The 7 Biggest Marvel Movie and Television Controversies

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the X-Men movies have not been without their fair share of controversy. Some of it had been political in nature while others have been good old-fashioned nerd-rage. Whether it’s about casting, the butchering and neglect of beloved characters or questionable dialogue choices, various debated about Marvel movies rage on and on. Are these controversies warranted? Has Marvel made changes in response to them? As we look through this list some of the answers might become clear.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest controversies that have sprung up around the Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-Men movies:

  1. The lack of a Black Widow Movie

    Scarlett Johannsson’s portrayal of Black Widow was very popular among fans and many have lamented why she hasn’t gotten a solo movie yet, while nearly every other of the original Avengers have. Fans seem pretty united on being either eager or willing to see a Black Widow movie, the argument simply rages as to why we haven't gotten one yet. Many felt this was because of sexism, seeing as how she was the only female hero in the original team.

    However, Marvel’s first movie starring a female hero is finally coming in the form of Captain Marvel and there’s still no Black Widow movie in sight. Johannsson agrees with the fans it should be done and says the reason it isn’t being done right now is down to her busy schedule. But despite this explanation, the controversy still rages on. 

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  2. Civil War- Whose Side Are You On?

    Whose side are you on, Captain America or Iron Man? The controversy among the fans still rages onto this day, long after the Captain America: Civil War movie has left theatres. Was Tony unfair for going after Bucky the way he did and putting his friends in an underground prison? Or was Steve the bad guy for putting Bucky above everything? Who was right about the issue of government interference with the Avengers?

    The debate even extends beyond that, with many Captain America fans feeling that that their favorite got shafted in his own movie. Despite the fact Captain America is in the movie’s title, many felt the movie focused way too much on Tony. There’s also a lot of general controversy about whether the movie is too overstuffed, Spider-Man’s portrayal, Zemo’s portrayal as a villain and so on.

    And don’t even try to get into comparing the movie to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Some fans point out they’re pretty similar in a lot of ways, while other fans deny this. Then there’s the debate over which movie is better, which will probably never end as long as Marvel vs DC exists. 

  3. Darwin's Death in X-Men: First Class

    X-Men: First Class proves the “Black Dude Dies First” trope is still powerful in Hollywood to this day. You’d think a character who’s power was literally “survive anything” would be able to avoid it, but the writers of First Class were determined to stick with that classic. Darwin’s power is that his body adapts to survive any threat to his life. In the comic books, Darwin was thrown into the vaccumn of space and his body adapted to survive it. When he was threatened by the Hulk, he immediately learned how to teleport. When he was threatened by a literal goddess of death, he transformed into a superior god of death who is immune to her deadly touch.

    What happens in the movie, where he’s stated to have the exact same powerset? All he has to do is swallow an energy ball and he bites it. The nonsensical scene serves no purpose in the narrative- the audience had barely been introduced to the character, so the X-Men’s desire to avenge him rang hollow and they had plenty of other reasons to fight the bad guys. He’s really barely mentioned after this.

    The only explanation for the scene seems to be they wanted to kill the guy so badly they couldn’t let a think like logic get in the way. It follows the unfortunate pattern of black characters being the first ones killed off needlessly because writers consider them to be expendable and only useful as motivation for white characters. Darwin wasn’t technically the first character killed off in the movie, but he was the first and only X-Man killed off , so it still fits that trope.

    The death was so silly and needless and the complaints about it so numerous that many thought Darwin would be revealed to have used his powers to survive in the sequel. But that absolutely did not happen. 

  4. The Monster in Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron was a case where just a few lines caused a lot of trouble. Fans already had mixed feelings about the romance between the Hulk and Black Widow, which suddenly became a thing in this movie despite having zero build-up. The discontent really blew up when Natasha told the Hulk about her tragic backstory which involved being put through hellish training as a child to become an assassin who killed tons of people. However, rather than focusing on any of that, she made special mention of the fact she had been made infertile and then followed it up by saying she, like the Hulk, was a “monster”.

