Why The MCU’s Multiverse Saga Just Isn’t Working

Why The MCU’s Multiverse Saga Just Isn’t Working

The weakest angle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, at the moment, the Multiverse Saga that started with Spider-Man: No Way Home. The Tom Holland vehicle managed to carefully weave the past and present together neatly within a three hour time frame. However, even that film has it’s problems as there were simply too many players, leading to characters like The Lizard and Sandman getting short-changed when it came to any sort of development. Unfortunately, the Multiverse Saga hasn’t gotten any better since Spider-Man: No Way Home.

There’s a clear disconnect in storytelling as most of the films in Marvel’s Phase four don’t have the same clear direction that was present in the first three phases of the MCU. One of the key components for this is the lack of personal stories that allows audiences to connect with the main character in these films. It doesn’t help that there’s simply too many characters that appear within these multiverse stories, which makes them come across as unfocused. With the Multiverse Saga still in its infancy, perhaps there’s still room for improvement but it is still worth investigating why the MCU’s Multiverse Saga isn’t working now.

The Focus On Personal Stories Have Disappeared In The MCU’s Multiverse Saga

Why The MCU’s Multiverse Saga Just Isn’t Working

The Multiverse Saga is nothing new as alternate dimensions have been explored in both DC and Marvel. Comics such as Old Man Logan or Superman: Red Son were praised for their bold choices in storytelling, but the key component behind them is that they explored personal narratives with their characters, adding new depths to them. Spider-Man: No Way Home does a great job at keeping the focus on Peter Parker, even though there are points where the Green Goblin stole the spotlight from the masked vigilante. Parker’s journey goes into overdrive following the death of Aunt May, and that powerful scene remains the best to come out of the Multiverse Saga thanks to the connection audiences have developed for these characters.

However, there’s no alternate stories that Marvel is truly exploring here. The purpose of the multiverse is that it explores a “what if” scenario, but there isn’t a unique take in the journeys of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man. It’s mainly about these characters being immersed into a chaotic situation, with a ton of characters who don’t get much screen time to establish themselves.

There were plenty of interesting layers in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quatumania, but the protagonists themselves lacked a personal story that carried the film forward. In fact, Ant-Man feels like a side character in his own film because the focus is mainly on Janet, Cassie, and Kang. With simply too many characters to focus on, the MCU’s Multiverse Saga sacrificed the opportunity to tell personal stories that add dimension to these Marvel heroes.

Too Many Characters, Not Enough Time

Why The MCU’s Multiverse Saga Just Isn’t Working

The multiverse stories contain plenty of interesting side characters that could’ve provided a unique perspective on the world of superheroes. The Multiverse of Madness has interesting alternates such as The Illumanti, Defender Strange, and Dark Strange, yet the film never dives into these personalities. The same goes for Quatumania and  No Way Home, where characters are forced to be short-changed because there’s simply not enough time to focus on everyone.

Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Electro greatly benefited from their returns in No Way Home; however, The Lizard and Sandman almost felt pointless because there’s never any development with their characters. Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire‘s development also feels clunky because the film spent more time spotlighting the villains, leaving the two Peter Parkers to resort to verbal exposition about their lives. However, Garfield saving MJ was a strong callback that gave his character an element of closure.

The MCU’s Multiverse Saga almost feels unfocused as the purpose should be to explore alternate versions of characters we know and love; however, the focus is geared towards throwing the title names into different worlds and not much else;, even these new worlds don’t get much exploration. With the focus on the multiverse, many of these stories would be as a mini-series that explored the alternate universe and the inner workings of how each dimension. Marvel needs to either strip down these stories to make sure that the main character was the focus, not distract the narrative with side characters that barely get any screen time.

The Stakes Of The Films Have Gone Down Drastically

Why The MCU’s Multiverse Saga Just Isn’t Working

The biggest issue with the MCU’s Multiverse Saga is that the stakes have disappeared. Alternate versions of Spider-Man or Doctor Strange means that death doesn’t particularly matter since there’s an alternate version alive and well who could take their place. Multiverse of Madness has some fun with this by pitting two of the Strange characters against one another, but there’s not much exploration beyond that.

Since we don’t know much about the alternate universes, the rules of the multiverse are unclear. It can be great keeping the mysteries of a strange new place secret for storytelling purposes, but Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange aren’t all that interested in making the world anything more than a cool visual spectacle. Since death has little meaning in the stakes, the danger in the multiverse is undefined, therefore it’s hard to connect with the journey when it lacks any meaningful substance.

READ NEXT: Why Spider-Man: No Way Home Would Have Been Better As A Mini-Series

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