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The Limitations of the Marvel Formula

Marvel has used the superhero movie genre to tell a wide variety of stories – for instance, a heist film (Ant-Man), a spy thriller (Captain America: TWS), and a war film (Captain America:TFA). The same is true on television, where the Netflix series deals with such serious issues of race, sexual abuse, toxic masculinity, and much more. As the slate of superhero content stretches out massively into the future, can it be constantly used to tell varied interesting stories, or are the limits already beginning to show?

  • This is a great topic! Especially in the wake of Deadpool 2! The first Deadpool was a rom-com, while the second was a family movie at its roots. Because this is such a bizarre approach for a superhero movie, there's theories floating around about what the next Deadpool will be. (The AtZ Show on Youtube speculates that it might be a mock-umentary, something to look into btw.) – M K Keane 1 week ago
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  • What is the 'Marvel Formula'? I like this topic but the formulaic aspect is unclear to me. Are you saying that Marvel movies are usually action type films? Huh. If so, I think Marvel's use of humour can be a limitation, in the sense that it's a staple in Marvel films. On another note, there's the overarching plot (or continuity) that blankets all individually released films—the past few led up to Infinity War. But what's next? Marvel's cinematic universe is amazing, but I worry for the day when it could seem 'dragged out'. (Then again I'm an uncultured non-comic book reader who doesn't know what'll happen after Infinity War, ack.) – Starfire 1 week ago
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Locked

In what ways do Marvel's depictions of females affect society and real women?

When considering how women are viewed in film, I like to think of the Bechdel test. This test (and I am paraphrasing here) says that if a movie does not have two female characters in it that talk about something other than a man, then it fails. Unfortunately, not all of Marvel’s movies pass. How do these depictions of women (ie, their lack of roles that include interactions with other women, the way that only men are discussed when interactions do occur, etc) affect real live ladies? How does it affect society? How does it support the systematic oppression of women and perpetrate the patriarchy?

  • I agree that Marvel fails it's female characters, and women, as a whole with it's representation of women. It rarely treats women badly, and ocasionally has some really good female characters (see; Black Panther). But it's just in sheer numbers and representation that it fails its women. For every 4-5 men there is one notable female character. (See Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy). It fails to show women do much of anything as a whole, as even the supporting female characters, are delegated to just being "the girlfriends." And even the superhero women eventually become someone's girlfriend. Women cannot exist long in the marvel universe without being attached to a boyfriend or love interest. That si where Marvel fails most. There are hardly any women in the movies as headliners, and even when they are they are put into usually forced relationships. It's a shame. – Dimitri 1 month ago
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Taken by Emily Murphy (PM) 1 month ago.
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Controversy or Consciousness in Marvel Netflix?

Comic books, back in the day, were the dose of tiger balm to the congested chest. They were painful narratives that made us think, that put our problems into the perspectives of a false world so a hero could show us they can be solved and the villains of our lives vanquished. Unfortunately, the solutions are solely on the page or on the screen, now with the Netflix series’ of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, but does that erase the effect they have on us as viewers and readers?

Do the shows take some issues too far? Present them too blatantly or too straight-forward for escapism?

Are they too real and too relevant? Or exactly what we need?

  • Something else to consider would be whether or not the intention of comic books is still escapism. As entertainment becomes increasingly politicized, the escapism aspect may sit on a balance with a desire to provide political commentary. If you wanted to do that more broadly, too, you could look at the balance of escapism and commentary in modern comic books or their adaptations (like Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage), which I feel like is what you might be trying to do. There's an excellent article about Ta-Nehisi Coates discussing his run of Black Panther which touches on this --> http://kotaku.com/ta-nehisi-coates-is-trying-to-do-right-by-marvel-comics-1769418783 – Sadie Britton 1 year ago
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  • I think the subjective nature social consciousness makes this a hard question to answer. Comics have always run the gamut from utterly ridiculous to uncomfortably real but a lot of that is in the personal interpretation. Most comics aren't going to be as clear in their messaging as Captain America punching Hitler in the face. The X-Men arose as an allegory for the Civil Rights movement but not every white comic reader in the 60s was thinking "I see, this is like how we treat black people". However black comic readers may have connected with the story in a different way. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage both seemed overtly political but technically were recreations of plot lines that were decades old. When Brock Turner is making headlines, Jessica's inability to consent holds more weight. When Black Lives Matter plays a large part in the political sphere, a bulletproof black guy (in a hoodie) holds more weight. Your environment and your gender/racial/sexual identity change whether you view it as a nice work of fiction or a very political one. – LC Morisset 1 year ago
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What Can Namor Add To The MCU?

