Marvel Cinematic Universe spoiler-heavy speculation thread

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

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

  1. A+

    10.9%
  2. A

    37.0%
  3. A-

    17.4%
  4. B+

    4.3%
  5. B

    17.4%
  6. B-

    6.5%
  7. C+

    2.2%
  8. C

    4.3%
  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. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, no question. I wasn't criticising at all, just illustrating the point. A villain must suit the story in which they are placed. Vader was very well placed in his role and because of that, his minimalist characterisation was entirely appropriate and very effective.

    What I disagree with is the thinking that states "more character development = better villain". That's missing the point and in a broader sense. putting the cart before the horse.
     
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  2. The Old House Mixer

    The Old House Mixer Mortally Challenged Mod Moderator

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    Then we'd be on the same page there. Not that a well-developed villain is a bad thing, but a well-executed villain can be a strong ingredient in a film without being well-developed. Many of the MCU films could have used their own version of 1977 Darth Vader.
     
  3. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think at least part of it might be that Vader was specifically designed to be an archetype of almost mythical proportions whereas a lot of the one-off Marvel villains seemed to have had "disposable" built in from the get-go. Call it a lack of ambition I suppose or a symptom of creating a piece of a larger canvas vs. the piece being a whole thing in it's own right.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that the weaker MCU entries are those that sacrificed a little too much of their run times to set-up or reference things for other movies that don't really add much to the movie they're in. The forgettable villains are I think just an aspect of this, though not necessarily the cause.
     
  4. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I thought Jeff Bridges was an awesome villain in Iron Man...
     
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  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think the original Star Wars is really a good model for complex writing or characterization. It wasn't trying to be anything more than a popcorn movie. Which can be fine for an afternoon's entertainment, but it's hardly the highest ideal of storytelling.

    I think part of the reason Marvel fans are frustrated with the MCU's one-note villains is that their comics counterparts are usually far richer. Ronan, for instance. In the comics, Ronan the Accuser is a nuanced and morally ambiguous character who believes himself to be acting in the name of justice. But the movie's Ronan has less depth and texture than a sheet of plastic wrap. I've never been a Thor reader, but I think I've heard that Malekith was a much richer character in the comics as well. And, again, there's no reason you can't make a character nuanced and dimensional in the span of a single movie. Lots of movies have had richly drawn villains and heroes at the same time. But Marvel often doesn't try.
     
  6. The Old House Mixer

    The Old House Mixer Mortally Challenged Mod Moderator

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    Well, it's a good thing then that I wasn't trying to hold it up as such. My point was that the villain doesn't have to be complex to be an engaging and memorable part of the film.

    As opposed to the MCU films, which are high art?
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, but it's more interesting if they are. Darth Vader certainly got more interesting once he said "I am your father" -- once he had a motivation beyond just "rule the galaxy with an iron fist." There's a difference between "has to be" and "would make it even better." And there's nothing wrong with wanting things to be better.

    And the problem with Marvel is not that it had a movie with an underdeveloped villain, but that it keeps having movies with underdeveloped villains. And that's thrown into contrast by how well-developed their heroes are. So it's the one aspect of the movies where they repeatedly fall short of what they could be, and you'd think that by now they'd have figured out how to do that part as well as they do all the other parts.
     
  8. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    There's a quote from the U2 song "Cedars of Lebanon" that suits the art of villain development...

    "Choose your enemies carefully 'cause they will define you
    Make them interesting, 'cause in some ways they will mind you
    They're not there in the beginning but when your story ends
    Gonna last with you longer than your friends."
     
  9. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Ronan you named had years of appearances and development to become what we was. I doubt he was that in his first appearances. Maybe the problem is that Marvel kills their villains off too much.

    With villainous characters they know will be around longer, like Nebula and Zemo, they put that extra bit of effort in because they know they'll get more time with them. They probably just don't want to bother with the one-offs...and they're not wrong for feeling that way.

    Anywho, I thought Kaecilius was a well-done one-off villain. I got Humanity and believable motives from him.
     
  10. Jar Jar Binks

    Jar Jar Binks Admiral Admiral

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    Kaecilius in the comics was kind of a joke from what I recall, I can't really think of anything about the movie version they actually took from the comic version.
     
