Marvel’s Post-Endgame Problem: Are Marvel Movies Getting Worse?



In 2008, Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the titular Tony Stark was released, received great reviews and was a box office success. It was a refreshing take on a superhero blockbuster that almost everybody loved. But nowadays, people discuss whether or not the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was really good, while fans suffer from superhero fatigue, also known as Marvel fatigue.

Phase One: A Rocky Start

Phase one began and finished fantastically. However, it had some pitfalls (like critically, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor). Prior to these films, superhero and comic book movies were often tossed aside as “made for kids,” so it’s a miracle they were even able to make six interconnected films, let alone forty-one shows and movies.

Iron Man kicked off the MCU with a bang. It featured loud “dad rock” and was a 10/10 for its amazing cinematography, CGI, and story. 

However, the same year, The Incredible Hulk was released as an edgy, gritty superhero flick. Its Rotten Tomatoes reviews are currently all around the 6/10 mark. Most of the negative reviews say that the CGI on the Hulk and the Abomination doesn’t look good, despite these characters being two of the first digital organic creatures to be placed in a real environment using CGI. At the time, they actually looked decent.

After two years, in 2010, Iron Man 2 was released; another smash hit that held up to the first film. It was the first movie in the MCU to tease other projects and an interconnected universe and was a solid 9/10. 

Thor came out in 2010, following up on the post-credit scene of Iron Man 2, and became the basis for an average Marvel film, a 7/10, due to an overuse of exposition and some rough CGI.

In 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger came out and was heralded as average, the same as Thor. However average it may be, it has its merits (more than Thor does.) It doubles as a good war movie, and the shotty CGI only makes it feel more like an old war film, which it imitates, landing it an 8/10. 

Finally, after four years of anticipation, The Avengers came out in 2012, and it was epic. The character work was phenomenal, and so was the VFX. The only problems it had were a slightly flat villain and an unexplained CGI alien army, a problem that plagues many superhero films. Its success was  in no small part due to the chemistry between the actors and a well-written script. The movie lands a 9/10.

Phase Two: Picking Up Speed

Phase two amped up the MCU, bringing in more comic characters and storylines. Again, it was comprised of fantastic films, the only exception being Thor: The Dark World, which was dubbed the worst film in the MCU yet. (Well, aside from, The Incredible Hulk, at least according to critics.)

Beginning phase two of the MCU came Iron Man 3. It was a fun time but suffered from the precedent set by the first two films. The lack of “dad rock” and the absence of Jon Favreau’s direction was felt, leaving it at a decent 8/10.

Next in phase two was Thor: The Dark World. But, unlike the last seven films in the MCU, Thor: The Dark World was largely forgettable.  Too many side plots made it hard to keep track of what was happening. It is only worth re-watching in the MCU because of Thor’s mother’s death and its involvement in the plot of Avengers: Endgame. No way that this film could get away with something higher than a 6/10.

Then, in 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out. It introduced politics in the MCU and was an amazing follow-up to Captain America: The First Avenger, showing the character’s “man out of time” aspect. The way they weaved the film together with the story of the first one was fantastic. However, some scenes were hard to understand, leaving it at a 9/10.

Then came Guardians of the Galaxy from a relatively unknown Marvel franchise. Surprisingly, it was an amazing film. The humor, the plot, and the characters were all very enjoyable, helped by the fact that there was no need to have seen any prior films in the MCU. When all this adds up, Guardians of the Galaxy is a surefire 10/10.

In 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron came out. The film is regarded by many as the worst Avengers film, with ratings very close to average. However, all taken into consideration, the film holds up and works well as a sequel; the film has a darker tone than the first, which I suspect is the aspect that disturbed some viewers. The problem many have with Avengers: Age of Ultron is that the villain, Ultron, is inconsistent with his motives.  He flips between wanting to destroy the whole world, wanting to destroy the Avengers, and telling jokes while fighting the team. However, it sets up the turmoil between the Avengers and introduces a few characters that turn out to be more important down the road, saving this film a nice 9/10.

Closing off phase two came Ant-Man. It was a fun spy flick with some superhero parts mixed in, and like Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn’t require you to have seen the movies that came before it. The only problem with the movie is that it had a flat villain without much development or an interesting backstory, making it an 8/10.

