There are currently 34 Marvel Cinematic Universe films (and counting), and a majority of those films have done some incredible numbers at the box office. As many who cover the film industry know, great box office returns don’t always equate to a good movie, and there are certainly some MCU films that would have served the franchise better as a TV show than a theatrical production.
This doesn’t mean that the film is bad in a cinematic sense. However, some films could stand a bit more character and story growth, which is where television has an advantage over movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy
This film was a critical and box office success, but if seen from today’s eyes, one could come away with the realization that the characters powering 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy were tailor-made to be a Disney Plus series.
It would have fleshed out the interesting characters and brought a new, compelling story that viewers could follow every week, much in the same vein as The Mandalorian or WandaVision.
Ant-Man was an interesting character for Marvel to bring to the big screen. It was a gamble, for sure, but the gamble paid off to the tune of over $500 million at the box office in 2015. Given the plot of the film, Ant-Man could have also been easily created as a television series.
With Netflix ready to bring Marvel to life on the small screen at the time, Ant-Man could have been that A-listed superhero to go along with the franchise B-listed heroes that would categorize the Netflix Marvel shows. Ant-Man may have played a role in the MCU movie franchise, but Marvel missed an opportunity to expand the lore on television.
Eternals was supposed to be a huge cinematic event, but it turned out to be kind of a dud. The film received mixed reviews and reactions from critics and audiences alike. Watching Eternals, one can’t help but think, “This could have been better as a Disney+ show.”
The storyline, about a group of superheroes who finally come and save the Earth from the Deviants, would have been better strung together in a six-to-eight-part mini-series on the streaming network. Marvel missed the mark with this set of heroes.
Relative to other Marvel movies, 2019’s Captain Marvel has a slightly complicated backstory. The film finds Carol Danvers (played wonderfully by Brie Larson), who tries to balance her Kree side with her human side and, eventually, becomes Captain Marvel, who has to save the world from a war between two alien races, both of whom are using Earth as a giant punching bag.
Despite the mixed reviews the film got, it was a nice entry into the MCU and fitted the Avengers story arc well. However, the story of Captain Marvel could have benefited more from being its television series. A Captain Marvel show on streaming (either on Netflix or Disney+) could have been a huge success and went deeper into the lore of one of the MCU’s strongest superheroes.
The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk is the only MCU film that has had a television adaptation before, not once but twice. The first, and more successful series, ran on CBS for five seasons between 1977 and 1982. 14 years later, Hulk would be back on TV in animated form, but the cartoon only ran for two seasons on the low-rated UPN Network. The Hulk has been on the small screen, but an MCU TV series of the character could have been something unique.
Despite being an integral part of the Avengers, the Hulk’s MCU storyline always felt on the backburner, and Bruce Banner having his television series (again) would have been a better medium to explore his character. However, his importance in the Avengers, and being a huge box office draw, practically required him to be on the big screen in all his green, angry glory. A Hulk Disney+ series set in the multiverse would make for must-watch streaming, and Marvel should seriously consider thinking about that.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Have you ever watched a film and thought to yourself, “That would have been better as a television show?” If so, that film probably was Captain America: The First Avenger. Granted, it was a decent movie that did its purpose to introduce the first Avenger into the MCU, but The First Avenger would have been better as a TV series. It would have been interesting watching Steve Rogers explore 2011 America, and defend the Earth from disasters of cataclysmic proportions.
Back in 2011, Netflix was just entering its streaming prime. If Marvel would have focused on the streaming medium as hard as it did the theaters back in 2011, a series revolving around Captain America would have been an instant hit.
Black Widow will be a big part of the MCU going forward, but the film that debuted her character into this sprawling superhero world felt more like a standalone film than one that integrates itself into the MCU. Given that thinking, Black Widow may have been better off on Disney+ as a limited series in the same vein as WandaVision.
The story of the Black Widow is too sprawling to be condensed into 134 minutes, and it could have benefited better from having an eight-episode arc that would have told the Black Widow story, and established her as an integral part of the MCU as it moves into its multiverse phase. It just seemed like another missed opportunity by Marvel.
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