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After this, which exciting new Tut University course are you looking forwards to the most?

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Author Topic: Why Marvel is Destroying America: Taught by Professor Tutweiller  (Read 2110 times)

Diego Tutweiller

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I've been reading everything! I was going to respond to something about Deadpool but I forgot. Basically I was gonna defend the movie for having some memorable meta humor that didn't fall on the "Shit, did I leave the stove on" spectrum. Maybe something else too but the format is too fucky for me to post anything more right now.

Thanks for reading. Also, Cutler graciously allowed me to edit his comment (while maintaining its comedic integrity), so feel free to post.
Haha, thanks to both you and Cutler for that. Past me giving Deadpool some credit, I was just going to say that while I agree that Marvel is not even close to the pinnacle of acting, it's also not horrible. I think the problem is more that many of the characters just don't have much personality. Shockingly, the best performance is given by Robert Downey Jr. whose character actually has personality. No matter how much Marvel is recycling their act now, I'll still always love the first Iron Man. Also, action films generally tend not to have as many character moments so it's not even completely the writers' fault. They're pretty much forced into writing a shit load of action in these movies, that's what sells the tickets after all.

If these films weren't having the impact they do, I wouldn't care this much. But again, the point of this class is to detail why I, personally, think Marvel is destroying American film culture (and maybe culture in general). When people-- kids and adults alike-- think that these performances are worthy of any recognition, something is wrong. The characters are written poorly and the actors simply don't care enough to try to elevate the material.

There are action movies that have had good performances, Paasche. I'd even name the first Iron Man among them. But the vast majority of Marvel's output is trash when it comes to acting. As for the action itself... well... I'll cover that somewhat in the next installment.

Diego Tutweiller

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Welcome back to another scintillating class at The Diego Tutweiller School For Kids Who Can't Read Good (And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too). Today we'll be examining a slightly more controversial topic than we've looked at so far in this class. This might be where the line between "fact" and "opinion" begins to blur, but you fine fellows have stuck with me this far, so I say let's dive right in. Brace yourself for...

Lesson #3: The So-Good-It's-Bad Effect

Now, I know what you're thinking. "So good it's bad? Diego, have you lost your fucking mind?" But bear with me. When I say "so good it's bad," I don't mean that the product is genuinely good. I mean that in an effort to make their movies cool, the writers crammed in so many things that they overloaded their story. Maybe some of the concepts here were genuinely good. Maybe they had potential. But when they're tossed together in one big mess, they lose whatever good qualities they may have had.

Consider, for a minute, the cast of characters in the Avengers movies.



Let's ignore the fact that they're superheroes for a second and focus on what they really are. Who are the Avengers? Well, let's see...

We've got a Norse God. A man in a futuristic suit of armor that can fly. A man who can turn into a big green monster. A Russian assassin. A sharpshooter. A man who was literally frozen in time before being thawed and brought back in the 21st century. A witch. The incredible shrinking Paul Rudd. The list goes on.

The question I pose to you is... what ties these characters together? They have no shared origin. They have no common backstory. There's a loosely constructed plot device centered around a McGuffin called the "tesseract," but its effects on the story have been so drastically inconsistent, it's clearly just a plot device to explain these people's origins. The truth is, nothing ties these characters together, save for the fact that they've appeared in comic books alongside one another and audiences know them from that.

So imagine that those comics never existed. Imagine that Marvel is a nonentity. And imagine that you're a Hollywood producer and someone walks up to you and pitches you a movie with the cast of characters I just listed above.

You'd think they were an idiot.

Now, Marvel has attempted to circumvent this sensory overload by establishing their characters one by one in individual films. More power to them. The end result, I'm sad to say, remains the same. While movies like Captain America and Iron Man function rather well on their own, once these characters are all united in one two-and-a-half-hour film, everything falls apart. There are just too many things going on. "So good it's bad," I might say. It's like watching a movie made by a six-year-old who changes the narrative based on which action figures are within his immediate vicinity. Nazis? Sure! Aliens? Who cares! Dinosaurs? Well, we haven't gotten there yet, but never say never!

