The MCU keeps copying the Star Wars prequels

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With each activity of summertime blockbusters that goes by, nan much evident it becomes that Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is 1 of nan astir important movies of nan past 40 years. Not conscionable for its pioneering usage of (light) integer photography and effects, aliases for reviving a decades-old franchise, but because George Lucas’ guidance provided a exemplary for large action scenes that modern blockbusters still transcript to this day. And that’s particularly existent of nan Marvel Cinematic Universe, which echoed Phantom Menace’s 3rd enactment passim nan Infinity Saga films. One objection to that norm is Ant-Man and nan Wasp: Quantumania, which advances things a small by taking its ending from Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of nan Clones instead.

[Ed. note: This communicative contains spoilers for Ant-Man and nan Wasp: Quantumania.]

The Phantom Menace wasn’t nan first movie to extremity pinch 3 parallel battles fought successful 3 different places (there are moreover shades of this successful Return of nan Jedi), but it’s nan movie that cemented nan format’s slickness successful a CG-enabled sci-fi setting. A young Anakin Skywalker lights up Trade Federation ships supra Naboo while nan Gungans conflict to repel nan conflict droids from nan planet’s surface. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn conflict nan acrobatic Darth Maul. But what makes this finale activity for Phantom Menace is that these characters themselves ne'er get mislaid successful nan standard of their conflicts.

Lucas’ first prequel is simply a maestro people successful letting circumstantial characters radiance during nan action — whether you for illustration those characters aliases not. Jar Jar Binks takes retired an full service of droids by accident, and young Anakin says worldly for illustration “I’ll effort spinning, that’s a bully trick!” It’s a changeless lighthearted tonal equilibrium that reminds nan spectator not to return immoderate of nan laser-fire chaos excessively seriously, and makes for an fantabulous opposition to nan deadly superior (and everlastingly phenomenal) “Duel of Fates” betwixt Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul. But moreover successful nan fast-paced lightsaber conflict there’s clip for characters to person their ain moments, for illustration Maul stalking backmost and distant while Qui-Gon softly meditates aliases Obi-Wan’s frantic pacing while he can’t thief his master.

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi conflict Darth Maul successful The Phantom Menace. Image: Lucasfilm

It’s a genuinely breathtaking series that, erstwhile 1 pulls back, makes almost nary actual sense. We tin much aliases little link immoderate 2 of nan battles to each other, but ne'er each three, and there’s nary existent denotation that they’re happening anyplace adjacent each different aliases whether aliases not that’s important. Neither nan ticking timepiece of nan script aliases nan consequence of immoderate triumph aliases nonaccomplishment really matters because nan editing is truthful slick, and hides nan seams truthful well, that you ne'er really person clip to mobility thing that’s happening. You’re conscionable on for nan ride.

This method of respective varieties of intercut action scenes has been Marvel’s go-to template for “epic action” for years now. It’s nan nonstop setup of nan original Black Panther’s finale, but versions of it are besides successful movies for illustration Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, and Avengers: Infinity War. Basically, immoderate clip nan MCU has excessively galore formed members and needs to beryllium that a conflict is really big, nan bid doesn’t look to movies like The Lord of nan Rings: The Two Towers aliases Saving Private Ryan for inspiration; it ever turns backmost to The Phantom Menace.

The problem is that nary of these finales person ever matched Lucas’ prequel for rhythm, visuals, aliases fun. The specificity of nan worlds of Star Wars is replaced by composited-in characters battling connected generic canvases. Both Talokan and Wakanda are fascinating cities pinch absorbing and unsocial architecture and styles, but nan ending of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever takes spot successful nan mediate of nan unfastened ocean, connected a level boat, and somewhat adjacent a godforsaken beach.

 Infinity War trailer featuring heroes Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Okoye, and Black Panther moving successful a statement done a Wakandan forest Image: Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and nan Wasp: Quantumania changes things up — moreover if nan results are remarkably similar. The 3rd Ant-Man movie is nan commencement of Marvel’s Phase 5, a caller group of Multiverse Saga movies that leads up to 2 Avengers movies: 2025’s The Kang Dynasty and 2026’s Secret Wars. After a quest done nan Quantum Realm successful hunt of a measurement home, Scott, Hope, Cassie, Hank, and Janet recognize that they person to extremity Kang from escaping successful bid to some get location and protect nan remainder of nan world. The mini set of heroes is initially outnumbered by Kang’s elephantine unit earlier they’re joined by immoderate of nan different strange-looking multicolored creatures of nan Quantum Realm who person decided to conflict Kang too. Despite their mixed efforts, each dream seems mislaid until an service of ants charges successful pinch superior numbers and firepower and takes down Kang’s army. Finally, each that’s near is Kang himself, which leads to a climactic conflict betwixt Scott and Kang. That is perfectly not what happens successful Phantom Menace. It is, connected nan different hand, a batch for illustration Attack of nan Clones.

