MCU: 5 Biggest Criticisms of New Marvel Movies In the 2020s
Following 2019’s climatic Avengers: Endgame, fans have had reoccurring issues with many of Marvel Studios’ subsequent films.
Naturally, some criticism was expected as Endgame set an impossibly high bar as the conclusion of the Infinity Saga, leaving the MCU to rebuild amidst a global pandemic and Hollywood shutdown.
However, four years have come and gone since Stark snapped. And, since then, Marvel Studios has churned out more content than fans could’ve ever expected, and certain issues have now become chronic problems for the MCU.
With that being said, here’s a breakdown of the five biggest criticisms of Marvel movies following the release of Avengers: Endgame.
In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, the number of MCU projects and the rate at which they’ve been released dwarfed what the studio released prior.
Much of this is due to Marvel Studios introducing MCU Disney+ series that are equally part of the franchise’s new overarching Multiverse Saga, as well as Marvel Studios Special Presentations.
Since Endgame, Marvel Studios has released a whopping 19 MCU projects, comprised of nine movies, eight series, and two special presentations. For reference, Phase 3 (minus Spider-Man: Far From Home) included just over half that amount, with 10 movies released over a longer period of time.
With so much content delivered through three different mediums, audiences and industry insiders have questioned if the somewhat lackluster reception to the MCU’s second saga is due to oversaturation or franchise fatigue.
After all, for years, Marvel Studios films have been perceived as required viewing and cultural events.
But with a whopping nine projects released in 2021 alone, it’s no wonder that audiences questioned whether the MCU is now too much of a good thing.
2. Too Standalone
Even though Marvel Studios introduced Disney+ series that also belong within its new overarching narrative, some shows – and some films – have lacked needful and often obvious connections.
While Spider-Man: Far From Home and the start of Phase 4 were strong, this trend of baffling irrelevancy began with Marvel’s first Phase 4 film, Black Widow.
Even though the long-awaited Scarlett Johansson solo film introduced Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, Black Widow‘s status as a pre-Infinity War prequel strongly softened its stakes.
Another glaring example is Eternals which, despite a few Endgame references, felt completely disconnected from the larger MCU story and (so far) has contributed nothing to the current narrative.
The fact that subsequent MCU projects barely acknowledged Eternals events only made its isolation all the more glaring.
Moon Knight, Thor: Love and Thunder, and She-Hulk also fall into this camp, especially since there’s no indication of how their stories will connect to the larger Multiversal drama.
Speaking of which, Multiverse projects have lacked cohesion as well.
After Loki freed the Multiverse on Disney+, Spider-Man: No Way Home centered on the topic but without any callbacks to the series, preferring to rely on an ambiguous botched spell as the cause of its Multiverse visitors.
Given its title, many expected Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to fill in the blanks. However, the 2022 film did little to reference Spider-Man 3 or Loki but rather introduced new Multiversal implications like incursions and dreamwalking.
Instead of answers, the MCU has continued to introduce new concepts and even more questions with only a few nods to a grand scheme to tie it all together.
3. Too Subservient
While many of Marvel’s recent projects have been too standalone, some have also been far too focused on the larger story than their own.
One of the best examples is the latest MCU film, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, as it focused more on Kang and what’s to come as opposed to the progression of the Ant-Man characters and the threequel’s plot.
Certain characters and plotlines in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also felt more like MCU obligations than contributions. The same can be said for Doctor Strange 2 as it tried to bridge Wanda’s arc with the vast concept of the MCU Multiverse.
Finally, there’s the issue of Phase 4 post-credits scenes, many of which introduced new characters to only further the MCU’s ongoing story, such as Eros in Eternals, Clea in Doctor Strange 2, and Hercules in Thor 4.
4. Poor VFX
It’s no secret that Marvel Studios has had a strained relationship with visual effects studios in recent months, and it shows.
Throughout Phase 4 and now into Phase 5, audiences have noted poor VFX work in trailers and finished theatrical films, as well as on Disney+.
She-Hulk was particularly blasted for its title character’s rubbery, Shrek-like look, and films like Thor 4 and Ant-Man 3 were critiqued for their noticeable use of the Volume.
While some of this is due to Marvel increasing its output amidst the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, there have been reports of the studio’s poor treatment.
In the end, fans were left with a wealth of new projects that looked worse than what came before.
5. Lackluster/Non-Memorable Action
While MCU stories are more than just superhero action sequences, that doesn’t mean they’re not comic book movies.
Therefore, a climatic action scene, especially in the third act, needs to deliver.
The problem is that some recent MCU movies and shows haven’t lived up to this genre mandate.
For instance, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law relied more on comedy than actual action, and Moon Knight‘s much-anticipated fight sequences were limited at best.
As for Marvel movies that did feature big action set pieces, such as Black Widow and Thor 4, their fight scenes were far from memorable.
And, interestingly enough, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ first-act bus fight was better and more acclaimed than its climatic third-act battle sequence.
Improvement on the Way for the MCU?
There’s no denying that these reoccurring issues are a problem for Marvel Studios, and they also contribute to one another
Subpar visuals, mediocre action, and a lack of direction in terms of storytelling will no doubt lead to franchise fatigue, especially if Marvel keeps churning out films and series with the same issues.
However, there are signs that change is coming.
Newly returned Disney CEO Bob Iger promised to trim down the number of projects its franchise studios are producing in a move that signals quality over quantity.
Also, the upcoming MCU film The Marvels was delayed from a summer release to November, which not only signaled confidence in the film but that the studio was taking the time to polish its VFX.
Hopefully, these decisions will allow the MCU to course correct and return the brand to its original standard of quality that audiences came to expect leading up to Endgame.