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

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
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
I would think the main issue with Phase 4 is a lack of coherence. They're not really moving towards anything, and too many of the stories are self-contained and/or feature new characters that failed to grab me and I don't care if I see again.

Plus I hated what Wanda did in the Doctor Strange film. Hated it.
 

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MarkB

Legend
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.
Yeah, the issue with Kang the Conqueror so far is that we've seen him pre-Conquering and post-Conquering, but we've not yet seen him actually Conquering. It's something of an informed ability so far, and the Kang we saw in Quantumania didn't quite put across the "infallible ruler" vibe.
 

pukunui

Legend
As I said in another thread, I enjoyed Quantumania just fine. No, it wasn't the greatest MCU film, but it wasn't the worst either. BUT it didn't help clear up my main issue, which is what did breaking up the sacred timeline in Loki s1 actually do? Did the back story that Janet reveals in Quantumania not exist prior to Loki? Did the Kang villain in the movie not get exiled to the quantum realm until after the sacred timeline broke up? Did the council of Kangs not exist while the sacred timeline was in place and then suddenly they always existed after it broke up?

Also: What was the multiverse that the Ancient One sent Dr Strange through prior to the sacred timeline breaking up? Why did the Ancient One know about branching timelines in End Game but not about the TVA?

I'm not expecting it to but I would appreciate it if s2 of Loki cleared things up a bit more vis-a-vis the sacred timeline.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I think the problem with Marvel's phase 4 can be summarized with one question: what is the heart of the story?

The heart of Phase 1 was a literal heart. Two of them, actually: Tony Stark's, and Steve Roger's. When we first meet Tony he is both figuratively and, soon, almost literally heartless, and his arc is all about learning to care for others more than himself. Steve Rogers has the opposite problem: he is all heart, but doesn't care enough about his own needs. Tony begins as the ultimate egomaniac, Steve as the ultimate team player. So the entire 21 movie arc is built around the character growth of two protagonists whose personal narratives will inevitably lead to conflict.

That central, intertwined character-driven narrative provides a solid core that anchors the rest of the films - the other major characters can in a sense be seen in terms of where they fall on the Steve/Tony dynamic, and this allows other films to explore related themes (family and responsibility for Thor, found family for Peter Quill, etc.) while the whole thing still feels cohesive. Thus, when taken as a whole, the Infinity Saga is really about growing up, self-actualizing. That's why End Game works so beautifully, because we finally see the two central protagonists get what they really needed, reflecting that vital growth they've been working on all along. Tony finally really, truly puts others first, and is memorialized via his mechanical heart, the last part of him that we see on screen. And Steve does his duty, because of course he does, but then realizes that he's finally earned just a little bit for himself, and so our last shot is him dancing heart to heart with Peggy.

This is fantastic. The selfless man becomes a little bit selfish, when it is appropriate, and the selfish man becomes truly selfless when it matters. It gives shape to the whole story. Consider, for example, how perfectly Civil War embodies their intersecting character arcs, fracturing the core of the MCU.

Alright, what is Phase 4 about, really? The Multiverse? Nobody cares about that, not really. Not for itself. For us to care about such an abstract concept, it has to be anchored in human stories and relatable conflicts. The Infinity Stones were just a MacGuffin, after all, a means to an end, not an end (game) in themselves. They helped keep the plot on track and anchored around what really mattered: the core character conflicts. But I have no idea what Phase 4 is actually about. I haven't been given anyone to root for beyond individual films - it's a bunch of individual stories that keep telling me I should care about the multiverse without actually making me care. It's fragmented.

And this is exacerbated by the explosion of MCU content on Disney+, of various quality. There's a ton of stuff, it's starting to feel like a chore, and it doesn't fit together.

Edit: I honestly think the MCU would really benefit from a 10 year hiatus and then a reboot, starting with X-Men and the Fantastic 4. Not that there is a snowball's chance of that happening.
 
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GreyLord

Legend
The New Antman movie was a great stand-alone movie in 2D.

It stunk in 3d. It was like...why did they even do this in 3d. They look like paperdoll cutouts!

Quantumania was okay if the other Ant-man movies didn't already exist. It just doesn't seem to gel with them on the same level as the other two. The other two, though they had the fantastical, also had a little grounding on what was happening in the real world. The first with his criminal past and the bias's that come with it. The second with his house arrest, family, and the things he had to deal with in the real world.

This one occurs entirely in a made-up world. He still has the family aspect, but it's all occuring in a fantasy world instead of one we can more easily relate to.

On it's own I don't think it's that bad (except the 3D IS that bad, especially when we've seen Avatar 2), but it just doesn't seem to really work in series with the other two Antman movies that were already out.

