Blogging A to Z Day 15: Marvel Cinematic Universe

What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might ask? It’s the shared movie universe inhabited by all of the Marvel Studios movies – but not necessarily by the movies made by other studios. So in are the Avengers and their solo movies, and out are the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-Man. Kind of. And more recently, this is a shared universe also with two television shows, keeping fans entertained between movies.

In an era when so much of movie talk is about re-boots, re-makes, sequels, and adaptations, the Marvel Cinematic Universe just seems to blend right in. And there are plenty of folks who worry that the money the movies are making are going to kill the comics that they are based on – making the comics the secondary focus, rather than the primary.

So instead today, I want to approach this from the other direction. Because while on the one hand these movies might seem like they’re all something old, made new again to turn a profit – on the other hand, they are showing a whole new way of storytelling and franchise building, which has turned out to be both good and bad!

Piece by piece, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown. The little teaser moments connecting the movies, people like Nick Fury and Agent Coulson (first name Agent), were great for the fans. Sure, it also maybe left us skeptical, and the radical departure from the direction they were heading in Iron Man 2 shows that they are learning and adapting.

Since The Avengers, and its run as the third biggest box-office film of all time, their plans have really grown. At this point, we know what their films are going to be between now and 2019. And if that’s not enough, the TV shows have been getting better – with Agent Carter this year being a particular treat.

Agent_Carter_Official_Logo

There have been shared universes before, between shows, between movies. Star Trek springs to mind. However, Star Trek had a pattern of TV show and then movies. And some periods of multiple shows on at once. Marvel is pulling off something different – a show springing from the movies, and then returning to movies, then back to show.

One of their perceived competitors, DC, is not trying this. They have a separate TV and movie universe going on right now (check out all the great Arrow reviews here on Sourcerer!). Totally different from one another. And then we’re seeing all sorts of other studios trying to create franchises that work like Marvel’s – with multiple movies being made at once, with different teams, in a shared cinematic universe. Shared universes are great and all, but Marvel’s doing something more.

They’re doing a complete, gigantic, all-in shared universe. It’s definitely influencing their comics. It’s definitely making them money. But it’s also definitely entertaining fans and generally just a great time. So while it’s something old, it’s also something new – something hard to duplicate, and so very fragile. Will it hold up over time, as these further movies come out? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see.

This post was by @CompGeeksDavid of the Comparative Geeks and regular Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Comparative Geeks

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32 thoughts on “Blogging A to Z Day 15: Marvel Cinematic Universe

    • The competition is a lot right now – it’s leading to some sad fans when shows like Constantine get canceled. But there’s so much competition they can’t all survive!

      It also has them moving into new markets – like Daredevil on Netflix!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Was it your blog or someplace else that I read that the events of Daredevil on Netflix are taking place after the Age of Ultron in the timeline? They have made a few references already to Thor and company, but I can’t remember what else was potentially impacted by this…unless I read it wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had no idea Daredevil was part of the MCU until I started watching it, but it is. They referred to getting their law office cheap because of the destruction in New York “raining from the sky,” but I suppose that could also be an Age of Ultron reference…

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          • It is impressive that they went away from ABC and their other owned channels – but it’s a sign that they think these shows can survive without being under the Disney umbrella. From what I have seen if Daredevil so far, I think they were right 🙂

            It also let them be much more violent than the shows on ABC, which I guess works. I’m pretty sure Netflix is also making an MCU Heroes for Hire, so more street-fighting superheroes there!

            Liked by 1 person

    • It was not me, but it might be here on Sourcerer… Although I’m the main Marvel blogger here 😉

      Anyway – I had not heard this! Only a few episodes in now so mostly the references have been to the Battle of New York (from The Avengers). Now I’m really curious about this! And I didn’t need an extra excuse to go see Age of Ultron, or to watch Daredevil! 😀

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  2. Well, they have plenty of practice from their comic-only days, so I think they can pull it off! The only risk you run is people not being able to follow stuff anymore without getting the pieces of info from other movies (Loki comes to mind)… which may be a problem in the cinema area. But I’m game. I love seeing all of those characters come to life! (Even if I don’t agree with all their casting choices.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with the fear about needing to know too much from the previous works, which is only going to increase over time. However, they put a lot of this fear to rest with Agent Carter. There are so many ways they could have had little in-jokes, and they didn’t. Daredevil so far is seeming the same – you need the basic knowledge that New York was trashed in the Avengers.

      However, I am now curious about the tangent here: which casting choices don’t you agree with?!?

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      • Hahaha, pretty sure I mentioned them before somewhere along the line. Rogue and Storm were both failures, imo, as they didn’t bring any real energy to the screen. The actors they chose for Beast and Wolverine I was dubious of, until I watched them, and now can’t imagine anyone else playing them (though I don’t like the cat-like incarnation of Beast… my Beast will always be Jim Lee’s Beast.) I’m actually still iffy on Loki as well… but I don’t know enough of the character to make a call either way.

        For the most part, I think their leads are great. I would like another actress besides Scarlett Johansen to get some female superhero roles, though… and that’s not really Marvel’s fault exclusively.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ah, yes, I remember being upset at the X-Men casting and that conversation…

          So those movies are not actually part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (different movie rights); it’s different people making those decisions, and you’re right, some of those were not the best choice. It’s been a hallmark of the Marvel Studios films that they haven’t cast too many well-known actors as the superheroes. Or at least, not A-listers. With the X-Men movies, there were a few too many big names for an ensemble cast movie!

