Remember the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Seemed like everyone used to watch those movies. But now? Nope.
According to the commentators on our Nerds on Earth Facebook page–all three of them coincidentally named Matt–the upcoming Phase 4 announcements for the MCU like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Thor: Love and Thunder are decidedly ‘meh.’
It seems like the MCU might die any day now, in fact.
Yes, after… [pretends to check calendar]… 11 years, the fad is finally dying. Absolutely no one is watching Marvel movies anymore. In fact, rumor has it that “tons” of people now think that future Marvel movies sound ‘meh.’*
Now, remember that no one has weighed these Matts who are less than thrilled about Phase 4 of the MCU, so it is possible that, combined, they do weigh “tons.” Yet it is unknown if these are metric or imperial tons.
How do they know the movies will be bad despite the fact that the movies only exist in the future? The Matts just “know.” Just as we do not know the total combined weight of these Matts, we also do not know how many Bothans died to get Nerds on Earth this information.
I’m teasing of course. I hold no ill will toward three strangers on Facebook who just happen to have an opinion that runs counter to my love and enthusiasm for upcoming projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, when I interacted with them on Facebook, one of the Matts had a good sense of humor about it.
But I do want to make two points: First, social media has created an odd environment for processing information, has it not?
Somewhere Nate Silver is suddenly feeling intense anger, as these Facebook commenters have the statistic rigor of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew working without Beaker.
You can’t take the knee-jerk opinions of three guys named Matt off of Facebook and declare them meaningful. You’re not controlling for anything. “We surveyed people outside of the Knollwood Mall food court about the long-lasting impact of global currency manipulation and compared those opinions to a survey done last year by my buddy Matt outside the Holiday station on Lake and Lydale and, well, people have really soured on the Marvel Cinematic Universe!”
The only constant here is the gullibility (or culpability) of the nerd culture press. If the Matts were interested in meaningful results, they would have looked deeply into my heart to see what was true. But they clearly didn’t. Which leads me to conclude that the point of this exercise was less science than it was simply grumpy nerds.
Which brings me to my second point. So, we know that social media serves to spread poorly considered opinions that often coalesce into deep-seated narratives in the human psyche, but what is objectively true about the MCU? Well, the MCU is the most successful movie franchise of all time.
I’ve written before that in terms of measurable data like box office receipts and aggregate reviews, the MCU is the GOAT. And that was before the 94% fresh Avengers: Endgame became the highest earning movie of all time and Spider-Man: Far from Home returned an audience score of 95% fresh.
So, data tells us that not only is the MCU not slowing down, it’s still picking up steam 11 years in. Sorry, Matts. Why is this? Well, let me slice into my sternum and expose my heart.
Kevin Fiege and company have proven that they are Omega level at creating moments that are the reason we go to movies. “I can do this all day,” “On your left,” “Language.”
I could go on and on, but I bet you have your favorite Marvel moments. There is nothing like the communal experience of a packed theater. And the MCU has given us that plus moments that have oozed out of the theaters to create a cummunal language.
The MCU still creates “Woo-hoo! moments, even in our deeply cynical age. Nearly every MCU film generates laughs, cheers, and tears, sometimes even in the same sequence. Listen, if you didn’t feel something deeply when Cap called Mjolnir, then I worry about your soul.
The MCU consistently produces moments that make your eyes well up with tears of joy. And, good God, our world needs that right now.
I realize the Eternals movie is generating the most ‘meh.’ [Again, here are all 10 announced upcoming MCU projects in case you need a refresher.] The Matts are predicting it will be the first MCU flop, citing unknown characters and a wild, out-there cosmic tone that won’t pull in an audience the same way a Tony Stark would.
But I recall that exact conversation around Guardians of the Galaxy and look how that turned out. With Kevin Fiege remaining at the helm, my guess is the Eternals will endeavor to generate the same laughs, cheers, and tears that the other 22 movies have, meaning it will do just fine at the box office and audiences will grow to love the characters.
I sure hope so. Sure, whatever goes up must come down. Eventually. I just hope it’s a long time from now. Because enjoying a MCU movie with my 11-year-old daughter is an indescribable delight. She laughs out loud, her eyes fill with delight, and we talk for hours afterward where I tell her about the old comics.
Despite what the Matts think, I want more and more and more of that.
* Note: Substitute Star Wars or D&D or whatever it is you enjoy. The tl;dr is for you to ignore the Matts. Enjoy what you enjoy.
Click here to read a more in depth survey of that Marvel has planned in Phase 4.
Click here to take a deep dive into what is planned on the Disney+ platform.