Marvel Cinematic Universe spoiler-heavy speculation thread

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by bbjeg, Apr 6, 2014.

?

What grade would you give the Marvel Cinematic Universe? (Ever-Changing Question)

  1. A+

    11.1%
  2. A

    37.8%
  3. A-

    17.8%
  4. B+

    4.4%
  5. B

    17.8%
  6. B-

    4.4%
  7. C+

    2.2%
  8. C

    4.4%
  9. C-

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. D+

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  11. D

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  12. D-

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  13. F

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Also true. With the Avengers in there, that's once again fully half of the movies in that phase that don't line up with the claims in this video.

    Edit: I suppose you could count the Avengers as a team origin story, though. Even so, a slight imbalance towards origins is perfectly justifiied. That's why its 'phase 1'.
     
  2. LJones41

    LJones41 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2015
    Location:
    I'm from Long Beach, CA.

    Alexander Pierce was a one-shot villain.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, except that introductory stories don't have to be origin stories. In the early days, they frequently weren't. Batman's origin story wasn't told until his 7th story, and then only in a 2-page flashback (at the start of a story with the awesome title "The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom"). It wasn't fleshed out more fully until 9 years later. Which is amazing in this day and age, when every single Batman incarnation seems compelled to retell the origin over and over, or even allegedly devote an entire TV series to it.


    I think that's their point, that the existence of one-shot villains who were fleshed out well disproves the claim that the other villains were only one-dimensional because they made only one appearance.
     
  4. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    True enough, as we saw with TIH. Given the MCU's status as a world that used to be sort of like the real world and is slowly (or quickly) becoming more comic-book like, though, I think the origin stories were the right way to start it off.

    Exactly. Pierce was great, all in one movie. Will he go down in history as being greater than the villains who got to be great in multiple movies? Of course not, but that's a ridiculous standard anyway. If every Marvel villain were as good as Pierce, Zemo and Nebula there would be no villain problem, no matter how many movies each of them got.
     
  5. LJones41

    LJones41 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2015
    Location:
    I'm from Long Beach, CA.
    Zemo is not one of my favorite villains. In fact, I found his efforts rather wasted, considering that the Avengers were already starting to drift apart over the Sokovia Accords issue. And the MCU really needs to do more with Nebula for me to consider her as one of the best villains.
     
  6. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    ^Zemo didn't want them to just drift of disagree, he wanted them to tear each other's throats out and he very nearly succeeded. Hell, he did more damage to them that Loki & Ultron combined.

    That he chose to attack them where they were already weak is sort of the whole point. He said himself that there's no way he could go after them directly, so he had to get them to do the heavy lifting for him. This is what a genius super villain should be. Not some super-strong bruiser or a coward with an army of disposable goons. He thinks and acts strategically. Setting up traps and Xanatos gambits. In that regard he was a much better Lex Luthor than the actual Lex Luthor we got this year.

    As for one-shot villains: they have their uses and honestly, if they're going to be disposed of by the end of the movie, is it truly worth delving too deeply into their motivations when that screen time could be better spent on the hero? This is particularly true in an origin story as the first threat a hero faces, need not be their eternal nemesis.
    Not every villain can be The Joker. Not every villain should. It's OK for most of them to be just the Clock King or KGBeast.
     
    grendelsbayne likes this.
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I disagree. For one thing, heroes are defined by the quality of their adversaries. For another, the more interesting all of the characters in a story are, the better the story is. It's a false premise to claim it's a zero-sum game between hero development and villain development. The former will be richer if the latter is too. They reinforce each other. It's not like there's some finite supply of character development that you have to ration out. A good writer tries to give some dimension and substance and point of view to every character, even if it's just a night watchman who gets killed at the end of his only scene. The more you flesh out the entire universe, the more it buoys up the hero's story.
     
  8. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Regina, SK, Canada
    This whole "A hero is only as good as his villain" idea has really got to stop. It's been used to justify too much laziness.

    But look at most Batman movies, they're really just about the villains with Batman reduced to "Guy who is purely reactive". Why can't heroes ever be the proactive ones seeking to change the status quo? And no, I don't mean "Clean up Gotham" or something like that.