This is compounded by how incredibly successful these films have been. Marvel knows they've got a cash cow on their hands, and in order to keep milking it, they can't kill any characters off-- especially not fan favorites like Iron Man. So as they keep releasing films about individual characters' origin stories, and then move them into the big ol' Avengers films, the cast becomes increasingly cluttered. Nothing makes sense. All of these people are running around with nebulous backstories and nonsensical superpowers, and it becomes (pardon my French) a total clusterfuck. I thought we'd reached peak character density with Age of Ultron's introduction of Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver, but Civil War proved me wrong by adding Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Black Panther to the mix. It's overwhelming.

You may be wondering by this point why I've spent so much time criticizing the MCU and not, for instance, the X-Men films. Well, that's because the X-Men franchise, like it or not, is a far more intelligent series of films. All of the characters may have different, weird superpowers, but at least they all stem from what is more or less a common origin: mutation. At least an explanation is attempted. We aren't seeing any magic Nazi-alien-dinosaurs in those films any time soon, I promise you that. But when it comes to the Avengers films, these characters are so integrated into the cultural mainstream that you barely even realize that the films include both Nazis and aliens. What other film franchise can lay claim to such a monumental accomplishment in the field of overstimulation?



Oh... oh God, I'm gonna be sick... *huuuuuurk*

So how, then, has Marvel so expertly saturated their films with what can only be described as a plethora of nonsense? The answer is simple: comic books. These characters have been previously established in comics, so audiences and critics alike fail to even consider the fundamental questions I'm asking in this thread. They write it off as a simple adaptation of the source material, and don't bother to ask whether the source material is intelligently written or not. Sorry comic book fans, but I hold movies to a slightly higher standard than I do comics. Things like Harry Potter and John Carter (and yes, The Avengers) might work in print, but when translated to the big screen... it just... doesn't... work.

Based off of the name of this class, your logical question now should be "Diego, that's all well and good, but how is this destroying American culture?" Well, this now ties into what will be a recurring theme in these little mini-essays: restraint. I'm starting to think that Marvel may have killed the concepts of buildup and climax in blockbusters-- and if they're not dead, they're certainly in a coma. By using its comics as a platform to jump into film from, Marvel has successfully circumvented the very concept of "restraint" in filmmaking. And it never ceases to amaze me how unaware people are of this plain and simple fact. But hey, apparently so long as the movies are "faithful to the source material," anything goes! ... Even if that source material is fucking stupid. If you need any further evidence that superhero fatigue is a real thing, look no further than this.

It's a sight to behold, isn't it? These writers were so preoccupied with asking whether or not they could that they never stopped to ask if they should. You can deny it all you want, but in a few years' time, the proof will be self-evident. Marvel has murdered restraint. They can film an anthropomorphic raccoon and his buddy the talking tree, and nobody gives a crap. Oh, what am I saying? That's such a hilarious juxtaposition!

When filmmakers can do unlimited things with CGI and budgets, they show no restraint. That is a simple fact. Don't believe me? Ask George Lucas. These films will become more cluttered, more overstuffed, louder and more colorful, until finally people will be showing up at theaters and slapping down eight bucks just to watch two hours of nonstop fight sequences.

Oh wait... that already happened. It's called The Hobbit Part III.

Class dismissed.
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Danny Darkoh

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lol ok.

Diego Tutweiller

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lol ok.

I'm trying to do a scientific analysis here, so if you have a problem with my conclusions, please say so.

Danny Darkoh

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lol ok.

I'm trying to do a scientific analysis here, so if you have a problem with my conclusions, please say so.
I have no problem. You have a valid point, but I just think you're being a bit overdramatic and dogmatic about it.

Danny Darkoh

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I must say though, I think it'd be ridiculously fascinating to see you expose these analysis' (analsyi?) to the general public, see how they react. Especially some people I personally know.
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Diego Tutweiller

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lol ok.

I'm trying to do a scientific analysis here, so if you have a problem with my conclusions, please say so.
I have no problem. You have a valid point, but I just think you're being a bit overdramatic and dogmatic about it.

It's true, I've been known to overdramatize things, but if it helps, I do honestly believe that we're headed toward some sort of cultural calamity, so I'm not exaggerating from my perspective. Now, I was expecting you to say that this lesson could be interpreted as an argument against superhero anthologies in general, which it very well might be. Still, that's not the case I'm trying to make. This is an assassination of Marvel and Marvel only.

