As a kid, you dream about being a super hero, someone with extraordinary abilities that allow you to save the day over and over again. If not you, it was something I dreamt about for longer than I like to admit. As I grew older, I learned that obtaining these super powers was something only reserved for works of fiction. This is what led me into finding out about Marvel Comics. The only exposure I had to this form of media was at first through television through various cartoons. Learning about Marvel Comics allowed me to expand my knowledge of what we know now as the modern Super Hero genre. These comics were able to transport me to another world and step in the shoes of whatever hero/team I was reading about at the time. This of course led to the expansion of my imagination and eventually led to my love of pop culture and video games, but that is for another time. We’re here to talk about the pinnacle of Super Hero Cinema, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We all know that we are on the precipice of the end of an era. Marvel is about one month away from releasing what I am expecting to be one of the best films I will ever see, Avengers: Endgame. Releasing something like this is no light task, but definitely something that could be handled by a beast such as Marvel. It was back in 2008, I was only 15 years old, full of imagination and love of comic book heroes. As it would turn out, 2008 would be the year that the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) would officially be born. It all started with Iron Man, which sparked a flame of interest in myself and my group of friends. Now, like most Marvel-movie-goers, I have a specific squad of friends that I go to see these films with (You know who you are). Seeing Iron Man was like a breath of fresh air for 15 year old Randy. Witnessing one of my favorite heroes on the big screen, having all of this knowledge of the character, was one of the best moments of my life. Staying after the credits for the first of many post-credits started a tradition in these films, and this one started with the Avengers. This love would eventually carry into seeing every one of these films as they release, with the same group of friends (Of course the wife joined on some of these escapades as well).
Ten years worth of discussions and theories as to what Marvel had planned was a blast. The folks over at Marvel Studios have taken what was already famous from the pages and turned it into movie magic. Now we all know, at this point, that the MCU has it’s own Earth number now, essentially separating it from it’s comic book counterparts. This allowed Marvel Studios to introduce characters in their own way, but still paying homage to their comic book roots, like in Thor when they show his identification and the name reads Donald Blake. Marvel would continue to sprinkle this nods and Easter Eggs all throughout their movies as to appease their core fan base that came from the comic books. Arguably the most important Easter Eggs, and most constant, are the cameos from the legendary Stan Lee (Rest In Peace). Unfortunately, Stan has left this world to make better another one, but his legacy lives on. Stan has his moments in each film, without missing a beat, which are usually comical in nature. It was in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where we would get confirmation that Mr. Lee was an informant of some type for the Watchers. All of this still feeding into what the comics offered.
The movies are broken up into phases, each having it’s own over-arching storylines that inevitably fed into the larger story, now named the Infinity Saga (For good reason). Each movie played a part, similar to how there will be a huge event in the comics, with tie-in comics. Each phase we got closer and closer to the main villain, the Mad Titan Thanos. Thanos has been teased across the entire ten year span, just enough for Marvel fans to anticipate his arrival in the smash hit, Avengers: Infinity War. It was this film that brought together every hero we have seen so far (aside from Hawkeye and Ant-Man, sorry guys) in a clash of epic proportions. Thanos embarked on a crusade across the cosmos to gain access to the 6 Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all life in the Universe. We all know what happened, Thanos snapped his fingers and everyone turned into dust. Knowing about this event from the comics already gave me anxiety as we walked into the theater. Who would get snapped out of existence? Would they actually show it or would the movie end on the snap? There was so much going on and I can tell you with 100% certainty that my jaw didn’t leave the floor from the time he snapped until the theater lit up again. Marvel spent ten years making you care about these characters just to yank them away from you. Now, we all can infer what is going to happen in Endgame, but we aren’t theory crafting here, we are appreciating.
Growing the the MCU from a teenager to an adult, seeing these larger than life heroes appear on the big screen has been a dream. I don’t know what to expect after Avengers: Endgame and how the MCU will age post Infinity Saga, but I am hopeful. I am excited to introduce my children to these real life characters and let them get invested in what happens next. Comics started my love of super heroes and my love only grew further after the movies released. Now we see elements from the movies bleed into the comics, like the design of Tony Stark is basically Robert Downey Jr. now. Maybe we veered from the point here, but Marvel has yet again crafted a set of worlds that will exist for many years to come. As the world moves towards a digital medium, Marvel has grown with it and I plan to continue to grow with the company until I am old and grey. I love Marvel and cannot wait to see what comes next.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”