By Rob Stoakes. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is finally out, and audiences all around the world have been bowled over by its borderline adequecy! Yes, at long last we get to follow the lovable crew once again as they embark on an adventure of middling quality in the most passable blockbuster of the year! Prepare for the most moderate experience of your life! Woohoo! Go Marvel! The Kings of Hollywood!
So, yeah, as you might have guessed, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has left me a little cold. While not exactly bad, it does feel tired, the humour seems more forced than before, and what started out as a promisingly quirky and bizarre series has basically turned out to be a Fast and Furious movie with characters constantly rambling about family and how families are and how we’re not friends but a family and I didn’t have a family and I thought we were your family and I have found my family and aaaaaaaaargh!
And Marvel has been grinding my gears for a while now, so this is a good time to give a list of the things Marvel could stop doing if they want to remain the Kings of Tinseltown.
#5) Stop Trying to Make Up For Avengers Assemble
Avengers Assemble was a great movie, no question, but like all great movies some snarky over-critical losers (like me) like to poke holes in it to ruin it for everyone else. With Avengers, the running joke was that the battle in New York was a bigger disaster than the Titanic, Pompeii and the Hulk Hogan s3+ tape combined.
Of course the body count doesn’t actually matter, but it made for a good joke that got sad when Man of Steel took it way too far.
Well, Marvel seems to have been upset by that, which is why Avengers 2 was made of up long drawn out evacuation scenes and Civil War was all about the collateral damage of the superhero antics. Marvel seems to want to constantly apologise for that one silly moment by building their entire universe around it, making what should be a large interconnected world seem small with only tiny bits of focus, and Marvel are doing everything they can to get away from it.
Of course, there’s one really easy place them to start…
#4) Stop Killing People (you lunatics)
Good advice for any situation really, unless it’s discovered that stab wounds actually cause orgasmic levels of euphoria.
To show off my video game knowledge (because I so rarely do on this site) power creep is a term used to describe when a weapon in a video game is too powerful so the game makers builds another one that’s even more powerful, and to balance that out the makers build another, and so on and so on until eventually all of the other weapons in the game are rendered completely obsolete.
I use this example because Marvel can’t seem to make a film have stakes without dropping a bus onto squawking passers-by. In Guardians 2, the bad guy says he’s going to destroy the universe, but it’s not enough to just say it, but Marvel needs to show the horrific catastrophes that are occuring to people. You know, which is what I want in the sci-fi movie with the talking tree.
Speaking of, by the way…
#3) Stop Being So Serious
Of all of my complaints, this is not the one I thought I’d be making, but Marvel has been so far up its own bum since Avengers 2 that it’s about to choke on its own head, I’d say that there’s not been a truly great Marvel movie since.
This was even a problem in Guardians of the Galaxy 1, i.e. the good one, when at the end a load of nameless mooks that we barely know die, but because they’re Marvel characters we have to have a five minute sad scene where people look blankly in horror at computer screens while adagio for strings screams in the background. It’s like that bit in Demolition Man except that was meant to be out of place, over the top and ridiculous.
Worse is when it extends to the humour, when the characters laugh at each other’s jokes in the most blatant case of self-congratulation outside of Quentin Tarantino making a documentary about himself. It happens in Avengers, Doctor Strange, and it hits a particularly obnoxious nadir in Guardians 2. I get it Marvel, you think you’re funny, but no one likes a comic that laughs at their own material.
And speaking of self-congratulation…
#2) Stop pushing diversity without having it
So Marvel has a five year headstart, an extremely popular side character who people are nigh demanding gets her own movie, a comic book wing with a more diverse frontline cast than ever before… and DC still beat them to the punch in actually getting a female-led superhero movie out.
The only female-led Marvel movie, the only one, that is even planned until 2022 is Captain Marvel, who is brilliant but is also too little too late. Black Widow’s certainly not getting her own movie now, not after Ghost in the Shell bombed and proved that audiences just don’t want female leads in their action movies…
… ummm, you know, except Aliens. And the Hunger Games. And Mad Max: Fury Road (shut up, Imperator Furiosa’s the main character) And Lucy. It’s not a good track record for a world where there’s also only three black people, two Asians and zero gays.
Marvel loves to talk a big talk about how big and diverse their colourful cast of characters is and how worldwide their appeal is, but as far as actual diversity goes they will give their minorities bit parts to play and that is it. Otherwise it’s a parade of endless straight white dudes. Hell, Black Widow’s got less merchandise right now than I do.
Worst of all, it’s the same straight white dude over and over again, and that brings me to probably the worst thing Marvel is doing right now.
#1) Marvelisms. Stop Them. Forever.
Who of you saw the Thor: Ragnarok trailer?
That scene with Hulk? Where the Hulk shows up and everyone’s really happy? That one? There’s a line in there you may have noticed.
“Oh, him? He’s a work mate.”
That line is the worst thing Marvel has ever done. Because it is a textbook Marvelism.
A Marvelism, for those who don’t regularly listen to my excellent podcast, is a term I coined for a snarky bit of wit that Marvel characters use all of the damn time, whether it is in character or not. Take this example with the Mighty Thor, God of Thunder, Heir to the Throne of Asgard. Apparently an Asgard where they have work mates and desk jobs.
It’s something Iron Man would say, basically, and whether it matches any other character or not doesn’t matter. It’s fine for brief sparks that are barely in the films, but of course they’re what people like so we just get entire scripts of them now and all of the characters turn into the same person, mostly a smug twerp.
It happened to fish-out-of-water Thor, it happened to warrior madman Drax, and it happened to nervous doctor Whatshername from Dr Strange. Now all smug twerps. No characters, no uniqueness, just the same smug twerp.
Stagnation is the enemy of franchises, Marvel, and right now you’re starting to look a little old, with the same smug straight white dudes saving the world while millions die over and over again. You might be the king, but if you’re not careful, the pretenders will rule.
Still, could be worse. It’s taken about nine years for Marvel to get stale, and Fant4stic was there after two minutes.
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