5 Reasons That ‘Star Wars’ Will Always Be Superior To The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel Studios wrapped up its 22-film cycle last month with the release of Avengers: Endgame, which has brought in an absurd $2.5 billion to the coffers of the Mouse House since its worldwide release on April 26, bring their box-office tally to $21 billion give or take a few million units. So it’s fair to ask: has MCU overtaken Star Wars as the most beloved franchise in popular culture?
It’s fair to ask, but the answer is “No.”
Marvel movies are exciting, clever, visually stunning, and just really cool all around, but none have had a moment that even approaches the emotional impact of finding out that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. Endgame had its moments for sure, but it took 21 movies to make us feel something other than “whoa!” and as far as we know, everything that happened could be reversed. Of course, so much of the love for Star Wars is wrapped in nostalgia, but what in the Marvel movies would create the type of nostalgia that makes people line up at conventions to meet extras in a movie from 1977? Will people cheer and cry when they see Brie Larson reprise her role as Captain Marvel in 2059 like we did when Princess Leia appeared in The Force Awakens? And when Ant-Man is forced out of retirement at 80, will people talk about anything other than why Paul Rudd still looks like he’s 35? The safe bet is no, because while Star Wars invites you into a story that is both personal and universal, Marvel keeps you at a distance, happily observing, but rarely feeling anything more than a rush of adrenaline.
Here’s why.1: Too much money Whereas the center of the Star Wars universe was an orphan stuck in a desert, cleaning droids for his surly uncle, the MCU revolves around an arrogant, rich son of a war profiteer who only realizes the error of his ways after he is personally affected by what his company has been doing. Star Wars follows a ragtag bunch of nerf herders beating an empire, while Tony Stark presides over an empire. His only weakness is his battery powered heart, which makes him practically a Death Star unto himself! If he were in the Star Wars universe, he wouldn’t be a rebel, he would be playing craps at the casino scene in The Last Jedi, bossing around an oddly compliant Gwyneth Paltrow. Speaking of which… 2: Too many stars Star Wars was built on homegrown talent, while Marvel is largely a collection of free agents, the Golden State Warriors of action-adventure movies. There are more big stars—more stars named Chris—in a closing-credit sequence in a typical Marvel movie than in most Star Wars movies. Famous actors can immerse themselves in a role, but there is no time for that when you’re saving the universe, chasing Tesseracts, singing to the Hulk, and beating up people with a chair. Mark Hamill is Luke, but Scarlett Johansson is Scarlett Johansson in a Black Widow costume. Her performance is everything it can be, but the emotional stakes are diminished when the actor is well known for other roles. 3: Too good looking Everything in MCU is good-looking, not only the big stars but the environment is as well. The characters in Marvel look like they just got out of the digitally enhanced shower, and their uniforms, weapons, and transportation look like they were designed by Audi. There’s some dirt and occasional ooze, but it looks like it was applied, not earned. In Star Wars you could almost smell the rotting garbage in the trash-compactor scene because it really was gross in there. George Lucas knew that including actual grime and soot would make his fantasy world more real to viewers, so he made sure to feature it prominently. 4: Too super Multiple characters with super powers lead to the General Zod problem: if someone is invincible, what does throwing them against a building do other than destroy the building? In MCU, even the characters that don’t have true super powers appear to be almost completely invincible and pull off superhuman feats. Star Wars has the Force, but the difference is that the Force is not the super power, faith in it is. And even if it is strong within you, it can also destroy you. 5: Too much force (and not enough of The Force) In Star Wars, there are many villains, planets, creatures, and so on, but there is a single force, binding everything in the universe together. The Marvel Universe is governed by a Frankenstein cosmology of cubes, forces, stones, celestial beings, universes, time travel, demigods, magic, and so on. Only a truly obsessed fan could understand what the rules are, whereas most children understand the Force. That is not to say that it is simplistic, just that George Lucas was able to tap into a core truth that is embedded in us. This was very much on purpose. At the root, the issue is likely as simple as this: MCU is the product of many people working for a giant company, whereas Star Wars came from the imagination of a single person, George Lucas. Star Wars was a movie he wanted to watch, not a franchise he wanted to manufacture. Sure, the actors might have been stiff, the dialog wooden, the jokes corny, but those little imperfections make the whole thing a bit more human. Marvel finally found its humanity in Endgame, so maybe now the franchise will build on that, getting a new, more organic center of gravity to replace Tony Stark. Make the right choice, and we’ll be in for more adventure than humanly possible. Jason Hartley is a writer, musician, and high-powered advertising executive based in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of The Advanced Genius Theory and can be found on Twitter at @advancedgenius.