So, I’m pretty excited about the release of Captain America: Civil War. The Winter Soldier was a much better film than I was expected after the fairly meagre first film. It’s also a hugely important story in terms of the character and raises a lot of questions about the future of the Marvel universe as a whole. I’m also excited about Doctor Strange because I genuinely believe Benedict Cumberbatch is the greatest choice to play the character. I mean it’s fucking dream casting. The pictures of him in costume are just sensational. Of course, these two are just the tip of the iceberg and Marvel’s Stage Three is shaping up to be an unstoppable film spouting machine.
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that any of these films will be duds, of course. We’ve seen that, even at their worst, Marvel can still crank out decent pictures. I mean Iron Man 2 is by far the worst release in the MCU so far and even that still had a number of things going for it. Mainly Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Rockwell but still… things. What I’m actually saying is, I’m fucking exhausted. I don’t have the energy to get super pumped about so many films coming out in such quick succession when there’s so much other shit going on at the same time.
Phase 1 films were released during the period of 2008 to 2012. During that 4 year period we only had 6 films to contend with. Now 6 in 4 was a reasonable number for any fan to be able to cope with. Phase 2 (2013-2015) upped the anti to 6 in 3 but that still felt okay: manageable. Now Phase 3, the stage we’re on the cusp of, is the biggie. In a 4 year period we will see a whopping 11 films released. Now in the grand scheme of things, 11 films over 4 years isn’t too bad but it’s a lot of dedication in order to keep up-to-date with the MCU. Especially, as the majority of these films will include new characters who don’t have familiarity to fall back on. At least when Thor 2 was shit it wasn’t that big of a deal because we loved seeing Tom Hiddleston again.
They’ll be so many new faces to get know this time around that it all feels too much. As though your favourite TV show just added a bunch of new and unnecessary characters in order to keep the attention of their viewers. You didn’t want them to be there and, now they are, you can either go with it or stop watching. I mean on top of everything I do in my life am I supposed to drop everything so I can get excited about the release of Inhumans in 2019? I don’t know a damn thing about them so I don’t see why the film should be on my radar but it is. I’m already mentally preparing myself for the task of getting someone to go and see it with me.
And you know what, it’ll be difficult. Now I’m by no means a massive comic book fan but I know enough to get me (mostly) super pumped for these films. My friends are the kind of people who care about Marvel movies and very little else. Which is something I’m fine with, by the way. It just means once the big names are out of the picture it may make the casual fan less interested in making their way to cinema. Dragging out these new names has the potential to derail the supposedly unstoppable Marvel train and put the future into question. I’m not saying the franchise will ever stop: now Disney’s in charge we should be okay on the financial backing front. However, the less the masses care the worse it can get.
Of course, this is probably just me being pessimistic and melodramatic. We all know Marvel films are always going to get the big bucks but now DC are trying desperately to get in on the act too. In the Phase 3 period there will be a total of about 28 comic book movies including efforts from DC, Fox and Sony. It’s such a huge time for comic book movies that it all gets a bit much. Remember when Zombies were super duper popular and there were like 1000 new zombie films every year. Even the biggest fans of the undead didn’t want to watch them all. This year alone there are 8 new ones and most of them are ones I don’t want to miss: Deadpool; Civil War; X-Men: Apocalypse; Suicide Squad; Gambit; and Doctor Strange are all making me silently squee with delight. But it was exhausting enough just writing that list. Let alone the emotional upheaval of actually seeing the film.
Despite the lack of real emotional drama in comic book movies it always ends up being a tiring experience. There’s the build-up before hand where you raise your expectations a bit too much; the highs and lows of the films; and then the inevitable critiquing afterwards when you realise it wasn’t as good as you’d hoped. You vow never to make that mistake again but it’s so fucking hard. And you can’t just stop watching them. These films are designed to be so inter-linked that you feel as though you’re missing out when you don’t see one. If you miss it at the cinema then you’d better do everything you fucking can to watch it or you’ll be left out in the cold.
Not that I’m suggesting that if you miss one you’ll be out of the loop and won’t be able to catch-up. It’s not like the films are so complex that a complete noob can’t keep up. However, it comes down to fandom again. The comic book community are so vocal that you won’t be able to avoid snippets and spoilers from the film. You’ll feel as though you’ve missed out on something and that’s the thing you can’t recover from. You’re no longer one of the hardcore fans. You’re no longer one of the unflinchingly dedicated. Once that’s gone you can never be a fully fledged club member again.
Of course, with larger number of releases there is also a worry that the more irons Marvel have in the fire the worse things can end up being. There was such a short time between the release of The Avengers and Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 that it’s easy to think this contributed to their less than amazing reception. I did love Iron Man 3 but it felt rushed which is something we can all say about Thor 2. Both films deserved to be better but Marvel were so keen to get Phase 2 started and build of the success of The Avengers that it’s entirely possible things were rushed. Who knows how things will suffer. Especially with the studio making fucking stupid mistakes like letting Edgar Wright leave Ant Man due to petty differences.
Obviously as fans we’re supposed to appreciate the extra helpings of Marvel each year. However, the phrase “less is more” has to exist for a reason. We all know I love a good analogy and, as I work in a kitchen, I think I’ve got a doozy. Adding salt to a dish can make it taste delicious but after a while it all just starts tasting of salt. At the moment we have a nice balance of flavours going on. At the rate we’re adding to pot, soon enough it’ll be like we’re drinking soy sauce. Obviously, I’m looking forward to Phase 3 because, whatever happens, I’ll always be a pathetic Marvel fangirl who laps it all up. I just can’t help but miss the era when having Captain America and Thor released in the same year felt like a fucking treat.