The Marvel Cinematic Universe is generally acknowledged to be the dominant movie franchise of the past decade. With the MCU recently branching out with multiple Disney+ series, the franchise appears set to continue its dominance for the foreseeable future.
Along with such wild success, there will inevitably come criticism as well. Many in the film industry have begun to resent the fact that the MCU has such a tight stranglehold on the box office. Recently there has been a growing discussion, kickstarted by Martin Scorsese, about whether or not MCU films constitute “real cinema” that touches on real-world themes, instead of merely being two hours of cartoon-like characters kicking and punching each other.
While there is certainly a lot of kicking and punching involved, it would be wrong to say Marvel movies are only ever good for hollow spectacle. The main characters and events of the franchise are grounded in real emotions and problems that people have faced since forever, from the loss of loved ones to trauma after witnessing violence at close range. Here are 14 times the MCU got real with its audience.