Back in 2016, I felt like there were too many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, in regards to knowing which ones are important to the next one. When Captain America: Civil War was in theaters, I remember telling people they did need to see Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, but not Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: The Dark World.
Then, after 2019s Endgame, a lot of people that weren’t megafans saw that as an opportunity to jump off the MCU train, at least for a while. We all knew that things were going to be slowing down for a little bit, while they started to build up their next Big Bad Evil Guy. So even though there were movies and shows, people haven’t been raving about the MCU, especially with the disappointing Eternals.
However, now we are gearing up for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and it seems to have gotten worse. Obviously this is a sequel, so you need to see the first Doctor Strange, but then we know that Wanda (Scarlet Witch) is in the movie, so you need to see WandaVision, and the multiverse happened mostly in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but in order to properly enjoy that movie, you need to see the other five pre-MCU Spider-Man movies, and the other two MCU Spider-Man movies, but also Loki involved the multiverse with Kang the Conquerer, so you should probably see that, oh, and it sounded like Patrick Stewart in the trailer, so you need to see the X-Men films, but there are like ten of those, not including Deadpools or New Mutants, and… and… and…
It’s just too much.
It comes to a point where people are truly going to start treating this universe like comics fans do, you pick a handful of heroes you like, and you only watch the things they are in. Then, you’ll find moments that you know you don’t have all of the context for, but you just kind of deal with it. This movie isn’t going to have (seemingly) any Captain America, Iron Man, or Thor, so if those are the characters you care about, you’ll probably skip this movie, and just wait for Thor: Love and Thunder.
Unfortunately, movie studios don’t work that way. In comics, if one hero’s comic line dies out, it doesn’t affect another, it just gets cancelled, and Marvel keeps going. However, in movies, they use the money for one movie to make another. So if people skip Doctor Strange because they don’t have Disney+ and they don’t want to feel confused the whole time, then it will probably affect the next film in pre-production, which as far as I can tell is the next Captain America (Falcon) and Winter Soldier or Shang-Chi movies.
So what should they do?
Frankly, what I think should happen is something I know they aren’t going to want to do, which is to stop making things so interconnected. Think back to the days pre-Infinity War, the characters each had their own storylines, which were fairly exclusive, unless there was a big team up movie. Now, we’ve got the mess above with the new Doctor Strange movie, then the new Thor film is going to be Guardians of the Galaxy heavy, even though they have their own movie less than a year later, and the next Ant-Man is going to have Kang from Loki.
It’s one thing to have buddy-films, like Thor: Ragnarok with Thor and Hulk, or Captain America: Winter Soldier with Cap and Black Widow, but these just feel insanely mixed up in a way that it starts to make the shows and movies homework for each other.
Now, we have the sheer amount of content, with nine different titles in 2021 alone:
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Black Widow
- What If…?
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
By the end of last year, I was looking to take a break myself from all of the Marvel stuff. I’ve had a hard time keeping up with Moon Knight, and Doctor Strange might not be an opening weekend movie for me, as I’ll wait to see how it’s received. I once considered myself a Marvel Zombie, who would walk into anything with that big red logo on it, but nowadays I just feel full.
Luckily, the hype for the shows isn’t as big as it was back during WandaVision, so if you just don’t watch them, then wait for a movie that has a character, then binge the show right before, and you’ll be able to keep up without the week-to-week upkeep that Disney+ wants you to have.
I’m sure there are still some of you out there that can’t wait to see the next 45-180 minute installment of the MCU, and I hope you all enjoy it. I just am going to be slowing down for a while.