Tickets sold out in seconds, TikTok reviews dubbing movies “the best I’ve ever seen”, and roaring crowds at dramatic scenes – all tell-tale signs of another Marvel superhero movie. In the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has grown to immense popularity, especially among the younger generations. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy 2 hours and 30 minutes of epic superhero drama?! I wouldn’t, and I’m here to tell you that not only is Marvel and its universe of movies overrated, it is simply bad.
The way to look at this is how Remy from Ratatouille explains food to his rat family. In the movie, the rats chow down on literal garbage, and Remy seems to be the only one who appreciates real food. He views it as art, the intricate combinations of flavors dancing on your palette. His family, on the other hand, likes the junk, and doesn’t even realize it could be bad for them or that there are better options out there. This is how I see the MCU craze dominating a lot of people; I don’t dislike the MCU just because the movies are bad and basic, I dislike them because of how people rush to theaters to satisfy their cravings for mediocrity. Marvel spews out the junk-food equivalent of a movie to satisfy the hungry masses. This often takes the form of bland characters and villains and simple plots and motivations (all of which fly right by the hungry wolves and superfans looking for hidden easter eggs).
A prime example of this is Spider-Man: No Way Home: the excessively hyped third appearance of Tom Holland’s Spiderman. Released in the middle of December of 2021 but raved about for months before on TikTok, No Way Home was supposed to be the nostalgic teaming up of Spidermen from different universes against their respective villains. Therein already lies the first main issue: the villains. A movie clocking in at 148 minutes needs a great villain to keep the audience at the edge of their seats, and with five of Spiderman’s classic enemies at their disposal, Marvel had everything in their power to create epic and nail-biting villain interactions. Instead, less than an hour into the movie, every villain is locked in a magical cage, ready to be sent back to their universes. Of course something has to go wrong from there, so Tom Holland decides to release them all and bring them to a New York penthouse to “cure” them of their villainous tendencies. In addition to that, all of the villains except for Green Goblin play such minute roles to the point where there’s no “real danger” unless he’s around (which is twice). Though a high bar to pass, a movie that actually achieves this “feat” of having formidable villains and constant tension is The Dark Knight. The movie is guided by Heath Ledger’s amazing performance as the Joker and keeps the audience in a state of discomfort. From the villain origin story of Two-Face who puts people’s fate in the flip of a coin, to Batman choosing between the people he loves most, there’s always a moment of pure fear of what might happen next. Maybe Marvel should take a peek a their rival DC’s work because it feels like they missed out on a great opportunity to live up to the hype and create a truly suspenseful and engaging plot.
Beyond the lack of villains, there is so much that makes No Way Home disappointing. The storyline itself is silly. It starts because Peter can’t deal with people knowing about his identity. He requests a magical spell from Doctor Strange, and then messes up the spell when he realizes his friends and family won’t remember him. He starts panicking and distracts the spellcasting warlock, creating ripples in the dimensions. The whole movie passes with the intention of rectifying Tom Holland’s childish blunder and then ends the same way it started, with a spell to make everyone forget Spiderman’s true identity. This essentially means the whole movie happened for nothing. Additionally, Tom Hollands’ character arc is nonsensical and inconsistent. The whole reason the movie drags on after capturing all the villains is because Tom Holland believes in “curing” the villains so they don’t die once they return to their alternate universes. Yet, in the final battle he tries beating Green Goblin to death, undermining his main message of the movie.
As a whole, the movie just felt awkward and superficial, and, as a result, I think this should be the final reality check for all Marvel fans. I’ll admit, Marvel has reached incredible heights as a movie franchise, however, the quality of their movies have been lacking, especially as their fan base grows. To all you MCU fans out there, it’s time for better. No more burgers, try a salad, and don’t go back until Marvel releases a real quality movie!