Age Of Quibbling
You've probably already seen Avengers: Age Of Ultron, going by the box office receipts (the film has already sailed past $875 million worldwide). Financially, Marvel are going great guns and their position as the biggest and arguably best blockbuster studio currently looks unassailable.
There are things that could be handled better, though. Indeed, while there's no doubting the quality of the studio's output, it is starting to edge close to repetition and with two (soon three) films a year, that could become a real problem.
So, call it niggling if you like, but these are the eight things we'd like to see the studio work on fixing over the next few years.
Change the endings!
Related to that, please can we see an end to the death from above trope. It was cool in Avengers Assemble but the novelty has worn off now that's it's been a feature in every Phase 2 film. No more things falling out of the sky, hordes of monsters swooping down and things crashing into water in front of spooked civilians, please.
Characters have to die
Potential spoilers for Captain America: Civil War ahead.
The Avengers roster is starting to get awfully full... It's time their luck ran out.
Yeah, they killed Coulson in Avengers Assemble, but then they chickened out and gave him a TV show. And then they did it with Quicksilver in Age Of Ultron. But, let's be honest, the X-Men universe has the better version of that character anyway. At some point soon, we're going to have to see one (or more) of the big guys take a bullet.
Now, that may already be in hand given that the film after Ant-Man is an adaptation of the Civil War arc. People die in wars (I know, breaking news, right?) and one hero in particular didn't walk away from that story...
Hopefully the film will follow suit and do something similarly momentous though it doesn't have to be Cap who's killed. Robert Downey Jr has been playing Tony Stark for a long time now. It would be truly shocking if Marvel switched things up and took him out instead, before Infinity War.
Maybe cool it with the crossovers a little
It's great seeing the characters interact, but the cast list for Civil War has been released and, well, it's basically everyone, isn't it?
That's sort of justified given that the storyline is one that throws the entire MCU into chaos, but coming so soon after Age Of Ultron and with DC putting out the similarly hero-heavy Batman V Superman in 2016 it makes you long for the relative simplicity of Thor and a smallish cast of characters doing their thing.
Please stop advertising films years in advance
When I read that there's a Captain Marvel film coming out, I get excited. When I read that I'm not going to see it until 2018 I feel a vertiginous rush of mortality. That's three whole years away and that's not even the last film on Marvel's current slate. The same goes for DC and its expansive roster.
I'm delighted that superhero films are huge and I hope that in five years' time we'll all still be watching them excitedly. But announcing them so far ahead just takes away from the anticipation surrounding the ones closer at hand.
There needs to be more women
At the end of Age Of Ultron, Scarlet Witch has become an Avenger, raising the total from one woman in the team to two. Outside of that gang we've got Lady Sif and Captain Marvel coming up and, er, that's about it.
Oddly, this is less of a problem with the Marvel TV shows. Agents Of SHIELD, for all its flaws, has three female leads. Agent Carter has just been renewed for a second run and we've got AKA Jessica Jones coming up. So why are the films still so full of super-dudes?
Now this isn't a problem that's restricted to Marvel it's a deeply ingrained fallacy that blockbuster movies are "guy films". And Marvel do appear to be making an effort, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
Oh, and that Black Widow movie you're working on that, yeah?
Sort your posters out, gang
A small thing, but seriously have you seen that Ant-Man poster? It's so generic. Given how muted the buzz around that film has been, it really could have done with something bold to get people excited again.
Ant-Man's not the only offender. Age Of Ultron, Winter Soldier... in fact all of the Marvel Studios posters have followed the same template: the hero staring moodily at the viewer in front of a montage of other characters and monsters. It's no big deal, but given how stylish the end credits on these films often are, it's a bit of a shame that we're not seeing anything as iconic.
Give the directors more freedom
Marvel's films are rarely less than very good (even the apparent failures like Iron Man 2 are watchable enough compared to most blockbusters), but the company's consistent tone is starting to feel a little stifling. Their approach, which was revolutionary when Iron Man came out in 2008 is starting to feel dangerously like a formula.
There's no way to know how Edgar Wright's Ant-Man would have differed from the version that we're getting in a few months time. We do know, however, that the best Marvel films have been the ones where the director's vision shone through. That was the case with James Gunn on Guardians Of The Galaxy and Shane Black on (the divisive, but adored by its fans) Iron Man 3.
So, keep on hiring stellar big-name directors, but give them more room to make eccentric and adventurous films. After all, that's how Marvel got to number one in the first place.
Make Thanos threatening
The Infinity War two-parter will live or die on Thanos causing galaxy-wide havoc, but so far all he's been is a big floating space chin. Compared to Loki's elegant menace and Ultron's overwhelming numbers, he's just not very intimidating.
The mid-credit sting in Age Of Ultron hints that he's finally about to get more directly involved in things. Good. So let's seeing him taking on and taking out Avengers left, right and centre. Frankly it's the only way he's going to overcome that slightly daft purple bonce.