  11. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Kaecilius in the movie was more or less based on Baron Mordo from the comics, except they gave Kaecilius actual reason for serving Dormammu beyond "He's a bad guy".
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, the problem is that GOTG's Ronan had no personality at all, even in comparison to other one-shot villains in thousands of previous movies. He was not typical of one-shot movie villains. He was just boring. Even by the standards of Marvel's underdeveloped villains, he was a cipher. And that was a tragic waste of Lee Pace's talents.

    They could've given him one speech to establish a motivation, a reason why he hated Xandarians so much. Like, Nero in Star Trek 2009 believed he was avenging the death of his wife and his civilization. Or they could've made him like the Operative in Serenity, a character who sincerely believed he was doing the right thing by defending the society he cherished. Heck, they could've even showed that he genuinely loved his daughters and was devastated by their betrayal. Thousands and thousands of one-shot movie villains have been successfully given more personality than Ronan. It's not that hard to do.


    Hell, yes, they are! They have years of time and huge amounts of talent to put into these movies. They have no business "not wanting to bother" about the quality of any aspect of them. There is never an excuse for knowingly refusing to do good work. Look at behind-the-scenes videos of just about any feature film. Look at the weeks of design work and meetings and meticulous labor that go into creating props and costumes and signage and set details that will maybe get two seconds of screen time somewhere in the background of a shot, or even get cut out altogether. That's what you can do when you have years and half a billion dollars to devote to making a movie. You have a whole army of talented people that you can devote to making even the tiniest, barely noticeable detail as well-made as it can be. So it is ridiculously wrong to say that filmmakers can't be asked to "bother" to put an equal amount of effort into something as important as the lead villain's characterization just because that villain will be featured for "only" one movie.
     
  13. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They did, in his very first scene. He talks about how he's considered a Zealot and a radical because he lost his entire family to the Xandarians in their long war and refuses to accept anything less than total annihilation.

    Thing is, we didn't get any sob-story flashbacks to little Ronan in a POW camp or something.

    What great characterization did Tarkin get in A New Hope?
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Just words. There's nothing else in his characterization to make them convincing, or to make his later behavior interesting or sympathetic. As evidenced by the fact that I didn't even remember them. It's just a throwaway excuse for one-note villainy.


    We didn't have to. We just needed him to be played in a less one-dimensional way, to be given some nuance and texture. For the umpteenth time, I am not saying any additional length of time needed to be devoted to him; I'm saying that there are countless ways that the scenes he was in, the lines he did have, could've been tweaked to give him more personality. Hell, even a sense of humor would've helped.


    Once more, I find it bizarre that anyone would hold up that movie as some kind of exemplar of good writing. That's like if we were having a conversation about fine dining and you brought up Arby's. I like Arby's, but I'd hardly call it the standard for all chefs to aspire to. Heck, ANH isn't even the best-written movie in the original trilogy. I doubt Star Wars would ever have amounted to nearly as much if Empire hadn't raised the bar.
     
  15. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or maybe they're just saying that just because you have a semi-understandable reason for your actions, that doesn't make you instantly some noble figure. The movie even had the balls to finally call out someone with the "My family is dead!" motive and point out that's no excuse for their actions with Drax.

    That's what they had Nebula for.

    Cause Vader is used as a point of reference?
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Who said anything about "noble?" That has nothing to do with this conversation. What I said is that GOTG's Ronan is boring. As villains go, even irredeemably evil villains, he's eminently forgettable.


    Not by me. I was surprised when that got brought up in the first place.
     
  17. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Characters like Magneto have similar motivations to Ronan, and people keep saying how "noble" he is because the FoX-Men movies refuse to make him come off too negatively.

    Which is why Nebula makes up for it.
     
  18. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :lol: You asked for one speech. You explicitly demanded a speech... also known as words. But when you get it, it's "just words".

    His daughters? You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    So? One example is not all examples. There are many ways to make villains interesting. GOTG used none of them on Ronan.

    (And Magneto's nobility was established in the comics decades before there were X-Men movies. He even reformed and became the leader of the X-Men for a number of years.)


    But she's the secondary villain.
     
  20. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    On the other hand, the one advantage Darth Vader had is no one had seen Darth Vader before. He's pretty much the archetype for the general movie-going audience of the blockbuster action movie villain. Every villain after him stands in his shadow. I'm not sure it's quite enough to have an expositional backstory and to merely look cool anymore.