The Thematic Banality of Marvel Films

I have to preface this by saying that I absolutely adore Marvel movies. I am often there opening weekend to enjoy the storytelling splendor, the fantastic visuals and insane fight scenes that usually lie within these films. However, I would be a bad artist and director if I were to ignore the genuine thematic banality or unoriginality that pervades almost every Marvel film.

Most Marvel movies focus on the emotional journey that a character takes, normal stuff for filmmaking; however, the unoriginality of it comes in when you notice just how similarly every film seems to take that journey. For the sake of an understandable comparison, let’s look at the second Iron Man movie and Spider-Man No Way Home (if you haven’t seen these films, be forewarned there are some minor spoilers ahead). Starting at the beginning of both films, Tony Stark and Peter Parker are well known people, both loved and hated by millions for their superhero persona. Coming off the heels of revealing to the world that they are superheroes, they are facing numerous different threats, such as people attacking them, filing lawsuits against them, and general harassment. While their superhero reveals to the world come from different places, with Peter Parker not willing revealing himself, their journey after the fact is quite similar.

Both men spiral out of control, doing some things that have incredibly negative impacts on themselves and the people around them. For Tony Stark, it’s going down a drunken spiral that leaves him in an awful position for the world and for Peter it’s breaking the entire multiverse. Both films end with the main character learning that their identity is important to keep secret and that their acts as superheroes are not only sacred, but important to be done justly and in a manner beholden to a protector of the world.

Now it’s important to understand that there are definitely differences between the films, but the themes of personal growth and the repercussions that come from being a superhero are almost identical. It would be nice to occasionally see some characters take a slightly different journey to add more thematic diversity to the Marvel cinematic universe.