5 Sad Truths You Learn Watching All The Marvel Films At Once
Ever since we first saw Nick Fury brooding in Tony Stark's Malibu mansion at the end of Iron Man, the Marvel films have presented themselves as a single "cinematic universe" of events. To bone up before Age Of Ultron, some of us here at Cracked decided to watch all ten films in a single 20+ hour half-comatose sitting. It looked something like this:
I didn't add the soundtrack; it just naturally occurs whenever there's more than one Cracked writer in the room.
All things considered, I may have lost my mind at some point during the day. Not because of the length and quality of the films, but rather because when watched sequentially as the part of a larger "universe," you begin to see a bigger picture, like one of those Bob Marley mosaic posters. But instead of America's favorite soul rebel, these films turn into a terrifying world in which every living being becomes an illogical turd-cluster of insanity.
It's very clear that Marvel never thought anyone would actually sit down and watch all these films in a row, because doing so reveals disturbing truths, such as how ...
Marvel Humans Don't Give A Shit About Monumental Tragedy
Did you know that the entire Marvel universe is made up of nothing but Robert-Durst-level sociopaths? I'm not talking about the Red Skulls and Kingpins of this world -- I mean the regular people. It's true, and here's the strongest piece of evidence:
It's also evidence of your monumental nerdiness if you own this as a poster.
When Marvel Studios released this official timeline of the films leading up to The Avengers, one disturbing detail seemingly went unnoticed: It turns out that the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor all happen in the exact same week.
To recap: Loki sends an Asgardian Gort to blow up a town in New Mexico, Whiplash ruins the Grand Prix and explodes the Stark Expo, and Hulk is hunted by an army that destroys both a university campus and like half of Harlem. All in one week. Imagine if 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Janet Jackson's nipple all hit America at the same time.
Then, after Captain America gets defrosted, Loki opens a space portal above Stark Tower (located in Lower Manhattan) and causes an estimated $160 billion dollars in gratuitous alien destruction and death. Cut to the fiery aftermath, and the gang is banishing the trickster God in the middle of Central Park like it's a Sunday chore:
"Let's meet between the stone nipples, say, noonish?"
Just a bunch of people dressed like operatic future lords blasting into the netherworld at ground zero for the largest citywide leveling since World War II ...
... and the rest of the world is having a goddamn picnic. No crowds of reporters, no protesters demanding Loki's dick on a platter. Anyone old enough to remember the weeks following 9/11 realizes how monumentally bonkers this would be. Compound that with the fact that these events seemingly confirm the validity of goddamn Norse mythology, and it's baffling why all the churches in town didn't declare a holy war or suddenly convert to Idris Elba.
And before you argue that "It's a comic book movie and people in the Marvel universe are different" -- that's exactly my point. This is not the same world as ours, but rather a dystopian hellsphere where the oppressive overlord has long callused over the human condition. What's the very first thing established about the public in Iron Man?
Other than no one being allowed to stare directly at Robert Downey Jr.
They've made a Hugh-Hefner-style rock star out of a fucking weapons manufacturer. I get that Tony Stark acts eccentric, but that's still like the CEO of L-3 Communications being treated like Jennifer Lawrence. This might explain why in Thor 2, people flock towards destruction, as if human pain was delicious watermelon-flavored candy.
"Look, a chance to feel something! Anything!"
For whatever reason, the Marvel Universe is filled with blood-hungry, emotionless masses who place no value on human life. It's almost like they've institutionalized careless cruelty. In fact, the more you watch, the more you realize it's exactly like that ...
The Government Is Bafflingly Terrible
The new Daredevil series is both dick-numbingly fun and surprisingly grounded, because it immediately establishes a corrupt police environment that nurtures Zorro-type lunatics. The rest of the Marvel franchise attempts the same thing, but does it by turning every non-superhero authority into the bumble-fart drunk from spaghetti westerns. Let's start with their non-Stark defense contractors:
The Marvel universe's Larry Flynt and ... guy who owns RedTube.
Aside from being hand-wringing villains, as businessmen, both Obadiah Stane and Justin Hammer are more incompetent and spiteful than the cast of Glengarry Glen Ross. Hammer is impossibly in charge of an entire weapons manufacturing company despite not being able to correctly design a simple projectile weapon, and the big reveal in Iron Man is that Obadiah had originally paid terrorists to murder Stark for, as we've covered before, completely stupid and pointless reasons. When partially exposed, Obadiah goes on a Robotech rampage through Los Angeles instead of covering up the evidence, as if the "evil" switch got jostled in his brain.
