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Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase Three announced

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Yet somehow for half a century, writers were able to write these characters with secret identities not just effectively but plausibly and reasonably even within their context.  And for good reason: being identified as the guy who is most causing problems for bad guys and villains makes not them, but everyone they are close to, their workplaces, and their neighbors targets for the most powerful and worst people on earth.  In a way, Iron Man's "I am Iron Man" comment had the reasonable and logical results: he's attacked everywhere he goes, his home is wiped out, his friends harmed and attacked, his company under assault, etc.

 

Plus, there's what Batman Begins notes: psychologically, the unknown masked hero has a certain effect on culture and one's opponents.

 

The "no secret identities" thing is less about reasonable and quality writing and more about a certain worldview rejecting what has happened in the past and how things were done because we all know better now©

 

Plus, I should note that failing to understand heroism, objective good, and justice, modern writers have the Superheroes almost never actually out fighting bad guys, but rather dealing with the consequences of their past behavior.  So the concept of "secret identity to protect me and others from the bad guys I bring to justice" really has almost no validity of point in the stories.  They aren't even bothering to do that.  They don't go out and find bad guys to fight, they have powers and fix their screwups.

 

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When a new movie will only be made every two or three years, do we need a recurring villain?  How many movies could be made if we put 2 or 3 existing Marvel, or DC, villains in each one, with no need to ever create a new one?

 

There's nothing about not killing a villain which compels you to bring them back in the next movie.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Regarding secret identities in the MCU, I think you have look at the heroes Marvel ended up using in their Phase One properties. Tony Stark is a billionaire with a head full of vital technological and defense secrets, his face recognized around the world. He could hardly have a bigger target on his back because he wears a metal suit. Steve Rogers was a soldier deliberately made into a high-profile symbol of America, and presumed dead for nearly seventy years. It wouldn't make sense for his true identity not to be a matter of public record. Thor is a prince and a god. He's used to being a public figure, and has no incentive to try to blend into society -- with his appearance and personality, that might not even be possible. The Hulk's alter ego has been widely recognized in the comics for decades. It's part of Bruce Banner's tragedy that he was often targeted by those who hunt the Hulk.

 

Black Widow and Hawkeye (in his Ultimates-inspired MCU form) are professional government operatives. They're well known in certain circles, and only assume other identities as needed for covert missions. T'challa is king of his country, and its champion as the Black Panther (a fact not known outside of MCU Wakanda before the events of the Civil War movie). Scarlet Witch and Vision have never hidden their real identities in the comics.

 

All of this is also true in the comics.  Steve Rogers was not always known to be Cap (it was a Golden Age secret) but he also took no special steps to hide his identity.  Tony Stark maintained a secret ID for a long time, but in the comics, he did not have that giant ego to deal with.  Thor had Don Blake,  but that did not transition to the movies.  Marvel never made the same big deal of secret IDs that DC did - it was character-dependent.  Like:

 

2 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Spider-Man in the MCU retains a secret identity, as does Daredevil in its television analogue. It makes sense for them to do so; they live relatively ordinary civilian lives, and have loved ones they lack the resources to continuously protect if targeted by their enemies.

 

As well, do you want the villains to know you are a high school student, or a blind man compensating with other senses?

 

And, as indicated below, the comics have largely evolved to "each character makes his own call whether to keep a secret ID".  How is Cage supposed to cash his Hero for Hire cheques if he can't have a bank account?  

 

3 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

OTOH Luke Cage had a past he tried to hide, but after adopting his new name never hid it or his face.

 

But even characters with secret identities in the MCU don't guard them as jealously as their comic-book counterparts used to do. To me that's a good thing. Many of those SID characters came across as paranoid, hiding who they are from family, friends, even fellow heroes they worked with for years. Being a superhero is stressful enough, without being unable to talk about those stresses

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2 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Yet somehow for half a century, writers were able to write these characters with secret identities not just effectively but plausibly and reasonably even within their context.  And for good reason: being identified as the guy who is most causing problems for bad guys and villains makes not them, but everyone they are close to, their workplaces, and their neighbors targets for the most powerful and worst people on earth. 

 

Really?  50 years of ace investigative reporter Lois Lane,  not to mention the rest of the Daily Planet staff, being tricked by a pair of glasses is plausible and reasonable?  Superman is, in modern canon, Clark Kent because he can be "off duty", and because it is actually harder being a reporter than taking in bank robbers.

 

2 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 In a way, Iron Man's "I am Iron Man" comment had the reasonable and logical results: he's attacked everywhere he goes, his home is wiped out, his friends harmed and attacked, his company under assault, etc.

 

Plus, there's what Batman Begins notes: psychologically, the unknown masked hero has a certain effect on culture and one's opponents.

 

One reason to keep a secret ID is that what you are doing is illegal, so not letting anyone know who Batman, or the Hood, might be is a means of staying out of jail.  This depends on the manner in which we treat Supers in the genre - MCU has gone to "they are heroes so let them do their job", until we got the Sokovia accords (another reason to keep one's ID a secret).  The ArrowVerse?  Oliver has been investigated three times as being the illegally-operating costumed archer.

