Disney Just Perfectly Roasted The MCU (Twice) In Controversial New Show

Pauline from the Disney+ show Pauline is next to superheroes from the MCU.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Disney+’s Pauline.

The parent company Disney just hilariously roasted the MCU twice in a new Disney+ show called Pauline, feeding into the funniest entertainment industry feud. Ever since the Disney Corporation acquired Marvel Comics, there has been a sibling rivalry between the shows. In the past, Marvel has made digs at Disney. For example, in Deadpool 2, the titular main character jokes about the movie Cool Runnings and the beloved character Winnie the PoohShe-Hulk includes Jennifer Walters going to Disney Studios to confront them about the finale.

Most recently, the Deadpool and Wolverine trailer mocks Disney’s prudishness in content. After multiple jokes from the MCU, Disney+ writers have finally struck back at Marvel in the new controversial German show Pauline. The rated-mature show tells the story of a teen pregnancy with the Devil’s son after a one-night stand. In two separate episodes, characters take digs at the MCU. Whether included for the purpose of furthering the feud or not, Pauline fuels the hilarious rivalry between Disney and Marvel.

Pauline is available to stream on Disney+ internationally and on Hulu in the US.

Lukas Can’t Keep Track Of The Marvel Superheroes In Pauline

The Number Of Marvel Superheroes To Keep Track Of Keeps Going Up

Pauline and Lukas look at each other while sitting on the curb in front of a store in Pauline

When Lukas tries to talk to Pauline about keeping her powers in control during the abortion in Pauline season 1, episode 3, “Controlled Chaos,” he uses the example of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. However, he mixes up the names of Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. When Pauline tries to explain who Tony Stark is, Lukas gets Tony Stark mixed up again, this time with Scott Lang – thinking that the suit Pauline is describing is Ant-Man. This Pauline scene, while extremely quick, makes hilarious commentary on how easy it is to mix up Marvel superheroes due to the quantity and the baseline similarities.

Lukas in Pauline is not a great example of an average Marvel fan. He can’t even keep track of the basic Avengers from Phase 1. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Marvel has introduced 33 MCU films and more than 40 different MCU superheroes and anti-heroes. This amount also excludes the non-MCU Marvel movies that could be part of the cinematic universe, according to Kevin Feige, because of the multiverse (via Movie Web). Keeping track of every Marvel character, their powers, and the movies/shows they’ve appeared in has become taxing.

Pauline Roasts The Frequent Replacement Of Marvel Actors

Marvel Has Historically Replaced Superhero Actors Across Different Projects

Pauline's dad sits on a bed in Pauline episode 5

Lukas struggling to remember superheroes isn’t the only time that the German Disney+ show roasts the MCU. In Pauline season 1, episode 5, “Trust,” Pauline’s dad brings up the multiverse in a flashback. The young version of the titular main character responds by saying that the multiverse was just made up so that Marvel could replace the actors with ease. The assertion that Marvel created the multiverse is technically incorrect since, according to the Oxford Handbook of the History of Modern Cosmology, the multiverse was first introduced in the modern scientific context during a debate in 1895.

Based on the timeline, the debate occurred 67 years before the first parallel dimension was introduced in Marvel Comics and 81 years before the Marvel multiverse was officially launched in What If…? #1. However, there is truth in the idea that Marvel benefited from the multiverse, considering they’re widely regarded as the company that popularized the multiverse theory in entertainment.

The first parallel dimension in Marvel Comics appeared in Strange Tales #103, by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby.

Moreover, Pauline has a point about Marvel’s tendency to recast actors. Five different actors have played Spider-Man in live-action, with over a dozen voice actors portraying the character, too. Five actors have also played Marvel’s Hulk in live-action (excluding She-Hulk). Ultimately, Marvel has used the multiverse to explain away casting changes related to any behind-the-scenes drama and film rights acquisitions, as seen with Kevin Feige’s comments about what counts as MCU canon.

Disney+’s Pauline Scenes Reflect Marvel Fans’ Superhero Burnout

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Has Been Impacted By Superhero Fatigue

Moon Knight suiting up in Moon Knight

While Disney+’s Pauline scenes seem to be sibling companies teasing one another, they also reflect a deeper truth the MCU needs to be aware of. Many viewers are experiencing superhero fatigue due to the prioritization of quantity over quality. Marvel overloaded viewers with too many movies and shows too quickly, allowing the high standards to slip. (Though the DCEU and Venom-verse movies are also to blame in this issue.) With the increase in content comes a natural comparison. Moreover, the amount of superhero content online provides less incentive to see movies in theaters if they aren’t exceptional.

Since 2023 was the peak year for superhero fatigue (via Forbes), it makes sense that a 2024 Disney+ show – which was only announced last year – would call out these issues while lovingly ribbing Marvel. Luckily, in May 2024, the larger Disney corporation seems aware of the problems. CEO Bob Iger announced an MCU release limitation, slowing down their schedule to two Marvel TV shows and a maximum of three MCU movies every year. The decreased schedule should help remedy one part of superhero fatigue. Iger also emphasized their goals of narrative quality and cohesion, an important aspect of repairing the burnout.

Ultimately, Pauline’s roasts might reflect bigger issues for Marvel, but the fact that the titular character and her father also praise Spider-Man: No Way Home and bicker about the best Spider-Man actor points to the fact that even fatigued fans haven’t completely given up on the MCU. There is a perennial appeal to the fight for justice, the balance between good and evil, and the ordinary person gaining larger-than-life abilities. Marvel just needs to work to get back to the quality and success of the pre-Endgame MCU.

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