The rights for Namor the Submariner has officially reverted back to Marvel Studios. With every character in the current MCU adding a certain physical and emotional aspect to the Avengers’ dynamic, what would Namor’s contribution be? Could his aquatic setting provide a similar contrast as Thor’s Asgard?

  • More fighting and graphics is required. – Zyana Hault 2 years ago
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  • Based on what I know about Namor, he might be best introduced as an enemy to the Avengers. He's often protrayed as such, and I think they could play up the angle of him reacting to what he thinks are attacks against him and his kingdom via pollution from the surface. He seems like a character who could really put the majority of the human race into perspective with the MCU, since in the other movies the villain is doing something blatantly evil for the sake of evil, and it's often hard to sympathize with their motives.people as a whole are usually the victims/a general population that needs protection from a villain doing something undeniably evil. He could be one of few villains in the MCU whose motives are relatable. – chrischan 2 years ago
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Which stories could Marvel bring to the screen next?

A speculative think piece, could be based partly on the trend for gritty TV shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones) as well as big blockbuster hits. Also the surprise hit with little known Guardians of the Galaxy. Could be fun to think on possible filming and casting choices too!

  • This is a very interesting topic! Could you please elaborate more on the thesis a little more? It's a bit vague. Would this concern the comic books, as well? Would it be a comparison of T.V. series vs. movie franchise? Also, your comment about Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit confusing, what do you mean by "surprise hit"? Please develop this thought a little more. Otherwise, good ideas! – Megan Finsel 2 years ago
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  • I think what makes Guardians of the Galaxy interesting is that it originated as a little-known comic and yet has been a really popular film, sorry I did not make that as explicit as I should have done. The overall idea is to use comics as source material and imagine whether they will / how they could be brought to the screen (this could be film or TV). – Camille Brouard 2 years ago
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  • They can bring ANYTHING they want to the screen! – IanB58 2 years ago
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  • I love this topic! It could work for TV shows, but since Marvel has literally every film from phase three already announced and basically ready to go -- this could be cool to think about phase four and what comics they could bring to the screen after these ones have concluded. – scole 2 years ago
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  • Yes, agreed there! – Camille Brouard 2 years ago
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Published

Teaching Social Studies through Graphic Novels and Marvel Films

Analyze the connections that can be made between many of Marvel’s films and topics present in High School Social Studies.

  • It would need to be distinguished which graphic novels and marvel films best cater towards specific social issues. – Ryan Errington 3 years ago
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  • i actually took a class like this in college about teaching graphic novels in the classroom and we worked on which ones would be best in the classroom, this could be really interesting – scoleman 3 years ago
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  • Might be helpful to narrow it down to a specific series of novels or a select few marvel stories/movies. At the moment it seems like a pretty broad range to work with, which could make the analysis a little jolted with so many options. – DaisySquires 3 years ago
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Published

Should Marvel movie fans also be watching the multiple Marvel television series?

It’s no secret that Marvel movies are almost always a huge success. The television series are doing very good as well. But there are many who don’t realize these shows are tied into this same universe. Do you think those who only watch the films are missing out by not watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Daredevil (on Netflix), and Jessica Jones (also to be available on Netflix)?

