The Marvelous Marvel Multiverse

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The Marvelous Marvel Multiverse

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An eager chatter echoes through the theater as leagues of audience members eagerly note the dimming lights, the classic signal that the movie is about to start. But these are no ordinary movies and that fact is made apparent as the Marvel logo plays and the same hush falls over the crowd as it has for the last ten years. If the lights weren’t so dark, you’d see the familiar sights that every Marvel movie has brought. You’d see the little boy who wears Captain America on his shirt and has told all his friends he is seeing this movie; you’d see the couple that has never failed to attend one of these showings since 2008. This is the Marvel experience. It’s a cinematic universe that, on the surface, appears to have provided a decade of astonishingly marvelous movies, but if you dig deeper you’ll see it has given fans something much more, something more valuable- it has given a world in which people can lose themselves in.

Critics of Marvel have long claimed the movies are generic and meaningless; that they are a bland slice of a pure money-hungry dish served too abundantly that superhero flicks are now synonymous with tedious cash grabs. However what these critics fail to realize is that the sheer amount of Marvel movies has been necessary to construct a universe. Each superhero might have her or his own story to tell, but their lives are all connected in one world so that it is an interconnected web, not a disorient series of movies (such as what DC does). By having all the movies relate to each other, Marvel has construed a whole universe for audiences to fall in. The details, easter eggs, and references have hooked fans into a fandom in which they can lose themselves in to. This immersive viewing has allowed people to put away their problems, if even for a few hours, and live with the characters they idolize. Furthermore, Marvel critics often don’t see how important these characters are to Marvel fans.

It’s the sick boy who sees pre-serum Steve’s bravery and is reminded to keep fighting; it’s the recovering addict who feels hope when he sees Tony change from an egotistical loner to an iconic hero. It’s the little girl who never feels she’s quite strong enough but is inspired by Natasha’s strength that girls are powerful too. These characters and their stories remind us to keep going, even when life’s troubles seem unmountable.  The fact that Marvel movies make heaps of money in box office is not an indicator that they are thoughtless, but a testimony to how much they mean to people.

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” Author Terry Pratchett commented. While everyone is entitled to their opinions regarding Marvel, to deny its positive cultural significance is a cinematic offense.