While on a press tour for She-Hulk, Mark Ruffalo spoke with Metro about Marvel’s use of VFX and the enormity of the output from the studio. While he had only glowing praise for the leaps and bounds that CGI has taken over the past decade or so that he’s been involved with Marvel, he had some stronger feelings about the amount of “content” that Marvel puts out.
Ruffalo said that he’s not worried about the amount of work that Marvel releases. “I understand that these things run their course and then something else comes along. But the thing Marvel has done well is that, inside the MCU, just as they do with comic books, they let a director or an actor sort of recreate each piece to their own style, their likeness.”
A bold claim, considering that even as Marvel attempts to make in-roads into other genres with its work, there’s an overriding same-y tone and need for connection that sometimes frustratingly overrides that. And considering the new allegations about how Marvel films their movies, I don’t think that this is a very strong argument at all. Visual flair is well and good, but if you’re just offering variations on a theme is it really distinct?
Next, Ruffalo continues to dig his grave deeper by poking at the other big franchise that might be able to compete with Marvel’s output–fellow Disney megafranchise Star Wars. “If you watch a Star Wars, you’re pretty much going to get the same version of Star Wars each time… You’re always, really, in that same kind of world. But with Marvel you can have a whole different feeling even within the Marvel Universe.”
The thing is that part of me agrees with him: Star Wars does reuse the same stories and tropes, and seems to have an affinity for desert planets that I cannot truly comprehend, but to compare Marvel and Star Wars and act as if either one is superior to the other on an artistic basis of originality feels like a little bit of throwing stones in glass houses at this point. You’re playing the Hulk, sir, a character that has been adapted in largely similar ways out of the comics ever since Lou Ferrigno’s television Hulk first began airing in 1977, the same year the first Star Wars film released in theaters.
I’m not here to debate the artistic merits of Marvel vs. Star Wars, but to pretend for even a second like directors get more or less control within competing billion-dollar franchises is a fool’s errand. An aside here, but as soon as we start referring to any kind of art (even blockbuster movies) as “content” I feel as if we lose something, culturally speaking. Content feels clinical, it feels transactional in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want content, I want considerate, thoughtful work. I want people to know that this is handmade stuff, that this is done by real people doing real work. There is no such thing as Marvel content, but there is art, and if we treated these massive cultural moments with respect maybe we’d be able to change the culture.
So look, regardless of your feelings about the amount of work that any individual studio puts out, the fact that any actor is being asked to defend it might be a hint that there is, perhaps, too much out there—regardless of what fictional universe it’s from.
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