Marvel Studios has been responsible for bringing some of Marvel Comics’ most iconic characters to the big screen to the delight and adulation of fans and moviegoers across the globe. Thanks to revolutions in cinematic technology, characters that were bound to the printed page and stilted, low budget TV or movie adaptations now leap off the screen and at viewers in mega-budget cinematic spectacles.
According to Money Nation, Marvel Studios has generated billions of dollars at the box office and there is no real end in sight as it prepares to unleash a slew of comic-based movies through 2020. Doctor Strange held the number-one spot at the box office for its opening weekend and generated $85 million over the course of those two days alone. The Marvel Studios formula has been hugely successful, but their constant reliance on that formula has worn thin. Marvel movie tropes have given fans more than a few reasons to complain, and odds dictate at least a few cliché Marvel movies will be inflicted on audiences in the near or distant future. Here are some bad MCU tropes that Marvel Studios should definitely avoid going forward.
Hulk and the Abomination, Captain America and the Red Skull, Thor and Loki. It almost seems like Marvel Studios can’t make a movie that doesn’t pit the hero against his diametric counterpart. It is a trope intended to contrast characters against their opposite and not-quite-equal reflections. It’s a move that has been successful in the past, but it’s time for Marvel Studios to take advantage of the plethora of no-goodniks at their disposal. There are villains available who are in no way similar to their protagonists and shouldn’t be. Let the hero define their character by being who they are, not by being who their enemy isn’t.
The Bad Guy Is Still Around… Somewhere
If you don’t see a body, the “Big Bad” is probably not dead. The Forces of Good and Justice have really got to get better about checking under the rubble or down in the mineshaft. It would save tons of aggravation in the long run.
In all seriousness, fans will generally welcome a well-done sequel but will take it personally if writers mess with their heads and insult their intelligence. The bad guy can only escape from the destruction of their secret base once, maybe twice. In Thor: The Dark World, not only are we led to believe Loki is dead, but we're also made to believe he died a hero's death. Except, oh wait, he didn't die, and he definitely didn't die a hero. Looking back, it makes sense that Loki isn't dead - Marvel has been setting him up as the ultimate Big Bad of the entire MCU and they definitely wouldn't kill him off in a sequel to one of their more minor properties - but it's still a cheap trick. Better to err on one side or another - decisively kill the Big Bad or don’t. Ambivalent endings are another trope that plays the audience and leaves them feeling not quite satisfied.
Killing the Good Guy’s Loved Ones
The trope of having a hero born because another character dies is maybe the oldest power fantasy hero cliché there is. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Quicksilver dies, it galvanizes the Scarlet Witch and rallies the protagonists, leading to their ultimate victory. While the victim in Age of Ultron is a hero, usually the victim is either much older or much younger and, more likely than not, female. There are far better storytelling conventions to be used than this cliché tradition.
World-Breaking Threats to the Planet or the Galaxy
Hey, the universe is a dangerous place. But so is a planet full of rogue mutants and superpowered menaces. Admittedly, the Avengers exist to be called in when the fat is all the way into the fire, but it doesn’t mean every threat they face must be a threat to the whole universe. There are plenty of threats to keep the Avengers busy right down here on Earth. That's part of what makes the Netflix Universe so appealing to so many people: the struggles are grounded in the realities of the day to day, not just all-encompassing peril to everything that is or will be.
Sure, it's cool to see Dr. Strange save the whole planet, but every MCU movie is huge in its scope, trying to save the world, sometimes even the universe, while also developing its characters. It'd be nice, for once, to see a smaller scale superhero movie, one where the threat is localized but deeply personal to the protagonist. Sometimes, it's the smaller horrors that pack the biggest punch.