It used to be much simpler to make a superhero movie. Just take a beloved comic book protagonist, pit them against one of their greatest foes, throw in some emotional turmoil, occasionally some set-up for a sequel, and voila! Easy recipe. Then in 2008, Marvel changed the game with their shared cinematic universe, but in recent years, it's also become apparent that Marvel has subtly been moving away from the standard solo movie formula and been playing around with "team-up" scenarios, i.e. when another major Marvel hero has a significant, but not necessarily leading, role in another hero's movie.

Even ignoring when a character from another corner of the MCU pops up in a post-credits scene, think about some of the major "team-up" situations that have happened. Black Widow and Falcon worked with Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Scott Lang went up against Falcon in Ant-Man. Captain America: Civil War...need I say more? Studying the rest of Phase Three, it's clear this team-up trend isn't going away, which begs the question: when Phase Four comes around, should Marvel drop solo movies entirely and stick to team-up adventures? That's what we're here to discuss, and to be clear, this discussion won't apply to movies that are natural ensemble stories, like the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks.

Doctor Strange

Why Solo Movies Are Still Effective

The easiest answer for this is simplicity. While many comic book readers get a kick out of seeing one hero work together with another hero outside of a team book, like Daredevil popping up in an issue of Spider-Man, the fact of the matter is that these movies are also supposed to appeal to casual moviegoers as well. To appease both sides, maybe it would be best if one hero be given the attention, just like in the old days.

Excluding Thor's cameo in the mid-credits scene and an Infinity Stone reference, Doctor Strange was one of the most self-contained MCU movies ever, and look how successful it was, both critically and commercially. The MCU turns 9-years-old this May, and with each passing year, the continuity of this franchise grows more complicated (especially when you account for television). When it comes to these solo movies, there's nothing wrong with keeping firm focus on one hero without another crimefighter trying to take some of the spotlight.

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