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Reel to Real: MCU Saturation...Over, Under, or Just Right?


A couple days ago, Damon Lindelof made interesting commentary about the box office reigning Marvel Cinematic Universe which, since Phase 4 began last year, has incorporated shows that more interconnect to the events of the films. While early ones such as WandaVision and Loki received praise, newer ones have been getting the Luke Cage criticism. Essentially, good story ideas, but stretched out over a series when it would have worked better as a movie such as Moon Knight or recently Ms. Marvel. The latter in particular showed signs of audiences getting exhausted with that series underwhelming in viewership numbers. Something that sadly might indicate the loss of goodwill from fans of the MCU following the high of Phase 3 that culminated in the critical and financially successful Avengers: Endgame.

It was once a pure film-drive concept. A movie or two every few months that would all lead into Avengers flicks that brought everything together. And while Feige implies it's all going somewhere, particularly announcing at Comic Con this year the plans for the remaining films and shows in the Multiverse Saga (The headlining name for Phases 4 through 6), Lindelof's quotes came not a week after commenting at the over amount of material for the MCU makes each project "less special". While some quickly responded in defense of the MCU (notably Mark Ruffalo who plays Bruce Banner/Hulk), it does bring into mind whether the MCU's core concept of creating a shared universe similar to the comic books that serve as the endless source material has it's limits in the realm of moving pictures.

Lisa Simpson: "Wait, so Loki died in 'Infinity War', but a variant of him is alive. But what about Doctor Strange? Why wasn't he aware of him? Why didn't those time police get involved when Strange broke the Multiverse?"

On the one hand, for those who love world-building, the MCU is nothing but at times, bringing in new concepts that clearly are meant to define the larger narrative. But, on the other hand, whereas we would get a movie here or there that allowed us a chance to get to know individual characters, now it's an endless series of shows introducing new people without time to process their individual characters. In fact, a majority of the MCU shows so far have been released consecutively one-after-the-other on Disney+. As in one week we see the season finale of one show and the next week immediately sees the series premiere of another show. And because many of these shows are more about introducing new characters, often the stories don't go anywhere in the larger span of the MCU.

However, on a final note, it should be noted that each film or show has introduced ideas that are used in other projects such as the ever-expanding Multiverse, "variants" (alternate versions of the main universe's characters), and the ever-increasing presence of Kang the Conqueror who is now confirmed to be the big bad of the Multiverse Saga.

This all leads to the big question. Is the MCU oversaturated, underdeveloped, or just fine the way it is?

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