The Neverending Story…

In Comics on June 16, 2016 by thebetweenthoughts

As a lifelong comic book fan, I’m still a little bit in shock at how popular the comic book “genre” has become in film and television.  After years of horrible adaptations (I’m looking at you Punisher), we’re in the “Golden Age” of comic book movies.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has produced nearly 20 movies to date.  And DC is trying their hardest to replicate that success with their own universe.  The Netflix universe is growing strong (and actually has the stronger offerings) and the CW DC universe continues to expand.

But after watching Captain America: Civil War, I have to wonder if this is ever going to end.  Non-spoiler spoiler alert: Civil War was an enjoyable and entertaining movie…but it literally didn’t have an ending.  One common trait within the MCU is the lack of any closure in movies.  Every movie is a lead-in to the next…a small piece of the grander puzzle that they’re trying to build.  The post-credits scenes present in all of the movies are the literal manifestation of this concept as the end of the movie is never truly the end of the movie.  While Marvel filmmakers should be applauded for their ability to plan and build a whole new universe…I wonder if this is a universe we want to be engaged with 10 or 20 years from now.  While this is only a rumor, the projected MCU slate will run to at least 2023.  That’s another seven years of Marvel movies…another seven years of the same characters…another seven years of the same basic movie formulas…another seven years of the same styles and themes.

Is this what we really want?

Comics books, by their nature, are neverending stories.  Much like professional wrestling, the hero’s journey is never complete.  Each completed quest leads into another challenge…another villain to vanquish…another damsel (gender neutral) to rescue.  Does this type of narrative structure work for movies though?  I enter a movie expecting a beginning, middle, and end.  The purpose is to entertain and to stimulate my senses for the 1.5 to 2 hours I’m sitting in the theater.  A movie isn’t supposed to be a trailer for the next movie.  (Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice was horrible in this regard…it really didn’t even try to hide the fact that its sole purpose was to set up the DC Cinematic Universe.)

Maybe I’m just getting too old to appreciate “open stories” – I need some closure.  My comic book habits have trended towards self-contained stories…stories that ultimately have a stronger viewpoint, message, themes, style, etc…because the writer knows that he won’t be able to expand on his points the next month.  An “end” focuses you as a writer…it makes you cut out the fat of your stories and  emphasize the aspects you want to leave behind in the reader’s mind.

As long as the Marvel movies continue to be blockbusters at the box office, Marvel will continue churning out these movies.  While it does seem like they’ve mined a good chunk of their intellectual property, in reality they’ve only scratched the surface of the 80 years of comic book ideas they’ve created.  We could be watching Marvel movies until the concept and technology of movies become obsolete.  I’m not saying that Marvel movies will cause the end of the movie industry…but they’re probably going to be the only movies left standing at the end.

But I’ll be there…standing in line with you…for Avengers 10: The Korvac Saga (featuring Cap-Wolf!).



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