EARLY in “Avengers: Infinity War”, one of the heroes stares almost directly into the camera and declares, “Look, it’s not overselling it to say that the fate of the universe is at stake.” Ostensibly he is cajoling another movie-star hero, Robert Downey junior’s Iron Man, to come with him. But the real audience for this moment of winking self-awareness is on the other side of the screen. It is a wry acknowledgment of the dramatic limitations of a genre that Disney dominates as utterly as the most fearsome comic-book villain. Naturally the fate of the universe is at stake. Equally, though, the fate of the Universe—the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)—is not. Superhero flicks are unavoidably formulaic. The heroes are difficult to kill not because of their superpowers, but because they serve a higher power, an industrial blockbuster economy. The superstars each get their screen time, in a loose correlation to their importance to fans. Their defeats are ephemeral, even when they die (or appear to). They are part of the ineluctable journey to a climactic battle, which in turn points the way towards more films. Get our daily newsletter Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor’s Picks….