OPINION: MCU has given me serious superhero burnout

Nov 4, 2022 | OP-ED

For 14 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has followed the same formula in their movies. Big-name actors, famous directors, action-driven storytelling, and a massive budget. But lately, I feel like this formula has become stale.

What made the MCU so great was the world-building and the connection to its characters. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were two of the greatest cinema experiences of my life.

The accumulation of more than 10 years and 20 movies built anticipation for the final battle between the Avengers and the grand villain Thanos.

I was in the theatre screaming my lungs out when our heroes faced adversity and cried when the heroes I grew to love, died. Now, when I watch the MCU, I have no feelings whatsoever towards the characters introduced, nor do I have the patience to go through another revolving door of origin stories.

Marvel’s Phase Four falls victim to its own redundant story-telling and poor CGI; they’ve given up quality for quantity. These high-stakes driven films are starting to feel like they’re all one and the same just with different characters.

The recent Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness relied heavily on its new characters and nostalgia only for them to be loosely scattered across the overall story.

The introduction of the Illuminati — an organization made up of some of the greatest Marvel heroes — was marketed to be the next big group in the MCU but instead turned into a glorified cameo rather than being an integral part of story and world-building.

I was so excited to see Patrick Stewart make his debut in the MCU as Professor X but with only 10 minutes of screen time, I was left disappointed.

A recurring theme within Marvel’s Phase Four has been visual effects (VFX) issues. In a phone interview with tech and design publisher Gizmodo, VFX artists that have worked on Marvel projects claimed the studio’s indecisiveness and last-minute changes create inconsistent shots and long days for VFX artists.

Most recently, I watched She-Hulk on Disney+ and could barely pay attention because She-Hulk looked so cartoonish. I had high expectations for this show and if it wasn’t for Tatiana Maslany’s performance I would have given up on the show by the fourth episode.

Not every single Marvel show has been terrible. We have great new characters, films and shows introduced to us like Werewolf by Night and Shang-Chi. What makes these projects so great is the creative freedom given to directors.

Michael Giacchino — who made his directorial debut — created a visually haunting and beautifully shot horror special that paid homage to older black and white horror films with Werewolf by Night. Destin Daniel Cretton managed to use the MCU formula and create his own diverse twist to it that overall left me excited for the future of Shang-Chi.

Disney needs to take more time to develop its movies and need to ditch the MCU formula or just give its directors more freedom to create shows that they want. During the pandemic, there were no MCU movies or shows that were released which left people pining for Marvel content. They need to do that again, I want to miss these characters.

Getting burnt out on monolithic intellectual properties that churn out an incredible amount of material that’s all-important is entirely normal. Especially when the content is impossible to completely tune out.

I need a chance to miss these heroes otherwise the superhero genre will continue to become stale.