Former head of television comedy at CBC Television Paul Chato recently opined that the Marvel Cinematic Universe “kind of ruined things.”

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 MARVEL.

Chato’s comments came during an appearance on Midnight’s Edge in the Morning Episode #326 while discussing the numerous Disney+ Marvel Studios produced shows.

Guest Chris Gore broaches the topic saying, “Disney isn’t even good at making TV yet. They’re not good at making TV. You look at Netflix, Netflix and HBO know how to do television. They know that, look, we are thinking about the audience every single minute, not the agenda, the audience.”

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The show’s host Tom Connors replies to Gore saying, “Which is f***ed up because you have ABC, right? Really, Disney+ should technically be ABC+. Let’s be real. And then on the other side of it, you have the Disney Channel. They basically changed cable, but yet for some reason they’ve done nothing but stumble into this streaming business.”

“And it seems like such a no brainer,” he asserted. “We all could sit here and come up with five shows right now that would be shows that would bring everybody to the platform whether it’s a Darth Vader show, a Spider-Man show, what have you, yet they seem to avoid these things. They give us Winter Soldier show…”

Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Eli Adé. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Chato then interjects saying, “I think in many ways the MCU kind of ruined things in that comic books have traditionally had their own arc often based on a writer. So you would get the Dan Slott She-Hulk, which is kind of what they screwed up.”

“But then you’ve got the John Byrne She-Hulk. There’s nothing stopping any of these companies to just go, ‘Okay, we’re just going to do the Dan Slott thing, the John Byrne thing, the Galacticus Fantastic Four, and has a beginning, middle, and an end.’ It has its own cast and then you get a new cast for the next set just exactly like they do in comics where they find a new artist, new writer, and you get a new experience.”

(L-R): Charlie Cox as Daredevil/Matt Murdock and Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk/Jennifer “Jen” Walters in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © 2022 MARVEL.

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“The MCU kind of blew that up because they took segments of contiguous comic series and pulled stuff from them all and ruined those series,” he asserted. “So you can’t even go back to the series that they pulled ideas from to make a contiguous arc from that edition. The MCU poisoned the well in many ways.”

After Chris Gore suggested the Marvel Cinematic Universe tell a separate contained story in the past, which sounds similar to what they did in Captain Marvel as well as what 20th Century Fox did with X-Men: First Class, Chato would state, “I think so. Just forget about it. I completely agree with you. I think they are taking this superhero stuff and their MCU way too seriously.”

James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr in X-Men: First Class

While there is some truth to what Chato says regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe pulling various elements from past comic book arcs, they used them to tell a compelling long-form narrative involving the Infinity Stones that eventually came to a head in Avengers: Infinity War and finished with Avengers: Endgame

The complaints about the Marvel Cinematic Universe were minimal and Avengers: Endgame raked in nearly $2.8 billion at the worldwide box office with $858.3 million coming from domestic audiences.

Source: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Marvel Entertainment

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The real issue with the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t that they took different elements from past comic book runs, the issue is one of quality. Now, there have been some poor Marvel Studios films in the past, one only has to look at Thor: The Dark World, but there would also be really good films such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

However, in the post-Endgame Marvel Studios world, it’s hard to identify a film that is even in the range of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead most of Marvel Studios film offerings are closer or even worse than Thor: The Dark World.

Their television fair has been abysmal as it appears to be more interested in pushing a specific woke narrative and world view than it is about telling any kind of story about heroism.

Source: (L-R): Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Even if you decide to go the path that Chato suggests and bring in new creatives to tell their stories about the superheroes, you still have the issue of quality.

One needs only to look at Matt Reeves’ The Batman film, which does indeed go down the path Chato suggests. It introduces a brand new cast with Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman. The film is not connected to the DCEU at-large or even the standalone Joker film.

The film fails in its third act when it reveals that Batman didn’t actually solve Riddler’s main riddle. He doesn’t capture the Riddler, and he only learns about the flooding of the city upon interrogating the villain after he turned himself in. In fact, Batman doesn’t even save Gotham at all. Riddler’s plan is a roaring success. Batman only foils a single part of the plan, killing the newly elected mayor. 

Source: The Batman (2021), Warner Bros. Entertainment

The real issue isn’t how the films are setup as standalone or told as part of a larger narrative. Both can be done, and can be done successfully.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a testament to the longer-form, interconnected narrative while Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and the original Spider-Man films stand as shining examples of standalone franchises with a singular vision from a creative team.

Source: Spider-Man (2002), Sony Pictures

What do you make of Chato’s comments regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

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