Phase Three: In Full Motion

Phase three was the best phase the MCU has ever had, featuring so many movies that are so good they are used as standards for how good a film is. However, the films that dropped the ball were  Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, one boring and the other missing important features to make a movie impactful.

Kicking off phase three came Captain America: Civil War. It feels more like an Avengers movie than anything else, making great use of the turmoil between the Avengers set up in Avengers: Age of Ultron; and introducing more politics in the MCU via the Sokovia Accords. The film also puts into perspective the millions that die due to these catastrophic events, like in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The cherry on top of this film was, of course, Spider-Man, who made his first appearance in the MCU in this film. The fantastic politics, conflict, and of course, Spider-Man’s introduction earn this film a 10/10.

Next was Doctor Strange. It was a fun fantasy movie set in the modern day, and like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, it didn’t need you to have seen the films released prior. It was funny, the plot was nicely done, and the CGI was fantastic, making Doctor Strange a 10/10.

In 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released and was, like the first film, amazing. It retained the same great humor, and the plot is a masterclass. It leads up to one of the best third acts in the entire MCU, earning it another well-earned 10/10.

Long awaited for three years came Spider-Man: Homecoming, the next reboot of live-action Spider-Man. While most other films in the MCU simply have to meet the standard of a good Marvel Movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming also had to stand as a well-done reboot of the live-action Spider-Man series. As a movie in the MCU, it was fantastic. However, it completely forgot the poverty aunt May and Peter Parker are supposed to be in. In fact, it seems that they are in the middle class. Because the adaptation forgot much of Peter Parker’s original struggle, it must be left at an 8/10.

Coming in hot came the third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok. The film was fantastic; it explored Thor’s character more, had one of the most interesting plots of the MCU, and had one of the best third acts of the MCU. Without a doubt, Thor: Ragnarok is a 10/10.

In 2018 we got Black Panther. The film looked terrific; however, some of the events were too convenient, and both the villains were very flat, leaving Black Panther as an 8/10, just shy of average.

Avengers: Infinity War came out, with excited fans of the MCU ecstatic to see such a substantial film in the MCU, with a villain built up over six years. It was a fantastic crossover of nearly every character set up in the MCU and extremely impactful. Many fans felt the loss of half the population in the MCU, and it was even more impactful because in Marvel, up to this point, nobody ever lost. Completely and utterly, this film is a well-earned 10/10.

Also in 2018 came Ant-Man and the Wasp. In all, the film was boring and had an uninteresting villain. The only reason to re-watch it is to set up how they use time travel in Avengers: Endgame. This film is a sloppy, boring 6/10.

In 2019, they released Captain Marvel to give backstory to the post-credit scene of Avengers: Infinity War. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let-down, an overly-hyped but average film. Carol Danvers, or Captain Marvel, doesn’t go through any sort of character development by the end, and because of her immense power, there are basically no stakes. By the end, we were left wondering why Nick Fury hadn’t simply called Captain Marvel to solve multiple problems like the alien threats in The Avengers and Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, this film is dragged to the finish line by the fantastic performance of Samuel L. Jackson and his chemistry with the other characters, leaving this film at a 7/10.

To conclude the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame was released. It was a fantastic film that was a love letter to all fans of the MCU. But what many miss is that no matter how great a conclusion it may be, there are still flaws with it as a film. 

To begin, time travel has close to zero stakes. The fact that time travel creates a separate universe is simply done so that half the population can be restored from the events of Avengers: Infinity War easily. 

The second big problem with the film is that it lacks a villain. The closest thing to a villain we receive in Avengers: Endgame is Thanos and his army from 2014, but as this Thanos isn’t really the same Thanos that has been developed for so many years, it isn’t as impactful. But of course, Avengers: Endgame is still a great film with striking visuals, so the film sits at a nice clean 8/10.

To put a little bow on top of the Infinity Saga came Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. The film dealt with the loss of Tony Stark and his legacy. It also doubled as a fun teen vacation movie and introduced J. Jonah Jameson into the MCU. However, this film is still not a faithful adaptation of Spider-Man, so it has to be a 9/10.