    Many took this to imply that Black Widow was saying her infertility made her monstrous and found that offensive. Others thought she was more referring to the fact she’d been made infertile specifically so she could be a better killing machine. Some agreed that this probably was supposed to be the point, but felt it was poorly phrased and also that it was reductive and cliched that despite the many horrible things about Black Widow’s backstory, the fact she can’t have babies was the part that the movie focused on. Cuz y’know, women and babies, right? Still others argued that that wasn’t the point and the whole exchange was hust there to tie in with the theme of family the movie was pushing. The debate rages on to this day. 

  5. Deadpool in Wolverine: Origins

    Was there anything that fans were as united in their rage about as Deadpool’s appearance in Wolverine: Origins?  The Wade Wilson who showed up early on in the movie was appropriately chatty and snarky, which may have given his fans some hope. But then sheer blasphemy happened- the Merc with a Mouth had his Mouth sewn shut. The raucous humor that was the character’s trademark was completely absent when he was mutilated and brainwashed into being an utterly silent and utterly boring antagonist.

    The villain at the end of the movie was so unlike Deadpool that it seemed like the only reason they even used the character’s name was to spit in fan’s faces.  He had powers he had no business having (like optic blasts), he was now completely without personality, he didn’t have his signature costume, he never did any of the character’s trademark fourth wall-breaking and then he was decapitated unceremoniously.

    Pretty much no one liked this version of Deadpool and the protests were so loud that the studio essentially removed him from continuity and gave us the much more accurate version of the character that headlined the Deadpool movie. The misuse of the character was even parodied by the advertising, with Ryan Reynolds declaring “From the studio who sewed his f**king mouth shut” disdainfully at the beginning of one ad. 

  6. Whitewashing in Doctor Strange

    Fans’ frustration with the lack of Asian characters in Marvel films was growing for a while, but it really boiled over with the release of Doctor Strange. Considering how the story was heavily rooted in Asian mysticism and lore and the Doctor Strange character was “racially ambiguous” at times, many fans saw it as a rare opportunity for Marvel to include some Asian representation and get an Asian hero in there among their sea of white heroes. Not only did this not happen, but Marvel replaced the Asian character the Ancient One with another white character.

    This started a furious debate amongst the fandom, with many pointing out that Marvel was all to happy to use Asian aesthetic, lore, martial arts and mysiticism to “enhance” their white stories, but quailed from including actual Asian people in big roles. Even well-known celebrities like George Takei steeped in to protest the lack of opportunities for Asian actors in Marvel movies. The director responded by blaming “social justice warriors”, saying he was trying not to offend China with a Tibetan character and so on.  It did little to quell the dissent.

  7. Asian Representation in Daredevil and Iron Fist

    The debate about Marvel’s treatment of Asian characters extends even to their Netflix Universe. Iron Fist got similar criticism to Doctor Strange for having a white character essentially be be “better” at the martial arts and mysticism than the people who are actually part of the Asian cultures that created them, fulfilling the “Mighty Whitey” trope.

    The controversy surrounding this kind of thing is far more prominent in 2017 than it was when the character was created. Many reviews and articles pointed out how the show engaged in said trope.

    There’s also a lot of controversy about the use of Asian characters in Daredevil….namely how they’re all inhuman mystical evil-ish ninjas or the hapless stooges of mystical evil ninjas. Literally every single one of them. The only sympathetic, non-ninja member of the evil mystical ninja organization is a white dude. Many reviews have dissected this alongside other race issues.  Of course, on the other side, there are always people arguing it’s not that bad. Some argued that the main character of Iron Fist was mocked for his Mighty Whitey tendencies, some also argued his white privilege is important to his relationship with Luke Cage Meanwhile, I haven’t heard any arguments defending Daredevil’s representation but they exist, I’m sure, probably.