Rachel Bacchus Appraises the Expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
By Rachel Bacchus
With the latest move from Marvel Studios, Eternals, being released in less than a week, and the highly anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home being set to release this coming December, it may be time to look back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and see how much it has grown and changed over the years.
Phase one of the MCU started off the studios’ success with movies such as Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and of course, The Avengers. These movies set a great foundation for the future MCU movies to use as reference, placing humor, solid character development, and high intensity action scenes above all. The CGI holds up surprisingly well when compared to later movies in the other phases. One issue that phase one does have is that the actors for certain characters such as War Machine and The Hulk weren’t final. The current actors for these characters didn’t come until later, with Mark Ruffalo, the current actor for The Hulk, first appearing in The Avengers, replacing Edward Norton and Don Cheadle, the current actor for War Machine, and first appearing in Iron Man 2, replacing Terrence Howard.
After the end of phase one, Marvel took a slight step in a new direction that would set up a portion of phase two and the majority of phase three. While they made new movies for their previously established characters such as Iron Man 3, Captain America and the Winter Soldier, Thor and the Dark World, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, they also expanded the universe in which these characters reside with Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant Man. These movies, especially the two previously mentioned, had much more comedy while still providing the same level of action and character depth that was expected of the MCU.
No one was entirely sure what to expect after phase two until Marvel released its trailer for Captain America: Civil War, where MCU fans finally got a glimpse at the introduction of two of Marvel’s most popular characters: Spider-Man and Black Panther. Some fans hadn’t even expected Spider-Man to make it into the MCU due to legal issues over ownership of the character, as the Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four were both sold to Sony in the early 2000s. An issue that begins back in phase one, but becomes ever more present in phase two and three is inaccuracies between the movies and the comics they are based off of. One of the bigger discrepancies that some fans had a negative reaction to was the way Spider-Man is portrayed in the MCU, as fans compared him to Miles Morales, another version of Spider-Man in the comics. Fans also had issues with absence of Spider-Man’s origin story, the complete erasure of Uncle Ben, who typically serves a key role in Spider-Man becoming a hero, and the student-mentor relationship that he has with Iron Man. Despite that, the vast majority of fan still love Spider-Man’s inclusion in the MCU, and of course, other films such as Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home was well received by fans.
It would be remiss to not mention two of the most critically acclaimed and widely viewed movies in box office history: The Avengers Infinity War and The Avengers Endgame. These two movies manage to tone down the humor a bit, while making the action within the movie even more impactful than usual. One could even say that the climax of Endgame shook the world itself.
Finally, the ongoing phase four has shown to be promising, starting off with Black Widow, being the first stand-alone movie for the character, followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings, which has been received well by critics and casual viewers alike. So with this in mind, the only thing left to do is wait and see what Marvel studios has made to follow up the emotional rollercoaster that was phase three.