Three Reasons Why Marvel Needs to Push the Envelope More

It is safe to say that regardless of what Marvel does these days, people will watch and pay attention. Even the smallest (no pun intended) heroes like Ant-Man can bring in over $500 million worldwide. That is power. And just as Marvel has said in every incarnation of Spider-Man, with that power comes great responsibility. With this power, Marvel needs to push the envelope and deliver something more than just a superhero blockbuster. Below I explain four reasons as to why this needs to be true.

They Have Proven they Can Push the Limits Already

With Netflix, Marvel has delivered R-rated stories packed full of violence, sex, and a brooding sense of dread you will never find in theater. Daredevil and Jessica Jones have been able to breathe with the serial format and feature fleshed out stories that discuss such mature themes as murder and even rape. It’s in this format Marvel really showcases its ability to craft a story and they need to take what they learn from the small screen and bring more of it to the big screen. I’m not saying every film needs to be an R-rated gritty tale of homegrown heroism, but the occasional attempt would be worthwhile. Plus, if the Netflix Marvel and the big screen Marvel continue to do what they have been doing, the distance between the two will grow greater and it will be harder to believe they exist in the same “universe”.

They Can Take Risks

With the above mentioned point, Marvel has no excuse of attempting to branch out to the more mature themes with their bigger movies. As mentioned, the world will flood the theaters with any new Marvel movie and grab the world’s attention. Since there is a near guarantee all of their movies will succeed, Marvel needs to take more risks with their properties and blow the audiences away with unexpected twists or turns.

Another point is that so many advertising and trailers give a lot away about a film’s plot and what happens. If Marvel throws in a few surprises or an unexpected death, it will increase the quality of the stories and have us at the edge of our seats. When we know who is contracted for how many films or ideas for the bigger picture (Marvel’s Phases), there is little for us to be shocked by. Hopefully, if we compare the comics to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, we should expect some big shifts and changes in the Marvel Universe.

They Have the Resources

One of my biggest disappointments with the Marvel movies is the fact that the studio casts incredible actors for their villains, yet never utilizes them as well as they should. When you cast the likes of Mickey Rourke, Christopher Eccleston, Tim Roth, Guy Pearce, Sam Rockwell, Lee Pace, or Corey Stoll you would think you would have much more memorable bad guys. But take a second to think about any of these guys- can you name the actual villain that they played? Yes, Marvel is a bit shallow in their rogue gallery (one can argue Fantastic Four and Spider-Man have all the memorable baddies), but that is no excuse to flesh out some of the lesser known villains. Marvel does a great job at casting great actors, but they need to utilize their tools better and give us more memorable characters than just Loki.

Marvel saturates every corner of the market, from movies, comics, TV, video games, and even online slot games for online casinos. It grants licenses to online casino sites, like, in order to expand their dominance in the adult gaming world. With big brands, like, Marvel reaches many more people and wider audiences.

Hell, Marvel has the money. They have the actors. They have our attention. Blow us away.


I know I have been a bit more vocal of my disdain for certain Marvel films in the past and my opinion may be slightly biased, given my love for DC, but as a fan of not only comics as a whole and good movies in general, I feel Marvel has a lot to prove to us. Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, has stated on several occasions the studio has no plans of slowing down and delivering multiple films each year for seemingly forever. If Marvel continues down the path they are on, I would think the movie-going audience would become more aware of the somewhat recycled stories, tropes, and characters and eventually be less likely to dish out cash to run to the theater. At least, that’s something I hope will happen, or I feel for the watered down blockbusters we will continue to get every year.

Written By Nick

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he’s seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.

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  • Vivek

    I agree with this to the extent that I generally believe in pushing envelopes and your reasons given for doing so are valid. I’ve argued that “Age of Ultron” does more of this than is often credited for doing. But if I may offer a constructive critique, I think this article doesn’t do much to really explain what pushing the envelope is supposed to mean. What I’ve gathered is that you like how Marvel has proven its ability to shrink its universe down to the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and that its adult grit has mostly worked for it, both for poignant storytelling and serial effect. That’s fine and certainly agreeable, but otherwise your critique seems to be that many stories are recycled and many villain’s actors (apparently with Jeff Bridges, Tom Hiddleston, Hugo Weaving, Robert Redford and James Spader to serve as exceptions) are underused. Sure, all right. But the latter is more a critique of what you think is ineffective about the films as they are. What exactly do you want these films to be? What constitutes pushing the envelope that gun-toting CGI space raccoons (to use an example) fails to meet?

    I’m also putting this into comments so that it helps with the marketing. 🙂

  • rich

    i’m no comic book aficionado, but he mentioned some unexpected deaths, exploring more mature themes as has been successful with the netflix examples, stop giving away so much in trailers, and better use of a-list actors as bad guys instead of just what seems like superficial and forgettable cameos.

  • Vivek

    I noted those, and acknowledge that actor point, but I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to constitute “pushing the envelope.” They’ve pushed it pretty far in terms of what modern blockbuster cinema is capable of. The character deaths is somewhat understandable, but I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to accomplish beyond the shock value, which diminishes in returns through each subsequent death (see “Game of Thrones”). Characters take a notoriously long time to die in comic book stories – with them usually going through something terrible until the status quo is cleanly restored at the end. Prior to “Civil War” (and I won’t say whether there is a death or not), Marvel may not have killed very many characters, but a LOT has changed, particularly when it comes to Iron Man and Captain America. When the approach itself you’re taking is long-form storytelling, it makes sense that you’re going to hold back on a lot of character deaths, but I’m not sure that means that you aren’t necessarily pushing the envelope. That’s the sense in which I wanted more.