I confess that I am not a Marvel comics reader. I did not grow up with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America as my heroes. However, they are now. MCU has fully captivated my inner child since I first saw Iron Man in 2008. I did not jump on the bandwagon right away as far as the other movies. I didn’t see Thor or Captain America in the theaters (something I regret) but when Avengers was coming out I decided that I needed to see the others in order to fully appreciate the movie. I’ve been kind of obsessed ever since.
The first thing that I find important is to have the right casting. One of the main complaints from the Prequels is that some of the casting decisions were off and that hurt the movies. The casting for MCU has been really well done. They went out and found the right actors for the roles. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. His ability to fully embrace the character makes the movie more believable and enjoyable. Chris Hemsworth initially lured me in to the Thor movie but the chemistry between him and Tom Hiddleson is what keeps me coming back. I understand from the comics perspective that Hiddleson’s portrayal of Loki doesn’t always match up but I think it is easier to forgo that for fans because of how well the two actors fit together. Chris Evans’ ability to be a humble down home sexy is the perfect combination for what I want to see in a Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury continues to show the brilliance of the casting decisions. MCU also had the guts to admit to a bad casting decision with the Hulk by recasting until they found the right fit for the series.
Star Wars needs to do this. They need to be able to find the right people for the roles. Star Wars has always tended to find some low key actors and see what they can build with them so it is my hope that they can find the right actors who have the right chemistry. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford had that but I never felt like the Prequel actors really meshed well.
MCU has also used secondary love stories well. There is a love story present in each of the MCU movies but they don’t take over the movie. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts dance around each other for 2 movies before finally admitting anything. We are teased with Captain America and Peggy Carter but the main focus of the film is developing Cap as the first Avenger. Thor and Jane is probably the weakest in ignoring the love story aspect but it is an integral part of Thor’s motivation and that motivation would need to be something pretty special to lure him away from Sif and his kingdom. I didn’t mind their love story being more in the forefront than the others because of those reasons. Even in the Avengers there appears to be a strong connection between Black Widow and Hawk Eye but we never see anything. I believe a love story is necessary and expected in a movie like Episode VII because of the precedent in Star Wars to include one. The love story shouldn’t be the only part of the plot though. It is weird to me that some of the fantasy stories I read when the series end pretty much all I can say is “Oh so she ended up with him.” That shouldn’t be the focus and I believe MCU has done a good job of giving us a lot with a little. The OT also did a good job of playing Luke/Han/Leia in a love triangle but the PT just continually shoved Padmé and Anakin in our faces for two movies and it wasn’t pleasant. I do not want to see the strong female character sacrificed for the purpose of the love story. (Minor Hobbit 2 Spoilers) I feel like Peter Jackson gave us this pretty cool female elf badass and then belittled her by having her involved in a weird love triangle between another elf and a dwarf. MCU has done a good job of not putting the strong females into that type of situation but still including love stories and I’d like to see Star Wars take notice of that.
I enjoy how MCU has kind of gone backwards on the spin-offs. They produced several single hero movies first and then combined them. Iron Man is on his third. Thor just completed his second. Captain America’s second is up next. I think they’re doing a good job of spacing the movies out to keep the fans interested and still involved in the universe. Star Wars isn’t going to do this. Disney has already made it clear that we’re getting Episode VII first and then possibly spin-offs. I would like to see them look at how well it has worked for the Marvel movies and copy them. Star Wars will need to make the right choices on who to do a spin-off movie for. The heroes need to be compelling and interesting enough to handle a movie of their own. I’d really like to see them move on to the newer character as opposed to going back to oldies (like Han and Boba Fett). I’m not saying I wouldn’t go see a movie about them (I’m definitely obsessed enough to go to just about anything they put out) but I would like to see them aim for the future generation. MCU is a vast place with many characters just like Star Wars. They have made good decisions on who they started with to bring in fans like me who weren’t involved in the comics.
Along the same lines of a spin-off I’m going to throw in here their use of the tv show Agents of Shield. Marvel is expertly using a live action tv show to fill in the gaps between movies and keep our attention on their universe. I know the geek culture seems mixed on the show but I am definitely enjoying tuning in each week. Other universes have also utilized live action tv shows and it is kind of weird that Star Wars has never done that. Their animated attempts have been successful proving that the fanbase is there so I think with the new movies it will be time to take a page from Marvel and include a tv show spin off as well.
There are many more things that Marvel has done right with their superhero movies and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! The last thing I’m going to mention is something or someone to tie them all together. I must say that I became a fan of Agent Coulson when I first saw him in Iron Man. It seems silly because he has such a small part but I began to seek him out in the other movies and he quickly became one of my favorite things in each movie. For me, he was the thing that tied the movies together. The thing that really sunk in how everything was happening in the same universe and real people were also dealing with the situation, not just the heroes. Star Wars has the ability to do this and has somewhat of a precedent for it with R2-D2 and C-3PO. I’d like to see them continue to do this. It doesn’t have to be the droids but I would like to see them remind us that everything is happening in the same universe.
Let me know your thoughts! What else can Star Wars learn from MCU?
5 thoughts to “What Star Wars Can Learn From Marvel”
I think the incredible success Disney has had with the Marvel movies is the reason they decided to invest in the Lucasfilm franchises – it has literally provided a roadmap for how to create, mold, and develop familiar characters and tropes into this incredibly rich on-screen universe. For Star Wars, the universe already exists!
Also, for all of the #SWEU fans out there, Star Wars has already followed this roadmap. It was called the New Jedi Order. It utilized familiar characters, expanded and developed non-film EU characters, and introduced new characters who would have a lasting effect on SWEU (Jagged Fel, etc). More importantly, I think the versions of the Solo kids everyone remembers are the NJO versions – not the FOTJ or Swarm War variations.
Looking back, it’s easy to remember nitpicking the NJO series when it came out, but the vision and story line they adhered to over those five or six years was admirable and worked out really well. I know it’s a long shot, but it would be fun if the new films played around in that particular sandbox. The Marvel movies show just how that could be done.
I loved the NJO, but Star Wars lost a lot of fans during that time so I’m not sure they’re going to be willing to go that route. I liked having a different enemy other than the Sith and the Empire but I’m not so convinced it will work on the big screen the same way it did in the books and with people’s expectations.
I really like the idea of a non-Sith enemy for the new films, and I do think it would be very confusing to casual fans if there are just new Sith Lords popping up for the new films.
The early-NJO Stackpole books, with Garqi, Dantooine, and Ithor, were terrifying. Seeing something like that on screen would be amazing.
Nice Mirax icon!
Lessons to learn from Marvel? How to manage, promote, and grow two (or three) distinct continuities at the same time.
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