The Inexplicable Hate for the MCU

I just watched the Honest Trailers for the Hawkeye series, and I can’t say that I loved it. There were a couple of jokes that made me smile, but I think I’m tired of people shitting on the MCU just because it’s the trendy thing to do right now.

Am I a biased MCU fan boy? Probably. But I don’t think the criticism thrown at a lot of MCU properties are fair or compelling anymore.

For example, I see a lot of criticism about all MCU properties being formulaic. This makes me pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh, for two reasons. 1) That’s just Hollywood, baby. 2) Aside from Shang Chi and Eternals both using special effects, there’s not a lot in common between the two, and they came out one after the other.

If you like movies, you don’t really care that the MCU tends to follow a formula, which is the 3 act structure. Seriously. Look at movies both financially and critically and you’ll find that the 3 act structure dominates the box office. It’s comfortable, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is room for stories that don’t follow this structure, but those rarely make money. Not all art has to make money.

But while I’m mentioning art, let’s talk about the MCU. The way the MCU works is, there is an overarching plan and a color palette to keep everything in the same universe and coherent. The color palette is how you can have Black Widow and Guardians of the Galaxy in the same series. Though it can make things look similar, it still allows for moments of breath-taking beauty, like what we see in Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.

There is an overarching plan and a similar color palette, but then vastly different directors are allowed to make the movie they want to make. Kenneth Branagh and Taika Waititi are extremely different directors with vastly different visions, and they were able to make completely different Thor movies. You can say that Waititi’s vision is the superior one, and I will agree that it was more fun, but you cannot tell me with a straight face that these MCU properties are all the same. They’re not, even when they hit the same beats.

So why is it common to hate on the MCU these days?

It’s because it’s easier to tear down than to build up.

It’s because controversy gets clicks. More people read about Trump than they read about Biden because Trump is a train wreck, and we’re all gawkers. You’re more likely to click a link talking about how the MCU sucks than one which heaps praise on an already successful franchise. The former is controversial, because it is counter to the critical and financial success of the movies. The latter is just marketing.

I think the people that make their money off of media, the Screen Junkies and critics and media influencers, are out of interesting things to say about the MCU that isn’t a tear down. If there was a sports team that won 85% of its games, fans would stick with it for a while. Then they’d get bored, because the outcome is predictable, and then the only thing you’d see about the team is how much they “suck.” People would write articles about how this team only won by 9 points instead of 20 in their last game, or how they always use the same plays to win games.

Quick side note… you may have noticed I stopped writing the blog every day. So much for that New Year’s resolution, right? Well, the resolution wasn’t about writing every day as much as it was about writing. I had a few days where I didn’t have anything interesting to say, and I was distracted with other cool projects, which I’ll talk about later.

I’m going to keep trying to post more frequently. This is the only “new” writing I’m doing right now. Once I’m done with the revisions of Synthetic Dreams, I’ll consider starting something else. I have no idea when those revisions will be complete, because there’s really no reason for me to rush and get it finished.