The first article I wrote for Pipe Dream was about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s crazy how it’s been about a year since then. In that column, I wrote how the MCU should have ended in 2019. “Avengers: Endgame” was the culmination of 11 years worth of movies. What a crazy achievement. I argued that the Marvel movies should have ended, or at least should have been on a long hiatus, after that point. The current state of the MCU is, softly said, a bit rough. Between middling movie feedback and actors wrapped in controversy, the MCU is in a tough spot. Despite this state of the MCU, “Deadpool & Wolverine,” set to release this year, may be the savior of this ill-fated cinematic universe.

So, what’s the current state of the MCU? I initially didn’t even know the finer details because, well, I haven’t been keeping an eye on it. I used to watch Marvel stuff like a lunatic. I’ve loved the Marvel games and comics since I was a young kid, and in my teenage years, I ate up the movies. I would anxiously await new releases all the time in middle school and high school. I remember being fearful and excited beyond belief of spoilers for movies like “Civil War” or “Infinity War.”

As for the spoilers that come out now? I don’t care. The movies are in such a rough state that I can’t be bothered to. My opinion from that article I wrote a year ago still stands. I don’t care about the MCU that much anymore. Why, though? How could I not look twice at a hobby I used to adore? Well, most of the older characters that the die-hard fans know and love are gone, and the newer characters are kind of hit-and-miss. If there’s a new character in the MCU, they are either not the most compelling, or they are but don’t have enough screen time.

Let’s look at “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” This movie came out in 2021, and it was super popular. Critics loved it, and it did well in the box office. It definitely has its faults, but was really cool. It was a unique superhero movie with an interesting, new main character and a kick-ass kung fu aesthetic to it with some of the best, most well choreographed fight scenes the movies have ever had. People loved the movie, and especially the character. Simu Liu as Shang-Chi was a particularly beloved casting, so much so that he even showed up as a host on “Saturday Night Live” and made various references to his character. You’d think Shang-Chi would make a lot of appearances in subsequent movies, right?

Shang-Chi hasn’t appeared in a movie since his debut. Wow, talk about fumbling the bag, huh? You have a charismatic, really unique character, and he just hasn’t shown up in close to three years. Iron Man, on the other hand, arguably the MCU’s most popular and beloved character, has had dozens and dozens of appearances throughout the series. This is a problem not exclusive to Shang-Chi. Many newer characters in the MCU, like Kate Bishop or Kamala Khan, also don’t have a lot of appearances. How does Marvel expect us to grow attached to these characters when it feels like the studio themselves is forgetting about them?

What’s even more forgettable than the characters are the movies themselves, or seemingly so. I can’t honestly say with certainty though, since I haven’t seen an MCU movie in theaters for a year and a half. Would you believe it if I said there’s only one MCU movie releasing in 2024? Take a wild guess which one? Deadpool is such a popular character, and fans have wanted him in the MCU along with other characters for years. “Deadpool & Wolverine,” the third installment in the mercenary with a mouth’s movie series has been in the works for six years, and fans have been dying for it. Ryan Reynolds’ performance as Deadpool is comic-accurate bliss, and seeing him alongside potential characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man would be a dream come true.

This dream is finally a reality, but takes place in a high-risk, high-reward situation. Deadpool’s third movie will finally be in the MCU and will feature crossovers and characters from the universe — most importantly, the return of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Going back to what I said earlier though, this movie is the only MCU movie slated to be released this year. Perhaps it’s due to the poor critical feedback or the dozens of middling shows and movies we’ve recently gotten, but 2024 will only have one MCU flick. Is this a good thing?

Yes, I believe so. It will definitely make the movie feel more impactful considering it’s the only one that year, but what if Disney puts its grubby little mouse hands all over it? What if the Deadpool humor, violence and vibe are thrown off due to the big mouse? Judging from the Superbowl trailer, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but the movie isn’t out yet, so we need to wait and see. I’m excited for this movie, but Marvel knows that this is their make or break. Will Deadpool moonwalk into the fray and reenergize this stagnated series, or will he flop and put the final nail in the coffin for this once great world? We’ll find out in July. Stay tuned true believers!

Nicolas Scagnelli is a senior majoring in English.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece which represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.