Marvels Phase 4 Flaw: the multiverse MUST be comedic or contained

MarkB

Legend
You are basing the stakes only on the character.

In upcoming Secret Invasion series Nick Fury will be fighting off a takeover by Skrulls. Whether Fury survives is a question, sure. But there's something bigger than his survival at stake.
The issue applies at the larger scale too. Nick Fury wins in one universe and loses in 99 others. It's nice to know that things went well somewhere, but still sucks to be in any of the other 99.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The issue applies at the larger scale too. Nick Fury wins in one universe and loses in 99 others. It's nice to know that things went well somewhere, but still sucks to be in any of the other 99.

I suppose. But most of these stories aren't the story of the multiverse. Not every narrative is going to invoke it as a solution.

Like, when you play D&D in a classic Great Wheel cosmology, there's potentially an infinite Prime Material worlds. Often the image is pretty much the same as the MCU - there are infinite Prime Material worlds with just small variations between them.

But we don't care about that when fighting a dragon. We care about the fate of the character on the sheet right now, in the place they are right now. We don't depend on the greater cosmology to give that struggle stakes.
 

MarkB

Legend
I suppose. But most of these stories aren't the story of the multiverse. Not every narrative is going to invoke it as a solution.

Like, when you play D&D in a classic Great Wheel cosmology, there's potentially an infinite Prime Material worlds. Often the image is pretty much the same as the MCU - there are infinite Prime Material worlds with just small variations between them.

But we don't care about that when fighting a dragon. We care about the fate of the character on the sheet right now, in the place they are right now. We don't depend on the greater cosmology to give that struggle stakes.
Yeah, but it colours it somewhat. Like that scene near the end of Infinity War where Doctor Strange checks out millions of potential futures and finds just one in which they win. Beating the odds is great in that circumstance.

But if it's framed as all of those being actual futures, and we're just going to follow that one where things went right, it just doesn't feel as good.
 

Argyle King

Legend
You are basing the stakes only on the character.

In upcoming Secret Invasion series Nick Fury will be fighting off a takeover by Skrulls. Whether Fury survives is a question, sure. But there's something bigger than his survival at stake.

Even at a scale beyond the character...

I have the same issue with Star Trek.
I love Star Trek, but using time travel to erase the results of something that happened became so overdone that there are episodes of ST which poke fun at itself (and become a joke much like we're now seeing in the MCU).

In the MCU, things that once were serious or had some gravitas have been made meaningless by newer developments. The Infinity Stones are a great example.

The Loki show made it known that those stores aren't even rare in the multiverse. They can be collected and kept in a junk drawer. Comedy is all fine and well, but give me something I can laugh with rather than creating a story which makes fun of the audience and/or makes a joke out of emotionally investing in the story.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Yeah, but it colours it somewhat. Like that scene near the end of Infinity War where Doctor Strange checks out millions of potential futures and finds just one in which they win. Beating the odds is great in that circumstance.

But if it's framed as all of those being actual futures, and we're just going to follow that one where things went right, it just doesn't feel as good.

So, if one pays very close attention to the whole multiverse thing, that's not what they've set up.

We are tempted to conflate the MCU multiverse with the standard "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum mechanics that shows up in a lot of popular media and science fiction.

But, in the MCU is it not true that every choice leads to a new universe branch. Indeed, they note that all the time jumping that Cap does to return stones to where they belong, and then to go have his life are not a problem in terms of variant universes.

So, we cannot assume that all the futures Doctor Strange looks at are actual separate existent universes. Indeed, if that moment was going to produce millions of branches, the TVA should have stepped in to control it... and they didn't. Ergo, that moment was only going to have one result, and the TVA didn't care which.
 

MarkB

Legend
So, if one pays very close attention to the whole multiverse thing, that's not what they've set up.

We are tempted to conflate the MCU multiverse with the standard "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum mechanics that shows up in a lot of popular media and science fiction.

But, in the MCU is it not true that every choice leads to a new universe branch. Indeed, they note that all the time jumping that Cap does to return stones to where they belong, and then to go have his life are not a problem in terms of variant universes.

So, we cannot assume that all the futures Doctor Strange looks at are actual separate existent universes. Indeed, if that moment was going to produce millions of branches, the TVA should have stepped in to control it... and they didn't. Ergo, that moment was only going to have one result, and the TVA didn't care which.
How do you know they didn't? That's precisely the reason for their existence - because the universe does operate by the Many Worlds interpretation in the absence of the TVA.

And the time loops created by the events of Endgame were specifically sanctioned - in Loki's trial we're told that they're part of the sacred timeline. In other words, the version of the universe in which the Avengers did their time heist shenanigans, defeated Thanos and returned the stones is the version of reality that Kang Who Waits wanted to happen. Any other variants of those events were pruned, which is how Loki got to the TVA.

And now they're absent, and every moment of every timeline branches off into a myriad of new timelines. We saw it illustrated at the end of Loki.
 


