A couple of days ago I wrote the first part of this 3-part series where I look deep within and determine which mega-franchise I love better, Marvel or Star Wars.
In Part 1, I detailed the critic and audience reaction to each Star Wars film as well as my personal preference for each movie and the emotional rollercoaster that has been Star Wars for most of my life. As a Star Wars fan, it’s unfortunate to say that I’ve experienced more pain and depressing heartache with this franchise than unbridled joy and yet it is those bright spots–the lightsaber duels, the profound lessons that have actually helped me in my real life, the heroes and villains, and that incredible music–that keeps me invested in these stories.
Just look at my journey while watching The Bad Batch. Each week was a detailed account of my growing anger/disappointment with the series until by the end, I had given up caring about writing a weekly review for the show. And yet! I watched the whole thing. All sixteen episodes.
So yes, Star Wars may drive me batty sometimes but I am one of the most loyal fans that there is.
Now, Marvel Studios’ journey has been an entirely different ride altogether. It’s only been in the game for thirteen years but it has dominated a little over half of my life. I literally came of age with this franchise and these stories. My relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on a whole other level and I’m about to share my feelings of this franchise in great detail.
(This is a longread.)
Before I ever even became acquainted with the MCU I can honestly tell you, I knew next to nothing about these characters. My favorite superhero at the time was undoubtedly Batman, I had seen bits and pieces of Christian Bale’s Batman Begins (Scarecrow scared me quite a bit as a child) and that’s the main reason why the Dark Knight was my favorite.
The only other superheroes I knew at the time was Superman and Spider-Man and I was NOT a Spider-Man fan.
In 2008 when Iron Man entered theaters and caught the world by storm I was ten-years-old. I was too young to see it in theaters but I remember my parents watching it when it was available to rent and they showed me tidbits of the film. I remember seeing this iron-clad hero who could fly through the sky and shoot blasts from his hands and he instantly became my favorite superhero because he just seemed so cool.
I didn’t see The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man 2 in theaters (I was still too young at the time) but I do remember watching most of Iron Man 2 at home with my family and it once again reaffirmed my love for the character.
Thor was the first Marvel Studios film that I went to see in theaters. (I saw it at the AMC in Universal during my first visit to the theme park in Orlando, Florida.) Suffice it to say, I didn’t like it. I thought the beginning was awesome but as soon as Thor crashed to Earth the movie took an awful turn.
I also didn’t see Captain America: The First Avenger which seemed like a film that would ultimately be pretty boring. It wasn’t until The Avengers that I realized that Marvel Studios had maybe done something pretty special.
The Avengers was the first superhero ensemble film that felt, well, perfect. Every character felt essential to the story, the interactions between the heroes was riveting, and the final showdown at the Battle of New York could only be described as epic.
Even though The Avengers was a good movie it was still no Star Wars film though and my absolute adoration for the MCU never really gained ground until…Doctor Strange.
The first MCU film I ever felt was worthy of owning was Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was (and still is) honestly one of the best superhero movies ever made. The film was FAR better than I thought it would be and I remember going to see it in theaters four times. That very same year Guardians of the Galaxy came out and once again, I was shocked.
Both films shattered my expectations and made me begin to look at Marvel Studios with a different eye. But it was Doctor Strange that made me sit back and really examine the MCU as a whole.
To take an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch and make him a believable/likable superhero seemed like witchcraft but they found the right character for him and he did an incredible job bringing Doctor Strange to life. So good in fact that he has undoubtedly become my favorite superhero, even surpassing the legendary Batman.
And yet, Marvel Studios, despite its consistently enjoyable material, didn’t seem like it could ever contend with my love for Star Wars…until Avengers: Infinity War.
Suddenly years upon years of storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had culminated into this moment that actually lived up to the hype. All of my theories heading into the film were subverted, Thanos became an instantly iconic villain, and the movie’s ending completely caught me off guard, becoming one of the most shocking conclusions I had ever seen in a film.
To experience a movie of that caliber in a packed theater is an experience I will never forget. It was stunning, it was incredible, and after years of enjoyable films suddenly the MCU seemed like the real deal.
My trust in the franchise rose exponentially as I began to realize that everything, from the brilliant casting to all of the intertwining story threads and beyond, actually led to a moment that exceeded my wildest expectations.
Jump forward a year and Endgame came out. That experience in theaters for the first time was visceral, unforgettable, and I wept quite a lot during the film’s climactic final hour. The story had reached a fitting conclusion that brought eleven years of storytelling to an end… However, it was actually only the beginning.
This year has been one of the funnest years in recent memory for me. Since January Marvel Studios has been giving me content that has completely surpassed my expectations.
WandaVision was amazing in its attention to detail for each classic sitcom-inspired episode. The finale wasn’t perfect but ultimately the series was a blast to watch as a whole. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a blast on a weekly basis as it dealt with Sam Wilson having to take up the mantle of Captain America.
Loki knocked my socks off, Black Widow was shockingly great, the What If…? series has been an absolute blast to watch, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a phenomenal introduction to a brand-new character.
2021 has been the MCU’s year. Star Wars…eh, not so much. The Bad Batch left me frustrated for most of its first season and The Mandalorian isn’t fun to watch anymore thanks to its good but in retrospect somewhat boring second season. The Mandalorian used to be a story that felt very contained and authentic…until it became the guest star show and the story veered in a completely different direction to set up spinoffs that may or may not be that great.
(Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited for The Book of Boba Fett.)
I think the reason why I love Marvel Studios so much these days is that no matter what they decide to bring out, I know it won’t disappoint me. And that’s after WandaVision which could’ve easily been the most ridiculous thing Marvel Studios ever attempted.
In my next part, I will look within and determine which franchise reigns supreme. Will it be the new superstar that is Marvel Studios or does my allegiance still lie with a franchise that has blown my mind since before I could remember?
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a spectacular day.