Sunday Roundtable: Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe Doomed to Collapse?

Sundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

We discuss this article and ask if the Marvel Cinematic Universe doomed to collapse?

Daphne: It’s interesting but it doesn’t really discuss WHY the MCU is unsustainable or what people are saying that lead them to this conclusion. If it substantiated its argument with corresponding drops in ticket sales or negative movie reviews that’d be one thing. But I think the only real difference between the MCU and other movie franchises is how quickly new movies come out.

I could see Marvel scaling back to one movie a year for a while if they had to. But articles like this are a dime a dozen, it’s like somebody just swapped “the superhero genre” with the MCU. People were predicting the fall of comic book movies back in 2011 or so, after all.

Troy: That is true, and I find the comparison between the fall of shield and the upcoming civil war a bit of a stretch. (but this remains to be proven) That said I’ve had a longstanding concern about the narrative falling prey to the productive cycle of the studio. The best stories are well thought out and have a set terminus. What happens if we continue to get post credit stinger after post credit stinger? One thing I do agree on though is that whatever happens they’ll be sitting on a mountain of money

Daphne: I do feel like post-credit sequences should either have more context or be totally unrelated, but not mandatory for knowing what movie is up next. The number of people saying “who is that?” when we saw Thanos at the end of the first Avengers movie was way too high. Totally disconnected stingers like Howard the Duck work as fun in-jokes, so I don’t mind those, but when they confuse everyone (Thanos) or just make the audience mad (Ant-Man’s scene with the Wasp suit Janet should have had to become with) they probably should just be bonus features on a DVD or something.

Troy: LOL! Oh man, that made me feel so important though….I had like 7 people twist their necks looking at me, ready to ask who that was. I get your point though. I’d actually love to see an out of the blue post-credit.

Ryan: Bring on the demise — these flicks are dull, formulaic, and creatively bankrupt already. Then again, the “Big Two” publishers have been producing books that are all those things for three or four decades and, despite an ever-dwindling readership, they seem to show no signs of wanting, or even knowing how, to stop. Marvel’s flicks are a celluloid assembly-line product at this point, but if that’s what people want, then they’ll continue to be financially viable. I would expect that they probably plateaued with the fist Avengers movie, but even marginally less successful Marvel flicks like Ant-Man have turned a nice profit for Disney, so — much as I would celebrate the end of the MCU and dance (heck, maybe more than dance) on its grave, I think they’ve got another 10-15 years before the fumes sputter out completely.

Brett: My issue is the movies will run in to a continuity issue much like the comics. They’ll get weighed down in the myth and what’s come before. Unfortunately the only way to get around that is to make small groups of stories, but then that’d involve rebooting with new actors and we see the pushback about that with Spider-Man or Batman.

Madison: I think part of the problem they’re going to run into as well is that audiences aren’t going to wait around forever for movies to catch up with what they want. Obviously the movies shouldn’t turn into three hours of pandering, but waiting for a female superhero movie has been one long exercise in frustration. At risk of sounding like one of ~those~ articles, I actually wrote about this a while ago.

Daphne: Yeah, the MCU isn’t allowed to collapse until we actually see some decent female characters.

Brett: Amen. I’d love to see a spy flick with Black Widow.

Brett: I’m wondering if the smart move is to do more like Jessica Jones where it’s all set in the same world, but isn’t deeply connected, but has references and easter eggs for fans.

Troy: That’s the logical evolution I think…..Instead of the whole phase structure….think of it in multiple tracks…..Marvel Noir….Marvel Magic et cetera….

Brett: Blade!

As long as we get Blade back.

Alex: I’d love to see Moon Knight.

Troy: I’ll take Both!

Daphne: Speaking of, even if the MCU collapses Marvel is absolutely killing it with their miniseries. I can take or leave Age of Ultron (actually I’ll just leave it) but Jessica Jones and Daredevil have been phenomenal.

Madison: I would love more than anything for She-Hulk to show up in Daredevil.

Brett: Madison: She’d be awesome to see. Even as a wink in a case where she’s the opposing lawyer or something.

