MCU fans are guilt-tripping themselves over supporting the franchise

Image via Marvel Studios

Millions of words have been written about the MCU‘s impact on the movie industry. Since Iron Man debuted in 2008, the franchise has triumphed again and again at the box office, with the current commercial high point the gargantuan Avengers: Endgame bringing in $2.7 billion dollars in 2019.

Now, some Marvel fans are feeling uneasy about the MCU’s continued dominance in theaters. A thread on r/MarvelStudios wonders if anyone else is feeling “conflicted” about this success, wondering if it’s crowding out smaller movies. The example given is Robert Eggers’ excellent Viking epic The Northman, which failed at the box office despite positive reviews. Quentin Tarantino is also mentioned, with The Hateful Eight reportedly crowded out of theaters to make room for more screenings of The Force Awakens.

The top response points out that mid-range films having a tougher time in theaters is more likely down to the rise of streaming services, rather than the MCU. Audiences (perhaps justifiably) believe that a mega-budget blockbuster is going to be a better watch on the big screen, while more arty and small-scale movies can probably be enjoyed at home a month or so later.

Others admit that while they sincerely love the Marvel movies, they’re uneasy that there’s “an evil mega-corporation” pulling the strings, and that they feel “dirty” for enjoying them so much. But hey, that’s capitalism, baby!

But this is really a conversation that’s been had about cinema ever since the summer blockbuster era kicked off in the late 1970s. There are always big crowd-pleasing movies in theaters, leaving smaller productions struggling to be heard. It might seem fair that these offerings don’t make the money they should, but you can’t force audiences to turn up for them.