What Ruined Marvel Animation?
One problem is the influence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since the success of the first Avengers movie, there's been a new direction to treat their animation division as a marketing ploy, basically reverting back to the 80's approach. It's also because of that influence that Marvel has thrown tons of potential characters under the rug, at least until their relevant when their own movies are coming up; but this influence of the MCU also causes a stagnation in continuity turns up plot points that are directly tied again to the release of films like Civil War. Compare and contras with Batman the Animated Series, which only partly borrowed influences from Batman by Tim Burton. Yes Tim Burton's Batman was an influence for Bruce Timm's first animated series, but for the most part it was it's own entity that still tried to stick closer to Batman's comic book mythos.
Don't get me wrong, being influenced or inspired by another product based on the same source material isn't a bad thing in itself, but recently the influence of the success of the MCU has drastically shifted the direction of themes, settings, and characterization for almost all of their recent shows, to the point where they're actually hardly recognizable at all; there are times where you really can't tell whether they do want to be like the movies or their own thing, either way they're not succeeding.
Another thing that hurts Marvel Animation, and even DC Animation to an extent is the current landscape of cartoons; more specifically cartoons on public television that are geared towards children. It's no secret that for the past five or even six years that Action Cartoons have all but died out on tv, (in fact cable television in general seems to be dying out altogether but one topic at a time) with most shows nowadays gearing more towards slapstick comedy, and any action shows left are basically treated as a side show (especially to movies and toy sells) which gives them less material to work with hence why the quality of storytelling or characterization isn't as strong as it was before, and it's also because that they're made for kids that the higher ups treat them like they don't need that much effort in making more complex stories with more relatable characters as they use to, thus relying on decades old tropes to tell their stories even when most of them are no longer relevant nowadays. Let me put it this way, the current marvel shows basically talk down to kids while previous shows were on the same level as kids; think Dora the Explorer as opposed to Sesame Street. (Maybe not the best analogy but I digress)
And lastly, perhaps another thing that hurts Marvel Animation would be the influence of the higher ups of the entertainment side of things; yes I am of course talking about Disney!
Since Marvel was purchased by Disney, Marvel has undergone quite an identity crisis, for the most part it wasn’t directly Disney’s fault, at least not in terms of their actual comic book division or their live-action properties; but it is more so on the animation and even video game side of things. Disney has had its own identity crises for about a decade or so, especially on television, but after a while their quality in animated shows has improved significantly, with such shows like Gravity Falls and Star vs The Forces of Evil; but the Marvel animated shows did not fare. Bare in mind Disney is a corperational industry, and as a company gets more corperational there is bound to be more stagnation in some parts.
This would explain why Marvel’s animated shows have been, and still technically are treated as marketing gimmicks for the movies, and why there generally isn’t that good a quality in their art style or in the writing department; and why these currant programs are playing it safe and not doing anything bold as they’ve done before.
It’s ironic to think that they would because Disney has proven they actually can tell strong stories and characters, especially in recent years with stuff like their ducktales reboot; but even shows like that are still a product of animation’s current landscape on television as they do still rely on being mostly comedy based. (they have to make you laugh first before they make you think or do anything else)
And I think those are Marvel Animation’s biggest problems nowadays; in the current landscape of cartoons, and under the influence of the higher ups (be it Disney or Marvel Entertainment) the animation division isn’t really taking a lot of risks with that they could potentially make, even with the material that they’re given. As is, there is no clear direction in Marvel’s animation division.