Why the Marvel Cinematic Universe feels like a television show
Marvel movies just aren't as exciting as they used to be. That's not to say that I no longer enjoy watching them or don't get excited about specific instalments, because I do. I also continue to buy into the marketing efforts that comes so easily from the behemoth that is Disney, but my excitement for the franchise as a whole has really mellowed out over the years. Walking into a Marvel movie now, there's more a sense of expectation, rather than anticipation.
Come to think of it, this is the exact feeling I get with a lot of television shows that I follow. They always start with a bang, I'm hooked, and then I stay on board despite the wavering creative choices that follow in the ensuing years. I more or less still enjoy the series as a whole, and every once in a while, there will even be surprises and monumental episodes that bring forth a rush of energizing excitement. I'm referring to season finales and episodes with major plot twists. The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be following this same equation, adapting an almost identical model to the big screen.
You can pretty much consider Phase 1 as seasons 1-3; everything felt new and original, and there was a hoping that this would last and continue for the ages. With Phase 2, you know that sense of familiarity and levelled expectation that you get with seasons 4-5 of a solid show? Check. Avengers: Age of Ultron was pretty much the equivalent of a season finale, meaning, you get more excited about it because the stakes are (as advertised) higher and more people show up to play. And as with television, you get the occasional flashes of genius where they try to introduce a new story element or character, and the equivalent here would be Guardians of the Galaxy. Sometimes, however, theses flashes don't necessarily materialize in full form and a fresh example of that would be Doctor Strange. With Phase 3 in full force now, we're definitely in the 'later seasons' stage and Marvel can pretty much coast for as long as they want. Everyone's still gonna show up because they're in too deep at this point. I'm pretty sure this kind of sentiment is the only reason why people still watch Grey's Anatomy. Go ahead, do your google search, that show is actually still on.
So am I trying to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe sucks now? Absolutely not. There's an assured level of quality that has been surprisingly consistent across all the Marvel films, and they have never stopped being very fun pieces of entertainment. It's really more the luster and energy of the films, and perhaps the films' audience (speaking for myself only, of course) that has changed. As mentioned before, expectation seems to trump anticipation these days when it comes to Marvel. It's rather comfortable watching a Marvel movie, much as it's comfortable watching one of your favourite television shows. This is really uncharted territory as no one has ever done what Marvel is currently doing, and it's just exciting to have been there as it happened.