Marvel Studios Phase 3 event (2014)

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Marvel’s Phase 3 lineup

Geez, I step away from this blog for a month and look what happens: both DC and Marvel just plonk a whole bunch of movies into my calendar! I tell you, if you had told someone ten years ago that a movie studio would announce nine comic book films to be released in the next five years that would all intersect in one weaving narrative and culminate in a massive intergalactic team-up, they would have thought you were nuts. But this is the age we live in now, and I must say I’m enjoying it. It’s a good time to be a geek*.

But first, let’s talk about what has just happened.

Until today, and discounting internet rumours, we didn’t know what the go with the Marvel Cinematic Universe was after Ant-Man comes out in July next year. We had Avengers: Age of Ultron due in April (May in the US, for once living in Australia has its benefits!), then Ant-Man and then who knew! Would it just be business as usual? Iron Man gets a new film, Captain America gets a new film, Thor gets one, then new Avengers? And of course, the question that’s been on my mind since the end credits of The Avengers: WHEN IS THANOS COMING TO END ALL THINGS?!

Today I got my answers, and I’m super excited and also a little cautious. Having never really read any Marvel comics, all my knowledge of them comes from friends who have or the excellent explanations by Bob “MovieBob” Chipman over at The Escapist (go check out his comics rundowns, but come back here for your movie reviews!), so any knowledge I have of the comics universes comes from that. But even from those sources, most of the new character films they just announced (Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, Black Panther) I haven’t really heard of or I don’t know enough about to be excited for them. Benedict Cumberbatch being cast as Doctor Strange is intriguing, and I’m interested to see what that’s like, but outside of that I’m not drooling like I know others are.

But what I’ve heard from my research in the past, I do know why a lot of people lost their minds about the first film and the last two: Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War Parts I & II. Those films get their subtitles from two well-known story-lines from the Marvel comics, both involving ensemble conflicts of epic proportions, and you’d be crazy not to be excited. OK that’s not true, you can be cautiously optimistic as a project of this scale could still easily lose focus and not be able to hold it together. But my buddy Joss (who is, of course, Boss) has shown he knows how to handle strong ensemble groups so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. But check back with me when the last film is out, and I’m nearly 30, and we can talk about if it all worked.

But you know what I think, as I stare up at that huge poster of upcoming film releases? It’s the same feeling I had when DC films did a similar thing recently: these studios have stumbled upon the greatest money-making idea in recent years. The idea being treating the films as “universes” rather than franchises.

I mean, I have no real interest right now to see The Inhumans or Captain Marvel because I know nothing about them. Nor do I have much interest in that new Agent Carter TV show (remember Agent Carter? No? Want to watch a series about her? Me neither). But these films and TV shows are taking place between the films I want to see, and since they are all part of the “universe”, I will need to have seen them to keep up with the story.

It’s always been this way. I’ve had this conversation so many times: “so, what was the deal with that blue cube [in The Avengers]?” “Did you see Captain America?” “Nope, he doesn’t interest me.”

The movies you really want to see require you to watch the ones you don’t really want to. It’s awful, but it works at making every film a box office success. And I’ll give them this, they’ve made the films I haven’t been super excited to see in the past (ThorCaptain America: The First Avenger) actually really grab me and change my preconceptions. Heck, they made a talking raccoon and sentient tree-man work in the last film, so I think they know what they’re doing. And even if they don’t, they’re certainly doing it well.

But I suppose only time will tell.

See you next time!

*It’s actually not. Google “gamergate” and you’ll see why…

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