They exist in “Avengers: Endgame”, most recently in “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” and of course very strikingly in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”: strange pauses. Now, Charlie Cox has confirmed what we’ve known for a long time.
In the first upIn a video shared by MEGACON, Orlando tells “Daredevil” star Charlie Cox about his MCU comeback and reminisces about filming “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” where he starred in a brief cameo scene as attorney Matt Murdock. He reveals that the long break after his performance was intentionally set to give the audience room for applause.
“They wanted me to put down the cane and then wait for the camera to pan around before saying my lines. So I said to the director: ‘That’s strange, why are we doing this? It feels like I should say something.’ And he was like, ‘No, the audience is going to be excited.’
Cox in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” – is not the best example of a pause in applause
Charlie Cox confirms what we’ve known for a long time: Marvel builds proper applause breaks into its films, moments in which everything stands still so that the audience can react enthusiastically to what they have just seen. The scene in Spider-Man: No Way Home that Cox referred to isn’t even the best example. Because the actor and thus his character do something during the “break”: he is just on the phone having an insignificant conversation. It doesn’t feel all that “weird” or “weird” here (because Cox had a problem with actually doing nothing?)
In Spider-Man: No Way Home itself there are better examples with the appearances of the other two Spideys, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. But in other Marvel films, too, characters almost stand still, pausing to wait for the applause. In Avengers: Endgame, as the portals open and a dejected Captain America (Chris Evans) finds new hope in the surprise return of his allies, the camera lingers on Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) face for a long slow-motion moment. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and Co. strike a pose after their arrival, even briefly baring their face (completely unnecessary in terms of content) so that the audience can see the actors behind them can also celebrate. The whole fight seems to pause for a moment (even Thanos pauses) to allow the cinema audience enough to celebrate the moment before Cap yells the famous “Avengers… Assemble”!
The unveiling of the Illuminati cameos in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness also celebrates the moment – taken to the extreme with Patrick Stewart’s late and slow arrival as Professor X. Does that make sense in terms of content and narrative? No! Is such a spectacle cinema generally bad? No!
Opinion: Cinema can be a pure spectacle!
It’s my impression that in Germany we still find it funny when applause suddenly breaks out in the middle of a film, even if that has changed in my experience in recent years – also thanks to the Marvel films. It’s different in other cultures – in the USA it’s part of the comedy scene, where one or the other suitable (!) heckling from the audience is allowed.
In Indian cinema, the first appearances of leading actors and special guest stars in a film are celebrated. The camera only approaches from behind or the person is covered by an object. And then, as the anticipation slowly builds, everything pauses for several seconds at the face unveiling, allowing the auditorium to erupt in excitement.
I think that cinema films can and should be happy to do that if it fits in well and, above all, are well implemented. In “Avengers: Endgame” it suits the moment in my opinion, in “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” the Gravitas behind it is missing, it seems a little silly and unnecessarily drawn out in Professor X.
But is that – regardless of whether it was done well or badly – a bit strange if you later watch the film alone on Blu-ray or as a stream at home? Yes! But that doesn’t matter, because it’s about the effect in the cinema. The cinema is a place of communal experience. As long as everyone behaves and it fits the film, audience reactions are part of the experience – whether it’s the screams of joy in MCU spectacle cinema, the only moderately suppressed sobs in gripping drama, the shared laughter in good jokes, or the audible shock ineffective horror cinema.