Credit: Disney

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the persistence of interconnecting plots

By Hollie Moir

Is the stipulation that the storyline of one hero will tie in with another getting old? Does it limit the individual stories?

Marvel. Whether you love it or hate it, we cannot deny the impact and power one studio name holds. Despite being a popular comic book company from the early 60s, with iconic characters such as Spiderman, Black Panther and Captain America being launched into pop culture, the Marvel name is no longer associated with “nerds” or children, but with a front runner in cinematic history and general contemporary society. 

Disney purchased the studio in 2009 for a small price of $4.2bn, small in comparison to the $2.8bn earned worldwide solely from Avengers: Endgame (2019), and due to their budget, well-oiled PR and promotional team that they mastered many years ago, Disney have managed to catapult it into our quotidien lives. Now, with the launch of Disney+ (which easily competes with Netflix, Amazon Prime and other popular streaming platforms) our superhero content is right at our fingertips at the small price of £7.99 per month. At first, Disney+ seemed to only serve us in our rewatching of old favourites but has now expanded into a somewhat exclusive cinema of itself, with the likes of releasing Mulan (2020), Soul (2020) and Luca (2021) on the platform for an extra price, mainly due to the closing of cinemas during the pandemic. However, not only films have been given exclusive releases, but more popularly TV series, both relating to Star Wars and Marvel, the latter receiving the most attention out of the two.

Avengers (2012) was the first film in the MCU to explicitly connect and intertwine all the OG six (despite two of them not having solo projects until recently), breaking box office records and thrilling comic book nerds everywhere. Since then, the connections are becoming more regular, complicated, and tiring, relying on the dedication of hardcore Marvel fans who are aware of theories, other characters, and Marvel comic history. 

“…the connections are becoming more regular, complicated, and tiring…”

I, for one, am a big Marvel stan. I have watched every MCU movie in the cinema since the release of the first Iron Man in 2008 and plan to maintain this level of investment due to my continued love and knowledge of the characters and underlying plots. However, other casual audience members, e.g. my mum, simply watch them for the purpose of entertainment and function of quality family time, and could feel as though this dependence on their new shows such as Wandavision (2021) and Loki (2021) for upcoming projects discourages them from going to the cinema to see the new blockbuster due to an assumed lack of understanding. In fact, despite thoroughly enjoying Wandavision, I have yet to watch Loki but feel as though I need to in order to enjoy future films, which makes the MCU sound more like a chore than an entertaining escapist reality. Expanding the MCU by introducing new characters in the cinema rather than via Disney+, such as the upcoming Eternals (2021), is a fantastic idea as it reaches a wider audience without relying on the streaming platform, which cannot be said the same for the new Doctor Strange, set to release in 2022. And so, we ask, can Marvel turn around this dependency on Disney+ and underlying knowledge, and return to the fun action films they got so famous for?


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