    If they have a limited amount of time, it's better spent on the hero who will be sticking around and his supporting cast. Internal conflict can make up for a villain who doesn't steal the show.
     
  9. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    I think it's more a case of people taking that quote (from Hitchcock, IIRC?) much too literally.

    "A hero is as great as their adversary" need not mean their antagonist, but the adversity they overcome in defeating them. Not the material challenges or even the puppet master controlling them, but the inner struggle. Prevailing in one's own inner conflict is always the greater victory than outsmarting some fanatic, no matter how physically strong or cunning.

    That's why villains like Malekith, Obadiah Stane, Darren Cross and Kaecilius are only give the barest outline of motivation. They're the antagonists, but not the true adversaries of the stories in which they feature.
    In the case of Kaecilius I felt that I learned everything I needed to know about him. Not a single line or scene was wasted in spelling out exactly who he'd lost, how, or why. I didn't need to know. It was only relevant to him, not to the story.

    That's not to say that it's not a good idea for a hero to have at least one formidable and recurring villain, but it need not be expected, let alone demanded.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
    Anwar likes this.
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I don't understand that statement at all. It's the other way around. Laziness is making a villain one-dimensional because you've put all your work into the hero. Like I said, you want to put as much care as you can into every aspect of a story. It's all part of the same whole, and lack of quality in any portion of it undermines the rest. How well will a race car run if you put all your work into giving it a fancy custom engine but slap on cheap, inferior tires and shock absorbers? How good will your lasagna be if you make it from gourmet pasta and tomatoes but use low-grade store-brand cheese?



    Most Batman movies have, frankly, not held a candle to the comics they're based on. They're a really, really poor benchmark. Aside from The Dark Knight, I wouldn't count any of the live-action Batman movies to be among the best of the superhero genre.

    Look at The Incredibles. The focus there was on the family of heroes, but both Syndrome and Mirage were well-drawn characters with understandable motivations. Look at how many of the X-Men movies are a double act between Xavier and Magneto, the complex friendship and rivalry between two equally well-drawn characters being the driving dynamic of the story.

    And that's the key. If a story is driven by the tension between hero and villain, then it hurts the story if either one is underdeveloped. The Batman films suffered from an underdeveloped hero, and many MCU films suffer from underdeveloped villains.


    They don't have a limited amount of time. Movies take years to make. They go through dozens of script drafts. There's zero excuse for not taking the time to give every character dimension and substance. And if you're talking about the amount of screen time each character gets, that's irrelevant. As I said, a good storyteller can give a character humanity and depth in a single scene. The amount of time something is onscreen is unrelated to the amount of time a writer or director or actor can devote to creating it, to making even a brief appearance interesting.
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer The Mod You've Known for All These Years Moderator

    A weak villain can contribute to bringing down a film (Malekith). But a strong villain need not take up a lot of screen time with his motivations, origin story, etc., in order to be a compelling piece of the story. Cf.:



    He had us in 1977, before we knew anything about "Anakin Skywalker". The mystery was part of the appeal.
     
  12. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Lots of CBMs just make the hero a cipher while the villain is the core of everything. Dark Knight is a prime example of this. Batman is secondary to Joker and Dent.

    Frankly, I didn't find Mirage much of anything and Syndrome was kind of flat. He's a fanboy gone bad.

    And to be frank, I think the X-Men movies haven't done a good job with Xavier and Magneto's relationship either. And they screw the other X-Men out of story importance.

    What if the tension come from internal conflict and character flaws?

    There is if you only have 90 minutes to 120 minutes and the core of the story focuses on the Hero and their supporting cast. The TV shows don't have this problem because they have several episodes that equal up to a LOT more time then a single film.

    Dr Strange did this with Kaecilius, they just didn't give us some sob story flashback to go with it.

    Vader wasn't that great a villain in A New Hope. He just had strength and a cool look, they only barely hinted at his past. He became a great villain in Empire Strikes Back though.
     
  13. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer The Mod You've Known for All These Years Moderator

    I'm curious...was that your first-hand opinion between 1977 and 1979, or did you only see the first film with the hindsight of it being part of a larger series? Because seeing him as the villain in what was then a standalone film is integral to my point.

