By Noah Mintie, Current Staff
One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most beloved series just wrapped up, and with its success, the MCU’s future looks bleak.
James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” released May 5 to rather positive reception, garnering a 64 on Metacritic and an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, both critic scores with even higher audience ratings. The movie is fantastic, and a great capper to an already acclaimed series. However, while this makes the present of the MCU look bright, looking farther ahead will reveal that the future of this cinematic juggernaut is dismal.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was built in four phases, and now is in phase five. The first four (and very beginning of phase five) tell a complete story in several chunks. Each phase had one or two purposes in the role of the greater story. The first phase had the difficult task of establishing a universe and beloved characters for the others to build on. Its success with these goals paved the way for phase two, which existed to expand upon the A-tier characters established in phase one, while also kickstarting the stories of B-tier heroes that are less known to the public. Phase two also succeeded at its goal, starting phase three. Phase three was the largest yet, as it simultaneously capped the stories of the A-tier heroes, provided sequels for the B-tier heroes, established a few more B-tier heroes, and created a crossover between everyone in the blockbuster hits “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
After phase three concluded, there was a year-long MCU drought. The MCU had hit a climax, but there were still B-tier characters with incomplete stories. In phase four, these stories were completed, as well as the establishment of new C-tier heroes for the future of the MCU. This is where the problem lies.
The C-tier hero establishment has not gone over well for the MCU recently. The majority of these products are in the form of TV shows that fans claim would be better as full movies. They’re correct. Even if the shows themselves are good, they feel too long and by the end audiences tend to just be tired of that character. That is not good, because these new heroes are what the MCU has to expand on in future installments and team-up movies. Many fans plan to watch the stories surrounding the B-tier characters come to a close, and then ditch the MCU all together.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is the end to its respective series, with James Gunn, the director for all three Guardians movies and the holiday special, leaving Marvel to kickstart DC’s new universe. The reason that Guardians 3 is the MCU’s fifth symphony is because it was the last film in the series of B-tier characters established in the second phase. From now on, the MCU may have the occasional follow-up to their phase three movies, but the majority of its future will be carried by the C-tier heroes. These C-tier heroes are not as popular as those who preceded them, and because most are locked behind hundreds of hours of Disney+ exclusive content, phase five scares away newcomers and old fans who are just ready to move on.
So while the third “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie may appear to be a net-benefit to the MCU’s quality, it may very well mark the end of the public’s interest. From the MCU’s current trajectory, it is a safe assumption that it will transition from a cinematic juggernaut that captures everyone’s interests to a niche bordering on the lines of obscurity.
(Images are official publicity material.)