Diego Tutweiller

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I must say though, I think it'd be ridiculously fascinating to see you expose these analysis' (analsyi?) to the general public, see how they react. Especially some people I personally know.

The goal I have in mind here is to construct an argument against these films that no reasonable person could deny the validity of. Granted, that's a high bar. Might be impossible. But dammit, I'm gonna try.

Danny Darkoh

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lol ok.

I'm trying to do a scientific analysis here, so if you have a problem with my conclusions, please say so.
I have no problem. You have a valid point, but I just think you're being a bit overdramatic and dogmatic about it.

It's true, I've been known to overdramatize things, but if it helps, I do honestly believe that we're headed toward some sort of cultural calamity, so I'm not exaggerating from my perspective. Now, I was expecting you to say that this lesson could be interpreted as an argument against superhero anthologies in general, which it very well might be. Still, that's not the case I'm trying to make. This is an assassination of Marvel and Marvel only.
Really though, this is an argument against all things superhero and comic book. I mean, if you're complaining about restraint and such, they're all guilty parties. Simple as that. You've acknowledged that there are exceptions, but, the whole pantheon of this specific culture, is built around stuff that you hate and eviscerate in your analysis. I don't have a problem with this. I acknowledge it.

I just have a different attitude when it comes to all this.

Danny Darkoh

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I must say though, I think it'd be ridiculously fascinating to see you expose these analysis' (analsyi?) to the general public, see how they react. Especially some people I personally know.

The goal I have in mind here is to construct an argument against these films that no reasonable person could deny the validity of. Granted, that's a high bar. Might be impossible. But dammit, I'm gonna try.
So... You're basically trying to prove everyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong?

Diego Tutweiller

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I must say though, I think it'd be ridiculously fascinating to see you expose these analysis' (analsyi?) to the general public, see how they react. Especially some people I personally know.

The goal I have in mind here is to construct an argument against these films that no reasonable person could deny the validity of. Granted, that's a high bar. Might be impossible. But dammit, I'm gonna try.
So... You're basically trying to prove everyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong?

Not wrong per se. I just want some recognition of these legitimate points from people who actually like these films. Dommy made me angry because he wouldn't even hear arguments against superhero movies. Right and wrong are not the issues here. But these movies are so ridiculously popular these days, any criticism of them is met with derision. I want to show people that there are perfectly valid arguments against these films and the impact they've had on society.

CT_Sexybeast

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It must be so stressful to be Diego. I can't imagine worrying about Marvel films to such a degree. Oh well, it's certainly interesting to read.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Deep down... you all know I'm right.

Kale Pasta

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I must say though, I think it'd be ridiculously fascinating to see you expose these analysis' (analsyi?) to the general public, see how they react. Especially some people I personally know.

The goal I have in mind here is to construct an argument against these films that no reasonable person could deny the validity of. Granted, that's a high bar. Might be impossible. But dammit, I'm gonna try.
So... You're basically trying to prove everyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong?

Not wrong per se. I just want some recognition of these legitimate points from people who actually like these films. Dommy made me angry because he wouldn't even hear arguments against superhero movies. Right and wrong are not the issues here. But these movies are so ridiculously popular these days, any criticism of them is met with derision. I want to show people that there are perfectly valid arguments against these films and the impact they've had on society.
I mean, I agree with a fair amount of your critiques (although I tend to enjoy these movies as action fluff) I just don't agree with your premise. People have been making noise about the end of culture since culture has existed. Hell, people probably said the same thing about Star Wars 40 years ago. Marvel movies may not be great films but they're entertaining and people enjoy them. While I won't lie and deny that some of the adoration I've seen for these movies isn't over the top to an insane degree, at the same time I understand why people looking for action entertainment would be really into these movies. I think it's just hard to remember sometimes that not everyone watches movies with the same critical eye that people on here have. Most people just watch movies to have a good time in those two hours they're in the theater.
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John Tyler

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The only thing of relevance in this discussion about Marvel is the movies they are currently making, so the same applies to DC.
So why is Deadpool being discussed alongside the MCU films when Deadpool doesn't even take place in the same universe?
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH(etc)
Did John actually write that? Lol...
Wow, my wording of that sentence was a horror show of awful. I was trying to get across that when you're talking about Deadpool alongside the MCU films, it ended up giving me the feeling that you believe Deadpool took place in the same universe as the MCU, when it doesn't since it takes place in the new X-Men continuity that was created in Days of Future Past.

