Summary

  • The MCU’s Phase 5 has received lower Rotten Tomatoes scores than previous Phases, with no titles achieving a critics’ score over 90%.
  • The MCU’s interconnectivity can be both a strength and a weakness, as unpopular releases can impact the perception of other installments. However, certain shared criticisms point at a low quality in multiple projects.
  • To improve the quality of Phase 5, focusing on each individual project’s quality and avoiding repetitive storytelling tropes is crucial. Deadpool 3 and Fantastic Four have the potential to bring the MCU back to its earlier success.


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The seven entries of the MCU‘s Phase 5 have achieved an unfortunate record with critics and audiences. After almost 16 years of success, the MCU continues to expand with multiple movies and shows — some more popular than others, and some more controversial than the rest. The MCU’s real-life timeline hasn’t been without its missteps, as every Phase has had at least one critical or commercial disappointment. After all, with 14 Disney+ releases and 33 movies making up the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, some letdowns are unavoidable. When a trend develops, however, it’s important to take some time to analyze what exactly has been going wrong and what can be improved.

Marvel Studios has already announced several upcoming MCU movies and shows for Phases 5 and 6. Although anticipation for each one of them is enough to guarantee strong initial box office numbers, each release still needs to keep critics and general audiences engaged so the franchise can retain its popularity and reach those projects on solid ground. By the middle of Phase 5, it seems like results could have been much better. Not only have some movies underperformed at the box office, but most MCU Phase 5 movies and shows have landed lower Rotten Tomatoes scores than Marvel Studios may have envisioned.

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MCU Phase 5 Is The First Phase Without Any 90%+ RT Scores

What If…? Season 2 Is The Closest The MCU’s Phase 5 Has Gotten To A 90% Rotten Tomatoes Score

The Phase 5 titles that have been the closest to the 90% mark on Rotten Tomatoes have been What If…? season 2 with an 88%, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with an 82%, and Loki season 2 with an 82% as well. What If…? and Loki‘s second seasons were both preceded by first seasons over 90% — 94% for What If…? season 1 and 92% for Loki season 1 — but that wasn’t enough to carry them over the 90% mark in Phase 5. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has a 94% audience score, which stands over the first movie’s 92% critics and audience scores. Yet, the third installment’s critics’ score falls behind by 12 percentage points.

Phase 5 Title

Rotten Tomatoes Score

What If…? season 2

88%

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

82%

Loki season 2

82%

Echo

73%

The Marvels

62%

Secret Invasion

53%

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

46%

Phase 1 has two MCU movies with an RT score over 90%: Iron Man stands at 94% and The Avengers at 91%. Phase 2 also boasts two movies over 90%, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier at 90% and Guardians of the Galaxy at 92%. Phase 3 holds the record with six MCU movies with an RT score over 90%. Spider-Man: Far From Home and Captain America: Civil War barely join the club at 90% and 91%, Spider-Man: Homecoming surpasses its sequel with 92%, Thor: Ragnarok towers above other Thor movies at 93%, Avengers: Endgame surpasses Avengers: Infinity War by 9 percentage points at 94%, and Black Panther holds the MCU’s top RT score record at 96%.

Why MCU Phase 5 Critic Scores Are So Low

Recurrent Criticisims And Possible Superhero Fatigue May Pull The Whole Franchise Down

Original Avengers and Kang

The MCU’s interconnectivity is a liability as much as it is an asset. While it can get audiences excited for upcoming MCU movies and shows, it also means that unpopular MCU releases can tarnish other unrelated installments or make their creative decisions seem repetitive. For instance, The Marvels doesn’t owe its critical and commercial failure to a singular shared criticism, but it does fail to offer something new among a sea of similar superhero stories. Likewise, Echo season 1’s ending is fitting for Maya Lopez’s character arc, but it repeats the typical MCU trope of the main hero wearing their new costume and embracing their newfound powers to defeat a regretful villain in the series’ climax.

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Beyond the MCU’s recurrent problems, critics agree that several MCU projects are simply flawed in one or more areas, as evidenced by their Rotten Tomatoes scores and reviews. For example, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania failed to take advantage of its protagonists’ already established personalities and abilities, and it struggled to introduce Kang the Conqueror as the MCU’s next big villain — not to mention the poor quality of several of its VFX sequences. It’s also futile to blame Secret Invasion‘s critical failure on an issue like franchise fatigue, as its issues with directionless writing, dull directing, baffling character arcs, and incoherent plot twists are at the heart of most audiences and critics’ reviews.

What MCU Phase 5 Movie Or Show Could Fix This Problem

Consistency And Focus On Each Project’s Quality May Be The Key To The MCU’s Success

Captain-america-sam-wilson-agatha-harkness-antman-and-the-wasp-quantumania-loki-phase-5

If every Phase 5 movie and show focuses on what its own story requires, then the MCU may be able to rebuild a streak of successes and shake off the notion of superhero fatigue. Fortunately, some of the MCU’s most anticipated movies are next in line. Deadpool 3 and Fantastic Four could bring the MCU back to its $1 billion and 90% RT score era by concept alone, and if they manage to be strong self-contained stories as well, Marvel could have two more hits the size of Black Panther. On the TV side, X-Men ’97 and Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man could follow in What If…?‘s footsteps and deliver a surprise as popular MCU animated titles.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has the highest Rotten Tomatoes score for a Fantastic Four movie with 38%. 2005’s Fantastic Four holds a 28% critics’ score, while 2015’s Fantastic Four stands at 9%.

To escape increasingly negative reception, future MCU Phase 5 movies and shows must prioritize the quality of each project over its connection to other titles. Say, if the project’s plot and character arcs point in the direction of a low-stakes conclusion, then it likely doesn’t need to force an action-fueled final battle just for the sake of brand consistency. In fact, Phase 5 already proved that this approach could work with Loki season 2’s finale, where Tom Hiddleston’s Loki provided an epic, bittersweet conclusion to the MCU‘s biggest conflict so far with the rather minimalistic decision to handle the Sacred Timeline with his own hands and sit on a throne at the end of time.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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