Super Specific | The looming MCU fatigue

Super Specific is a bi-weekly blog about superheroes in pop culture.

By Diana Velasquez, Contributing Editor

The new MCU series on Disney+, “Moon Knight,” starring the beloved fandom darling Oscar Issac, is supposed to be phenomenal. I have no doubt that it is, but I haven’t seen it yet.

No, please do not take this chance to spam spoilers into my DMs. I won’t appreciate that, but my lack of immediate interest in the show has gotten me thinking about what many people call the inevitable “Marvel fatigue.”

Marvel fatigue is a fear among fans — and probably the production studios — that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s plethora of content is becoming overwhelming to consumers. And with the amount of content that Feige and the Marvel clan are producing, including the relatively new television shows, I understand where the fear comes from.

Alan Horn, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Studios, said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that Feige and Marvel plan to release three to four movies a year following the Infinity War Saga.

While that initial estimate was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel’s movie and TV show production had kicked back into full swing. Three MCU films came out last year — “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings,” “The Eternals” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Three more are planned for this year — “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

The universe’s television shows slated for release in 2022, including “Moon Knight,” are “Ms. Marvel,” “She-Hulk” and two television specials — one featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.

It’s, quite frankly, a lot to watch. And it’s a testament to Marvel’s success that it’s able to create, film and produce so many shows and films. But are these things we all have to see?

The beauty of the MCU is its double-edged sword. It is, after all, a shared universe, the first of its kind. When the MCU finally merged all of its characters, unabashedly, onto the big-screen in 2012’s “The Avengers,” it was a triumphant moment. Seeing Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America all together on one screen, with the promise of future collaborations, is an awesome feat.

But as comic fans very well know, there are a hell of a lot of characters that Marvel owns, and it can be very hard to keep track of them all.

Now that the MCU has been going on for more than a decade, it’s burnt through some of its more iconic characters like Iron Man and Captain America, and have moved on to other lesser-known supes like America Chavez or Moon Knight.

It still has icons like Spider-Man in its pocket, and has promised reboots for old favorites like The Fantastic Four, but as time goes on, I’m beginning to wonder just how long it can do this for.

In high school, I was the friend who would buy everyone’s tickets for the opening night showings of the newest Avengers or Spider-Man movie. Just last year I made sure to watch every “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” episode the day it came out to avoid spoilers. But these days, I find my interest in Marvel’s new on-screen characters waning.

It’s a sad feeling. I can attribute some of it to the general hecticness of my life, but I also know part of my reluctance to jump on this new content is due to the departure of my favorite characters.

The reason I watched “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” religiously was because it’s a show about Captain America. With Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) gone, the shield has now passed onto Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) at his side. It was a good show, and I enjoyed watching it, but I fear I may have lost the giddy feeling I once had for the MCU.

Everyone had their favorites, and there’s a clear reasoning behind why I may not be so interested in the universe anymore if the characters I love are no longer featured in it. But is it reasonable to expect people to keep up with this amount of the content year after year?

The movies are easy enough to go to, as a $15 expense three times a year, but the MCU’s shows are on Disney+, which costs $7.99 a month. It’s not a huge price compared to other streaming services — Netflix definitely seems like it’s getting too big for its britches lately — but not everyone can afford to pay for Disney+.

And while Marvel’s movies usually succeed critically and commercially, the MCU shows have not been as much of a straight shot. While “WandaVision” was nominated for multiple Emmy awards, shows like “Loki” and “What If?” haven’t sat as well with fans as Feige might have liked.

What’s unfortunate is that these shows are still relevant to the MCU, so if you miss them because they’re bad or if you just don’t enjoy them, you might not know what’s going on in the next film you see.

DC, for all its faults, seems to have taken this potential pitfall into consideration. “The Batman,” which was released this March and proved to be both financially and critically successful, is set in an entirely separate universe from the DC Extended Universe — where its characters have their own mashups.

Hyperfixations come and go, and I’ve literally founded my journalistic career on arts and media — there are plenty of shows and movies that I’m interested in. I’ve been on a “Lord of the Rings” kick for almost a year now, but that doesn’t mean I’m consuming solely “Lord of the Rings” content. That would leave me pretty high and dry.

So I don’t have to be “in love” with the MCU right now. Perhaps the version of myself who was sobbing in the “Avengers: Endgame” movie theater will come back one day. I’m somewhat content as of now to watch MCU movies when I can and finish whatever TV shows I see fit. I’ll still pick a superhero movie to watch nine times out of 10, and I doubt that I’ll ever be bored of them entirely.