The Marvel Age

Can’t remember this guy’s name. He’s a talking raccoon.

I grew up on Marvel comics, and still have some old favourites stored in my basement. I don’t think they’re worth anything though because they’re not in the best of shape. But despite this background, I was never a huge fan of the way Marvel/Disney took over the movie business in the twenty-first century.

It’s hard to overstate just how central these movies have been. Their box office success ensured countless imitators, and the Marvel style became ubiquitous. What this meant, primarily, was: (1) the creation of a totally plastic, CGI “virtual” reality, making nearly every blockbuster movie over into a cartoon and every action star a superhero, and (2) the evolution of franchise filmmaking into various “universes,” given over to an even more assembly-line serial format. This latter development would, in turn, help with the transition away from cinemas to streaming platforms in need of a constant supply of new content. The comic-book form was particularly well-adapted to all of these developments, something the triumph of Marvel clearly underlined.

Meanwhile, the Marvel formula in terms of writing didn’t change much. Scruffy, ordinary-guy heroes with self-deprecating senses of humour and bulging biceps save the universe from supervillains intent on world domination (or world destruction). Lots of A-list talent. Lots of big action. Lots of CGI.

Some of the movies were entertaining, but the formula started to feel played out by the end of the 2010s. This is something I think everyone was aware of. Spinning off into the multi- or metaverse was one attempt at trying to make things new, and it worked to some extent. But my bottom line is that I really don’t want to see any of these movies, even the best of them, again, and I’ve already forgotten some of them completely. I was surprised, when compiling this list, to see that I’d reviewed Ant-Man and the Wasp. What had that been about? I have no idea now.

In any event, here’s the line-up of the Marvel movies (not all of them MCU) that I’ve written notes on over at Alex on Film. I’ll keep this index current with new postings, but I think it’s going to be slow on the Marvel front from here on out.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The Avengers (2012)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Ant-Man (2015)
Fantastic Four (2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Deadpool (2016)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Black Panther (2018)
Deadpool 2 (2018)
Venom (2018)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Black Widow (2021)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Venom: Let There be Carnage (2021)
Eternals (2021)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

13 thoughts on “The Marvel Age

    • You’ve seen (almost) all of these!? I’m impressed. Or depressed. Or somewhere in the middle.

      Even your naming the raccoon Rocket doesn’t ring a bell for me. Guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Yep, I did the whole of the MCU phase 1 which most of these were part of. But you can add the beginning of phase 1 to my portfolio too, Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Captain America The First Avenger (2011). Then went on to Phase 2 Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor The Dark World (2013). Also done Captain Marvel (2019) from phase 3. You missed a lot!
    Deadpool not really part of the MCU phases as you say, but they were the most fun. The original Iron Man is worth a see, and although Mark Ruffalo took on the part for the Avengers movies, I thought Ed Norton brought a lot of pathos to The Incredible Hulk standalone.

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  2. I’m now trying to remember Ant Man and the Wasp but I’m coming up with nothing. Liked Marvel comics from 8 till 12 years old, like Star Wars, grew up and never wanted to look back. But if you ignore these franchises, it’s Slim Pickens…

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    • I don’t begrudge Marvel their success or their formula. What’s depressing is the way their formula and style of filmmaking became something to be imitated by everyone. Like it or not, every action film since has been a CGI-driven cartoon with superheroes. It’s what audiences have come to expect. You get something like the end of Malignant and you think, “here we go again.”

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      • You see, even in the case of Statham I’d argue that F&F are basically following the same comic-book template, like with all the impossible CGI action that defies the laws of physics. They’re set in a cartoon universe. In these movies the heroes may not be able to literally fly or shoot lasers from their eyes, but they’re superheroes on the level of the Punisher say. Even in something like Wrath of Man Statham is that kind of superhero, with the body armour everyone wears in the final battle making them impervious to bullets, etc. That’s all comic-book action. And basically Charlize Theron has been the Black Widow now in several of her recent movies.

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