In May, the AMC in Times Square played 70 different screenings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in one day. Doctor Strange was intended to be unique Wonderful film because it is directed by one of those dark wizards of the cinematographic arts – an author – in that case, Living Dead genre legend Sam Raimi. One of the most distinguished voices of his generation, it is impossible to watch a Sam Raimi movie without knowing that you are watching a Sam Raimi movie, and Doctor Strange is no real exception if you reduce Raimi to his gut-punching editing, mania woozy camera work and feverish dreams transitions.
And yet … watching Doctor Strange I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t watching a Sam Raimi movie; that I felt something … another – a foreign entity or an unwelcome presence, which made me doubt not only whether this was a Sam Raimi film, but whether it was a film at all.
I think it’s important to accept that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is not cinema, not even art. It is content, the true environment / form / thing of the 21st century. Accessing content with the same critical tools you would have reserved for film or television or any other traditional art form is like fighting an alien deity with a slingshot. You should bow to it; there is no way to fight it in terms of anything other than its terms. Content is completely new and homogeneous at the same time, cursed to age as soon as it hits shelves, yet blessed with the half-life of irradiated plutonium. Content creates nothing but more content because of more content, nurturing its past to its present to give birth to its future.
Nowhere is content developed as cleanly as in the MCU, the most successful and expansive content franchise ever existed. With 28 movies (and at least 11 more in development) and at least 18 TV series under its belt, the MCU has dominated above as a top. content in the age of content. It suffocates its rivals in their crib and proliferates like uncontrolled cancer. Ekde Ferulo hit cinemas in 2008, the MCU transformed industry to mirror its cannibalistic evolutionary path, managing to overshadow “distraction,” as it were, with “content,” as it is, without any real hindrance or competition.
It’s been so thoroughly successful that most people find anything that doesn’t feel content repulsive and uncomfortable to the same extent, to the point that it sends them into genuine outrages, like the Marvel fans who do. planned to storm Sony headquarters for initially failing to negotiate a deal to keep Spider-Man in the MCU.
The brilliance of Disney’s content flood is the way it also transforms everything around it into content. Be strange identitiessketch-affected personality disorder, or the Armenian genocide – everything is grain to the content mill. This is the beauty of a product that contains nothing clear in it. The MCU has spent a decade and a half perfecting its voicelessness. That voicelessness ruined a generation of creators as a parasite, allowing their content to have a universal blank quality that can be adapted to any topic, any vision, any direction or any change in the market. The result is something that can be anything to anyone: any meaning you can dream of can be attached to this content, like an accessory clicked on an eagle figure.
Take, for example, the Disney + show Moon Knightstarring Oscar Isaac playing a character with dissociative identity disorder (DIS). Whether or not That of Moon Knight representation of the disorder is true or accurate or stupid is ultimately meaningless. By subjecting something as complicated and multifaceted as DID in the MCU, the complexities of representation (in the old, artistic sense of the word) become instantly insignificant. It is smoothed, plasticized and drained so that it can fit safely together with the MCU’s representation of mass death (Avengers: Age of Ultron), black radicalism (Black Panther) and PTSD (The Hawk and the Winter Soldier); another token placeholder in a blank cardboard puzzle.
In the MCU, ideas and identities are represented in the same way that the idea of Snap, Crackle, and Pop is represented on a cereal box. It’s the feeling that any of it can be cut out or stuck without the viewer feeling much of anything. Be a gay kiss hacked for release in some Middle Eastern countries, a CIA agent teaming up with our hero to overthrow an African ruler or end half of life in the universe with a snap of your fingers is a disrespect to what this content purports to represent that smells of the listing. It doesn’t matter how or why something appears, just as long as it does, reducing it to the importance of a fanWiki stub, as much a part of the MCU canon as Mjolnir or Howard the Duck.
Its mere presence allows for the spread of more content, whether it’s fan fiction, jutuba easter egg listings, or articles like this – the beauty of the MCU’s content moloch is that it feeds the vast ocean of content that fills ours every waking minute online. and outside, a great great mutual wash of ideas and images that bloom and burst like lights on the endless horizon of digital media.
This simple equation has raised more than $ 25 billion for Marvel, Disney, and the various remorse (Paramount, Universal, etc.) that exist in its ecosystem. Multiverse of Madness‘S global box office hit $ 690 million as written, putting it at 16th place in the list of MCU box office winners. Sometimes, if you stop and think long enough, you realize that a relatively peripheral character like Dr. Strange, who earns so much money, would be considered extremely, well, strange 15 (or even ten!) Years ago, but we live in a time when characters and franchises that were once as obscure as Steve Ditko himself now have the pull of Ethan Hunt or Ghostbusters.
Other Hollywood hits have spent more than a decade trying to replicate the MCU, throwing everything into a feedback of “everything you can do, I can do better,” whether it’s trying to replicate the common universal formulas to varying degrees of success – RIP The Dark Universe of Universal, We barely knew you – or the way 90 percent of modern hits took on the MCU’s aesthetic, a flat digital look that resembles the washed colors of a concrete parking lot. Either way, the loop generates malformed bastard sons like Ghostbusters: Survival and Morbid with disgusting regularity.
The most disturbed of these bastards could only be Disney’s other colossal shared universe – or galaxy – Cosmic Wars. Once the playground of a definitely strange creature (George Lucasnot Yoda), and once decisively art (I sincerely believe that Picasso would have seen a character like Dexter Jettster and wept), became, under the administration of Disney and MCU creative ancestor Jon Favreau, content. Like the MCU, it had its future planned as a sold-out child bride – its omens predicted by the rolled-up fingerprints of think tank analysis, focus groups and ballistic ultra-fans, leading. Cosmic Warsironically, far from what ever made it interesting.
Alone and The Rise of Skywalker failed at the box office like many imitators of the MCU, due to inability to understand what exactly the MCU and its contents are, although the answer is so clear, apparent and simple: The MCU is mojosa. I use “amazing” in the awful “peasant looking biblical precise angel” sense here, because the whole of the MCU – both within the text and in the world – should and does inspire pants-wetting, knee-deep respect. Its content transformed not only the culture, not only the market, but the imagination itself.
We are now all content creators to some degree, and our creation mirrors the MCU process on a micro and macro scale. We are encouraged to think in terms of brands, markets and phases, every part of us selling a piece of the junkyard algorithm that dictates the course of everyone’s personal character statfolio. The MCU and you are basically working with the same pump, and that could be the biggest trick Disney has ever pulled out. This extends beyond the furious tweets, petitionsmemes and other foam debris clogged with tin, and further into the basic regimes in which people engage with this content altogether: the form of conversations, debates and theories. You are not just a fan or a hater, you are a participant, a companion, a companion, a Thor, a Spiderman, Captain America – a gathered Avenger – Poison to the Massacre of the great machine.
That, perhaps, is the art at the core of the disarticulation of the content. Content lies content. Drowning us in it, the MCU offers the willing and the unwitting a shot at a blissful, market-researched single. Cinema, television, art: These are mutating genes that Disney’s Sentinels will purge until contentment is universal, and each of us, fan and hater alike, can be considered a canon.