & Gritty Enough
The Dark Knight is a really good movie, but it had an unfortunate effect on superhero movies, and really all action movies. Because that film did the dark and gritty aspect well, practically everyone else tried to copy its tone, and more often than not they ended up falling on their face. Thankfully, Marvel managed to dodge this bullet and went for a brighter tone in their films, and that was the right call. The truth is that while dark and gritty realism works for Batman, it doesn't work so well for most other superheroes. These are flashy heroes with fantastic powers who were mostly first created for children, and I think the movies should still be accessible to their originally-intended demographic.
8. It's A Corporate Production
When Disney purchased Marvel, the studio became intent on producing a ton of new movies and developing new characters, all the while maintaining a consistent tone and making sure the films had the right connections. Some viewed this as corporate meddling, but if a corporation is going to meddle, I definitely want it be Disney. The studio knows entertainment better than anyone, and they've been killing it over the past several years with not only their Marvel movies, but also with their offerings from Pixar, Disney-branded films, and of course the new Star Wars. Disney plus Marvel is a match made in heaven.
9. It's Dumb
The films are well-written, well-acted, and often tackle big themes. If someone can't get past the costumes and the powers, well, that's their own bias.
Marvel is doing great work, and they've set a high bar for other superhero films, and really all blockbuster franchises, to live up to. If a rising tide raises all boats, then fans of all genres should be thankful for Marvel movies.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; giphy.com