4 Reasons Why All the Marvel Movies Are the Same
As you may have heard, Marvel is about to put out a movie where one of the main characters is a talking, machine gun-toting space raccoon. That's how much money their interlocking mega-franchises have made: They can do whatever the fuck they want now. But why stop at space raccoons? Imagine Tarantino doing a Nick Fury movie. Wes Anderson on Spider-Man, once they get the rights back. Martin Scorsese's Howard the Duck reboot (starring Leo DiCaprio). Everything is possible.
Well, not really. We're sorry to inform you that Marvel Studios will never do anything particularly innovative or artistic. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing big dumb action movies, but don't get your hopes up for anything more than that, because ...
The Plots Are Already Getting Repetitive
Here are some spoilers for pretty much every Marvel movie ever ... including the ones that haven't come out yet, because things are getting pretty predictable.
Remember how, in The Avengers, New York was invaded by aliens, and the superheroes joined together to defeat them, and it was unlike anything you'd ever seen in a movie? For comic book fans, that's Wednesday. By our estimation, the Marvel Comics Earth gets invaded by aliens about 367 times a year, and the movies are following suit. Only a year after The Avengers, we had another alien-invasion story in Thor 2.
"Oh, is it Tuesday already?"
Speaking of Thor 2, at the end of that movie, the old, wise father figure played by a respected actor (Anthony Hopkins as Odin) is revealed to be evil, which was a shocking plot twist ... that we'd seen before in Iron Man with Jeff Bridges, and that we already saw again in Captain America 2 with Robert Redford. Hey, wonder what Michael Douglas' heroic character in Ant-Man will do?
Then again, in these movies, good guys turn bad all over the place. So far, there's Hawkeye in The Avengers, not one but two old acquaintances of Tony in Iron Man 3, and Bucky in Captain America 2. Hell, half of S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be evil in that movie, although we probably should have seen that one coming, considering that they've been caught pulling shady stuff in every movie they've appeared in. If there's one twist Marvel has successfully pulled off, it's convincing the audience that the dude with the eye patch and the goatee is somehow trustworthy.
Pictured: Someone a cat away from being a Bond villain.
As for Marvel's actual supervillains, they're the opposite: They actually want to get caught. Loki did it in The Avengers, Mickey Rourke intentionally went to prison in Iron Man 2, and even that Nazi computer guy in Captain America 2 lured the heroes in by getting caught. We'd tell Marvel to maybe take a little more time with their scripts, but we know that's not gonna happen, because ...
Inevitably, Some Movies Will Get Rushed
Good news: Marvel Studios has their movies planned all the way to 2028! That means there are plenty more stories featuring Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and old dudes who look like Stan Lee coming up. Bad news: Some of those movies are gonna suck.
Why? Very simple: It takes a lot of time to make a film just right, and when you have a schedule as tight as Marvel's, time isn't a luxury all directors will have. For example, Shaun of the Dead's Edgar Wright recently bailed out on Ant-Man, a movie he had been working on since the Bush administration, but Marvel is still sticking to its July 2015 release date. That means that whoever replaces Wright will have less than a year to slap this thing together so it's in the can in time for July. Oh, and since this is a movie where Paul Rudd plays a shrinking superhero, we're guessing a huge chunk of that time will be spent on special effects.
But wait, Ant-Man isn't doomed yet! Last week, Marvel found the perfect replacement: Adam McKay, who not only knows the character, but likes him. Somehow Marvel managed to find the only two directors in the world who are Ant-Man fans. However, on the same day that he was named a shoe-in for the job, McKay unnamed himself because he had other commitments, and obviously Marvel can't wait for one guy. Even if that guy is the director.
It's not the first time something like this has happened: Kenneth Branagh dropped out of Thor 2 because of the time it takes to shoot one of these movies and Marvel's need to rush it along, so they replaced him with Patty Jenkins, the director of Monster ... who was promptly dropped and replaced with a third director, because Marvel got nervous about the schedule. The movie turned out fine, and maybe Ant-Man will, too, but it's only a matter of time before they have to shoot Iron Man 7 with action figures because there wasn't enough time to get the actors.
