Marvel and violence have a complex relationship. Despite the fact that action and combat forms a large part of the franchise’s identity, there’s a seemingly unbreakable rule that all Marvel Cinematic Universe projects are PG-13 or the TV equivalent. Because of that, there’s always a push to one up the action of the last project without going too far.
That tension was brought to a head this week when eagle-eyed Marvel fans noticed an episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a Marvel TV show with some relatively gory sequences, was suddenly bloodless in key scenes. This was apparently due to the wrong cut being uploaded in an attempt to correct a credit and was quickly remedied, but it’s a close call that reminds us just how tenuous the streaming experience is.
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Marvel movies are a universal experience. When I saw Avengers in a small English-language theater in Germany, it was the same movie as the one that premiered in LA. But if Marvel can switch out effects at will, this won’t be the same of the Marvel television offerings. A little difference in the visual effects may not seem like a big deal, but this has the potential to significantly change stories.
Before you dismiss Marvel revisionism as something impossible, do you remember the first time you saw a Star Wars movie? Was it in the theater, on a VHS, or via DVD or Blu-Ray? Because of George Lucas’ changes, the versions varied between mediums. Now, if you watch Return of the Jedi on Disney+, you’ll see a Force ghost of Hayden Christensen.
That’s the fate the MCU faces if the reversal of visual effects is so easy. Because the franchise has such a long history at this point, it’s not out of the question that something could be changed in The Avengers or Iron Man to set up a character that won’t appear until much later.
This is all well and good if you’re an avid collector of physical media — no matter what changes on Disney+, your Blu-Ray copy of Ant-Man will remain the same. But when it comes to Disney+ original shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there’s no telling what could possibly happen to the content, and there’s no official physical release to provide peace of mind for Marvel collectors.
The Inverse Analysis — While this alteration was just a mistake, it’s a reminder that the Marvel Universe we’ve seen over the past dozen years could be changed on a whim. Hopefully this proves to Marvel that fans will notice changes, and have strong thoughts about them.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming (unaltered!) on Disney+.