Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Wow, another guest post! This time, my brother-in-law is back with a response to my Marvel movie post from a few weeks back.

Imagine this: you plan on going to a movie. This movie is not only gaining its reputation for great directing, visual effects, beautiful scenery, extraordinary music and the like, but it is also the story of a great character embarking on a wonderful journey. Furthermore, this character happens to be the product of a brilliant scientific endeavor, or a freak accident, or a genetic mutation, or the son of a god. This movie exists as a fantastic achievement all on its own. Even if you saw no other movie, this one would be worth seeing.

Now imagine this: Not only did this movie make sense all on its own, as its own movie, but this movie exists in a network of other movies; a universe, perhaps.

Take the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for instance. Pirates exists in its own universe. The problem with these movies, however, is that you must see Movie #1 before you see Movie #2, and even though Movie #2 isn't worth seeing [Editor's note: BEG. TO. DIFFER.], Movie #2 must be seen before Movie #3.

In 2007, with the creation of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel has created what is called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU includes the following movies: Iron Man 1 & Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America. You may wonder: X-Men, Spider-Man, and a few other movies with Marvel characters came out around that time; why not these?

You see, not all Marvel movies are Marvel Universe Movies. Marvel sold the rights to many of their characters to make some money. Blade 1 & 2, all of the X-Men series (X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and X-Men: First Class), Spider-Man 1-3, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, the first Hulk, and the two Fantastic Four moves were all produced primarily from other companies like 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema, Universal Pictures, Colombia Pictures & Lionsgate.

It was not until 2007 that Marvel really stepped it up and decided to create their own Universe. Take a look at movie enterprises like Pirates of the Caribbean, or Star Trek, or Transformers, all with good and strong fandoms. These fandoms draw from of a string of movies, tied and connected in a series, and even a reboot or two. This I would call building a vertical universe where one story builds off of another.

MCU is more of a horizontal universe that will have vertical stories built in. Iron Man 1 is the predecessor to Iron Man 2, but it exists in the same world, the same universe as Thor, and Captain America. Each movie exists as a solid, coherent, fantastic movie in its own right. But it also exists in an ever developing universe of movies. Yes, we will still see vertical developments, movie upon movie and a reboot *cough* *cough* Star Trek. But now, there is a new giant entering the cinematic stage…

…but this one is not green when angry, nor is it the son of Odin. No. This movie giant is the combination of stories and heroes, the union of myth and magic, the joining of different characters from across the big screens to save our world once more.

I do have one caution, however: Do not be mistaken with another X-Men or the new Spider-Man reboot. They are still not a part of the MCU. The movie to look forward to is the movie that will literally unite their worlds: The Avengers!

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