The mutually beneficial relationship between Hollywood and the United States military has often come under scrutiny, with the MCU particularly criticized for its frequent reliance on Defense Department funds. Aside from a “thank you” credit, there’s often not much indication that the government was involved in the making of a film — though the inclusion of cutting-edge fighter jets or other equipment might tip off perceptive viewers — and the Pentagon does not allow negative portrayals of its personnel or decision-making.
The reason “The Avengers” couldn’t secure military funding was that S.H.I.E.L.D., whose members are shown as heartless pragmatists when they authorize a nuclear strike on New York City in the film’s final act, wasn’t shown to be definitively under the Pentagon’s thumb. The Defense Department made a singular exception to its disinvolvement with the film. WIRED noted that in one scene portraying New York National Guardsmen helping police and firefighters during Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) Chitari invasion, the DoD allowed Humvees to be filmed.
On the other hand, Hollywood screenwriters and set designers don’t usually have in-depth knowledge of how the military functions, so the expertise of Defense officials can be valuable. Additionally, plenty of MCU films have had agendas that those in Washington might not agree with, and some, like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” have portrayed the U.S. Military as antagonists, proving that the Pentagon doesn’t meddle with impunity. Still, the military benefits heavily from its partnership with Hollywood. After “Captain Marvel” was released, Military.com bragged that the Air Force Academy saw its highest number of female applicants in half a decade. Meanwhile, the Navy and Air Force reportedly saw a 500% boost in recruiting following the release of “Top Gun: Maverick.”