ON Phase 4...I really enjoyed Shang-Chi and Black Widow (and I even liked Thor 4...like how it rhymes at least). Eternals was a snooze, and I didn't really care for Multiverse of Madness (not too much into comic horror, so I blame my personal tastes on this one), but there are some good things in the past phase.

Didn't watch the TV shows. There's only so much time and I can't devote that much time to watching their TV shows that they come out with. I think that may be part of the problem though (and probably what affects MoM and Quantumania). It is the expectation that you have seen those shows that some of the plot relies on. For those who have not seen the shows, the movies probably won't have as much of a punch.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I would think the main issue with Phase 4 is a lack of coherence. They're not really moving towards anything, and too many of the stories are self-contained and/or feature new characters that failed to grab me and I don't care if I see again.

Plus I hated what Wanda did in the Doctor Strange film. Hated it.

I mean, in the original Ironman and Captain America and Thor they didn't really have one main storyline going through all of them to make one coherent story. They had hints occasionally at the end of the movies, but they were their own separate things at that point. Sure, we got the Avengers movie eventually, but Iron-man 1 (and even 2 really) and Captain America didn't really point in that direction in their individual movies (at least until the end points, but those weren't really part of the actual plot of most of the movies themselves).
 

nevin

Hero
This Iron man 1, 2 and 3. Most of the spiderman movies, Captain america, Ant man---those movies had interesting characters that you got attached too and a full story line that made them enjoyable. No great narrative needed.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I mean, in the original Ironman and Captain America and Thor they didn't really have one main storyline going through all of them to make one coherent story. They had hints occasionally at the end of the movies, but they were their own separate things at that point. Sure, we got the Avengers movie eventually, but Iron-man 1 (and even 2 really) and Captain America didn't really point in that direction in their individual movies (at least until the end points, but those weren't really part of the actual plot of most of the movies themselves).
Those were origin storys and came as an introduction to the ‘universe’ as a whole - that was the connecting element ‘building the MCU’.
Phase 4 was similar in that it too was a set of origin/hand-over stories with a connecting theme of ‘expanding the MCU’. But expansion by its nature is disjointed, its moving away from the one heart and has resulted in 3 or 4 different MCU themes.

Phase 4 was a necesarry evil given how the MCU has been set up but really in a normal franchise would have been a reset and reboot.
 

nevin

Hero
No They got over ambitious and wrote half ass stories thinking special effects fight scenes and geekerie would save them. Phase 4 is suffering from overusing the same trope, forgetting that IT's A UNIVERSE a whole bunch of things can happen. We don't need a villain that shows up in every movie and a metaplot that limits where the story can go for every single movie. IT"s just stupid.

Now the whole reset and reboot stupidity is hurting the franchises just as badly but that should be another thread. I didn't even watch the last batman movie. I won't watch another spiderman reboot. continue the story or give up quit retelling me the same story from a different angle.
 

nevin

Hero
The New Antman movie was a great stand-alone movie in 2D.

It stunk in 3d. It was like...why did they even do this in 3d. They look like paperdoll cutouts!

Quantumania was okay if the other Ant-man movies didn't already exist. It just doesn't seem to gel with them on the same level as the other two. The other two, though they had the fantastical, also had a little grounding on what was happening in the real world. The first with his criminal past and the bias's that come with it. The second with his house arrest, family, and the things he had to deal with in the real world.

This one occurs entirely in a made-up world. He still has the family aspect, but it's all occuring in a fantasy world instead of one we can more easily relate to.

On it's own I don't think it's that bad (except the 3D IS that bad, especially when we've seen Avatar 2), but it just doesn't seem to really work in series with the other two Antman movies that were already out.

ON Phase 4...I really enjoyed Shang-Chi and Black Widow (and I even liked Thor 4...like how it rhymes at least). Eternals was a snooze, and I didn't really care for Multiverse of Madness (not too much into comic horror, so I blame my personal tastes on this one), but there are some good things in the past phase.

Didn't watch the TV shows. There's only so much time and I can't devote that much time to watching their TV shows that they come out with. I think that may be part of the problem though (and probably what affects MoM and Quantumania). It is the expectation that you have seen those shows that some of the plot relies on. For those who have not seen the shows, the movies probably won't have as much of a punch.
to be fair. 3D has been hailed as the savior of media for awhile now and the honest fact is most people don't like it. I read an interview with Steven Spielburg a couple of years ago and the short version of his opinion was that 3d was just a gimmick , it is oversold one how well it will look and people in general would just rather watch a 2d movie.

As much as i like the Ant man movies the last one was the worst in my opinion. All the other's gave us character building, a full story and a great ending. For some reason they left the full story and character building out of this one . It ended like an episode of flash gordon. That's ok for an episodic show but in a movie it just sucks. that being said I did enjoy it but not as much as the others. The story was just paper thin.
 

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