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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

It’s a narrative that’s been around since around Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. “Sure, the movies are good, but they do tend to feel kind of similar to each other.”

Honestly, as much as I love the movies, it’s a perspective that I share. In my eyes, they do a good change of changing the skin of a movie, but at the end of the day, said skin is laid over the same skeletal structure. Marvel Cinematic Universe films are usually very traditionally-told stories.

Speaking with Uproxx, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige had a chance to address that criticism, and here’s what he had to say:

“I think it’s just the way we make the movies. I think all the movies are relatively different. I think there’s a narrative that people like to write about because they’re all produced by the same team and they all inhabit the same fictional cinematic universe. That we look for common similarities. And I’m not saying there aren’t common similarities throughout it, but I think Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming are two totally different types of movies. They’re both fun. People both enjoy them. Is that a similarity? If so, I’ll take it. If that’s a criticism, I’ll take that, too. But really, yeah, Homecoming, Ragnarok, Panther, into Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp after that. And a ’90s-set Captain Marvel after that; these are six very different movies. If what they have in common is they’re all really enjoyable and fun to watch, then I’ll take it.”

Can’t say I fully agree. To me, on a surface level, these movies are often very different. Guardians is different from Iron Man in style, which is different from Spider-Man, which is different from Ant-Man. However, as stated above, at a deeper level, they share the same DNA in their storytelling style. The most different ones to me may perhaps be the second two Captain America films, though even those are fairly straightforward narratives. Compare it to stuff from the DCEU (not to hammer away on that comparison), where the stories are more narratively diverse. Sure, the DCEU doesn’t have the track record Marvel does, but I do think they’ve taken bigger narrative risks.

At the end of the day, I think the approach they’ve taken may be devoid of big risks, and tend to have very human-centric ideas that make them relatable to mass audiences. So yes, there is a commonality, and so long as they continue to change the skin of each film, they’re likely able to continue this success. As bad as it sounds that these films feel the same, to me, it’s not a bad thing, but what enables them to maintain that certain Marvel quality we’ve come to expect.

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SOURCE: Uproxx

  • Moby85

    I think they just feel similar because of 1.) action and 2.) superheroes. In reality, the different main franchises within the MCU have adopted certain genres and we’ve discussed that, here, many times.

    Thor, given the critical reviews and likely financial success, has finally found it’s place as “comedy/action” in that order moving forward. Captain America is political thriller and more serious fare, Ant-Man is heist, Guardians is sci-fi, Spiderman is a John Hughes teen “angst” type film, and so on.

  • chaburchak

    If the DCEU is your example of “taking narrative risks”, I’ll stick with Marvel’s approach any day. Except for Wonder Woman, DC movies have sucked (and I don’t remember too many avant garde narrative techniques in WW, for that matter…)

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Batman v Superman and Man of Steel were compelling narrative risks for me. Suicide Squad was a crash and burn, and WW was a standard origin film — albeit a solid one. My point is that straightforward hero’s journey stories (which marvel is great at) really resonate with most audiences, and to me, that’s why a lot of the Marvel films have felt safe and similar. They aren’t bad. I love them, but I do think there is something to that opinion.

  • Mad Barchetta

    Gonna have to disagree with you, in part. I agree that MCU films have largely been structured as The Hero’s Journey, but mostly only in the origin/intro flicks. And, the MCU is following the templates/storylines established in the comics. So, the problem isn’t so much inherent to the MCU as it is Marvel Comics. And, you’re right…that resonates with people, which is a large factor in why they have been so popular. But LOTS of movies do that also.

    However, in the follow-ups, we see different types of stories: Cap: political thriller/dilemma, Iron man: understanding responsibility and then recognizing his own self-worth outside of his creations, Thor: well…harder to say, not having seen Ragnarok and still not feeling entirely sure how to categorize The Dark World. Point being, I tend to see the points in the criticisms of “sameness” being 1) humor, 2) color palettes, 3) tendency for more optimistic vibe, and 4) somewhat toned down violence. All of this tends to be relevant only when compared to the DCEU. And that’s where I disagree with you most.

    I don’t agree that the DCEU has taken more risks. Much of their output so far has been a result of Zach Snyder’s refusal to embrace the characters as they are and insistence on diluting their heroic natures. Superman is suddenly reluctant and brooding. Batman is a cynical death-dealer. The MCU honors and respects the characters as they were original written, why the DCEU started off trying to deconstruct theirs. Even so, I would still categorize Man of Steel as a Hero’s Journey, and BvS as mostly an attempt to rush along to Justice League with an adaptation of a hugely classic story that didn’t have the sufficient groundwork laid in order for it to be told properly. I guess you could call that a risk, but it seems to me like a risk that results from someone attempting to perform a task of which they have no real understanding.

    Meanwhile, as the wheels started to fall off, the DCEU began to grasp at straws, such as trying to create their own version of the GotG with Suicide Squad, complete with classic 70’s music in the soundtrack. And Wonder Woman, while much better than these others, was every bit the Hero’s Journey. Interesting to note that the DCEU movie most like the MCU films is also the one that is most popular and best reviewed.

    In my opinion, if you want to really contrast story-structure, I think your argument is better served by comparing the MCU to the X-men movies. I think the X-men series, while wildly divergent in quality from top to bottom, offers a greater variety in the story structures. Does that necessarily equate with greater story-telling risks for the XCU (coined it right here and now)? Not sure… I’ll have to think about that some more.

  • Deathstroke936

    For crying out load… just look at the reviews for the last three MCU movies and there is the same line… “the funniest Marvel movie yet”… But from his POV, if it ain’t broke…

    I will always give them credit for taking the time of creating the universe, but that idea only works when action has consequences. The only show so far that takes that into account is the TV show (and the bad one at that) Even when the movie is supposed to be relevant to the whole universe, they all feel so “safe”… and here’s another joke so you can laugh again…

    Make no mistake, if DC had succeeded with making their movies with the Dark Knight tone (they know it sells) every DC would use that as a template… That is when people find out how good Nolan was..

    My biggest concern with the latest Thor is that not only they decided to make it a GOTG clone (doesn’t everyone complain DC wants its films to be TDK clones…) but it comes really close to camp. Nobody should want that. When did a comparison to Flash Gordon become a good thing…??? I really hope that this movie doesn’t do to Thor what the 60’s TV show did to Batman.

    After Winter Soldier, I expected that to be the norm and not the exception. But lets see which movies make more money… yep the “funny” ones…

    Maybe I’m just venting since my only funny comics were Kelly’s Deadpool and Giffen’s Justice League, hell my favorite Spidey story is Kraven The Last Hunt (a laugh riot…not)

    Like I said, as long as people keep watching… and Feige knows…

  • Danny B

    How dare those people at Marvel make movies that lots of people, young and old, want to see. Disgusting behavior from a business thats built on making comics and movies etc that people want to see.
    I really don’t like going to the movies and enjoying the film i paid to see, i’d much rather go and waste a couple of hours of my life on something like Transformers The Last Knight…..
    FFS

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer’s always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he’s always been something of a story junkie.