Phase Four: Not Enough Time in the Writing Room

Now comes phase four which began in 2021 after a year-long hiatus because of the quarantine in 2020. The shows all had good parts, but they also featured too much exposition and a lot of shotty CGI. This phase seemed rushed, whereas prior phases took their time, with a maximum of three movies coming out yearly.

Wandavision was fun but didn’t pick up speed until a few episodes in, and by that point, it started using far too much exposition. There should have been some consequences for Wanda after she enslaved a whole town. True, her sons cease to exist, and Vision is dead once again, but her effect on people isn’t really shown. There was nothing to make it clear that what she did was wrong. Because of that, I think it is reasonable to rank this show an 8/10.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier suffers greatly because of how passive the characters are. Falcon only goes after the Flag Smashers after a friend tells him about them, a prime example of exposition, where they could’ve had the opening fight sequence be Falcon against some of the Flag Smashers. He only becomes Captain America after the U.S. Government gives someone else the shield because he doesn’t believe he is worthy of it. Next, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier tries to get you to sympathize with the villains far too much when they are clearly irredeemable terrorists, and with all considered, the show is a 7/10. 

Both Loki and What If… suffer from the same problem of not mattering. What If… of course, isn’t meant to matter, just to show fun interpretations of what could’ve happened, so it is a solid 8/10. 

But meanwhile, Loki is supposed to introduce the multiverse but doesn’t affect the main MCU. An example is how it introduces Kang, who will be the main villain of the coming phases, by introducing one of his variants who is killed; again, it does not really matter. Without a doubt, it has a great story, but it isn’t about the Loki we love, who has been developed over so many films, and it isn’t about the Kang that will be the villain of the coming phases, so it’s a clear 8/10.

Hawkeye was fun, but its problems were bad cinematography and shotty CGI. It gave some much-needed depth to the character of Hawkeye and was much more grounded than the other shows. It ties into the MCU perfectly, and the chemistry between the characters is fantastic. Funnily enough, the show gets the added bonus of being a Christmas show, making good use of Christmas trees and Christmas lights to set the mood in many scenes. However, the way some scenes were shot is uninteresting, and again, some CGI isn’t believable, so the series is left at a 9/10.

Moon Knight was next in the roster of MCU shows, and it was epic with a gritty tone. It didn’t feature exposition very much and was generally a great entry. But, I think that a show in the MCU should make itself seem more connected; maybe it could have mentioned the snap and the blip at least, which are very important events in the MCU that would affect everyone. But otherwise, the show is fantastic, making it a 9/10.

Ms. Marvel had some fantastic visuals and CGI but suffered because of too much exposition and a villain that wasn’t threatening. The story was very fun and had you hooked, but with problems with exposition and non-threatening villains, it’s only an 8/10.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was hilarious and fun. It sort of provided a civilian’s look at the wider MCU. However, the CGI was extremely shotty in places; it could have shown, not told us about Jennifer Walters’ struggle as a woman, and had unrealistic courtroom scenes, leaving it at a 6/10.

Meanwhile, the films were on and off in terms of quality. 

To start, Black Widow came out and was very uninteresting. It basically only existed to set up Yelena Belova, the Red Guardian, and the Taskmaster. If they really wanted to make a movie about Natasha Romanoff, they should have made it about the mission in Budapest that’s mentioned in the film and in The Avengers. There’s also no reason to care what happens to Black Widow because you know she lives until Avengers: Endgame. When all this stacks up, it’s obvious that Black Widow is a 6/10.

Next in the roster of films was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It tied in perfectly with the MCU, and no one would have expected them to bring back Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3. Without a doubt, it’s a 10/10.

Immediately following Shang-Chi came Eternals. It may have been enjoyable, but it is undeniable that the film is a mess. Firstly, the film jumps around between the present day and flashbacks, when it probably should have just been set during one of the times and in one of the places of the flashbacks, whether that be Mesopotamia, Babylon, or anywhere else. Secondly, just as bad, if not worse than too many flashbacks, is the exposition, which there is too much of. They even have text you need to read at the beginning! Then, they set up this villain Kro, who is a more powerful deviant, only to have Thena kill him easily and sideline him for stopping the emergence of a Celestial, which would destroy Earth. It again was boring and isn’t needed in an MCU rewatch unless something comes from the remains of the emerging celestial in later projects, so the film is a 6/10.

