Aug 26, 2019

The Stylistic Possibilities of the New MCU

One of the criticisms about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that aside from a handful of films such as the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and Thor: Ragnarok, there isn't much in the way of individual styles. I think it's a bit of an unfair criticism, as I think each film is distinct, but I suppose it may also be seen along the lines of visually distinguishing between the works of John Byrne and George Perez, or Carl Barks and Don Rosa, or Dan DeCarlo and Harry Lucey. The new MCU has the ability to change that perception, as some of them draw from the most stylistically visually distinct comics of all time.

What follows is a photo dump of images from some comics that Phase 4, including some of the new TV shows announced at D23 this weekend, will be based on. If the Marvel movies and Disney+ shows are able to incorporate some of this distinct visual flair, I'd be a happy fan.

This post is also entitled, "I didn't have time to come up with an in-depth article today, so please enjoy these pretty pictures."

Let's start with Hawkeye, whose David Aja–drawn run was one of the most acclaimed superhero comics in recent memory. It's got a great design sense... well as some pretty cool storytelling techniques. Take note of Kate going "Well, that's cool" really slowly, to emphasize how quickly Clint goes through his process when drawing a bowstring.

Then there are the Eternals, created by the most revered superhero comic creator ever, Jack Kirby, back in 1976. I don't think it's a stretch to say that the Eternals feels like an offshoot of his unfinished New Gods over at DC, but they're obscure even for superhero fans. The movie's been described as going full-on Kirby, and I hope that means whacked-out grandiose designs...

...and grand imagery, such as this shot of a Celestial, a race of beings who are so old that they've helped shape the universe.

Ms. Marvel would stand out just because of who she is — there aren't many teenage Pakistani-American Muslim female superheroes, and while her series isn't exactly what I'd call visually distinct in comparison to some of the rest of these, she's got a superpower that is ripe for visual opportunity: size-changing. At the very least, her powers are going to look distinct.

Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu, was based on Bruce Lee, and as such many of his seminal comics have tried getting that kind of atmosphere. Here's a sequence by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy:

And here's one drawn by Gene Day:

Pretty cool.

One of my problems with the first Dr. Strange movie was I felt that it had a ceiling that it wasn't even really trying to reach, with most of the psychedelic effects being stuff we've seen before, notably from Inception. I'm hoping that Multiverse of Madness goes full-on psychedelic and experimental. Here's Dr. Strange dealing with his old foe Dormammu and Eternity, the embodiment of the universe.

Seriously, can you imagine seeing a properly done Eternity on screen? What a trip that'd be.

Moon Knight has long been a cult favorite among comic fans, and one reason is because he had who was probably the most technically proficient comics artist who ever lived work on him. That would be Bill Sienkiewicz, and Moon Knight can really be a horror crime noir hybrid that is missing in the MCU.

Check out this sequence when he realizes the man he's talking to is a child abuse victim.

And I just have to plug this one, because screw Batman.

Let's close off with She-Hulk, a character created by Stan Lee and John Buscema in 1979. Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner's cousin, though to differentiate the two of them, for a majority of her lifespan, Jennifer could willingly turn into She-Hulk. There are exceptions, such as the beginning of her career when she was known as the Savage She-Hulk, and the present incarnation, when she's just known as the Hulk and she has more of the classic Hulk dynamic where the Hulk form is more mindless and savage, but for the most part, Jennifer Walters willingly transformed into She-Hulk to be one of the two best lawyers Marvel had to offer.

I'm hoping this series takes more from Dan Slott's run than anyone else's, since in that run you get to see both She-Hulk and Jennifer a lot (and would give me an excuse to fancast Alison Brie as shy and intelligent Jennifer Walters), but chances are it'd cover the whole gamut from Savage to Sensational. What I'm wondering about though, is if they'd take from the John Byrne run, in which She-Hulk predated Deadpool by a significant amount of time in terms of breaking the fourth wall and being the ultimate humor character.

Personally, I'm unsure if this would work on Disney+, but hey, it's distinct.

I didn't even get to What If...?, Falcon and Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Thor: Love and Thunder, and a bunch of others. BUt I think I've shown here that Phase 4 of the MCU has an opportunity to really have a smorgasbord of styles, and I'm excited to see it.

Which one are you most excited for, Cubers?

P.S., #SaveDaredevil and #SaveSpiderMan

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