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Captain America, Iron Man, and Mocking Bird for you Agents of Shield fans are just a few names that have been introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that both Marvel Studios and Disney have now created for us, the lucky fans. This last weekend we got the first superhero that has begun to dig deep into the magic end of the MCU and that, of course, was Doctor Strange. Now this is not a review of Doctor Strange and I will not be spoiling anything from the movie, but I will be including some facts from the newest Marvel franchise. Doctor Strange is Marvel Studios 14th movie in their universe and it was as much as a hit as the rest of them. But where are we currently in the MCU and what is all this building to? I will be exploring a few ideas that I have about the MCU and I hope to shed some light on this subject that is so important to me.
Since 2008, Marvel Studios has been on the ultimate quest of having the Avengers up on the big screen, and this quest was called Phase One. And oh, my gosh have they done it phenomenally. Phase One is all the Marvel Studios movies from Iron Man through the Avengers. Since Iron Man and the introduction of Nick Fury in the first of many end credit scenes that Marvel is so famous for, they have been planning the introduction of Black Panther, The Punisher and even Captain Marvel. One thing that I think that was fantastic about Phase One of the MCU was that they could have just ended! After the Avengers in 2012 I felt very content with Marvel saying to myself “that was amazing and I am so satisfied." The Avengers was the first time that we have seen such a star packed movie of superheroes probably since The Expendables. Captain America, Black Widow and Hulk all shared the same screen and it made fans giddy with excitement. Vibranium for Cap's shield was introduced; we saw Tony build his suits, and we saw The Mighty Thor fly through the skies of Asgard. Everything was done to the T and we all were thoroughly introduced to these relatively unfamiliar heroes. Our minds were blown and then Marvel gave us Phase Two!
After the dust settled and we got a sneak peak of the big bad himself (watch the Avengers end credit scene if you haven’t yet) and the Marvel fans picked through all the footage of every movie that we have been blessed with, Marvel took a year break before starting Iron Man 3 and officially kicking off Phase Two. This was just as awe inspiring and amazing as Marvel fans would expect. Phase Two officially includes everything between Iron Man 3 and Ant-Man. This also includes the TV shows that Marvel Studios produced in that time! Now I have been quoted saying that Iron Man 3 was not my favorite movie and I will still stand by that. But now, after everything that has happened, I am so much more okay with the movie as it pertained to the MCU. In Phase 2 we saw all the heroes we saw in Phase One - Iron Man, Captain America and Hawkeye were all there. But we also got some very new faces! The Guardians of the Galaxy were brought to life thanks to Marvel! Groot the talking tree with Rocket Racoon as his best friend. Peter Quill aka Star Lord….. who? Gamora the lethal assassin and daughter of Thanos, and finally Drax the Destroyer. A rag tag team of liars and thieves and killers that band together to save the whole galaxy from the kree accuser Ronan. If you’re not a hard-core Marvel Comics reader this was a fun movie to watch.
If you know a little bit about who the kree are or who Thanos is (hint check out that end credit scene I told you about in the Avengers) then this was a mind-blowing movie! Infinity Stones were name dropped and we saw Thanos himself and heard him talk! And this was all just one movie! I didn’t even mention the fact that we saw an infinity stone in Thor the Dark World or that Captain America the Winter Soldier happened. Doctor Strange was name dropped in 2014, two years before his solo movie. That’s how far ahead of the game Marvel is. I’m sorry I’m getting way ahead of myself right now but this is just truly such an amazing set of movies. At the end of it all was Avengers Age of Ultron. For those who don’t know Ultron is this AI that Tony created in the MCU that is one of the toughest foes that the Avengers have faced time and time again. We were introduced to 3 new heroes in this movie - Vision, Quicksilver and his sister Scarlet Witch. Unfortunately, not all of those heroes mentioned made it but again I will leave that to you the reader to find out. We saw a bit more of the Infinity Stones in Age of Ultron and then even more powerful again in the end credits of the movie is just getting ready to meet the Avengers.
