Marvel shows lead to chaotic downfall of Marvel Cinematic Universe


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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is having a dramatic downfall as Phase Four of the franchise continues.

I come from a very nerdy family. I spent the young years of my life playing Super Mario 3 on my Gameboy Advance, planning strategic Yugioh card dueling matches with my older brother as we watched old anime, and reading Marvel and DC comic books. 

As you can imagine, like many Marvel fans, I loved seeing some of my favorite comic characters come alive on screen. Even more so, as I got older, I loved to get to see and appreciate how the ever-expanding universe has permanently changed the film industry. That being said, nostalgia sometimes sways Marvel fans to believe that the franchise can do no wrong, either in movies or in its several recently released TV shows, and I disagree.

So far, Disney+ has released eight new shows in the past year. It has also released countless movies and shorts, and there is even a “Guardians of the Galaxy” holiday special coming later this year. These shows all add to the cinematic universe and range from character origin stories to spin-off side stories to shows specifically designed to move a character toward their next appearance in a film. 

I hear some people complaining already: “If you love Marvel, why are you complaining about more content from them?”

First, quality over quantity. As someone who grew up with Marvel cartoons and comic books, I know all of these stories already. If they are brought to life, I want to see true justice done to these stories. I don’t want them to be cash grabs made to keep a streaming platform relevant. 

Secondly, context. The nice thing about older Marvel films is that there was an overarching narrative, but each film and franchise could stand on its own. This went for shows as well. For example, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” was, quite frankly, better than most of the Marvel shows I’ve seen on Disney+ in the last year. It was a show that played with the lore of the Marvel universe while being able to exist in its own lane, referencing the movies and overarching universe without causing confusing inconsistencies.

This is something we just don’t see with the current Marvel films on Disney+. Now, you have to have seen nearly everything in order to understand most of the new films, or at least have a good amount of context of what’s happened in the franchise thus far. Even as someone whose life has been filled with Marvel characters since before I could walk, I just can’t find the same appeal. 

This is not to say that these shows don’t have appeal; quite a few of them are fantastically executed. My father spent years of my childhood theorizing about what it would be like to see his favorite character, Moon Knight, on screen, and he was not disappointed. I was fully engaged as I watched my fan-favorite character Loki in a whole new context during his series, with lovable new characters and interesting concepts. My personal favorite was the first Marvel show to kick off the ever-growing list, “Wandavision.”

 “Wandavision” uses a blend of sitcom and romantic-comedy twists on your classic superhero, or in this case, supervillain story. It delves deep into Wanda Maximoff’s trauma and turns a tragic hero’s backstory into the backstory of a future villain. As the show ends, it appears to the audience that Wanda leaves the town of Westview wanting to make amends for the damage she caused out of the grief of losing the love of her life. 

However, the next time we see Wanda, she has fully transformed into the Scarlet Witch. She kills America Chavez, a new addition to the universe, and uses an evil book to steal America’s powers and to try to find her children. Sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it?

This is the biggest problem I have with the format that Marvel and Disney have chosen to use in expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only do you have to do research outside of the films to watch the shows, but you now have to watch these shows before the next movie.  

I also just think that the Marvel storytelling format does work better in movies. As I stated earlier, good Marvel shows don’t have to connect to the bigger story. I do think that using TV shows to introduce new characters is a good idea in cases like “Moon Knight,” “Ms. Marvel,” and “She-Hulk.” They do what they need to and work. But as much as I like “WandaVision” and “Loki,” all they did was thrust an already complex franchise into utter chaos for those who didn’t spend their lives flipping through comic book pages.