 

2 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

There's nothing about not killing a villain which compels you to bring them back in the next movie.

 

While true, the original writer of the Joker saw no reason to keep him alive.  Instead, he was not killed because the editor saw a purpose in making him available as a recurring villain.  Besides, the comics are littered with villains we thought were dead, who survived.  That's also a trope (Roy Thomas commonly used to explain how the villain survived when he next appeared).  That one has made the crossover - we all thought the Red Skull was dead, didn't we?

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35 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

It occurred to me due to the comment on "westerns" versus "comic books".  Two Gun Kid, Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, (the original) Ghost Rider (now we have a crossover of westerns and masked crimefighters)  - MCU could have had 20 movies series of Westerns if they mined their archives.  The Lone Ranger alone has been on radio, TV, movies, books and comic books.

 

Comic books do humour, war, crime, horror, mystery,  westerns, science fiction, fantasy - pretty much every genre I can think of (porn, for that matter).

 

 Disney's take on the Lone Ranger in 2013 was a big-budget attempt to turn it into a new franchise in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with Johnny Depp weirdness. With an estimated $225 Million production budget and possibly another $150 Million in marketing, it made only $89 Million domestically and $171 Million internationally in theaters. The movie itself, like one of its huge set pieces, was a bit of a train wreck.

 

 

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Secret identities are like capes and brightly colored costumes. They are stylizations that require proper support in the fictional universe they inhabit. The MCU does not provide that support for the most part, largely because it is trying to exhibit as much "plausible verisimilitude" as it can while also asking you to take a talking raccoon and a talking tree seriously.

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Perhaps the 'one villain per movie' and 'always in costume' ideas are motivated by neither style nor tone, but by format. We're talking about movies, which are expected to stand alone. In other words, they make movies aiming at the 'lowest common denominator', essentially as if the audience has no memory. Every social or cultural assumption taken by a filmmaker is a risk; Hollywood hates risks, preferring to recycle what worked in the past rather than try something new.

As the MCU has gained content, the risk associated with those assumptions has diminished. That's why the amount of context exposition has withered, and why the villain can be allowed to survive and inhabit multiple movies.

This may also be what is driving the lack of 'secret identities'. Not because the characters have no civilian identities, but because those civilian identities aren't part of the story. Not using any scenes that focus on the heroes out of costume can save a lot of time, which can be exploited to expand the action. That's what the masses are going to see, anyway.

Supposedly, movies only need to do three things to be hits:

  1. Defy authority
  2. Blow things up
  3. Remove clothing

I guess the MCU has to pad the first two because without the third we wouldn't be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

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Killing the villain off doesn't strike me as absolutely necessary to the "one and done" nature of a movie. It does, however, fit right in with the contemporary action movie motif of MCU films. In this sense they are more like Die Hard than they are like Star Wars (where, don't forget, Darth Vader got away in the end).

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50 years of ace investigative reporter Lois Lane,  not to mention the rest of the Daily Planet staff, being tricked by a pair of glasses is plausible and reasonable?

 

Superman has been around for nearly 100 years and is one of the poorest examples of a secret identity, so I guess if you figure the exception proves the rule demonstrated by literally hundreds of other heroes is false, you can go ahead.
 

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Hollywood hates risks, preferring to recycle what worked in the past rather than try something new.

...

It does, however, fit right in with the contemporary action movie motif of MCU films.

 

 

Right, its well established that Marvel's comic book movies are action movies with capes.  Directors don't understand any other patterns, that's how you make this kind of movie.  They know no other.  Its only rarely (Ant-Man, Captain America I) that they do it differently and make it a comic book movie.  DC is better at making comic book movies, but they get the tone all wrong.  Nobody on earth believes its miserable and sad to be Superman.

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There's simpler reasons for only using one villain per movie.

 

Firstly , a movie has limited time to devote to each character and each new villain is essentially an origin story in itself if properly introduced and developed.  Taking the time to develop multiple villains too often leads to inadequate development of all the characters and oversimplified plots. 

 

Secondly, The villains are usually bigger named actors and actresses(especially in sequels) and having too many can crank up the budget. wanting to get their money's worth out of these actors leads to them getting extra screen time that may be better spent on other plot points.

 

And lastly, there's economics involved.  Movies have a set window for length between 100 and 150 minutes. Too short and reviews will kill you and too long and the theater owners will hate you because they can't get enough showings per day. One villain keeps things short and sweet.

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1 hour ago, Grailknight said:

 

There's simpler reasons for only using one villain per movie.

 

 

clnicholsusa didn't mean it that way. Instead of "one villain per movie," you should read it as, "villain only ever appears in one movie" (because they are killed off in it).

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2 hours ago, zslane said:

 

clnicholsusa didn't mean it that way. Instead of "one villain per movie," you should read it as, "villain only ever appears in one movie" (because they are killed off in it).

Actually, I did mean one villain per movie. If there's more than one, it doubles the amount of time required to establish the antagonist and therefore reduces the number of explosions.

Oh, and I kinda liked The Lone Ranger (yes, even Depp). Escapist is escapist, I don't require much from it.

