With the end of the Infinity Saga, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) closed a chapter on what is one of the biggest moments in movie history. But with phase four, it’s clear that Marvel, and its corporate overlord Disney isn’t ready to stop milking this cash cow, and audiences are feeling it.
If you’ve been keeping up with discussions during the announcement of phase five and six of the MCU, which will feature some of the biggest fan-favourite storylines in the comics. Of course, all are excited to see what is to come (including myself), but this enthusiasm is more curiosity on what they are going to do next more than any powerful motivation to keep up with the massive volume of content that the MCU is producing, from their Disney+ shows to feature films.
With so much content being produced, it has become a job in itself to keep up with the ever-developing storyline of the MCU, and fans are feeling its effects. ‘Marvel Fatigue’ is a term that is frequently discussed, and with more Marvel content on the horizon, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.
A fatigued audience isn’t the only challenge that the Disney content machine is facing, and this is most evident with the latest MCU movie that hit the theatres, Thor: Love and Thunder. Although a commercial success, scraping in a handsome amount of money, the movie arguably fails miserably in its storytelling.
For example, the underlying story of Thor: Love and Thunder is about Thor coming to terms with allowing himself to be vulnerable, to feel. But it seems that this is exactly what the movie is afraid of doing. Time after time, a powerful character moment is presented to the audience through some great acting by both Hemsworth, Bale and even Natalie Portman, only to be undercut completely in the next moment.
Then of course, there are the myriad of plot holes that plague the movie, which have significant impact on previous movies as well.
For example, Ragnarok supposedly established that Thor is the god of thunder who can wield his powers with or without Mjolnir (or his latest weapon Stormbreaker), and (spoilers) if Thor could share his power for a limited period of time with others, why didn’t he do so during Infinity Wars and Endgame?
There are plenty more issues with Thor; Love and Thunder which can be uncovered with a quick watch of the movie, or even a couple of queries on the internet. But these flaws are symptoms that have started to become more prominent with each iteration of MCU movies. Much like Homer Simpson seems to become stupider with each season, the MCU’s flaws continue to become more prominent with each release.
That doesn’t mean that the MCU movies weren’t without their flaws. From the beginning, these movies were challenged to being disregarded from being considered as movies in the first place. But, what brought people to the theatres (besides the great cast of characters) was the personality that each movie had, and the character journeys that were allowed to ‘feel’ but with just enough humour to not fall as cringe worthy. But now, with Marvel fatigue plaguing audiences, it just isn’t enough.
This fatigue isn’t limited with audiences. It seems that the parties who produce and create these movies are feeling the strain as well. Forced to pump out as much content as possible, quality might be slipping, as seen in movies such as Black Widow and other movies of MCU’s phase four.
Does this all mean that the MCU is on its last legs and will fall apart in the coming days? I wouldn’t believe so. It has been proven that Marvel Movies are literally too big to fail, and sometimes are keeping the cinema industry alive in a world where streaming is king. But phase five and six need to bring their best hitters out to the pitch if they want to keep the ball rolling, because so far, hype has been keeping phase four afloat, especially thanks to Spiderman; No Way Home. But not even the hype will be enough if fatigue and disappointment continues to increase among its viewers.
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage