Marvel fans are all brought together through their mutual love of the brand’s fantastic superheroes and adventures… but like every fanhood, not everyone is always on exactly the same page. While some enthusiasts love one aspect of the comics, movies or television shows, there’s usually an equally-sized group of others who couldn’t more wholeheartedly disagree with them. These kinds of internal debates have been going on for years and years, covering a wide variety of subjects – but there are some arguments in particular that we not only constantly see, but will probably go on until the end of time.
With an extra emphasis on the film side of things (this is a movie website after all), we’ve decided to take a long, hard look at the eight biggest debates currently in circulation amongst Marvel fans, weighing the arguments of each against each other and leaving it to you to try and find your own answers. Read on, and feel free to fill the comments section with your own personal opinions.
Is anyone more powerful than the Hulk?This isn’t just a Marvel argument that fans have been having since Hulk made it to the big screen; this is a Marvel argument that many of us remember having during recess in elementary school. When Bruce Banner transforms into his green, monstrous alter-ego, he becomes a being with terrific and horrifying power – and to make matters worse, the angrier he gets, the stronger he gets. What we may never really know, though, is whether or not there is actually any single character in the comic book universe that is more powerful than Hulk.
This is a tough and very long debate that usually results in fans listing off characters like Thor, Hercules, Thanos, Galactus, The Beyonder, Phoenix, and more – but this is a question that is more about fun speculation than coming to an actual conclusion. After all, any match-up would have layers upon layers of situation and circumstance on top of it that could push the advantage to either the Hulk or his opponent. For example, would Thor be able to use Mjolnir in his battle? And if Hulk were to be thrown into space by his opposition, would he have all the time in the world to make it back to the battle and continue the fight? This is a great rabbit hole conversation.
How closely should comic book movies be based on comic book stories?While films based on Marvel properties have certainly taken inspiration from famous comic book storylines – such as "Days of Future Past" for the most recent X-Men chapter – one thing that fans have noticed is that these storylines are rarely actually directly adapted. Whether a title is just borrowing a few elements from a known plot, or changing big key aspects, the movies often act as reflections of famous arcs and miniseries, but have never actually been beat-for-beat retellings. This creates a certain schism in fanhood.
With each feature that comes out, we see a wave of new complaints from those who are unsatisfied with the way that directors handled certain elements of famous story – like Wolverine traveling back in time instead of Kitty Pryde – and believe that it’s a betrayal of the source material to not do everything that the original author and artist did. Of course, the most popular counterpoint to this debate is that direct adaptation is dull (being all stuff we’ve already seen), and that plots deserve new life and creative changes when changing mediums. When boiled down, this is really a matter of taste, but that’s not going to stop fans arguing about it.
When should the Guardians Of The Galaxy team up with The Avengers?Marvel Studios has gotten fans hooked on the drug known as crossovers. Even beyond Avengers movies, there is a heightened clamoring for more cameos, like Falcon’s presence in Ant-Man, as fans are hungry to see as much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as possible in each story. This hunger will certainly be partially satiated next year with the arrival of Captain America: Civil War, but the white whale that remains floating out in the MCU is a meet-up between the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. But when should this happen?
Fans have speculated about all kinds of possibilities in this area, but there’s a pretty firm dividing line for when the Guardians/Avengers introductions should happen: either before/during The Avengers: Infinity War, or not until long after. More patient Marvel fans have made an argument for waiting and letting the likes of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket further explore the cosmic side of the MCU. At the same time, others don’t want to see more of Thanos without seeing more of the space-traversing Guardians, and don’t want them to be left out of the big party coming in four years. This debate will continue until even after the crossover has happened, with fans deciding whether or not the chosen time was the right one.
What’s better: funny and wild, or dark and grounded?In the past decade or so, this has actually been the principal argument that has separated fans of Marvel Studios and DC Comics, but the debate really is applicable internally within just the House of Ideas. It’s true that Marvel has become especially popular for producing movies that are just as funny as they are action-packed – like Iron Man and The Avengers - but we’ve recently started to see properties based on the comics taken in darker and more grounded directions, including the brutal Daredevil Netflix series, and the science-heavy Fantastic Four reboot over at Fox. So fans again ask: which way is better?
The reason why this debate is endless is simply because there are thousands of arguments for both sides. The funny and wild stories not only have arguably the higher entertainment value, but are also more accessible to the younger generations that are really the target of superhero stories. The darker and more grounded stories, however, add what some might call a higher level of "legitimacy" to the genre, and allow older audiences to appreciate the material without feeling silly watching vigilantes in tights. The variety provided from both approaches should keep Marvel movies going for years and years, and fans will continue to contest them every step of the way.
Was The Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 a good play?There are many, many specific plot points in Marvel Comics adaptations that have caused fans to go back and forth, but there are few that get the spit flying and raise tempers quite like the conversation about the big twist in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3. Audiences went into the movie expecting to see Sir Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the mystical and cruel Mandarin, but were shocked when it was revealed that the character wasn’t The Mandarin at all, but instead a druggie actor being held up as a puppet. People are still both laughing and crying about this one.
Those that despise this twist argue that it was a missed opportunity to use one of Marvel’ best characters, and didn’t appreciate the fact that the movie strayed so far away from the comics (see the point I mentioned earlier). Those who appreciate it, however, see it as an amazing reversal of expectation, and are quick to point out that the door is still open for the real Mandarin thanks to the Marvel One Shot All Hail The King. We here at Cinema Blend even had a debate about this one back in 2013 when Iron Man 3 first came out, and like many of you, we’re still fighting about it to this day.
Should Marvel Studios have the rights to all Marvel Comics characters?Because of the rather epic failure of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four this past summer, we’ve been hearing a lot of this argument in recent weeks. Years and years ago, Marvel sold off the movie rights to many of their most popular characters, but now that the company is making its own films, fans regularly clamor for all the rights to be returned home so that all the heroes can interact within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This has already worked out for properties like Daredevil and Spider-Man (partially), but should Marvel be making a focused effort towards getting back the X-Men and Fantastic Four?
There are obvious answers to why the answer to this question should be "yes." Marvel Studios is certainly top dog in the comic book movie game right now, and it would make sense that the company that created the characters would know best how to use them on the big screen. There is a significant reason why some fans may say "no," however. Basically, there’s only so many films that Marvel can put out each year, and if the one company has all the rights, that’s going to significantly shrink the number of comic book movie titles we seen in a given year. There are some major positives and negatives to both sides here.
What’s better: recasting a major character or putting them in hibernation?We have not yet seen a Marvel property move on with its continuity after recasting a lead character – but that day is coming, and fans have already spent years arguing about how it should go down. Right now, the perfect example is Hugh Jackman – who is ready to hang up his Wolverine claws after the next solo film – but we all know that there will also be a point when Robert Downey Jr. either becomes too expensive for Marvel Studios, or decides that he doesn’t want to play Tony Stark anymore. So what should the creatives behind the various comic book franchises do in this situation?
When it comes to fan-favorites and iconic performances like Jackman’s or Downey Jr.’s, it’s not entirely a shocker that sections of the audience argue that the roles just be put in stasis for a while. After all, Marvel has created thousands of characters over the years, and an actor deciding that they’re finished is a good way to open the door for a fresh face. At the same time, though, having one actor take complete control of a part could set a dangerous precedent for the future of the genre, and it’s not as though we haven’t seen examples of successful recasting before. We haven’t actually gotten to this bridge just yet, but fans are still arguing about how to properly cross it.
Is there such a thing as too many comic book movies?Comments made by Steven Spielberg have actually reignited this debate in recent weeks, and while comic book movie saturation has been a topic of discussion for years now, it’s set to be an even more important one in the coming years. There are 14 films based on Marvel Comics characters set to come out in the next five years, and some have wondered if this is too much for movie-going audiences to take.
Working to establish historical precedent, those who don’t believe in the long, long future of comic book movies point to the death of the western – which was a genre that went out of style simply because the market became saturated with too many similar stories set out in the old west. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but other movie-goers shoot back that westerns made up a much higher percentage of films being released back in ‘30s, ‘40’s, and ‘50s, and that the titles didn’t have the same opportunity for variety that comic book movies have (there aren’t exactly many comparisons to be made between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s true that Fantastic Four showed us that disinterest in a superhero film can cause it to flop hard, but whether or not that’s the future for all movies based on Marvel properties is an unanswered question that will be fought about for years.
Which one of these arguments have you had the most?