the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has set many records to become one of the most successful franchises. Its shared universe has extended the potential of interconnected films while its dominance of cinema continues to inspire heated debate.
Backed by the vast resources of Disney, Marvel Studios’ connected brand has grown to encompass limited series and multi-season TV shows as it spins through the multi-year storylines it loves to tell. through chapters.
The MCU hasn’t outgrown its source – there are thousands of characters, stories, and ideas still untapped from decades of Marvel Comics. But cinematic and on-page Marvel could never be the same. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness confirmed the on-screen Earth as 616, a familiar number from the Marvel Comics Multiverse. But since the MCU is an adaptation of that comic Earth, it might as well be another Marvel Earth entirely.
The relationship between movies and comics is not reciprocal. While the MCU picks the creme de la creme of storylines from the pages, it hasn’t transferred to a boom in comic book sales. It’s a mixed blessing for Marvel that many people’s first encounter with Marvel giants like Iron Man, Hulk, and Black Panther is through the movies.
The MCU owes its existence to the comics that inspired it, but its success is due to the studio’s cinematic approach. Under the guidance of Marvel Studios President Kevin Fiege, the franchise has remained fresh, even when formulated, ensuring its films draw inspiration from different film genres.
Naturally or supernaturally, all Marvel movies are superhero movies. There’s no escaping this genre with its touches of sci-fi, a dash of fantasy and a healthy dose of comedy. But there are hints of a surprising range of genres the universe dives into, keeping things fresh and opening up unexpected ways to tell its stories.
Here’s our breakdown of every MCU movie by genre.
The MCU was forged during the war, on the battlefields of Afghanistan, where billionaire defense contractor Tony Stark was forced to transform into Iron Man. The MCU’s first set piece was a savage attack. Superheroes and conflict go hand in hand, and it’s never far from the big screen MCU. But some movies lean more than others into the horror and the aftermath – the transition from Age of Ultron for Civil war is a great example. When more Avengers are involved, the risk of war increases. the infinity saga could not have ended otherwise.
- Iron Man (2008)
- The Avengers (2012)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Probably the most controversial genre in the MCU, though the franchise only got spooky with Multiverse of Madness (checking off at least ten horror subgenres). Although the franchise has quickly moved away from those horror roots, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde haunt Banner and Hulk’s struggle to control a body.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- strange doctor (2016)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
A surprisingly short list, considering that the god of thunder Thor is one of the most successful characters in the MCU. The mythological elements that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and a host of creators have drawn from Marvel Comics have often had a strong basis in cosmic science fiction. Unlike its sequels, the first Thor vehicle focuses entirely on the collision of our Earth superheroes and the new mythology at the end of the rainbow bridge.
It could be grouped with war movies, but that’s not a mistake iron man 2 begins with Ivan Vanko watching Stark’s press conference at the end of the first film. It focused on revenge – especially robot-supported commercial revenge – and the consequences of Tony Stark’s decision to become a public superhero could have been better explored, but the MCU was concerned about building the universe.
The first film to be set entirely in the past, Captain America was no gimmick but reflected Timely Comics’ fascinating journey into Marvel Comics. The 1990s also defined Captain Marvel’s debut.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
Shane Black took the reins on Marvel’s first billion-dollar solo outing. It was no surprise that the wickedly sharp writer behind the lethal weapon The franchise gave us an 80s/90s buddy movie, starring Stark and Rhodey against super-soldiers Extremis.
It’s tough, but how could a movie that pits a Norse god against dark elves not be a fantasy? Dark Elves!
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Spy and political thriller
The Winter Soldier inspired by 70s conspiracy thrillers like All Male Presidentsresulting in the gravity of that film’s Robert Redford as big bad Hydra Alexander Pierce. Black Widow took a more direct approach as the MCU’s twist on the james bond franchise, with a Bond Villain-style cloud base.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Black Widow (2021)
Space operas are all sweeping generalizations, but that’s where Marvel stories trespass into studio mate territory. star wars. The first one Guardians the movie was a risk that paid off when he itched that scratch. They might not be to everyone’s taste, but MCU’s space operas have proven to be more consistent than star wars under the supervision of Disney. Things naturally got a bit cosmic when Ego introduced us to the Celestials in Guardians 2ready for the epic themes of Eternals. But there’s also the classic alien makeup of the Marvel Universe. The Guardians established the Kree as a threat, while the Skrull appeared in the period piece Captain Marvel.
- guardians of the galaxy (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Eternals (2021)
Avengers: Endgame would be a shoo-in for this genre if it weren’t for the epic battle of its third act. Instead, it’s about the sleaziest Avenger and the inevitable perks of its technology.
- The ant Man (2015)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
This could be called the John Hughes genre of the MCU. Absorbed in the MCU, Peter Parker was sent back to school. From the wrong direction Back home At the central anchor of Spidey’s second film, a travel diary, the romantic comedy between Peter and MJ revolved around action adventures. It is most evident in Far from homebut what would have happened in No coming home if Peter hadn’t cared so much about MJ?
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
- Spider-Man: No Coming Home (2021)
Black Panther was an instant classic that erupted vibrantly midway through Phase 3. Wakanda is a totally alien and terrestrial part of MCU Earth. The richest hero? The wittiest hero? It’s a different and dynamically important addition, combining sci-fi with social and historical threads in the best tradition of the genre. Its sequel has a tough act to follow, especially without the huge but grounded presence of Chadwick Boseman.
There’s no doubt that Shang-Chi’s debut in the MCU was a good martial arts movie, whether it was on the buses of San Francisco or the hidden city of K’un-Lun.
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
While the direction of sequels to the films above might seem obvious, the MCU is at its best when it surprises us. Just as Winter Soldier was an unexpected standout, upcoming films planning to catch up with Wakanda and Ant-Man and Wasp might go against expectations.
Risks and genre shuffling showed up in the MCU’s small-screen expansion from Phase Four onwards. What if…? was an anthology from Marvel Comics that brought some of the publisher’s most radical ideas to the screen, like Marvel Zombies.
Hawk Eye riffed on die hard and stands as the MCU’s big Christmas series so far. Falcon and the Winter Soldier continued Captain America’s line in the global conspiracy, while LokiThe first season was obsessed with establishing the multiversal focus of Phase Four. Moon Knight combined horror, mythology and psychological thriller.
The greatest experience to date has been Wanda vision, who tackled the genre head-on. Its first seven episodes were built around American sitcoms over the decades.
What is missing ?
The multiverse has opened up the MCU to even more genre adventures, and Fiege has expressed his wish for the franchise to become more diverse. A genre conspicuous by its absence is the western. 2017 Loganwho took his comic arc leader Old Man Logan, proved to work well in the Universe. As for musicals, you can live with the Multiverse of madness’ piano duel for now.
The MCU has grossed over $25 billion at the global box office in just over a decade, more than the annual GDP of many countries! Few genres should be discarded for a blockbuster franchise that has earned an unprecedented chance to take risks.