Madison: Ideally I’d love to see a full on Law & Order type procedural, but I’m not banking on it

Brett: That’d be the ideal, but I’m with you. I expect the next round of tv shows we’ll see Punisher, Moon Knight, Patsy Walker possibly.

Madison: Moon Knight and Hellcat would both be great.

Brett: I’m trying to think of some other cool noir street level like characters that’d be cool. I’d kill for a Heroes for Hire series with Misty Knight in charge. You could make it an anthology and have so many characters introduced.

Daphne: She-Hulk is my favorite and I really hope we at least get some references to her. She’d add so much to the new rounds of shows. I also really want to see Hellcat now that we’ve been getting hints of her.

I’m also hoping for Marvel to get so desperate for ideas a few years from now that we get an MCU-connected Squirrel Girl series. They could leverage her as a more kid-friendly Deadpool type in terms of comedic writing and make some serious bank.

Brett: I’d think Squirrel Girl would work so much better as an animated show. I just can’t imagine it looking decent live action, but I could be wrong. I have seen good cosplay of the character though.

Daphne: It’d be best as animation for sure.

Madison: Squirrel Girl is a gift to humanity and the team behind it is great.

Troy: Thinking about it now, cinematically Marvel’s strength in continuity becomes its weakness (progressively) in some respect. I think to DC Animation how they have free reign to crank out whatever stories they want, without the confines of continuity, and people still eat it up and enjoy it. Even their live action television adn movie productions can survive multiple iterations and versions because multiple worlds have always been a firm element in DC’s architecture. That freedom can be explained and explored within the rules of their own canon.

Brett: I really think if DC was smart that’s how they’d leap ahead of Marvel. You can have Supergirl, Arrow, the Flash, Gotham, Constantine, and also Man of Steel and the movie versions. They can all exist and come together in some Crisis film.

Troy: Oh man how epic would that be! That would set DC about for sure…just keep Ryan Reynolds away from the Green Lantern. And take that stupid gun away from Batman.

Brett: Troy, But you can have Ryan Reynolds too! Plus whomever is the new Green Lantern. And have Bale’s Batman and Keaton’s. Bring it all together!

Troy: Brett, this is true! can’t help but noticed the Clooney snub haha

Brett: And Clooney and Kilmer, hell both Reeves would be awesome, plus Smallville and Slater’s Supergirl. Bring it all in one epic film. Shit, if they’re feeling gutsy have animated versions too.

Troy: That would be bold for sure, of course most adaptations are constrained but i’d love to see whatever plot devices they use to explain all that. I read an article hinting that Dr. Strange will introduce time travel to the MCU. Perhaps that could stand to fix some of the things we’ve mentioned?

Brett: Would be one way to solve some issues. Then again time travel has only messed up the comics universe.

Troy: Fury’s Vibranium Cube….the Infinity Stones….I loves me a good plot generator

Troy: Brett, Keaton Batman would kick all subsequent Batmen’s behinds…….and say “I’M BATMAN” after each one. If this discussion inspires some creative Fan-Fic….I’d say we’ve done right

Alex: I’d love to see a movie Batman battle royal. That would be fantastic.

Troy: I remember rolling my eyes and groaning loudly during the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series when Agent May said telepaths don’t exist

Ryan: A big problem that I have with the MCU now is that they’ve achieved some sort of critical mass where the films themselves don’t even exist per se, they just spend equal amounts of time referring back to old shit and plugging the next three or four flicks. Can anyone name anything that happened in Age Of Ultron that wasn’t either a continuity reference or grist for the sequel mill?

Madison: Nothing happened in Age of Ultron other than bad characterization and about four half baked plot lines.

Daphne: Things happened in Age of Ultron?

Don’t get me wrong. I like a lot of MCU stuff but Ultron is not on that list.

Brett: Age of Ultron felt like all it was doing was setting up the next phase. It was the middle chapter that doesn’t stand on its own.

Alex: Honestly, both the Avengers movies had exactly what I expected n terms of characterization, but then I wasn’t really anticipating much.

Brett: Alright, great discussion folks and thank you Troy for posting the article and kicking it off. Now what do you readers have to say? Sound off in the comments below!