Following the end of the Infinity Saga with Avengers: Endgame in 2019, the MCU has had the opportunity to take more risks and gambles with its storytelling in theaters and on Disney+. This includes introducing the MCU's Multiverse for the first time, which made a profound impact on projects like Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home - and that's only the start.
Now that the MCU is going into its second full year of content in Phase 4, it's becoming clear that the Multiverse will play a major role in the overarching story for the foreseeable future. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will ensure that as the first theatrical release of year, fully utilizing its title as alternate realities are explored more than in any MCU movie ever made.
The big question moving forward is just how often Marvel will use the Multiverse as a key storytelling device, as it's already confirmed to be part of plans for other properties in Phase 4 and beyond. However, according to one of the MCU's most prominent creative heads, that could cause some concern on multiple levels for Marvel Studios.
Endgame Director Expresses Concern with Multiverse Trend
In an interview with IGN, Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo expressed his worries about the growing trend of reusing classic characters that has become rampant throughout the film industry, most recently seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home through the use of the Multiverse.
Russo touched on how the "corporate agenda" works in Hollywood, equating it to executives giving fans more and more of the same thing over and over with barely any changes at all. In the end, he admitted that it's the companies' job "to turn the money printer on" by any means necessary:
"The corporate agenda is: Do you like chocolate ice cream? Well here chocolate ice cream with sprinkles, here's chocolate ice cream with fudge... It's their job to turn the money printer on. It's the creative's job to say, 'Well shit, I don't know if I want to watch that.'"
While corporate entities are focused on the bottom line, Russo stated that it's creatives' jobs to "push back against the money printer" and go against expectations. In regards to the rising fad of recycling older characters which studios are continuing to make happen with the Multiverse, Russo feels there are plenty of creative minds that can still surprise people, but also said to not expect corporations to do the same:
"So yeah, too much of one thing is a bad thing, but I think there are enough creators and innovators in the space where you can expect to be surprised. Just don't expect corporations to surprise you."
Too Much Multiverse? It Could Happen?
Is it truly possible to have too much of a good thing? According to Joe Russo, that answer is a definitive yes.
Marvel Studios has been teasing the existence of the Multiverse since the end of Phase 3 when Mysterio made Peter Park believe in its reality during Spider-Man: Far From Home. Now that Phase 4 is here, the expansive concept has already been utilized in two live-action projects and the animated series What If...?, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
Russo has seen his fair share of high-stakes storytelling after directing two Captain America movies and two Avengers epics alongside his brother Anthony in Phases 2 and 3. Although they didn't use the Multiverse in any of their four films, the duo understand better than almost anyone how dangerous it can be to tackle one plot device too heavily, as exciting as it may be.
Whether Russo returns to the MCU or not, he's keeping a close eye on how the story progresses, particularly with the Multiverse. Marvel can use the concept wherever the studio chooses, but they'll have to make sure that it's not something fans get tired of anytime soon.
The MCU will return to theaters with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, 2022.