          And I won’t tell all the Hiddleston fan-people know that you have doubts about him 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This is just to say. I am so happy to find conversations happened here. I have been worried about the A to Z thread all day, and not had time to check in. Good, good, good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you liked Captain America, I would say give Agent Carter a try. It was a lot of fun, and only 8 episodes. Agents of SHIELD is a more acquired taste… Though it’s getting better. And I’m only a few episodes into Daredevil so I can’t say for sure on that!

      Thanks for stopping by 😀

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  4. Just finished Daredevil … some thoughts …

    I feel like Agent Carter and Daredevil cashed in perfectly on the new standard for ‘TV’ shows. (someone ought’a think of a new name for ’em because they certainly aren’t just for TV’s anymore – ‘serialised multiplatform shows’ maybe)

    I remember watching a video clip of Kevin Spacey talking about House of Cards and how they chose to release it in a format that allowed the viewer to choose how they watched it. A radical concept that had trad TV execs foaming at the mouth and, I suspect, praying to whatever deities they believed in that the whole experiment would fail. It didn’t, obviously.It made perfect sense to me, and obviously to M.U. as well! 🙂

    Agent Carter told a story arc in 8 episodes, another radical departure from the traditional format, that also worked.

    DD also told a complete story (it was like watching a 13 hour movie) with no filler of placeholder episodes.

    Something Alex mentioned, in the comments, brought it home for me that the Easter Egg-y moments in the movies and shows are magnificent HOOKS … who among us doesn’t want to know what they’re referencing?

    I don’t know how long the Marvel bubble will last, but it’s going to be one helluva ride. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay I braved your comment, and no spoilers 😀 I thank you for that, and my trust was well placed!

      Only three episodes in on DD but I agree they definitely don’t have a lot of fluff. Like they aren’t going to explain or remind you directly of what happened – it’s up to you as the viewer to remember for instance that he was beat up last episode – and still feeling it this episode. They can do that really clearly but not thinking it’s been a week since you last watched an episode – it may have been as long ago as a bathroom break.

      I think what we may have to call the short seasons, though, is British-style. Even 13-episode Doctor Who seasons are considered “long” and to have filler episodes. Whereas a “traditional” US show is 26 episodes – half a year. And with a number of long breaks for the holidays, so potentially multiple cliffhangers, and multiple points where you need to catch viewers up.

      And that traditional model can really wreck a show that might be better suited for a shorter season. That could tell its whole story in half that time. Shows like Under the Dome and Sleepy Hollow on the networks have shown this was possible, and the cable and premium shows have been doing it for longer (and better).

      And then there’s the Netflix shows! You have that all just right I think 🙂

      And so, as part of their grand experiment, combining how many movies and now TV shows into a combined universe – into that mix Marvel is adding short seasons AND Netflix style season-release! They are being really gutsy and it is paying off like crazy. I hope their bubble doesn’t pop at least until phase 3 is done! Because they’re already working on hooking us for all of that!

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      • You’re welcome 🙂 …

        I remember feeling blinking like an owl the first time I watched an 8 episode British show. My brain was like, ‘is that all there is?’ and then it realised the 8 episodes were damn good, and all was well in its world! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well said! It’s just like that. And we’re finally catching up to that. It also means they can run more shows and give more things a chance, at least in theory. Meaning a show like Firefly should have more of a chance today…

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  5. It is certainly an admirable project and if anyone can do it Marvel can! There are so many references across the universe, so many threads, that I’m surprised they keep up with them all. It’s an exciting time, and I think they have the balance exactly right. The shows work on their own merit, for people who aren’t familiar with backstory, and for those who are – the references are one of the things that make us happy! Pretty soon, even the people who don’t read the comics will see the beautiful tapestry that draws everything together!

    Oh, and thanks for mention 🙂 I need to get on with the next review, right now…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As someone else mentioned in a comment… They do have a lot of practice keeping all of this straight in comics form. They have way more titles and characters going there than in the MCU!

      What would that job be like, though? To be the one keeping all of the continuity straight? Do you have to start every sentence by pushing up your glasses and saying “well, actually…” I mean, it’s kind of the know-it-all sort of job. And oh man, will the fans catch you on it if you screw up…

      Need to catch up on reading your reviews! Blame A to Z…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. At the moment, Marvel is doing everything right! Movies and TV. They have me watching and spending money, which is all they could ever ask for.
    Loved Agent Carter! She was fantastic.
    My son and I will do the 10 movie marathon the week prior to A2 coming out! We can’t wait!
    DC is screwing it all up. Arrow and The Flash on the CW are REALLY great, but they are keeping the films separate. BIG mistake!
    I want to like DC, I do. They’re making it hard.
    Heather

    Liked by 1 person

    • That new Batman vs. Superman trailer didn’t do them any favors. It’s just… Not that exciting. I had chills watching the Avengers 2 ones! James Spader alone…

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  7. Pingback: A to Z Challenge Reflection 2015 | Comparative Geeks

  8. Pingback: Ten Bloggers. 26 Blogging A to Z Posts. All on One Blog. | Sourcerer

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