Friday, March 6, 2020

Unpopular Opinions: MCU

I started off this week with a countdown on Facebook to Black Widow and the launch of MCU Phase 4. I feel it's only appropriate to pair that countdown with a reflection of sorts to the history of the MCU. Phases 1-3 had movies, shorts, Netflix, Hulu, and network shows. Now we're moving into an area consolidated to movies and Disney+. So as part of my reflections, here are a few of some unpopular opinions about the MCU thus far.

Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk weren’t so bad
They are two of the lesser loved MCU movies. They’re not fantastic blockbusters, but they aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. The big problem with Iron Man 2 is that they bit off more than they could chew (Black Widow’s introduction, Whiplash, Justin Hammer, etc.) but it didn’t make the movie bad. On the other hand, I think the big problem with The Incredible Hulk is how it kind of came out of nowhere and became irrelevant afterwards. It assumed you knew the backstory of The Hulk and it kind of just threw us in there. Also, especially since they re-cast Bruce Banner, the movie kind of became inconsequential. We’ve seen Ross since then, but the Abomination and Betty just disappeared (although the Abomination was mentioned in Agents of SHIELD).

Iron Fist was good
I think the biggest issue people have with Iron Fist is how it’s so different from the comic book character. So to be fair, I’ve never read the comics. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed Iron Fist. Danny Rand was a refreshingly chill character compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage being so angsty. Also, as far as Season 2 is concerned, it was one of the shorter seasons of any Netflix MCU show, so I think that helped keep the pacing up. The 13-episode Netflix seasons made them feel like 13-hour long Marvel movies. And that got kind of exhausting. So even shaving off three hours made it more manageable.

Daredevil Season 1 wasn't so great
Before I watched Daredevil, I heard how great it was. But I was disappointed. Matt Murdock was cool and I liked Daredevil as a character and a concept. However, as the season went on, it felt drawn out. Like I said with Iron Fist, the 13-episode seasons often felt like a super long movie. I much preferred the shows where each episode felt like a self-contained story with an over-arching plot. In my opinion, Jessica Jones, Runaways, and even Cloak & Dagger did a better job at that.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 was good
I've heard a lot of complaints over the years about Agents of SHIELD's bumpy start. As the series started in the post-Avengers/MCU Phase 2 era, they took some time figuring out their footing. Until the Winter Soldier tie-in episodes, the series didn't have an over-arching story per se. It kind of just seemed like an MCU cop show, where each episode was its own story. Maybe it's just because I had lower expectations that I liked it? I don't know. But it's still my favorite MCU TV show thus far, ever since I started binging seasons 1-2 during grave shifts.

Captain Marvel is good
I don't know what it was about Captain Marvel that got people up in arms last year, but I liked it. Granted, the 90s nostalgia helped, but it added a story into an era of the MCU that we'd never seen before. Also we got some backstory with Nick Fury and Phil Coulson (though I'm still kind of bitter that we didn't get as much Coulson as I wanted). Maybe the details of Fury's eye injury wasn't important, but it was a fun addition. In addition, the plot twist was unprecedented. Everything I'd read had the Skrulls as bad guys, so we were set up for the Kree to be the good guys. But we'd also only seen the Kree as the bad guys (in Guardians, in SHIELD, etc.) so I didn't know what to expect. All that made the experience more fun for me. Honestly, my biggest disappointment with Captain Marvel is that she didn't have a bigger role to play in Endgame, after all that buildup.

Black Widow isn't necessary
Don't get me wrong; I'm looking forward to seeing Black Widow. However, I'm skeptical about it. My worry is that the whole movie will be pure fan-service for the people who've wanted a female-led Avengers movie. Representation matters (as Joe explained this week), but it has to be done right. If Black Widow is done right, it'll be great. My fear is that it's just a cash-grab and it won't matter after it's done. We've had lots of standalone MCU movies over the years (Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, etc.), but none of them have been filler; they've all been relevant to the universe. But since Natasha is dead... how is her standalone movie going to relate to the future of the MCU? I'm skeptically optimistic, but mostly skeptical.

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