Marvel Comics Cinematic Universe: A Summer recap, in-depth analysis of the MCU thus far, and the future of the MCU discussed
|Guardians of the Galaxy|
Marvel Comics is no stranger to box office success. Over the past decade, their films have broken numerous records in revenue and viewership. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to fans that Marvel has capped off their onslaught of feature films this 2014 Spring/Summer season with grace and fortitude. Such blockbusters involved in their hostile takeover of the box offices include Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men, Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. For those who've been living under the metaphorical rock this past summer, here's a recap of the films, as spoiler-free as I could get it. However, I do issue an official, "VIGILANT GEEK SPOILER ALERT!!!" to anyone who has yet to see these films. (Just covering my ass guys ;))
**CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER
released April 2014
|Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier official movie poster|
This action-packed caper of international espionage and governmental conspiracies takes Captain Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans), Colonel Nick Fury, (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow, (Scarlet Johansson) and The Falcon, (Anthony Mackie) deep within a top secret plot orchestrated by an unlikely foe to overthrow one of the United States' most viable intelligence agencies, S.H.I.E.L.D. Throughout Cap's quest to save S.H.I.E.L.D, he and his allies confront the likes of Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones and of coarse, the cold, calculated Winter Soldier.
|Cap in action versus the dastardly Winter Soldier|
Below are some of the amazing vintage-style movie posters created before the film hit the box offices:
(The first one looks not unlike an old Bond movie poster, which is excellent!)
With elements of the classic spy caper mixed in with that of a superhero movie, this one has the best of both worlds. Cap is much like James Bond throughout the film, except he does way more damage with a vibranium shield than 007 could ever do with a PP7. Marvel has clearly succeeded in making Cap one of the most anticipated live-action heroes today. Cap 3 should be a real smash!
For those that read the Marvel books, you are well aware that Spidey typically has his own separate continuity apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe. (Not including MU crossovers of coarse!) This second installment of the fresh, new, rebooted series starring Andrew Garfield as the web-slinger is no exception. With the first film giving us a glimpse of Peter's past, as well as his skills going toe-to-toe with The Lizard, part two elaborates on secrets kept by Peter's parents, as well as introduces three new villians into the mix with The Rhino, (Paul Giamatti), The Green Goblin, (Dane DeHaan) and Electro, (Jamie Fox).
|Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man|
|Jamie Fox as Electro|
Some people keep asking me, "why are there so many villians in Spider-Man movies??" To those people I answer with a question, "Have you ever picked up an issue of Spider-Man?" If you haven't noticed, besides maybe Batman, Spidey has the largest, most dangerous rouges gallery in all of comics. Clearly, he must then be depicted on the silver screen as fighting numerous villians at once! That's what he does!! Peter Parker is the ultimate multi-tasker!! Think about it for a second, he's usually fighting the Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Venom and Carnage, while also saving Mary Jane from Doc Ock, while also taking pics of himself for the Bugle, while also running to the grocery store to pick up bread and milk for Aunt May, while also running out of web fluid and having to take the subway around NYC.... etc, etc, etc.
|Spidey goofing off with the NYFD|
I have heard rumblings around the net that part of the reason why so many new villians are being introduced in Spider-Man films is due to the fact that a "Sinister Six" film is on it's way. (For those unaware, the Sinister Six are a group of Spidey villians, usually led by Doc Ock, and include the likes of Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, Rhino and Vulture, however, members have been traded here and there throughout the years.) Though I am unable to confirm this project as a reality at this time, I do know for sure that a Venom movie is currently in production. Marvel exec. Avi Arad can be quoted stating that, "Venom will be an Eddie Brock story, staying true to the original comic book." There you have it folks! There seems to be plenty to look forward to within Marvel's cinematic "spider-verse."
|Marvel's "Venom" film will be an Eddie Brock story, true to the comic.|
**X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST:
released May 2014
This film blew me away. Though straying a little further from the source material than I had hoped it would, Brian Singer's third X-Men feature film, (fifth X-Men film overall, not including the Wolverine solo films), more than surpassed my expectations. It captured the dark, dystopian future Chris Claremont created in the 1981 story arc perfectly. For those caught up in the issue of continuity between the original source material and the plot of the film; allow me to explain how a lifelong fan of X-Men comics, cartoons and motion pictures like myself was able to accept the changes made for the movie.
|The original "Days of Future Past" comic book cover, circa 1981, Chris Claremont|
As I am sure most of you know, in the original "Days of Future Past" story arc, it is Kitty Pryde, now known as "Shadowcat," known back then as "Sprite," that does the actual time-traveling, NOT Wolverine. In the original story, Ms. Pryde finds herself as one of the last mutant resistance fighters, alongside an aging Wolverine, fighting what seems like a futile war against the nearly indestructible sentinels created by scientist and opponent of mutant rights, Bolivar Trask. Kitty must travel back in time to prevent the murder of Senator Kelly in order to prevent the war on mutant and humankind alike she is fighting in the future.