One thing that I didn’t mention in yet in Phase Two was the tv shows! We had Agents of Shield and we saw the return of fan favorite Phil Coulson. AOS was a fresh new way that we could see the MCU in a weekly hour long episode that dealt with hints and jabs at the movies that they connected to. The team had to deal with the fall of Shield in The Winter Soldier and it was such a great addition to the MCU. The last fantastic thing in Phase Two was the introduction of the Netflix exclusive Marvel shows that begun with Daredevil. The last time we saw this hero was in the Ben Affleck movie in 2003. Daredevil the Netflix show dealt with New York and the effects of the Avengers on the people of New York and the people of Hell’s Kitchen. Wow these are a lot of big steps that were taken in Phase Two and then they didn’t stop there. Not. One. Bit.
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Phase Three has just recently taken off running. And I mean RUNNING. Phase Three began with Captain America Civil War and my god it was just a mind-blowing movie. Every major hero we’ve seen since the end of Age of Ultron was in this movie with the exception of Hulk, Thor, and the unnamed hero who we lost in Age of Ultron. Civil War didn’t really have anything to do with the looming overarching theme of the Infinity Stones and Thanos. But it certainly set a rift through the heroes that we know and love. The Avengers need to be held accountable for their actions and they need to be put on a leash. Tony thinks that’s what needs to happen. Steve Rogers thinks that “every time you try to win a war before it starts innocent people die. Every time.” Team Cap and team Iron Man face off while Captain America is a fugitive from the world. Introduced in this movie we get two new heroes. Black Panther and Spiderman! Wait Spiderman? For anyone who is unaware some Spiderman rights are own by Sony and they recently struck a deal with Marvel to give them partial rights to the character. This is a huge step towards the end of Phase Three and leading into Phase Four. Civil War ended with team Cap retreating to the city of Wakanda, the home of Black Panther. The effects of Civil War will be felt in the MCU for the entirety of Phase Three and they will be dealing with the repercussions of the Sakovia Accords for a very long time. Also, while this happened we were introduced to Jessica Jones in another Netflix original show. She is a Private Investigator who has super strength and an attitude. The Jessica Jones series was just as good if not better than season one of Daredevil and it still is set in the city of New York and Hell’s Kitchen. In addition to Jessica Jones we also had another season of Agents of Shield. Still working in the shadows, we were introduced to a new race of heroes called Inhumans. This is Marvels way of competing with Fox’s rights to the Xmen universe. Originally the Inhumans had their own movie that was scheduled for the end of Phase Four but it has since been delayed because of the Agents of Shield take on the Inhumans. Another thing I forgot to mention was the Agent Carter tv series that had two seasons. Now I will admit I haven’t seen either seasons. Not a single episode, and I know I need to, but everything that I’ve heard was that it was fantastic and really gave Peggy Carter a strong place at the MCU table.
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We also got another season of Daredevil in the mix that was just as great as the first. We were introduced to two more fantastic characters in the show - Electra and Frank Castle, The Punisher. The most recent Netflix show to be released was Luke Cage. He’s now one of the strongest members of the MCU - up there with Captain America and the Hulk. This show talked about race in the MCU and the sort of problems that Luke has to deal with being a black hero in Harlem. It was a great show and I highly recommend watching it. A very cool new addition that was added in the fourth season of Agents of Shield this season was Ghost Rider! This is the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider which was different then the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider we saw in the 2007 Nicolas Cage movie. Then, last, but certainly not least, we have the introduction of the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange master of the mystic arts. We finally get to see the man himself after he was mentioned way back in Phase Two in the Winter Soldier. This movie had everything every Marvel fan could want going into Phase Three. Action, Easter Eggs and references, two great end credit scenes and all of the Marvel lingo you can sink your teeth into. No spoilers. Go watch it.
I hope that this is a good summary of everything you need to know about the state of the MCU and what we can expect going into the next few years of Marvel Fantasticness. Excelsior!