In preparation for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opening next Friday, April 4th, here’s our easy to use reference guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe It will be the third film of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe culminating in the Avengers: Age Of Ultron opening next May 1, 2015. And what does any of that gobbledygook mean and why does it matter? Well the short answer is it’s all Disney! ‘Nuff Said!! If you’re still not convinced you should know superhero movies aren’t just for the boys anymore.
A long time ago back when dinosaurs roamed the earth my grandfather gave me a box of Superman and Batman comics. I couldn’t read yet but the bright, colored pictures sucked me in and I was able to puzzle out enough of the words to get the gist of what the stories were about. I was hooked on what became known as the Silver Age of Comics of the 50’s and 60’s.
I got a little older and didn’t come back to comics until Hollywood special effects caught up with them and movies like the first Superman films and later the Batman films of the late 80‘s and 90‘s became a reality. But even these films, as visually stunning as some of them were never really held my interest as the stories usually included a pretty fair helping of campy ridiculousness taking their cue from the entirely campy, though wildly popular Batman TV series of the late 60’s. It was as if Hollywood didn’t believe anyone could take comic book characters seriously. They had to not only inject a large helping of humor but also make the heroes look like buffoons in the process.
In the 80’s the comic book world started changing. There started to appear large-scale graphic novels with sophisticated stories that were serious and with serious ramifications for the characters. Back in the 60’s when Marvel comics started introducing characters like Spider Man, X Men, Iron Man and a host of others their stories had been a bit more serious with elements of teenage angst. The graphic novels of the 80’s exponentially pumped all this up and by the 90’s Hollywood was ready to finally get started getting serious about comic book characters. The successful and ongoing series of X Men movies starring serious actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan and Hugh Jackman arrived in the late 90’s. These people might be pretty strange but they had serious human problems and situations. And the action and special effects rocked!
A few years later Marvel, the comic book company behind Iron Man, Hulk, Spider Man, X Men, the Avengers, and many others decided to get directly into the movie business instead of licensing their characters out to other studios. But they did it with a difference. They had a big superhero team, the Avengers, which included a variable and ever-changing groups of characters. Why not make several separate movies featuring the solo adventures of various characters leading to a big team-up movie with an earthshaking adventure that only the whole team could possibly solve and survive? And furthermore why not put some crossover bits into every solo movie thus solidifying the concept that all these heroes existed in the same world? Thus the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born. And in 2009 Disney bought Marvel lock, stock, and barrel.
So far we’ve had Phase One, which included solo films featuring, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and culminated with the Avengers in which the heroes saved the world and simultaneously tore up a lot of New York City. This film left enough questions unanswered that the fallout has affected all the main heroes in their next round of Phase Two movies. Iron Man aka Tony Stark was so torn up about what happened in the Avengers that he spent a large portion of Iron Man 3 trying to cope with it and ultimately gave up all his Iron Man suits and technology.
Thor managed a rough reconciliation with his brother Loki, one of the main adversaries of the Avengers film only to lose (?) him at the end of the last Thor movie. And now it’s Captain America’s turn. We get to see him go through the wringer next week and then next year we get to see how the whole Avenger’s team deal with whatever fierce challenge Marvel has been building up to.
I, for one, am getting very excited about seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I try to stay as completely ignorant of what happens in these films as possible prior to seeing them but the advance buzz and reviews are pretty spectacular so far. In fact, Disney is so excited about the film that they’ve already hired the director and screenwriters for the next Captain America film without even waiting to see how this one does at the box office. That’s entirely unheard of. April 4th can’t arrive too soon.
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See CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER in theaters everywhere on APRIL 4, 2014 !