Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Regardless of its over-saturation throughout the cinematic market and eventual plateau in high quality, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has continued to prevail in offering the most important and brightest of superhero media in each movie and tv. Whereas many will argue on the implications of its success, one factor that’s clear has been the sentiment relating to the MCU feeling extra homogenous as time goes by (with a few of their signature parts, extra particularly its long-form narrative construction and lack of stakes, being its most controversial). If Disney and Marvel Studios need to proceed to thrive on this post-Endgame panorama – particularly as different studios proceed to copy their success and oversaturate the market – their most suitable choice could also be to look inward and department out in direction of one thing that’s rather less structured, and a little bit darker; an answer they already tried greater than a decade in the past, with their now-defunct Marvel Knights manufacturing arm.


Just like the comics imprint of the identical identify, Marvel Knights was the MCU’s short-lived movie studio for characters that had been extra mature in nature, with their movies slowly gaining a cult following within the years since their launch. Solely two theatrical movies had been launched underneath that label: the primary being 2008’s Punisher: Conflict Zone, and the second being 2012’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. On the time, the movie rights for each characters belonged to Lionsgate and Sony Photos, respectively, so whereas Kevin Feige and his crew had been busy making movies that higher suited their multi-arc saga (and earlier than they had been purchased by Disney), the Marvel Knights model was used to showcase tasks that weren’t aligned with their imaginative and prescient. That distinction was a retroactive blessing to some at the moment, serving as a reminder when movies of the style instructed a standalone story that had no concern to arrange the following huge factor by the tip of it. These had been films that simply wanted to be pretty much as good as they may very well be, and since they weren’t given as a lot oversight because the MCU, that allowed them to virtually get away with no matter they needed.

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Wanting Via the Lens of ‘Punisher: Conflict Zone’

Picture by way of Marvel Studios

Punisher: Conflict Zone is technically each a reboot for the stone-cold vigilante and a sequel to the movie led by Thomas Jane from 2004, solely this time with Ray Stevenson taking part in Frank Citadel. The movie by Lexi Alexander is, to place it bluntly, über metallic. It’s a enjoyable motion film that makes nice use of its R-rating to a hysterically gory diploma, which is greater than becoming for a personality like Punisher. A number of the kills within the movie are so gnarly and ridiculous that they stunning a lot rival the violence you’d count on from a Friday the thirteenth movie. If nothing else, it must be admired for probably being the one movie to ever show a person taking a missile to the abdomen whereas cartwheeling via the air.

As a fan of the Punisher rising up, I look again at Conflict Zone with the identical stage of respect I’ve for the MCU-connected Netflix collection. Each are an ideal showcase of what Frank Citadel’s battle on crime might be, with one serving as this bloody introspective look on trauma, and the opposite being only a foolish popcorn film a couple of man who’s pissed off at mob bosses and desires to stay it the place it hurts. Individuals didn’t see that upon the movie’s launch, the place it bombed on the field workplace and was critically panned. It took a while for the movie to get its likelihood within the solar, with individuals like Patton Oswalt being a vocal supporter of over-the-top motion and violence. Whereas it’s doable for somebody like Jon Bernthal’s Punisher to one way or the other discover a spot throughout the bigger MCU, it might be a wasted alternative to not take that model of the character and proceed to create tales with him that aren’t restricted by the franchises’ smart pointers.

The Extremely Bonkers ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’

The same story can be stated with the additionally critically-panned Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the sequel to the 2007 movie starring Nicolas Cage because the half-man/half-flame demon Johnny Blaze. The movie’s premise is kind of the bonkers one, the place a drunken priest performed by Idris Elba seeks out Blaze, so he can cease the satan who turned him into the Ghost Rider from merging with a boy who’s basically the antichrist. It was directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor of Crank fame, and for what it is price, you are feeling it in each body of this off-the-wall, oddball motion film. Spirit of Vengeance is a movie that’s all the time going to be divisive, to say the least, as a result of it’s an motion movie that’ll gel along with your tastes or not. There are various issues that may be stated about this film, however one factor that’s clear is the way it was clearly made by individuals who love making one thing weird and edgy. However that shouldn’t be taken as an offense! Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was a movie made by distinct voices who tried so as to add one thing totally different to the desk. Whereas it wasn’t universally liked or worthwhile, the core concept behind it’s precisely what must be carried out by the MCU: unrelated tasks the place filmmakers can create one thing that’s actually distinctive from the primary course (and hopefully good).

Whether or not we prefer it or not, the movie trade has been making financial institution for greater than a decade with the superhero style, and it’s truthful to say that this success might be largely attributed to the then-risky endeavors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These dangers had been paid off after which some, however as we method 15 years of Marvel dominating the market, it’s changing into clear that one other 15 years of the identical system just isn’t going to chop it, particularly when you may have DC Studios and its non-canon Elseworlds label on the horizon. The MCU must department out, not like how they’ve carried out with their Disney+ exhibits and their Particular Displays, however like the way it was a few years in the past whenever you had these Marvel Knights comics that had these distinctive kinds to them and had been not like one another.

One would think about a media empire with Disney cash might make some good cheddar on tasks like a trustworthy Miracleman movie, a ’70s throwback Heroes for Rent collection, or a Miller-inspired Elektra anime by a famend worldwide studio. And as they realized all these years in the past, these nice dangers might typically include nice rewards. Individuals will clearly go to the flicks to see the Punisher hang around with Spider-Man, however at this second the place nearly each superhero movie is a few interconnected setup for the approaching sights, perhaps a Punisher film the place he’s simply doing his factor combating his method out of sure demise is all you actually need.

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