I’ve made no secret of my growing dissatisfaction with the MCU. And She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the latest slice of the interconnected comic book universe has done precious little to reverse my Marvel fatigue.
I should clarify upfront that I don’t think She-Hulk is a bad show. Just very bland. And that’s become an increasingly common trend with the MCU, particularly in the TV space. The glut of Disney Plus shows have rapidly worn me down to the point where I only finished the likes of Hawkeye and Moon Knight out of a sense of obligation to stay in the loop rather than because I genuinely wanted to see how those series concluded.
However, the one-two-punch of Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk convinced me that I really don’t need to watch everything MCU, it’s perfectly okay, even preferable, to pick and choose the stuff that captures your attention and skip the rest. Having now put this new approach into practice in recent weeks, I’m suddenly and surprisingly more excited about Marvel than I was before.
I walked away from She-Hulk
Earlier this summer I very nearly stopped watching Moon Knight. I’m fully aware that my dislike of the Oscar Isaac-fronted show is a controversial take, but the show lost me in the malaise of its middle episodes.
After some passionate (to put it mildly) reactions to my various articles expressing my disappointed with the show, I pushed on and finished the series.
Then next up came Ms. Marvel, and to be honest I found the first two episodes pretty refreshing. I loved Iman Vellani in the central role of Kamala Khan, and the significantly lower stakes appealed to me after so many MCU projects where the hero needs to prevent some global catastrophe or world-ending threat.
Unfortunately, the shine started to wear in subsequent episodes and, as of the time of writing, I’ve still got two episodes left of the series. I’ve struggled in recent weeks to summon the enthusiasm to finish the series. My motivation wasn’t helped by having the ending spoiled for me courtesy of social media — but that’s the risk we take while aimlessly internet scrolling these days.
In steps She-Hulk, the latest MCU show and is currently two-thirds of the way into a nine-episode run. I hate to sound like a broken record here, but after an initially promising first episode, the next two chapters in Jennifer Walters’ story left me pretty underwhelmed. The fourth-wall-breaking humor felt uninspired, and Walters’ ability to turn into a big green rage monster so far appears almost unnecessary to the story. A strange narrative decision in my eyes.
Since watching those first three episodes as soon as they hit Disney’s streaming service, I’ve fallen behind as the weekly rollout continues ahead full steam. And instead of feeling a desperate urge to catch up to avoid having the climax spoiled for me as happened with Ms. Marvel, I actually feel really pleased to have let She-Hulk pass me by, almost like a weight has been lifted.
I don’t feel the compulsion to carry on watching She-Hulk the same way I do with a show like House of the Dragon. The latter has me almost physically itching for each new installment, but it’s been very rare for an MCU show to give me that same feeling, and unfortunately, She-Hulk definitely hasn’t. If my overriding reaction to a TV show is basically a shrug, then it’s probably a good sign to go and watch something else instead.
Make the MCU your own
Up until this point, I’ve been worried that if I skipped a piece of MCU content, be that a movie or a TV show, I would fail to fully understand some future Marvel project. And perhaps that will prove to be the case — maybe something from She-Hulk will be the key to defeating Kang in the next Avengers movie — but I’ve realized that watching a TV show purely because of FOMO is a waste of my own time and isn’t sustainable in the long run.
I don’t need to watch every single piece of MCU content in an attempt to stay within an increasingly unwieldy loop. I can pick and choose the parts of the universe that interest me. For example, I’m really looking forward to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but have next to zero interest in the upcoming series Echo. If I start a new MCU show on Disney Plus and it doesn’t grab me, surely it makes logical sense to bow out once I’m sure the series isn’t for me — that’s the approach I’d take with any non-MCU show after all.
The interconnected nature of the MCU has made me believe that in order to enjoy any of it, I must consume all of it, but I'm no longer convinced that's true. I’ve argued before that I want the MCU to slow down for a breath, but clearly, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. It’s full steam ahead for the foreseeable future. So a new strategy was clearly needed.
Going forward, instead of demanding that the MCU bend to my wants or forcing myself to watch mediocre content, I’m instead going to curate the franchise myself picking out the movies/shows that appeal to me and letting the other stuff fall by the wayside.
This new approach is already getting me excited about the MCU again. Now when I look at the list of upcoming MCU movies and TV shows instead of feeling overwhelmed with how much stuff is on the horizon, I pick out the highlights that interest me most. Plus, if any of the content I choose to skip ultimately enjoy a rave reception or receive a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague, I can always circle back and catch up.
Now that the MCU appears to be prioritizing sheer quantity over quality, taking a more selective approach is the only way I can see to avoid Marvel burnout. And the last thing I want is to be so sick of the MCU that when the next big event movie hits theatres I'm not even interested. So, if you're starting to feel Marvel fatigue, I suggest you do adopt a similar strategy as well.