Thor, Shang-Chi, The Hulk, and Ironman. Everyone has their favorite Marvel movie. It’s not unusual to have a heated debate over one’s favorite hero, recounting the plot and heroics of the character. The Marvel fan base includes people of all ages and almost everyone can find a hero to relate to.
Superheroes and villains tend to have a personal crisis that determines their character’s behavior. Regardless of their situation, we see how they overcome pain in either good ways or bad ways which will lead to their hero or villain status. These stories also touch on societal issues, such as prejudice and stereotypes in X-Men. The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) continues important discussions like this in their films, including Black Panther. It was the first big-budget superhero movie with a sizable black cast and an African-American director, Ryan Coogler. Now in 2021, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has a notable Asian cast which only increases the diversity in the MCU films. Women have also had strong leading roles in many Marvel films, such as Captain Marvel, and will likely continue this trend.
The MCU may also play an important role in a child’s upbringing because of its entertainment appeal and morality exposure. Superheroes and villains have been a staple in children’s lives since the 1930s comic book surge and 1980s video game take over. Children are able to see themselves cosplaying these characters from the pages and as seen on the big screen. They are able to take on these different roles and understand the different emotions and actions of each character. Whether it’s confronting your father Wenwu or avenging your mother Ying Li, these films show how heroes and villains choose to channel their thoughts into actions.
I had the opportunity to speak to Zayyan Farooqi, Co-Founder of and Digital Media Manager for ComicBook Debate. Farooqi and his brothers have accumulated over 415,000 subscribers to their ComicBook Debate YouTube channel, which doubles as a forum for their pop culture debates and a vlog.
Farooqi first gave his thoughts on Disney’s multi-billion dollar corporate takeover of Marvel, which many feared would dilute Marvel’s identity. “I think Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is a double-edged sword because, on one hand, we’ve seen the fruits of having a cohesive plan and structure in place with the current MCU. But on the other side of that argument, because of that, you tend to see a lot of similarities in the films. Dubbed online as the “MCU Formula” which many, if not most of the films tend to follow. It creates a feeling of lack of diversity in style and tone through the films making them somewhat forgettable in the long run.” Farooqi cited Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War as examples of Marvel movies which managed to break the mold.
The longevity of the brand is in part due to the cleverness of the endless merchandise franchise and their revolutionary ideas in cinema. Stuffed animals, action figures, clothing, stationery, etc are decorated with Marvel characters on them, which only makes the MCU even more common in our day-to-day lives. Despite the separate stories, they all fall under one umbrella. Farooqi, for one, feels that “Phase 4 of the MCU is starting off pretty strong with not only the Disney+ shows but also with their films such as Shang-Chi, and with Eternals and Spider-Man No Way Home on the way this year, the hype around Marvel is pretty huge.” The MCU successfully implemented all of its films into one cinematic universe. The cultural influence of the MCU has not gone unnoticed. From baby names to a seemingly infinite amount of merchandise, MCU has left its mark on pop culture. Its impact is here to stay and may only increase in the future.