I love you 3000. An analysis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Maya Majgaard Herr
  • Emilie Højer Jørgensen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
In this thesis, we will examine if the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be considered complex. We will analyse the following films Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame which are all from Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase. We have chosen these films because they are connected in terms of storylines, characters, and worlds. We will focus on transmedia storytelling, seriality, kernels and satellites, worldbuilding, and complex media in order to examine the complexities within the films. Traditionally, transmedia storytelling is defined as one continuous story across multiple instalments and platforms. Two important aspects of transmedia storytelling are seriality and worldbuilding, where seriality deals with how stories are told across instalments and worldbuilding deals with how a fictional world is created and what it takes to make a fictional world believable. Kernels and satellites deal with major and minor events that occur in a narrative text and how they impact each other and complex media deals with how popular culture is becoming more and more complex because of multiple storylines that occur in different mediums. It is through these concepts that we will analyse the complexities within the films.
Civil War and the two Avengers films are very serial because they are linked together through information and events that continue from previous films. The three films require the viewers to be familiar with the universe beforehand because they rely heavily on characters, storylines, and events from previous films. Because of this, these films cannot be considered standalone films and viewers need to watch other films in the franchise to understand what is going on. Black Panther, on the other hand, is not very serial, and it can be watched without prior knowledge of the franchise. Whereas Civil War and the two Avengers films are set in a world the viewers are already familiar with, Black Panther is set in an entirely new world, that needs to be built in the film and thoroughly explained, as it is so foreign from the other films. So Black Panther relies on worldbuilding to a much larger degree than Civil War and the two Avengers film.
Throughout our analyses, we have found that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is complex because the franchise is very serial, and it relies on continuity. Moreover, the world, the stories are set in, is vast and complicated. This allows storylines to expand across the films and create a more complex story. The Marvel Cinematic Universe requires viewers to pay close attention to the films as what can seem like a small detail will become important in later films. Due to the films’ vast world and stories, we consider it to be complex as viewers need to invest a lot of time to be able to fully understand the films and get the full entertainment experience of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As Marvel is moving into a new era, now that the Infinity Saga is completed, it will be interesting to see if they will simplify the universe going forward or if they will continue as they are. Both directions have their advantages and disadvantages, and the discussion will try to outline some of the problems they may face. One of these problems being that they can lose existing viewers if they go in a completely new direction or alternatively, they can find it difficult to gain new viewers if they continue to make the franchise more complex than it already is, as 23 films is a lot to take on for a new viewer.
Publication date1 Jun 2020
Number of pages114
ID: 333378532