    Speaking from my own first-hand experience from that era...Darth Vader, like pretty much everything else in the film, captured the audience's imagination. He certainly wasn't seen as a blah villain or a weak link in the film. They did more with him in Empire specifically because he was so popular.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  14. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Morrowind
    It's kind of like how you often have to wait a long time on the internet to hear someone talking about the disappointment of 1983's release at the time, given the improvement of its reputation well after the fact.
     
  15. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Hindsight.

    But he was popular for his appearance and strength, not for being some deep villain with spelled out motivations.

    Course, it helps that Luke was a bland hero.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    But that's the problem. As I said, it's a mistake to paint it as a zero-sum game where there's a finite reserve of characterization that can go to either the hero or villain but not both. That's not how writing works. Like I said, it's all one whole. The hero and the villain are two components in the same engine, and their balance is important to that engine's function. Ideally neither one should be weak.


    Exactly. The best villains, like the best heroes, have their own internal conflict and character flaws, not instead of the heroes having those, but along with them. A villain who just wants to destroy stuff because of Teh Evuls is boring, just as a hero who only wants to do good because of being Pure at Heart is boring. Both should have well-drawn, relatable motivations behind their actions. It's not either-or. Good characterization is good characterization, regardless of the moral alignment of a character.

    To me, a conflict where the people on both sides have good reason for their actions is more interesting than one where one side is obviously right and the other is obviously wrong. One-dimensional baddies are boring because they're straw men, too easy to knock down. They may pose a physical challenge for the hero, but they offer no intellectual or philosophical challenge to the hero's ideas.


    I already addressed this. Screen time is irrelevant. You can give texture and humanity to a character in a single scene. Just rephrasing a few lines, even just changing the way a line is delivered, can make a difference. Quality isn't about quantity. Just because a part of a story is small, that is not an excuse to do shoddy work with it.
     
  17. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    I don't necessarily disagree, but It's not as much of an either/or proposition as some are making it out to be. It all depends on the story you wish to tell.

    Sometimes, too much attention paid to the villain reduces the role of the hero to a mere archetypal foil. Sometimes, as you say, an underdeveloped villain can make a story seem hollow.
    In the case of Thor 2, I'd say it's weakness wasn't in the motivations of the Dark Elf king, but in the script itself and the lack of focus where the protagonist's development was concerned. It just wasn't a very well conceived story. Malekith being boring was a symptom, not the cause.
    In theory, the antagonist with the actual depth that you were supposed to care about was Loki. They just didn't execute it terribly well.

    I won't go too deeply into how Vader was or was not a strong villain in ANH since that's a whole thread all of it's own. I will say however that his function within that story was that of an archetypal henchman. Tarkin was the actual antagonist.
    I'm not denying Vader made an impression that arguably overshadowed the Grand Moff, but that has more to do with the performance (vocal & physical) as well as the imagery of that iconic design. The point being, it wasn't about his characterisation so much as his presence.
     
    grendelsbayne likes this.
  18. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer The Mod You've Known for All These Years Moderator

    Not how I would have put it, but that's pretty much my whole point. They didn't have to spend a lot of time on him, at the expense of time spent on the heroes, for us to get invested in the character exactly as he was in Star Wars. He, like the entire film, left us wanting more, in a good way.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Sometimes it's a question of developing a villain in the wrong direction. For instance, Ant-Man spent a fair amount of time establishing that Darren Cross was being driven insane by the knockoff Pym particles he was using. Insane villains aren't all that interesting, because they don't have relatable or legitimate motivations. The same amount of dialogue they devoted to establishing him as a madman could instead have been devoted to establishing a more nuanced motivation, or giving him some sympathetic qualities as character texture.
     
  20. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer The Mod You've Known for All These Years Moderator

    But that was all the film needed. Tarkin was his boss in-story, and Cushing gave the bad guys some gravitas, but Vader was always the film's "face of evil" in the eyes of the audience and in the marketing. Kenner didn't bother putting out a Tarkin action figure in the 1970s.