There’s something missing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s not just the mutants. New York’s been blown to bits, Thor became unworthy AND then worthy again, Captain America saved the world from Nazis and the Avengers assembled – twice! Yet despite the explosions, heart-racing action and Robert Downey Jr.’s exceptional timing, the soul of Marvel Comics remains hidden.
Marvel first set itself apart by creating flawed, recognizable characters that gave readers an instant empathetic connection – a hallmark to which the company has stayed true. Spider-Man isn’t interesting because of his powers, he’s interesting because he’s Peter Parker, a nerd granted incredible powers who learns that with those powers comes responsibility. The X-Men have always been a metaphor for marginalized communities’ struggles for acceptance.
The most recent films adapted from DC Comics have made questionable choices that have sometimes felt at odds with the characters. Batman is seldom as unrelentingly serious as he is in Nolan’s films; Superman would rather take a fight to another planet before harming a single innocent or raining down massive amounts of destruction upon a city. The Marvel Cinematic Universe films have yet to let the company’s guiding spirit shine.