If all of this comes across as stupid, I apologize and will politely shut up in regards to this matter.
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John Tyler

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Btw, I voted for Classical Literature (I was hoping Why The-Film-That-Must-Not-Be-Named is the Worst Movie Ever Made would be on there).

Diego Tutweiller

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I mean, I agree with a fair amount of your critiques (although I tend to enjoy these movies as action fluff) I just don't agree with your premise. People have been making noise about the end of culture since culture has existed. Hell, people probably said the same thing about Star Wars 40 years ago. Marvel movies may not be great films but they're entertaining and people enjoy them. While I won't lie and deny that some of the adoration I've seen for these movies isn't over the top to an insane degree, at the same time I understand why people looking for action entertainment would be really into these movies. I think it's just hard to remember sometimes that not everyone watches movies with the same critical eye that people on here have. Most people just watch movies to have a good time in those two hours they're in the theater.

Yeah, that's fair. People have been crying wolf about this kind of thing for a long, long time now, so I don't expect everyone to agree with me on how big the repercussions of this could potentially be. I will say this, though-- the difference between the overall quality of big-budget films and the amount of money they take in has never been this disproportionate before. Over the past sixteen years, blockbuster filmmaking has gone through a remarkably negative transformation. And with regards to your last sentence... I'd argue that most people are idiots.

Wow, my wording of that sentence was a horror show of awful. I was trying to get across that when you're talking about Deadpool alongside the MCU films, it ended up giving me the feeling that you believe Deadpool took place in the same universe as the MCU, when it doesn't since it takes place in the new X-Men continuity that was created in Days of Future Past.

If all of this comes across as stupid, I apologize and will politely shut up in regards to this matter.

No, I understand what you're saying. But I'm not thinking in terms of "cinematic universes" here so much as I'm considering the broader category of franchises that Marvel is currently churning out. That includes the MCU, the X-Men films, and maybe the Amazing Spider-Man movies (though it seems we're not getting another one of those again, thank God, so I may just ignore them). The title of this thread is in the present-tense, remember, so I'm not going to go back and pick apart something like the 1990 Captain America. I've set myself a statue of limitations here. While I no longer need to really care about something like Affleck's Daredevil due to its slow slide into irrelevance, I am definitely going to be attacking Deadpool-- the highest-grossing R-rated film ever, which came out this year.

You might end up noticing, though, that this is primarily directed towards the MCU and not the X-Men films (excluding Deadpool)... as will be evidenced by the next installment.

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Diego Tutweiller

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Are y'all ready? Buckle up for another class at Tutweiller's School for Gifted Youngsters! Hey, that joke was actually relevant this time. Because our next lesson is called...

Lesson #4: Thematically Bland & Artistically Gross

All right, by now you're probably wondering "Diego, this thread is supposed to be an attack on Marvel in general. When are you gonna go after those X-Men movies you make fun of so often?" Well, you know what? Never. Never, at least, on the level that I deride the MCU. That's because the X-Men films have something these crap-ass Thor movies don't: A theme.

I love that the X-Men franchise is relevant to this thread. I mean, technically Marvel is still making X-Men movies. Sure, they're nothing like the ones they were making back in the early 2000s, but this year's double-punch of Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse proves that this franchise ain't dead yet. Sure, it's been poisoned and polluted by the same shallow humor, overstuffed stories, and poor acting that have filled the Avengers movies since their beginning, but the concepts are still there. Which means that X-Men, X2, and all the rest are fair game.

You won't see me attack them though. I may crap on The Last Stand and First Class fairly often, but as dumb as those films are, they're completely outperformed in the stupidity department by the MCU. Because generally, the X-Men movies are about something. Sure, you've got your Origins: Wolverine thrown in with the mix, but for the first two movies at least, this franchise tried to make a statement. People have called the X-Men movies a metaphor for gay rights, but to me they have an overarching theme of acceptance in general. Our main characters are being persecuted, and their two leaders have distinct ideologies that come from (dare I say it?) understandable perspectives. Is it a little obvious sometimes? Well, yeah. No shit. But effort was put in to make these movies mean something, and it overall works rather well. Among their many accomplishments, the X-Men movies show that even "bad guys" can be sympathetic.

