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Marvel Studios Moving Away From The Kang Dynasty Would Be a Good Thing

To look only narratively, and commercially, at the current trajectory of the MCU—and to put Majors’ own legal predicament to the side—betting almost an entire decade’s worth of Marvel films on the multiverse has appeared creaky for a while now. Marvel obviously scored a tremendous success when they used the concept of parallel universes to make perhaps the ultimate fan service film in Spider-Man: No Way Home. That is also in no way a disparagement of the movie; the amount of sheer joy audiences felt as they cheered Tobey Maguire’s return to the red and blue tights was deafening. Consequently, Marvel and Disney executives likely thought they found a new storytelling apparatus to continue pleasing fans.

But while it was novel to use an in-universe narrative plot device to get Maguire to interact with Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield, not to mention Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina, the same trick started to quickly turn stale when Patrick Stewart was asked to reprise Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness after putting the character to bed so poignantly in Logan. Meanwhile Warner Bros./DC’s attempt to imitate No Way Home by bringing Michael Keaton back as Batman, and a visibly bored Michael Shannon as General Zod, in The Flash appeared faintly desperate.

Conversely, as this was going on, the filmmaking team of the Daniels produced the truly innovative and mind-bending Everything Everywhere All at Once. It low-key stole the superhero franchise’s thunder. Whereas the big media companies seemed to primarily be using this storytelling device as a way to bring back beloved actors from decades ago to reprise iconic parts, the Daniels did virtually everything you might want with the concept in a film so inventive that it even wowed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences into giving it Best Picture and Best Director. And even when limited to the superhero genre, what Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and its recent sequel accomplished with multiversal storytelling was far more thrilling than anything their live-action brethren have attempted.

Honestly, by the time we reached Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which slightly dipped its toe back into the multiverse, and especially The Flash, the same trick that seemed exhilarating in 2021 was wearing thin. So wrapping the next four years of MCU films around it is a little troubling.

Of course if you’ve seen The Marvels’ post-credits scene, you already know Marvel is pot-committed to continue down this road. But considering that own movie’s box office misfortunes, there are clearly going to be some adjustments. Our own Joe George has recommended some solid places to start.

Yet if we can allow another, it would be to not only move away from Kang, but move away from the multiverse. Obviously some element of it needs to be addressed in the future, as Marvel Studios has already threaded the X-Men films that were produced by 20th Century Fox into its future, and Deadpool 3 is just around the corner. But what about making Marvel’s own X-Men? Characters who are new and untethered to 20 years of previous continuity.

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