The first comic book I ever bought was X-Man #13.
I was in The World’s Biggest Bookstore milling around in the periodicals section waiting for my father to be done flipping through magazines. This was a regular thing; I think at that point I had spent half my life in bookstores. No matter where we went one was sot out. My father wanted to look at news, photo, car, and tech mags, flipping through their glossy pages, to keep up on what was hot and new in the world. My brother and I would be let loose in the store. We would spend most of our time in the kids section flipping through books, checking out games and toys, or complaining to our mother about how bored we were. I must have gotten tired and resigned myself to quietly perusing the merchandise near my parents to ensure a speedy exit when they were ready. I don’t know what caught my eye about this particular comic book but something drew me to it. I flipped through a couple page, the paneling, stylized drawing, and intense colours. Right when I was finally getting into it my parents were ready to go. I asked if I could have that one. My mom quickly flipped through it and said ok, she also said I could get 2 if I wanted. I also got X-Man #14.
I didn’t know that randomly picking up these 2 comics would take me into some serious nerdity for many years to come. No these weren’t the first comics I had ever read. I had mindlessly flipped through some during many hours sequestered in bookstores. My brother had some but he wasn’t a collector so stories were hard to follow. But nothing had really clicked with me.
This was an interesting time to start collecting; the Onslaught Saga was ramping up, Deadpool was getting his own series, and Wolverine had gone feral after his Adamantium had been ripped from his body by Magneto (As you can see I fell hard into the Marvel Universe). But there was also the cross comic empire battle with the Marvel vs DC comics. This 4 issue epic led into the creation of the short lived Amalgam comics which introduced amalgamated characters like Dark Claw, Amazon, and Bruce Wayne Agent of SHIELD. How could I not keep reading/collecting?
At first I kept going to bookstores to get my comic fix. Sadly the selection was very limited and often the books were damaged. I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to do this right. I went into the one comic book store I knew, the one tucked away in the Bramalea City Centre down the one corridor that no one ever goes down, Comic World; a small store filled to the brim with comics, figures, and other collectibles.
Every week, on a Wednesday, I would venture to the mall to get the newest issues of these epic sagas. At first my allowance was sufficient to cover my purchases. But at the end of many comics was a little note that said something along the lines of, to continue this story read… And it would list some other comic that the story-line had diverted into. This quickly meant that instead of buying 1 or 2 comics, I would be buying 4 or 5, and then wanting to buy 9 or 10 but having to drop some story-lines for other ones just cuz it was all too expensive.
As I kept reading though, because the stories were being pulled so thin, they began to falter. There was so much to keep track of as the story threads went from comic to comic. I do not blame the writers but when you have 20 different writers covering the same story-line that has splintered and wedged into their character’s world it is hard to keep everything straight. The stories had continuity problems, some writers just did not properly grasp some characters, and the stories overall got weaker. I just stopped following most stories and ventured off into smaller titles, one offs, and trades.
This is what is happening with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) right now. It has reached a tipping point where they cannot get better. The story they have weaved is intricate yet vast reaching across the universe into different realms. I am actually surprised they have been able to keep up the quality of the films to this point but after seeing Captain America: Civil War the cracks are starting to show.
Before you start smashing your keyboard to write a hate-filled, strongly worded comment let me just say I liked the movie. It was good. All I am saying is that there were problems with it. The writing is getting looser as more has to be encompassed in the films.
The pieces of the movie are there; larger than life heroes, an unthinkable foe, and epic battles. (It is an action-filled movie that takes you all over the globe. Those fight sequences are AMAZING!) But the smaller stuff, the things that made, for example, Winter Soldier work was a lack of predictability, a foe you understand, and even though the movie was big the core group was kept small.
I know with a movie like Civil War that last part would be hard to accomplish (SO MUCH HAPPENS) but some aspects seemed haphazard. Like the way the stories have been unfolding so far, a step was missing. No I am not saying I needed another origin story for Spiderman but his intro was really abrupt. Even when Ant-Man showed up it was kind of out of left field. I know at the end of Ant-Man there was talk of him meeting the Avengers but that is where it stopped. And I am not forgetting that the post credit in that movie indicates that it takes place during the whole Sakovia Accords debacle since that exact scene is in Civil War. But it still leaves the question, how did he get to that point? Even the sob stories about what happened in Sakovia didn’t quite do their job. I understood why they were there but I am not sure if it was the acting, the setting, the writing but I did not care.
Then there was the predictability of the final battle scene. Yes everyone knew it was coming, it was in the trailer, but why it happened/was going to happen was clearly presented early on in the movie. That mysterious car on a dark road was so obvious it was infuriating. No one should have been shocked by that reveal before the final showdown. This might be more a directing issue than a writing issue but clues like that were much more subtle in previous movies or maybe because so much info has already been given to us that I just assumed that is what happened. So when it was laid out I wasn’t shocked, I felt more like, “So? And…?”
My real problem is that these small things can turn into very big things later on. They have already done 13 movies, with 25 major characters (I wouldn’t be surprised if I forgot some) and 2 TV shows, one of which just keeps adding more people. There are 10 more movies in the works right now which will add who knows how many more characters to the mix. And who knows if they will actually stop there. These small problems, slight predictability, loose writing, and ineffective plot points, can make later movies seem mediocre at best.
I really liked Captain America: Civil War, it is a great addition to the MCU. No it is not better than Winter Soldier, it will take some crazy awesomeness to surpass that, but it should definitely not be missed. But a lot of the major plot points in the MCU are hinged on what happens in the Captain America movies so it is important that these movies specifically be flawless (or close to).
I have not jumped ship, I will be seeing MCU movies for the foreseeable future, but I see the problems coming. I just hope they manage to keep up the quality of storytelling. If they can manage just to keep it on par, we are all in for a treat.