Changes are Afoot in the ‘MCU’. We Know This. Change is Inevitable. But it has to be ‘Right’, too..
In case you did not know? Marvel /Disney now has access to a range of new characters: notably, X Men and Fantastic 4. Sadly, they also killed off the ONE character we ALL wanted to see interact with the new acquisitions: TONY STARK (ROBERT DOWNEY JUNIOR).
Let’s reverse engineer this for a second and start with the loss, the death, the deficit. Spoiler alert: Tony Stark /Iron Man dies in ENDGAME. In my opinion, that was a pretentious misstep. Yes, one can argue all they like about character arcs and emotional weight. But in that case, the man should have died in Infinity War, a year previously. That was the ‘dark’ chapter. But Killing him off in Endgame’s final act robbed the entire enterprise of an air punching sense of joy as credits rolled.
This is not Greek tragedy. It’s not even a soap opera like Star Wars (albeit in space). These are wish fulfilment , adolescent fantasies that kids and adults can enjoy, together. You can and indeed should sneak in sophisticated moral motifs and challenging themes, even provocative plot and yes, thoughtful character development. But misery for its own sake? A death that served limited purpose, at least TWENTY years before its time? Nah. Sod off.
Forget the cut/paste designer family log cabin set up (something, incidentally I never truly ‘bought’). ENDGAME should have ended on a high, with Tony/Pepper wedding. Simple. Cue credible reason for his dropping out for a few movies, with option on occasional cameo before a proper return for a belated Iron Man 4 / team up with Captain Marvel and Pepper dressed as She-Ra or something. I digress.
My point is, KILLING this character? A NEEDLESS trauma. It serves little if any narrative purpose if the writers have to lecture you on the narrative purpose! Tony reformed and learned to serve and save by the end of his FIRST movie. The only reason to kill him off is in many years from now to spare him the super-hero old folks’ home. Think Han Solo? But with a far more fitting death scene, obviously.
The ONLY benefit to the abrupt death of my hero? well, it allowed Downey new freedom to do more exciting and eccentric work, unbound by the corporate cuffs. The fact that he is now doing Sherlock Holmes 3 and Dr Dolittle indicate that he is playing it safe at first. But only at first. He could have enjoyed a decade of stage and screen work playing to his versatility for villainy in performance and appetite for substantial material Shakespeare, heavy drama, more adult themes and maybe some more outright anarchic comedy.
There was no limit, in addition to his just being able to enjoy the freedom of philanthropy (the enviro project he is working on).
My point is that being liberated from Stark was a great opportunity for this man. Losing that is a curse rather than a blessing and it will backfire on Marvel.
‘Aesthetic distance’: I am not this part. First rule of any acting career.
But in case you had not heard: they are using him in BLACK WIDOW. 2020’s pointless pin off movie for Scar-Jo’s supposedly super-spy. Now, I LOVE Scarlett Johansson when cast ‘right’. I firmly believe her to be one of the best femme fatale louchely lovely movie muses. Match Point is a work of art!
What she isn’t, at least to me, is an action heroine. And, in that flat red/brunette wig and frankly, unflattering role: At best, it was just another name on the supporting cast list.
This was NOT female empowerment or distinctive writing /acting, even with mighty Joss Whedon at the helm. Indeed, any other actress would have struggled. Emily Blunt (the other choice of record) would have been just as flat, I fear. This is an outdated, sub James Bond, sub Red Sparrow cast off and this spin off movie is a decade too late.
Therefore: Throwing in a Tony Stark cameo will..
- Even in prequel mode, remove the impact of Tony’s death, itself a touching note in SPIDER MAN: FAR FROM HOME.
- Ditto for the ‘Widow’: as they killed her, too, In ENDGAME, JUST to give her stuff to ‘do’. THAT’S how dull she is, narrative wise!
- Tie Downey BACK into Marvel. All the promotional / image management burden, none of the spotlight / money truck mega million multi picture ‘we cannot do it without you, Bob’ benefit.
- Reduce the impact of using Downey as the new Stan Lee (cameo in each movie?) or giving him a surprise, massive, mega standalone comeback movie.
- Enforce the idea that Black Widow NEEDS the Stark legacy to shine. Granted, she does! But even so, it lessens the girl power motif, surely??
In short? DOWNEY: UNLESS THEY PAY YOU A BILLION? DO NOT DO THIS 🙂
But, by contrast..tell you what is a GREAT idea..
Speaks for itself, really. It’s hotly rumoured to be a ‘thing’. And I am behind this 100%. It is NOT ‘pandering’. It makes logical, commercial and thematic sense in EVERY way just as killing Stark..didn’t. Allow me to summarise, as follows..
- Enables the phasing in of Mutants to the MCU via the BLACK PANTHER mythology, rather than needing umpteen reboots etc.
- Just IMAGINE Magneto unleashing hell on his otherwise beloved Wakanda? ALL that metal and tech..AND Boseman vs a misguided mentor figure? Continuing the dynamic he had with Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger, seamlessly.
- Same way they can sneak in Dr Doom via his own film (mooted) and thereby, Fantastic 4..without having to over-explain. These figures were always ‘there’..just previously unmentioned or awaiting the call to do something of epic good /evil impact?
- Avoids the whole specificity of the Nazi holocaust as origin point (Magneto would be 100 by now if that were so..or round that age, anyway..he’d be OLD!).
- A much needed new spin / injection of adrenaline, whilst honouring the spirit of previous takes on the properties in question.
- Facilitates the ethos of touching on issues that have political /social /adult importance, whilst remembering the idea is analogy, metaphor. So, you can briefly show, say the Civil Rights struggle in South Africa or the Rodney King /OJ era America..without didactic dwelling on their imagery as substitute for the comic book hokum. Get the kids curious, via the fun way in?
- Enforces the idea that nobody in the existing MCU ‘missed’ the Mutant world; they just took time in emerging because their leader was awaiting the right time to direct an uprising?
- Sets up a potential /inevitable AVENGERS V X MEN movie, whilst equally facilitating longer term team ups like ‘Illuminati‘ (Dr Strange, Reed Richards, Prof X, Bruce Banner?).
- Honours the original analogy in Stan Lee’s mind of Malcolm X (X..geddit) vs Martin Luther King. This was ALWAYS a ‘black thing’, bro! So why not go full scale meta-textual?!
- Fan art ALREADY has DENZEL as Magneto. WOW! just IMAGINE that. His sympathetic charisma, seductive smile, aura of sheer force of nature unbound COOL..but bad..REALLLLY eeeevilll? AND the right age: not as young as the Fassbender iteration but younger than McKellan and easily with maybe a decade’s worth of movies in him for the franchise until it ‘evolves’ again?
- Notice too: Denzel has a similar looking son..who could play Magneto junior or young Magneto in flashbacks. #cashback!
- If it really is a big hitter like Mr Washington as Magneto? You MORE than fill the current vacancy in the Tony Stark blockbusting charisma level department. Almost. 😉
More details on the projects mentioned available..when we have them. Til then it’s just speculation. Even if your’e a psychic mutant.
James Murphy is my name. But I prefer: MAGNETO 😉 Oh and I adore January Jones: bring HER back to the X Men, please!