Ok, so we have established how the plot originated in 1981 by Chris Claremont in which Kitty Pryde is the real hero. Now, you're all probably pissy that the motion picture featured Wolverine going back in time, not K.P., to prevent the murder. Well, although I agree that the story was altered quite a bit for the film adaptation, I'll have to ask you to consider this. In the early 1990's, Marvel released an animated version of "Days of Future Past" in their immensely popular X-Men Saturday morning cartoon, which featured Bishop doing the time-traveling! In fact, Kitty Pryde wasn't even in the cartoon at all! Although this adaptation strayed even further from the source material than the film did, it was still extremely well-received, and is one of my favorite episodes to this day. I know there are many of you out there who agree with this.
With all this being said, I must lastly jump upon Marvel's "Wolverine Bandwagon," so to speak, and come out and say that when push comes to shove, he really is one of the most interesting characters Marvel has ever created. People love Wolverine, including myself. It's tough to make an X-Men movie and not showcase the one character that will put definite asses in the seats. Therefore, dollars and cents wise, if nothing else, it made sense to have Wolverine do the time traveling, and it made for an extremely enjoyable film.
|X-Men: Days of Future Past cast|
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY:
released August 2014
|Guardians of the Galaxy official movie poster|
Last, but as you all probably know already, DEFINITELY not least; we come to Marvel's big closer to its summer box office monopoly, Guardians of the Galaxy. Following the antics of five cosmic misfits, (Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)), this one had big laughs and even bigger action! To me, the coolest thing about "Guardians" is that Marvel has chosen this specific franchise to be the outlet for their whole "cosmic universe." When I say "cosmic universe," I am talking about an intergalactic monstrosity larger than Star Wars or Star Trek. Besides the Chitauri which were introduced into the MCU in The Avengers, and all of the cosmic characters introduced in the Fantastic Four movie franchise, (set to reboot in 2015), Guardians of the Galaxy may be credited with introducing a plethora of cosmic entities to the MCU including the Kree, the Elders (The Collector), Yondu and The Ravagers, the Xandarians, the Sakaarans, Nebula, the Krylorians, Korath, Thanos the Mad Titan, Ronan the Accuser, and the Nova Corps!
|Ronan the Accuser|
With Thanos appearing in his first speaking role in the MCU ever, (his first actual appearance in the MCU was in The Avengers easter egg), one cannot help but wonder....is Marvel working towards a cinematic adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet? It's not entirely clear at this stage of the game, but there are certainly clues! One big clue was Josh Brolin holding his gauntlet-clad fist in the air at San Diego Comic Con this year. There have also been numerous sightings of the infinity gems/stones in such Marvel movies as The Avengers, Thor 2: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Let's do a quick recap of where the infinity gems that we know about actually are: one is safely in Asgard, one is safely in Xandar, one is with the Collector and the last one is not so safely in the hands of Baron von Strucker. Hmmm....
|Brolin teasing The Infinity Gauntlet at the Marvel Studios Panel, San Diego Comic Con 2014|
|Thanos the Mad Titan, played by Josh Brolin, Guardians of the Galaxy|
|One of my all time favorite Marvel Comics crossover events: The Infinity Gauntlet|
If Marvel's big master plan is to build up to an Infinity Gauntlet movie, either through the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy franchises, they will need to introduce four key characters: Adam Warlock, The Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Mistress Death. Also, they will have to introduce the rest of the Elders. (So far we have only met The Collector) Additionally, they will have to finally allow Thanos to get up out of his intergalactic reclining chair and obtain the infinity gems!
Marvel's Phase II will finish off with Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, set to release in May of 2015
What to expect from Phase III of Marvel's Cinematic Universe:
Marvel has stated publicly that they will be kicking off "Phase III" with Ant-Man!!!
Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Set to release Summer 2015.
Fantastic Four (reboot):
Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Set to release Summer 2015.
Other films you can expect from Phase III:
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse:
Fantastic Four (reboot):
Captain America 3
The Amazing Spider-Man 3
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
The Wolverine (sequel)
The Defenders (Netflix tv series starring Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones)
The Rumor Mill:
These are the rumored additions to Phase III that are being tossed around the internet like hot tamales!
The Sinister Six:
Incredible Hulk (sequel starring Mark Ruffalo):
Black Widow (solo film):
I don't know about all of you, but PHASE III has me pumped! Keep em coming Marvel!!