What's the moral of the story in Thor: The Dark World again?

Yeah... right. To aid in our understanding of this, I've devised a little chart of how meaningful Marvel films are from a thematic perspective. Before anyone freaks out, this is not some sort of indicator of objective quality. This is just my attempt to logically analyze the value of the themes present in this handful of superhero films. Even someone who loves Thor 2 probably couldn't deny the validity of this. Let's have a look.



Things to notice:

- Thor 2, Disney's Marvel's The Avengers: Age of the Return of Ultron, and TASM 2 are on the far left end of the spectrum, signifying a lack of thematic weight. I recognize that these are movies, and it's not like I can assign numerical values to the quality of their themes, but unless I'm missing something... they have none. Neville might try arguing something with regards to TASM 2, but he'll undoubtedly be reading too much into it. Age of Ultron does attempt something with regards to the dangers of technology, but it fails more miserably than Transcendence at the end. Besides, no movie with the line "Ultron cleared out. Used the internet as an escape hatch" can or should be taken seriously. As for Thor 2... lol.

- I gave Deadpool some credit, probably more than it deserves, for supposedly trying to mock the MCU. It's not like the studio behind both this and the MCU is going to offer up anything more than surface-level criticisms of their own movies, so yeah, needless to say it doesn't succeed.

- Though I dislike The Winter Soldier, I gave it the benefit of the doubt (again, undeservedly). It tackles a few modern issues that elevate it above typical Marvel fare. The end result is still bad for a variety of reasons, but we won't get into that here. I'm trying to look at these as objectively as possible from a thematic perspective only.

- The original Iron Man is a good movie. And unsurprisingly, it's got a little more going on to it than explosions and aliens. I remember very vividly the moment where a bomb lands next to RDJ, literally with his name on it. Hey, a bit of situational irony! That's something you don't typically get in superhero films. It works. Credit where credit is due.

- The X-Men movies, like I said, are among the most thematically strong of Marvel's output. Don't know if I need to explain this further. The Last Stand actually adds some interesting things to the discussion, namely the inclusion of the "cure," but altogether it's weighed down by Ratner's love for things that go boom. The rather intelligent message of the first two movies takes a backseat to action in the third installment.

- Lastly, we have Raimi's Spider-Man films. Personally, I think these are Marvel's best movies, and it's no coincidence that they also land on the far right end of the spectrum (see the correlation I'm getting at here?). "With great power comes great responsibility" is so entrenched in our culture nowadays, we sort of forget how brilliant a line it is. Not to go full Neville, but Christ, it's practically a political argument for interventionism. The theme is then continued in Spider-Man 2, when Parker is carried over the heads of the train passengers after saving their lives. Does TASM 2 have anything close to that, thematically or even from a visual perspective? I really don't think so.



Zack Snyder wishes he could construct a scene like this...

What I'm getting at here is that for discerning moviegoers, sometimes flashy action ain't enough. Sometimes you need a little meat to your movie. But Marvel's starting to give up on that concept, as you can see by the chronology of the movies on my handy little graph. Slowly, they're moving away from anything that's challenging thematically. Thor 2 might be the current low, but how long before they've beaten it? Probably not long. Even fan favorites like Guardians of the Galaxy don't have much going on in the "using your brain" department. What's the message of that movie? "Teamwork = Good?" Damn, I haven't seen such a radical stance since Kingsmen dared to attack the wildly popular Westboro Baptist Church!

A movie doesn't need to have a strong theme to be successful. A lot of my favorite movies aren't particularly complex thematically. But it helps. Especially when your movies end up catering to the lowest common denominator without it. It's not like the X-Men movies were some kind of intellectual treatise on the persecution of homosexuals, masked by layer after layer of metaphors. They were kinda obvious. But they did mean something. So if you ever walk out of a movie like Age of Ultron or Civil War wondering what that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach is, it might be due to this. The MCU had promise at one point, but it has devolved into film after film of vapid action, devoid of purpose, without rhyme or reason, serving up the visuals while paying only the bare minimum attention to the themes and plot that drive them.

The only message your corporate masters at Marvel want to give you now is this:



See you next class.
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Plague Cutler

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Captain America Civil War attempts to have political statement, despite how hypocritical and idiotic it was.  That's something at least.
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