While nan first 2 Star Wars prequel movies person similarities, Clones is a overmuch much confined conflict that mostly follows Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé arsenic they effort to find a measurement to flight nan arena connected Geonosis. Initially outnumbered, nan group finds immoderate abrupt reinforcements pinch nan presence of nan Jedi Order, a hodgepodge of odd-looking aliens pinch multicolored lightsabers. Even pinch nan other help, our heroes yet commencement to suffer to nan overwhelming flood of enemies, until a monolithic service of clone troopers pinch superior numbers and firepower arrives to move nan tide. Finally, each that’s near is Count Dooku, who Anakin attempts to woody pinch connected his ain — pinch importantly worse results than Scott successful Quantumania.

 Attack of nan Clones Image: Lucasfilm

There are moreover moments successful Quantumania that consciousness overtly lifted from Clones, pulling retired a fewer highly akin shots, for illustration Kang’s unexplained clone-ish armies lining up while being circled pinch ships successful an unintelligible CGI wall — a adjacent cleanable lucifer for Clones’ ending.

To comparison Quantumania to Attack of nan Clones doesn’t do nan Marvel threequel immoderate favors. But for each of Episode II’s problems, nan conflict isn’t really 1 of them. Sure, immoderate parts are a small blander than they could beryllium and nan effects don’t rather clasp up, but it’s an exceptionally well-staged group portion that efficaciously communicates its action, its geography, its stakes, and nan chopped personalities of its characters during nan chaos.

Attack of nan Clones ne'er matches nan character-specific highs of Phantom Menace, but it doesn’t suffer show of them aliases fto them blend together either. Padmé yet gets to show herself arsenic a tin combatant erstwhile modular diplomacy fails, and we spot her and Anakin link successful ways that are much convincing than their Naboo picnics aliases Tatooine getaways. Mace Windu establishes his dedication to theatrics, Boba Fett gets a infinitesimal to witnesser nan decease of his father, Dooku continues his eternal quest to past astatine immoderate cost, and Yoda makes his astir overconfident move yet against Palpatine. Everyone gets thing that only they could do, and each infinitesimal feels some chopped and for illustration a coherent small infinitesimal wrong nan larger battle.

 Paul Rudd arsenic Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Kathryn Newton arsenic Cassandra “Cassie” Lang successful Ant0Man and nan Wasp: Quantumania Image: Marvel Studios

But Quantumania, for illustration Marvel’s Phantom Menace-like finales earlier it, lifts nan looks of Attack of nan Clones without its charms aliases character. None of nan movie’s action thumps consciousness unsocial to nan characteristic performing them, beyond nan shrinking and growing, and nary 1 comes up pinch a scheme that seems uniquely successful characteristic alternatively than conscionable dictated by their powers. Quantumania starts pinch Scott learning his girl has been arrested astatine protests aggregate times, but by nan extremity of nan movie, nan characters hardly consciousness for illustration they’ve gone anyplace aliases changed. Even thing arsenic elemental arsenic Cassie pulling retired her shrunken constabulary car during nan climactic conflict could person led to a little infinitesimal of characteristic betwixt her and Scott successful nan mediate of nan chaotic fight, but we get nary specified thing.

None of this is to opportunity that Star Wars shouldn’t beryllium emulated, conscionable that if Marvel’s going to do it — as Kevin Feige is unfastened about — nan institution should consciousness much unit to lucifer Lucas’ visionary approach, and should do it a small much completely. For each nan problems nan prequels have, and for each nan CGI negatives they gave blockbusters successful nan decades since, they are still circumstantial successful their execution. They’re driven by their characters and moreover nan astir chaotic action is rooted successful their perspectives, humor, and personalities. They’re what movies of a definite standard request to be.