"You'll pay for this, Superma-- wait, uh ... who am I, again?"
He goes from calculating businessman to cackling Batman villain -- which is actually a motif in the early Marvel films, like when the general in Incredible Hulk sends Tim Roth to take out Bruce Banner without mentioning that his target is a steely green gnash-ogre. See, it's not just who they hire; the entire military excels in sucking a veiny D when it comes to consistently dealing with potential threats. The first Iron Man ends with Stark and Stane going robot bananas and leaving a mechanized trail of death on a Los Angeles freeway. The government response? A polite hearing asking Stark to relinquish his flying industrial murder outfit. Now compare that to the way they handle a dude who turns into an invincible punch monster when he gets angry:
"Maybe a nice artillery massage will soothe him?"
Tits-out war. Considering that Stark's dickishly possessive of a way more weaponizable ability, wouldn't it make more sense if these two responses were switched? That the army would handle the poor gamma-irradiated scientist with polite discourse while forcing the rich guy with the destructo-suit to give up the goods? My only guess is that deep down inside, the military just likes watching civilians explode like pulp-filled water balloons. That would certainly explain firing blindly through a Harlem brownstone.
Killing like ten potential Matt Murdock one-night stands.
So it's not just regular folks but the institutions themselves who revel in epic-scale tragedy, which makes me wonder why they would need heroes in the first place. But maybe that's why the Avengers are not actually heroic at all ...
The Avengers Don't Actually Help Anyone
If everyone wasn't a sociopath, people in the Marvel universe would be terrified of the Avengers. After all, by the time you reach Iron Man 3, the only solid fact the masses know is that whenever a major metropolitan area explodes in a rain of hellfire, some costumed jackass is guaranteed to be hanging out in the rubble.
"Love those guys!" -- shawarma vendors and literally no one else.
"But what about all they've done to help the general populace?" Like what, exactly? Superman used to go around the world putting out house fires with his magic breath. Spider-Man almost pathologically saves bystanders. Gritty heroes like Batman and Daredevil focus on cleaning up organized crime (and ninjas) in a concentrated area. The Avengers, on the other hand, do zero crime-fighting or any kind of humanitarian efforts to make the world around them a better place ... despite the fact that the movies go out of their way to show us that they have all the power in the world to do it. Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. are shown using computers out of some Tom Cruise sci-fi future:
"I'm sending over the schematics for the--"
"I KNOW THAT'S A DICK PIC, STARK."
When, according to the new Captain America film, civilian computers haven't progressed beyond laptops:
"This isn't the moment to use the Stark Penis Viewing Machine, Natasha."
Remember that scene? It happened not long after Fury offhandedly mentioned that Stark gave S.H.I.E.L.D some pointers on how to improve their invisible floating deathships -- the same guy who swore off war devices in the first Iron Man. And sure, he's been talking about creating a renewable energy source for the world since that same film, and yet has only taken the time to power his own tower and a bajillion personal battle droids instead. You could argue that there's a lot of political red tape and time that goes into giving the world free energy ... only the films do a bang-up job at showing Tony's ability to get around both of those things when it suits his needs (or when he has a need for suits). For example, not only does he tell Congress to get fucked in Iron Man 2 ...
"You can use this."
... but he goes on to create a brand new element in the span of a single afternoon. Yeah, remember that montage in which Tony creates a particle accelerator after discovering that his crazy dead father hid an unknown element in a toy fucking model? According to the official Marvel timeline, that took place in less than a day.
That was a trick question; no one remembers Iron Man 2.
Less than a day! And he can't even bother to even give us some hologram computers?
The new Avengers sequel has a scene in which (inconsequential spoilers ahead) the gang sits around and drinks beer in Stark's high-tech tower overlooking the city they were directly responsible for destroying. How is there not a 24/7 horde of angry protesters drowning out their fun? How are children still looking up to Stark in Iron Man 3? For fuck's sake, his World Peace Expo ended with military robots firing into crowds of innocent bystanders before detonating like drums of gasoline.
"Thank god no one I want to sleep with was hurt ..."
But that's not the weirdest thing you notice when the marathon gets to Iron Man 3 ...