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4 hours ago, Ternaugh said:

Hiding in plain sight.

 

 

 

The only actor who made that believable, and he did it with acting. If you didn't already know, no one would ever suspect Reeve's Superman and Clark Kent of being the same person. They didn't look alike, sound alike, or behave anything alike.

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4 hours ago, Grailknight said:

There's simpler reasons for only using one villain per movie.

 

Firstly , a movie has limited time to devote to each character and each new villain is essentially an origin story in itself if properly introduced and developed.  Taking the time to develop multiple villains too often leads to inadequate development of all the characters and oversimplified plots. 

 

Secondly, The villains are usually bigger named actors and actresses(especially in sequels) and having too many can crank up the budget. wanting to get their money's worth out of these actors leads to them getting extra screen time that may be better spent on other plot points.

 

And lastly, there's economics involved.  Movies have a set window for length between 100 and 150 minutes. Too short and reviews will kill you and too long and the theater owners will hate you because they can't get enough showings per day. One villain keeps things short and sweet.

 

Movies that have more than one villain in the piece tend to be a mess. Usually for more than one reason.

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2 hours ago, clnicholsusa said:

Actually, I did mean one villain per movie. If there's more than one, it doubles the amount of time required to establish the antagonist and therefore reduces the number of explosions.

 

Well that wasn't at all evident in your post where you said: "That's why the amount of context exposition has withered, and why the villain can be allowed to survive and inhabit multiple movies."

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6 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

The only actor who made that believable, and he did it with acting. If you didn't already know, no one would ever suspect Reeve's Superman and Clark Kent of being the same person. They didn't look alike, sound alike, or behave anything alike.

A lesser known power of Superman is Super-Acting

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21 hours ago, Ternaugh said:

 

 Disney's take on the Lone Ranger in 2013 was a big-budget attempt to turn it into a new franchise in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with Johnny Depp weirdness. With an estimated $225 Million production budget and possibly another $150 Million in marketing, it made only $89 Million domestically and $171 Million internationally in theaters. The movie itself, like one of its huge set pieces, was a bit of a train wreck.

 

That was not the only Lone Ranger movie, only the most recent one.  Appearing in multiple media does not mean every appearance in every medium is stellar.

 

20 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Superman has been around for nearly 100 years and is one of the poorest examples of a secret identity, so I guess if you figure the exception proves the rule demonstrated by literally hundreds of other heroes is false, you can go ahead.

 

Superman is the iconic Super and he made a lot of the tropes.  That said, he was hardly the first as many of the Pulp mystery m,en had secret IDs (maybe the first not to be independently wealthy...).  The BatMoney can't trace back to Bruce Wayne?  Back in the '70s, that is how R'as al Ghul deduced his identity, actually.  Bats has a partner when Bruce adopts a ward, his partner disappears when the ward goes off to college, new Robin and new ward.

 

The Super Acting does indeed make it work, but also the portrayal of Clark as the nerdy guy no one really gets close to.  Who knows what my co-workers get up to in their off hours?

 

17 hours ago, zslane said:

 

clnicholsusa didn't mean it that way. Instead of "one villain per movie," you should read it as, "villain only ever appears in one movie" (because they are killed off in it).

 

Loki has been killed off a few times, and the Red Skull came back.  Is Abomination dead?  Green Goblin survives Spidey's movie, and Zemo was imprisoned.  Winter Soldier is tougher to classify.  Ultron has appeared dead on many occasions and could be brought back.  Ronan must survive Capt Marvel to appear in GoTG.

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1 minute ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

That was not the only Lone Ranger movie, only the most recent one.  Appearing in multiple media does not mean every appearance in every medium is stellar.

 

 

The previous one was a TV movie/pilot for the WB in 2003, which portrayed the Lone Ranger more like "a cowboy version of Zorro", and was not picked up. Before that was The Legend of the Lone Ranger in 1981, which managed to be both a critical and commercial flop. The producers of that one also alienated a bunch of fans by getting a court injunction to ban Clayton Moore from appearing in costume at various events. Moore, of course, was the last successful Lone Ranger in theaters, with The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold from 1958.

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The only actor who made that believable, and he did it with acting. If you didn't already know, no one would ever suspect Reeve's Superman and Clark Kent of being the same person. They didn't look alike, sound alike, or behave anything alike.

 

I agree, he did an amazing job with making each persona so different you bought that it could work for a while even with trained observers and people who knew him.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

Loki has been killed off a few times, and the Red Skull came back.  Is Abomination dead?  Green Goblin survives Spidey's movie, and Zemo was imprisoned.  Winter Soldier is tougher to classify.  Ultron has appeared dead on many occasions and could be brought back.  Ronan must survive Capt Marvel to appear in GoTG.

 

Yes, I am aware of the villains who have survived. Honestly, it is hard to tell if you are agreeing with me or not with this observation since it does not refute what I said, yet is nevertheless presented as if in opposition to my point. As I recall there was a list compiled around here not long ago showing that a little over 50% of MCU villains are dead after having been in only one or two movies or tv seasons (usually only one). That's why I very specifically said "at least half" rather than "most" or "all".

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