The Avengers were everywhere in summer 2012. People across the world were enjoying the first big Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover event, including those who had never seen Iron Man or Captain America: The First Avenger.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is bringing in huge box office profits ten years later. However, one common refrain I hear from people about Madness is quite different from what I heard about The Avengers ten years ago. Wanda Maximoffs (Elizabeth Olsen) sudden turn to the dark side, which depended on events from the TV show WandaVision.
The Avengers' interconnected stories played out exclusively on the big screen for the first 11 years of their Marvel Cinematic Universe existence. Except for Edwin Jarvis' cameo appearance in Avengers: Endgame, small-screen programming did not have an impact on theatrical release. For the first time, Marvel Studios is developing not only TV series but ones that will directly feed into the movies. For example, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier now looks like a prologue, not to mention an origin story for Sam Wilsons (Anthony Mackie
This isnt a bad idea in the sense that streaming programs, much like their predecessors the premium cable program, aren't designed to generate significant viewership. Because streamers hide those statistics behind walls of self-contained statistics (minutes watched and other metrics), they're unable to accurately count how many people are watching.
Samba TV (which does not cover all possible viewers) provides a more concrete indication of how widespread WandaVision is. Even if one were to multiply that number four times over (to compensate for the households SambaTV does not cover), that would mean that fewer households tuned into this WandaVision episode than tuned into a random November 2010 episode of Mike & Molly on CBS.
The fact that streaming programming is so limited is already a major red flag for how accessible new Marvel Cinematic Universe films are. Another issue is how something like Multiverse of Madness utilizes another Marvel Cinematic Universe property, such as in Thor: Ragnarok where the character could be used as a standalone subplot, like TChalla/Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War.
Chloe Zhaos Eternals is a largely standalone film with no ties to Disney+ programming, but it is embedded deep into cosmic Marvel lore. For those who like a pulpy unabashedly strange sci-fi tale, Eternals might seem like a ton of massive cosmic horror film with a hook.
Just because a few recent Marvel Cinematic Universe titles dealt with myths that some viewers found impenetrable, does not mean that all Marvel Studios movies are now inaccessible to the general public. For instance, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings became a clunky word-of-mouth success due to the fact that it was largely a standalone film. Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) from Iron Man 3 was able to function as a standalone character even
With Spider-Man: No Way Home, another Marvel Cinematic Universe film, however, also explored the possibilities of other dimensions. This may have led to a film that ended up confusing rather than dazzling moviegoers, but instead, No Way Home became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Men appearing to assist in the fight for the day.
No Way Home was never made inaccessible by building on previous films. Rather, it was a major reason why people loved it.
Although some viewers may be confused by Multiverse of Madness, it does suggest that accessibility difficulties to certain Marvel Cinematic Universe entries are more a matter of individual titles rather than a major issue plaguing every aspect of the series. However, these small-screen entertainment may become a widespread problem if future theatrical productions continue to be prominent.
Similarly, balancing out mythology-heavy adventures like Thor: Love and Thunder or Eternals with smaller-scale adventures, like the original two Ant-Man movies, might be a wise move. If a title with the scope of Spider-Man: Homecoming can complement other Phase Four or Five films, it would help ensure that the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains accessible to all people, not just enthusiastic fans.
Marvel Studios should never overlook the small things that have made their films so popular as they are. Whether it's into the multiverse or television programming, these are the main things that have captivated viewers the most. For instance, the multidimensional aspects of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, would they be as enjoyable if they didn't have that film's heart and subtly detailed animation?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasnt alienated the general public, and current box office statistics suggest it isnt necessarily in immediate danger of alienating the general public. However, some audience members have expressed concern that its possible individual titles in this series might leave average viewers out in the cold. This saga may also spell long-term doom for the franchise.