Characters Randomly Disappear at the Worst Possible Times
Forget about the Avengers not helping people -- they don't even help each other. I don't have an official timeline to demonstrate this one, but I don't actually need it, since we already know that Iron Man 3 takes place during the Shane Blackiest time of the year:
I'll leave Christmas' continued existence in a world with Thor in it for another article.
We also know that Thor: The Dark World has a scene where Stellan Skarsgaard goes dick-out at Stonehenge (a place that tends to get cold during winter) meaning that these two events do not take place at the same time -- and thanks to two vastly separated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes that addressed the films, we also know that Thor 2 happens a while before Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So now that I've beautifully established that these films don't intersect, it's time to start wondering where the hell the rest of the Avengers were during these world-threatening events.
Obviously the actors had contractual limitations, but that's not something our grandclones will know 30 years from now when they're wondering why no one showed up for Nick Fury's sham funeral. Thor 2 is about an albino Vulcan getting uncomfortably close to destroying the universe, and the second-toughest hero who shows up for the finale is Kat Dennings dressed like a Spin Doctors roadie.
"Iron Man sent a text saying he can't make it ... Why does his scrotum look like that?"
The ending to The Dark World is more dire than anything that happened in the first Avengers, and they couldn't even get Hawkeye to show up? Could he and Black Widow not jetpool over there? Or hey ... how about when the organization Hawkeye works for was taken over by Hydra in Winter Soldier? Was that his personal week or something?
Watching these films months apart, it's easy to dissociate each one from the other -- but when you go immediately from the Avengers assembling to Iron Man single-handedly stopping lava men from flame broiling the president, it's hard not to think of the Hulk as some lazy asshole ... especially when he shows up in the post-credit sequence dozing off in Stark Tower.
Careful; if he gets too mellow, he turns back into Edward Norton.
But maybe it's better that they don't show up for every occasion, since ...
Almost Every Problem The Avengers Solve Was Caused By Them
One of the last moments in Winter Soldier features Black Widow sitting before a government assembly to answer for the monumental fuckstorm her organization invoked on America. Sitting in a darkened apartment, greasy with shame and clasping for the end of this cinematic endurance test, I started wondering: Just how far back did this hearing explore? Did they talk about how Stark keeps inventing technology that falls into the wrong hands? Or how Hulk gave his blood to a stranger, and it was used to create not one but two supervillains? Or how Thor sparked a war between two realms, and then his girlfriend topped that by awakening a dark force that almost destroyed the universe? Or how S.H.I.E.L.D. accidentally summoned Loki, who proceeded to nearly exterminate New York City?
But let's give S.H.I.E.L.D. a break. They actually had an excuse to do evil, since they were secretly being run by Hydra -- who used their own helicarriers (with help from Stark's design, naturally) to almost assassinate the world.
"I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up." -- Tony Stark
In almost every film, the problem is caused by someone personally irked by the hero and/or using the same superpower as them. Hulk fights another Hulk, Iron Man fights people in Iron Man suits, Thor fights his brother, S.H.I.E.L.D. fights S.H.I.E.L.D., etc. That means the world would objectively be better off if each hero's power never existed in the first place.
In fact, the entire Avengers Initiative was a brick of lunacy when you think about it. When Fury first mentions the idea to Stark, the only living superheroes in the world were: 1) Stark, 2) a green monster on the loose, and 3) shrinking Michael Douglas, maybe? When watched as a whole, Fury turns from fearless leader to a gobbling maniac dressed like a Matrix LARPer in the basement of some money-burning government warehouse. I would say that he's lucky Loki gave him a reason to justify his inexplicable superhero team ... but again, he's the reason that Loki got loose.
"Uh, actually, Hawkeye is a superhero too. And sexy." -- Jrenner71 in the comments of this article.
But that's just one more example of every single "preventative measure" people make in these films causing the things they're trying to prevent. Without spoiling too much, Age Of Ultron follows the exact same trope. If the series has showed us anything so far, it's that almost every single conflict in these movies comes from a personal vendetta between a member of The Avengers and some scorned enemy -- Stark alone has pissed off like three people into becoming supervillains -- resulting in catastrophic civilian casualties from using populated areas as their own personal battlefields. And when everyone you associate with eventually tries to murder you ... maybe it's not the other people that's the problem.
Anyway, I'm off to line up for Age Of Ultron. Goddammit.
Dave will gladly talk at you about how awesome Guardians Of The Galaxy and Daredevil are on Twitter.