Spider-Man Does Nothing: Let’s Talk About Marvel’s In-Movie Trailers

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I think I created this blog at one point to talk about movies and that never really happened, so let’s give it another shot.

Here’s a thought I had on Captain America: Civil War that was a bit longer than a tweet, and yes there will be spoilers below this point.

One of the bigger criticisms of the Marvel films is that the studio no longer lets them stand on their own. Civil War being the latest example of this which feels less like Captain America 3 and more like Marvel Adventure 13, with each new movie relying more and more on the ones that came before it and giving you preview of future movies to come. These bits used to be relegated to a post credits sequence and were always looked forward to.

But then, Avengers: Age of Ultron happened, featuring a now infamous scene of Thor taking a quick vacation from the plot to lay pipe for some other Marvel movie (Thor 3? Avengers 3?) we’ll be seeing a few years down the line, which involves Thor grabbing his buddy Stellan Skarsgard and heading to a remote cave where he takes a bath and sees the infinity stones, then hops back into Age of Ultron.

My 100% guess for why this scene exists is that Marvel realized they couldn’t make two to three more movies with a rock McGuffin and so put it on Joss Whedon’s shoulders to quickly give some infinity stone weight and explanation to Earth bound Marvel characters.

There were rumors that one of the reasons Whedon left Marvel was because of his lack of control over Age of Ultron. And with scenes like Thor’s bath time it’s clear why. But it didn’t have to be that way and Civil War gives us a look at what we could have had in place of the exposition jacuzzi.

Spider-Man adds nothing to the story of Civil War. He doesn’t affect the story, he doesn’t affect the characters and he doesn’t go through any significant change of his own. He’s introduced for a fight and then he’s gone. Everything he does is clearly a setup for Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now I really want to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. Every scene he’s in is fun. The character is charming and the way he interacts with the other MCU heroes is exciting. When Marvel charged the Russos with the task of setting up future Marvel films they made it fun to watch.

Black Panther, too! Ultimately does not add much to the story as a whole. His goal is to track down Bucky, and when he finally does, he overhears some stuff that changes his mind. But was interesting as hell, well performed, had an original fighting style that looked like nothing else in the MCU. These characters are essentially back door trailers, but they’re effective trailers.

Since we don’t know the payoff to the Thor/infinity stones set up yet, it’s hard to suggest a better way it could have been done. But Whedon did know the end goal, and instead of working out something better, he shoved the Marvel sanctioned scene into a space it did not belong and then stood behind confused and upset viewers going, “I know, right?”

This is how Marvel is going to be making films now. Setups and payoffs overlapping each movie. You’re going to have to eat your vegetables without getting dessert for a few years. So, you can be Whedon, shoving the broccoli down our throats, or you can be a Russo and make such a well thought out meal, you don’t even realize you’re getting your veggies.