"What if we just film the whole thing in helmet-cam?"
If you add Jon Favreau leaving Iron Man 3, that's four directors Marvel has lost in a couple of years. And they're not the only ones getting upset ...
Marvel Is Pissing Off All of Their Best Actors
A good way to make actors angry is to make them think they're doing one movie and then release an entirely different one, which happens surprisingly often. Marvel is particularly fond of this bait-and-switch technique, apparently: Take Oscar-haver Natalie Portman, who was all excited about being a part of Patty Jenkins' vision for Thor 2, and then naturally got upset when they replaced the director at the last minute. Since Portman was already under contract with Marvel, she had to do the damned movie anyway.
"Fine, but I'm using the same face for all the scenes."
Hey, ever wonder why we didn't get Edward Norton back as the Hulk? That's because the whole reason he signed up for the role was because Marvel promised him creative control over the movie, so he actually went and rewrote the script to add more character development ... only for Marvel to undo pretty much all his changes during editing. It's just shy of a miracle that he didn't Hulk Smash the entire studio to the ground after he found out he'd been conned.
Then we have Norton's fellow Academy Award nominee Mickey Rourke, who was too good for a Marvel film anyway (and for this world, in general). Rourke took the time to construct a true multidimensional villain in Iron Man 2, but, once again, all his hard work ended up on the cutting room floor. Marvel wanted a cartoon villain, so that's what they got. That perfectly sums up what might be Marvel's downfall. We love one-dimensional bad guys -- it's true. We love Die Hard and Indiana Jones. But eventually, when it's more of the same thing, we stop giving a shit.
We're just gonna leave this here.
Furthermore, the actors stop giving a shit, too. Jeremy Renner (yet another multiple Oscar nominee) signed up to play Hawkeye in The Avengers, so he was pretty pissed off when it turned out he was portraying a mind-controlled goon for half the movie. Even Chris Evans has made a little noise about quitting acting the moment his Marvel contract expires because he doesn't enjoy it anymore -- the grueling action sequences, uncomfortably tight suits, and endless promotional appearances that come with being an Avenger probably have something to do with that.
But look at it this way, Chris: If you keep at it and have a full-blown feud with Marvel, that means you're getting nominated for a golden statue at some point. Probably not from a Marvel movie, though, because ...
Comic Book Audiences Don't Actually Like Auteur Filmmakers
The ultimate reason why Marvel doesn't get auteur filmmakers to do their films is ... they already did. And it didn't work. Ang Lee's Hulk was described by the director as "a personal film on a big canvas," and Roger Ebert loved it. The fans? Not so much. When Zak Penn started writing a new Hulk script, his main selling point was how he'd make it more like the comics and less like Ang Lee's vision, and now his film is the better-praised one. Lee's version is widely seen as the shameful disaster, even though both movies made about the same amount of money.
"HULK CUT CARBS!"
People don't want to see a director's vision of their favorite book or comic -- they just want to see their favorite book or comic. And since 12 out of the 20 best-grossing films of 2013 were sequels or adaptations, that's what is being made. To those of you screaming "NOLAN!" right now, how do you think comic fans would have reacted to Christopher Nolan's Batman movies if they'd been told backward, or featured dream-within-a-dream sequences? In the context of Nolan's career, his Bat-movies are straightforward action flicks with dramatic music in every scene to make you think something deep is going on.
We'll leave you with one final example: There's a movie with good audience ratings called Vidocq that was directed by a French director who had been widely praised for his work in special effects. Then a Hollywood studio hired him to make a superhero movie starring an award-winning actress at a high point of her career. He intentionally ignored much of the comic book source material in hopes of making a unique, original movie. That movie?
Yep, we're probably never getting meaningful, transcendental Marvel films, but if we do, you'll probably hate them and they'll be banished to obscurity. Marvel's best case scenario is telling the same stories over and over in slightly different configurations so we don't realize it.
All that said, that space raccoon looks dope as fuck.