MarkB

Legend
I sorely missed them, as well as Walton Goggins' Sonny Burch. I mean what kind of Ant-Man movie is it if you don't have an extended exposition scene by Luis?
Also still shying away from really exploring the fallout of the Blip.

Man, can you imagine a Luis exposition scene going over everything Scott missed during the Blip?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
How do you know they didn't? That's precisely the reason for their existence - because the universe does operate by the Many Worlds interpretation in the absence of the TVA.

No, it doesn't. It literally can't. Logically impossible, and what they show us is not consistent with that assertion. In the Loki series, they specifically and explicitly show us agents watching to see if a deviation becomes big enough to create a branch from the Sacred Timeline before they send people out to prune. Most actions/variations are thus not impactful enough on the timeline to create a branch. The MCU does not typically split over whether you have an Americano or a Mochaccino coffee drink.

It is also logically impossible because TVA Agents must make choices and interact with the timeline in the process of their work. Each time they sent out TVA agents to prune a timeline, the agents themselves would generate many branching points that would themselves need to be pruned. And when they sent agents to prune those, they'd generate more. The agents thus would recursively create more quantum branches than the agency can handle.

Aside: the Many Worlds interpretation is actually that every physically possible outcome is realized. Most folks do not realize that that means. It isn't just some number of important choices are represented. EVERY THING that is physically possible is represented.

Put your hand on a desk/table surface. Move your hand one millimeter to the side - that's another possibility. A second millimeter, a second possibility. Look at how many other places on the table you could have easily reached. Or if you stretched? How many places on the table can you put your hand on if you moved one step to the side? Two steps? How many places can you reach if you walked to the other side of the table? How many places on the wall could you place your hand? All those are possible. It is also possible you went out to get that mochaccino instead of putting your hand on the desk. It is also possible you just upped and moved to Albuquerque. A real Many Worlds situation is not manageable by an organization.

So, back to the main point - for the Thanos issue, we might consider that as far as multiple universes are concerned, all the different millions of ways the Avengers fail are really only one - Thanos wins. The minute differences in the millions of ways the Avengers don't win all end up the same to the Sacred Timeline.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Minor Spoiler warning for Ant Man 3.

The latest Ant Man movie is…not good. I may make my own thread about that movie in the future. But it points to a more fundamental problem with marvels phase 4…the multiverse is just too big.

We humans are a tribal lot. We care about our families a lot, our country a decent amount, and our planet…some. But the entire multiverse is just too damn big to care about.

Sure avid comic book fans have been cutting their teeth on multiversal threats for decades, but the average movie watcher just doesn’t give a damn. Cassie in the latest ant man is begging her father to care about the quantum realm…but really she’s begging us to.

And I don’t…I don’t give a damn.

CONTAINMENT
Infinity war and endgame may have affected the entire universe, but the movie was grounded on earth. We saw the effects of the snap, on earth. The final battle…on earth. Generally when scenes were in other worlds, they involved major character defining moments (black widows death, Thanos sacrificing his daughter, star lord realizing he would kill gamora to save her from her father), or just awesome battles…after which the plot moved back to earth.

While the movies grew in scope, they were still grounded in either the characters we care about, or the world we care about.

Ant man 3 is a “drama” with no dramatic stakes, because it’s about people and places I just don’t care about.

COMEDIC
Thor Ragnorok was a great movie because it was total comedy, and comedies can simply get away with things dramas can’t. The plot doesn’t have to 100% make sense, I don’t need that same dramatic grounding, I just want to laugh and have a zany time.

So yeah Thor went to places and met with people I honestly don’t care about it…but I didn’t need to. I was there to laugh, and that’s what the movie did. The zany worlds were there for humor, and it did it’s job well.

Now love and thunder wasn’t a great movie, and I’d argue it’s because they tried to stick drama into my comedy. Talking about the big C, having a pretty serious villain in the god butcher…it’s those dramatic elements that start to pull the movie bsck down…and now suddenly all those plot holes and other elements start to matter again.


MARVEL NEEDS TO CHOOSE
If marvel is going to keep going with the multiverse, then it needs to choose. You can go total comedy, give me a zany adventure in the multiverse, no big stakes just raw run. That’s fine. You can go dramatic with a grounded adventure on earth, that while involves the multiverse is still ultimately happening in my back yard. That’s fine too.

But anything else just doesn’t work. Ant man 3 as a movie just doesn’t work well, and I feel like the problem has just gotten worse for marvel over time. The multiverse is too big to be taken seriously, so either make it smaller, or make it funny.

The other option is the slow death of the MCU
Guardians of the Galaxy was (almost) entirely alien but managed to produce emotionally engaging drama, despite the overall silliness of a anthromorphic furries and a vivisectionist villain.
Wakanda forever was okay too, despite some some slow build in the middle and the end battle.

Quantumania had too much silliness with its aliens (looking at you plasmoid thing) and Kang came across more psychotic than villainous, but the story and the visuals were still fun.

Phase 4 was a bit of an incoherent mess, but I’m still hopeful that Phase 5 will give a bit more direction And possible divide off into three streams - Earth, Cosmic and Street.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top