In the last half decade something amazing happened, Marvelous even. Marvel Studios, with but a few of their own characters, made a gamble. What if their movie characters shared a cinematic universe, where they have every chance of meeting each other as they would in their printed adventures? While several of Marvel’s biggest characters made their beds in other movie studios (X-Men at Fox, Spidey and friends at Sony), could Marvel’s own studio pull off a shared universe on screen?
A Day Unlike Any Other…
In a trend Marvel Studios would popularize for comic book movies, a post credits scene for Iron Man introduced Nick Fury and his Avengers Initiative. It was kinda meta in that Marvel Studios itself was teasing with a real initiative, to do something some of us have waited all our geeky lives for; not just an Avengers movie, but a shared comic universe on the big screen. Even after seeing Iron Man’s stinger, I had my doubts that Marvel could pull it off. Then Tony Stark himself appeared to a defeated General Ross in The Incredible Hulk’s stinger, and we didn’t have to wait for a full credits roll for that one! This is actually going down!
Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger would round out what can to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this particular macro-arc known as Phase One. Nick Fury and SHIELD would appear in some of these movies either in the plot or by post-credits cameo. They tied things together with the explanation in the epic Avengers movie that their world is changing. People “who can’t be matched” are popping up all over, and threats are even coming from other ends of the universe. Thor specifically would be singled out as an example that when ‘gods’ bring their personal beef to Earth, entire towns can get decimated. Extraordinary threats required an extraordinary response, this was the ultimate thesis of Phase One, and a response team was needed.
Avengers itself being an incredibly fun and entertaining movie is almost besides the point. There was only 1,000 reasons it could have went horribly wrong! Sure we may accept a man in a super-advanced battle suit. We may buy a super soldier in WWII. Giant green rage monsters and cosmic gods doesn’t scare us away. All in one movie, hyped for five years real time? You can just hear fans all over the world praying this doesn’t fail in any sense of the word. But it didn’t. In fact, it changed things. We now know a shared movie universe can work. We now know that Marvel can pull it off and if they can, hope for another major super-team can happen as well. We now know that some of our favorite superheroes can in fact be represented on screen with dignity and accuracy, after years of being conditioned to expect Hollywood to ‘not get it right’. The Avengers movie was both confirmation and celebration; we all made this happen.
When Hulk’s wake up call ushered Stark back to life, and Cap assured him, “We won.” Indeed we all won… the fans, Marvel Studios, Disney, even the Shawarma dish got a piece of the success with but an ad-lib line from Tony. But yet another stinger would come to excite us even further. Earth has beaten back a powerful alien force, obliterated an entire armada even. This catches the attention of the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. Comic fans know things just got real, but we can’t just jump into Avengers 2 now can we? Marvel set a historic precedent here, and just like Phase One, another round of movies are needed to lead us into the next epic battle. Welcome to Phase Two!
The next blog will detail the movies of Phase Two, which characters will return and who will debut, and what it all means for the Cinematic Universe going into Avengers 2. Stay tuned!