Then, with much hype, came Spider-Man: No Way Home. It is the first Spider-Man film in the MCU to really feel like a Spider-Man film, even though they put in so much stuff related to the wider MCU, like the multiverse, Doctor Strange, and even Captain America’s shield on the Statue of Liberty. It may just be the best marvel film ever, not only considering the MCU, as it is able to have all the nostalgia and interesting MCU quirks it does while still having a cohesive plot, and is even able to handle five villains, partly because they were developed in prior films. Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland were amazing on screen together, and it makes me sad that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire may never be seen as Spider-Man again. The film is an obvious 10/10. 

The next film in the MCU was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It embraced the horror aspect of Doctor Strange and explored the Multiverse in the MCU. However, it suffered from overuse of exposition, and if you haven’t seen WandaVision, you don’t understand Wanda’s motives. Unfortunately, for an otherwise well-made film, those are big problems, leaving Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sitting at an 8/10.

Next up, one of, if not the worst film in the MCU: Thor: Love and Thunder. First off, the characters are insufferable, mainly Korg and Thor. Korg had barely anything to do in the film, and realistically his character could’ve been written out entirely. Thor has all of his development forgotten and has gone crazy, so he talks to his hammers, and the only redeeming part about him in the film is his romance with Jane Foster’s Thor. Gorr had great development but was very two-dimensional. It doesn’t make sense that he kidnaps the Asgardian children, and he could’ve killed Thor or just taken Stormbreaker in the fight scene in New Asgard. He also could’ve tried to indoctrinate the kids into believing that gods are bad instead of just trying to frighten them. There are many ways the film could have been made shorter, and for a film this bad, that makes it worse. Obviously, the film is a 5/10.

The current last film in the MCU is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It is an unbridled masterpiece honoring Chadwick Boseman and, in-universe, T’Challa, the Black Panther. It introduces Riri Williams, Iron Heart, and pulls her character off much better than it was done in the comics, where her character was made to undermine the importance of Tony Stark. Namor is a fantastic villain, and it’s unfortunate that for copyright reasons with Universal, they had to change so much, like replacing Atlantis with Talokan, but it doesn’t make the film worse. It is a perfect conclusion to the films in phase four of the MCU, a 10/10.

In the same vein were I Am Groot, Werewolf by Night, and  The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. They were all short and sweet, with little effect on the wider MCU. But, with no real effect on the MCU, they are all ticked down to 9/10.

Phase Five: We Can Hope

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania came out just a few months ago, and while some were excited by the introduction of Kang, others were disappointed by the quality of the film. The character of Cassie was annoying and unlikeable, which was unfortunate because of the shining light she brought in the last two films in the Ant-Man series. The CGI was horrible, with many comparisons made to Spy Kids.

The movie couldn’t focus on whether it was an Ant-Man story or a Kang story, and failed for it. It relied much on plot convenience as well, majorly hurting it in my and many others’ books. For all this, the movie is undoubtedly a 5/10, on the same level as Thor: Love and Thunder.

Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently in theaters and is fantastic. It ties off every loose end in the story of the Guardians and leaves an opportunity open for more stories to be told. There’s a reason people are happy about director James Gunn helming the new rebooted DCU; this movie is like the others in a trilogy, 10/10. (11/10 if I could.)


In conclusion, the MCU has gotten worse and better. Should we completely forget about it? Should we boycott phase five? The answers to those questions are both no. Part of why the MCU has so many bad entries in phase four is because of the timeframe. If the MCU had 2020 to release some shows and movies, some of the writing, CGI, and cinematography in them would have been better. 

Phase five will begin with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Based on the trailers, it will have great CGI, cinematography, and, most likely, a great story. My only worry is Kang and if he’ll be the real deal or another variant. But, based on what we know so far from leaks and other information, phases five and six seem like they’ll be a blast, possibly even the best phases of the MCU.