As we enter into the time when every company decides to milk the Infinity War hype train (yes, we get the irony) and half the population snaps at the mere mention of any plot thread (yes, I know), it’s important to talk about one aspect of it all ─ hate for Marvel Cinematic Universe products.
I will be the first one to say that MCU entries are far from perfect. Hell, the only great movie the entire series has is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Disney thinks it cracked a money making formula. Even then, I love the MCU. I won’t go into what the MCU is ─ if you know, you know; if not, you don’t.
Some of you might have heard that a lot of renowned directors, like Cameron and Spielberg, have been all up in arms about how Marvel has disintegrated the industry with the superhero genre. Honestly, fuck them. It’s a lie. With all the respect I have for their earlier works, fuck them.
The entire narrative that indie movies are dying is not true. Indie movies have never done as well as they have done since 2016. And it’s because the market is not mutually exclusive. Movies are more accessible now. A good chunk of the people watching Lady Bird and Get Out are also watching Infinity War. Yes, Infinity War will make way more money, but why lie about indie movies dying? And not just them ─ The Big Sick, Moonlight, Obvious Child, and dozens more did good. Most of it has to do with how it only takes a few clicks to watch them on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime, or buy physical copies from Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or Amazon. And this kind of reaction to indie movies is unprecedented.
The MCU is a set of mostly good or watchable movies, some horrible movies, and one great one. But to its credit, it pushed the mainstream summer blockbusters to have an overarching story, some investment, and consistency. Yes, it didn’t change cinematography or music, but it changed narrative in blockbuster movies. What the MCU did for blockbusters is the natural progression of what Spielberg did for mainstream movies back in the day.
I am completely okay with people having opinions, but I have a problem with them being hypocrites. As someone who loves Terminator 2, I don’t get why Cameron, as a producer, kept making more movies, with the incoming 6th one apparently retconning out all the instalments after Terminator 2. Or why he planned 4 Avatar sequels while complaining about how he is tired of that format of building a franchise. It’s okay to not understand how blockbusters work now ─ yes, it leads to Ready Player One and reducing investment into props. It’s okay to do something you hate but want for yourself. But then, maybe don’t accuse others?
Hollywood is incredibly problematic, weird and tough. But right now, it’s the best version of itself ─ one where a small movie doesn’t necessarily have to die out because of a big release. Yes, it will happen, but now people check out either and it will only get better. I, for one, love the fact that while Disney themselves and Hollywood hasn’t figured out why Marvel is doing so well, they’re also incredibly quick to cut down on crap franchises ─ if they don’t, Star Wars will die out like DCEU, a Universal Dark Universe death in which none but the company loses.
Studios are not dumb. Universal, Searchlight, and all the others won’t let either market die. There is a lot of money in home release, especially ones with an Academy nomination.
Studios love the big cash and less investment, which is why Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson, and their like will only keep getting more chances. Studios are also smart enough to let original IPs go big. This scares me a lot more considering how Fast and Furious and Avatar are a thing now, but it allowed Arrival and Edge of Tomorrow ─ not entirely original, I know, but it was far too away from the source ─ to be made while Isle of Dogs and A Quiet Place get the attention they deserve.
The scarier bit is that all the indie and blockbuster movies are controlled by the same few select studios. For all the fuss there is about it, Fox, Comcast, and Disney ends up making money from all of it.
Mutually exclusive market for movies is a myth. I don’t have to cherry pick examples of indie movies doing way better now. And if the hate for Marvel comes from only the fact that these are newer entries which the audience like, which cater to its own audience while more heavy movies also draw more attention from the rise of media consumption, how different are you from all the gatekeepers who had to bash both Kubrick and Lucas to defend the art of film-making predating them, while completely ignoring the bigger problems of movie distribution than 3 Marvel releases a year?
Written by Masoom Rana Dewan