Back around Christmas, Marvel fans were given the greatest gift of all. One fan compiled the necessary information to create a Marvel Super-Cut. This all came about when people realized that the phase one films (Iron Man through The Avengers) were all happening around each other and at the same time. Enter the folks over at The Comic Archive who posted two videos to showcase the actual time stamps in each film and how they fit together.
Of course, being the Marvel fan that I am I set out to make one. Luckily I had started my own phase 1 cut at about the same time this came out so I really just had to double check my own cuts. This last weekend, I finished the phase 2 super-cut (Iron Man 3 through Guardians of the Galaxy). After finishing both I realized something, Marvel has created a cohesive universe beyond just sharing characters.
When I was splicing these films together, my main worry was that the scene transitions wouldn’t work out. They were all made by different directors after all and could easily have their own distinct visual style. However, the only one that had any odd or difficult scene transitions was Iron Man 3. Even then, it was just a few slide transitions.
Basically, if you watch any Marvel movie it will have the same distinct style. Scene transitions, camera angles, shots, the whole shebang. Consciously, it doesn’t really mean much. However, on a subconscious level it makes a much bigger difference.
Let me put it this way. If you showed someone all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, who didn’t know who he was, what do think they would say? They would probably pick out all of the classic tropes in a Tarantino film. Long tracking shots, almost theater-like monologues, explosive violence, and Samuel L. Jackson. When you watch a Tarantino film, you recognize that it is a Tarantino film.
Tarantino would fall under the category of Auteur directors. Directors who have such a distinct style that they are seen as the chief author of a film. That the film itself is a direct representation of their creative vision. Other directors that would be included in this category are Akira Kurasawa, Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, and many more.
What Marvel has done has made themselves the Auteur director. By making sure each film is in line with their vision, they can differentiate themselves more distinctly from other super hero films. Plus, since they have a recognizable style I postulate that the audience can more easily be sucked into the film. The audience isn’t having to adjust to a new style.
This really just goes to show just how far Marvel is willing to go to keep and control their brand. It also may shed some light onto why Edgar Wright left Ant-man, a film he had been working on for at least a decade. As the article states, many directors have expressed criticisms on the way that Marvel deals with scripts. However, if they are keeping such a tight hold on the look of their films, it makes sense they would also hold onto the scripts just as fiercely.
As a fan of both of these groups, I was extremely bummed out to find out that Edgar Wright had dropped out. Particularly because his particular style would I believe be aptly suited for an Ant-man movie. Now that I have done these super-cuts however, I think I would side with Marvel. Edgar Wright’s style is very distinct. Utilizing lots of jump shots and other techniques to make full comedic use of the camera. Not just in a script but how he shoots the film.
That video above does a great job explaining it. Basically, Wright’s style allows him to inject visual comedy in any genre of film regardless of the script. Using these techniques, he could have brought the perfect platform for a comedian like Paul Rudd in a more serious setting like Marvel. However, his style would clash with the rest of Marvel. Now if from the beginning Marvel just gave directors a script and allowed them to express their style, I would side with Wright. Since Marvel hasn’t done this, it makes more sense to go with a director who can help shape the story while adopting Marvel’s style.
There is no right or wrong in this. There is just a difference of opinions. While a part of me still wants to see Edgar Wright’s Ant-man, after these super-cuts I would rather have a film that fits in the large universe. Only time will tell and July 17th is fast approaching.