  • I think an article about this would be great. I would like to read it if it focused on the pros of watching the shows by bringing up what content or relationships are missed if one doesn't. People like reading articles about the difference in experiences from one thing to another, this could be along the lines of an informative article much like those that detail "what's changed from the book to the movie" etc. Spoiler alerts should of course, be noted, because it should be detailed. Many people will want to read it because they aren't setting out to change their mind to watch it, but because they want a quick fix article to fill them in on what they're missing because they've already planned never to. – Slaidey 3 years ago
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  • Yes. Write the article. Did the beginning of Age of Ultron confuse you a bit? Did you feel like you were just thrown into some drama and never given background? They referenced the beginning in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plot. In order to get the holistic view of the MCU, you should watch everything Marvel puts out. – casswaslike 3 years ago
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  • Well...... ya. If you want to know everything thats happening in the MCU you need to watch the entire MCU. Thats the same for every form of media ever. Wanna know the entire story for Assassins Creed Syndicate? Probably a good idea to play all the other games first otherwise you may miss something. – Cojo 3 years ago
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The Processed Cheese of Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics have been a staple in the industry since 1961 (arguably earlier). And, since that time, stories have come and gone and everything has changed forever more times than it reasonably should have. But, compared to those early, formative years from 1961~1970, today’s major Marvel publications feel processed. By that I mean that the true Marvel Universe proper seemed to creatively end in 2003’s Avengers: Disassembled storyline. After this came the rise of stagnant storytelling in that, compared to the 90’s (the last true era where creators actually tried to make some sort of permanent change to characters) (to what effect is another story)) the 2000’s were defined by nostalgia and an unwillingness to change that is still happening. It was far better to revive dead heroes and keep everything light enough that old and new readers could enjoy the stories without upsetting anyone.

Today’s Marvel Comics feels as if each new title was sent through a machine and published with a shiny new finish that says "NEW" or "#1." Nothing seems to have as much substance as it used to. The tightness and community that early Marvel had seems to be gone. There are next to no letters pages anymore, a place people could go to share a community that has been lost to the forums where people are more inclined to say hurtful things and bully instead of celebrate their shared hobby. And the comic’s insistence on mirroring their popular movie counterparts has lead to many changes and stories that only seem to be there because Marvel is chasing their own popularity. The whole universe just feels like one big cookie cutter comic book. And, while DC isn’t doing any better, their problems are markedly different than Marvel’s. Basically, it’d be interesting to compare and contrast the early Marvel Universe to the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe of today and explore just what has made this once-great line feel so plastic.

  • I think this is a great topic. Consider investigating Marvel's financial history as well for more answers; when they went public in 1991 for example. The repercussions are still being felt, both in comics and film. Also, a great deal of cultural shifting was happening in the 1960's as opposed to this last decade; where going to war on two fronts is considered a normal thing. Quite different from a nation dealing with the mandatory draft! Marvel has always laid claim to being in touch with what the culture is participating in; this topic could explore that for answers on Marvel's storytelling quality. – Shaheen 3 years ago
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  • I agree with a lot of that. That's a really interesting observation. However, I have seen a few recent titles (including Ms. Marvel) with the letters pages. It's something they should keep up with to help cultivate the community. – SomeOtherAmazon 3 years ago
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Can Marvel Studios do no wrong?

Recently Marvel Studios hasn’t made a bad film or television show. An average show, maybe, but nothing below 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. If a bad film of theirs were to come out, would it be acclaimed as one? Or do you think the fans would squint their eyes until we existed in a world where Marvel Studios could do no wrong?

  • Different people enjoy different aspects of films, and Marvel seems to know how to appeal to an unprecedented audience. Action, romance, humor, and fantasy blend throughout their movies in a way that even appeals to people who "hate action movies" . This diversity in their movies accompanied by the range of material they have to choose from means they have an excellent formula for success. But people are not as loyal as you suggest. Many people were dissatisfied by the Wolverine origins movie (watch the Honest Trailer on YouTube for a more detailed explanation), as many comic book readers have been with Marvel's depictions of certain comics. – cc327 3 years ago
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  • I kind of feel like Marvel is getting lazy lately. Ant Man and Fantastic Four were terrible, and yet they're still making a second Fantastic Four – SomeOtherAmazon 3 years ago
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