I think it kinda goes beyond just the storylines and easter eggs though. To me it felt like those movies all suffered a bit from having to share the same basic style and tone as one another. They were all constrained by this grand Marvel plan, and weren't really allowed to breathe and be their own thing like maybe they should have.
I didn't feel they were required to have the same style and tone. I mean, Thor
's Shakespearean grandeur and Captain America
's WWII grittiness felt very different to me. Yes, they share a world, but it's a large and diverse world with a lot of history.
There was no room for anything as bright and comic booky as Raimi's Spider-Man, or as dark and gritty as Nolan's Batman. Nothing really stood out, and it was all just a bit too.... samey samey for my taste.
Again, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to judge things that were meant
to be an integrated series by the same standards you'd use for things that were meant to be separate, self-contained movies. Although I did feel there's been a reasonable amount of diversity within the movies, I don't count it as a negative that they feel like they fit together in the same reality, because that's the whole idea. That's what makes this something new in the feature film industry. We've had film series before, even had the occasional crossover between separate film franchises (like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
or Aliens vs. Predator
, or the '40s RKO films that crossed radio stars Fibber McGee & Molly with Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy), but this, a whole shared universe built from the ground up with the purpose of supporting multiple interrelated series, is virtually unprecedented (though maybe the universe of Kevin Smith's various films comes close).