Film Critic David Ehrlich recently sized up the Marvel movies in the “Slate” Movie Club. Even though I liked the films as such, I cannot say I disagree, especially on Winter Soldier.
The thing that struck me most about superhero movies this year was their desperate need for validation, and how eager superhero movie fans were to help them achieve it. It began with the hilarious notion that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller (let alone a relevant one) just because the film’s plot explicitly involves politics. Also, Robert Redford. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, of course, a Marvel movie, and that’s a category that is mutually exclusive to all others. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t a space opera, it’s a Marvel movie. Thor: The Dark World isn’t a … um … hmmm … well, whatever it isn’t, it’s definitely a Marvel movie. The studio has become a genre unto itself, one that banally flattens whatever other modes are absorbed into its spectacle.
The assembly line mentality that snuffed out Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man can be felt in every overdetermined story beat and unctuously endearing character (Groot gimmicked his way out of trouble, but Rocket Raccoon was my ’Nam), and so whenever anyone suggests that Marvel movies are even remotely “weird,” it always sounds to me like they’re trying to convince themselves. An adorable humanoid tree voiced by Vin Diesel in a role that neatly fulfills the exact same function as the Hulk in The Avengers? How will America be able to handle it!?
– David Ehrlich, “Slate” Movie Club