Has the MCU peaked?

When Netflix dropped Daredevil last month, there was lots of talk about how they’d done it again, delivering another high-quality product.  Things looked good for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there was the feeling it was still getting better and better.  But a month later, I’m starting to get worried that Daredevil‘s first season might have been the peak.  Already what’s come out since has fallen way short.

Had Age of Ultron not been a Marvel movie, and I had gone to see it at my normal moviehouse, I would have thought it an afternoon well spent.  It was loads of fun to watch, with thrilling action sequences(we accidentally went to the 3D version, which for this movie was probably a good thing), lots of humour, the same characters we’ve come to know and love-mostly, and a villain that was the perfect foil for them.  But that was all it was.  Had this been my first exposure to the MCU, I might not have bothered coming back for more.  There were so many things the movie was trying to set up, and one gets the feeling that with Whedon having to juggle so many balls he dropped quite a few.  Most painful were the ones character-related, especially related to Natasha.  I mean, her Red Room trauma is focused on her having been sterilized, and she views herself as a monster because she can’t have kids?  REALLY?!

Meanwhile, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has merrily spent the entire season being a shot of some crazy drug cocktail to the arm each week-we’ve gotten roused up, we’ve had our minds fucked with, and we’ve spent more than one week going crazy out of a need to find out what on Earth happens next.  We’ve had lots of crazy plot twists, we’ve had the amount of shit each of the characters suffer be directly proportional to how endearing they are(it’s no coincidence Fitz & Simmons had been the pair with the most angst), we have had the world’s longest guessing game with Ward be draaaaggggeeedddd out until the fandom’s having a civil war over it, everything to drive us bats.  If you like that sort of thing, there are a lot of things a show can get away with, including plotholes.  But honestly, these last couple of weeks?  Plotholes have formed to the point you can’t ignore them, characters have stopped being believable even by the standards of pulp, and quite frankly, I am fed up with Ward.  If his actions this week are anything like what they looked like, I hope Lance & Bobbi reconcile while killing him.

Except that Kara does kind of have a very legitimate reason to be pissed at Bobbi, and it makes me worry about what star we’re going to have for the upcoming spinoff.  Part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been the question of how ruthless one must be in service of the greater good, and we’ve had Phil Coulson as series protagonist walk a fine line.  But do we really want a spinoff starting a Bobbi Morse that betrayed a fellow agent to such a horrific fate just so she could get in with Hydra?  Unless it turns out Kara was misinformed, but that would be the easy way out…

We can have faith, perhaps, that the Russo brothers will handle things better than Whedon’s been doing recently, and their work on Winter Soldier is encouraging.  But will they be any more adept than Whedon at managing this crazily ambitious project?  And when even Daredevil is getting new showrunners next season, and we’ve got that damn love triangle which could derail the series if handled wrong, you just don’t know.

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