The arrival of maybe the biggest movie—certainly the longest, clocking in at over three hours— in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is less than a week away. Tickets for the first screenings are selling out. This is going to be a very big deal, as it completes Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Click here to check out my reviews of the 21 previous pictures in the enormously popular franchise.
The first three phases have been dubbed “The Infinity Saga” by the big brain behind the MCU, Kevin Feige, because of the six Infinity Stones that frequently serve as interstellar MacGuffins in the series. The gems are what give cosmic villain Thanos all his power, and at the end of the last film, Avengers: Infinity War, allowed him to… spoiler alert… wipe out half of all life in the universe.
On Thursday morning’s CTV Morning Live I talked all about this with the very enthusiastic and charming Ana Almeida. If you want to check out my appearance, please go here. Otherwise, read on.
If you’re a newbie to Marvel movies, welcome. They’re the closest thing the 21st Century has to a massive cultural event, the kind of success that will have people writing think pieces in 30 years, the way we’re nostalgic about the three original Star Wars films, or even Harry Potter.
If you want to catch up and have time to kill in the next few days, watch them all. They’re available on VOD, iTunes, what have you.
If you only want to watch a few to get up to speed, I recommend going back to the beginning. Watch Iron Man, then Captain America: The First Avenger, then the first Avengers movie, from 2012, that still holds up as one of the best of the bunch. So, that’s three. After that, I recommend Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War. Then you need to see the three most recent films: Avengers Infinity War, Ant Man & The Wasp, and Captain Marvel.
That’s not to say there aren’t other fine films in the series, but I think these are the ones you’ll need to feel like you can follow what’s going on. So, there you go, nine movies in the last 21. Still a lot, but that should help set you up.
The last film brought a lot of death to a lot of characters. I suspect the new movie will involve time travel, as our heroes try and stop what Thanos before he snapped his fingers, to literally change history. But in the efforts to do that, we can assume there’ll be sacrifice. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr are both at the ends of their contracts with the MCU, so they may be the ones to go.
Marvel’s Phase 4 is a little more mysterious, but we’ve heard about limited series being developed for Disney’s streaming service, Disney Plus, with characters featured including Loki and the Vision and Scarlet Witch. This summer we have a new Spider-Man movie, so we can presume with some confidence that Peter Parker makes it back to the land of the living in Avengers: Endgame.
Beyond that, though, it’s conjecture. A Black Widow movie is finally in the works, as is a movie about a martial arts master, Shang-Chi, and a third iteration of Guardians of the Galaxy. But if the Avengers ever return, the team will be very changed. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Avengers have another movie in, say 2024 or 2025, but with a refreshed lineup, perhaps led by Captain Marvel.
And, don’t forget, now that Disney owns the rights to 20th Century Fox characters, that includes the Marvel characters licensed to them. We can expect (a probably recast) X-Men to start showing up in the MCU, following their final outing with 20th Century Fox, Dark Phoenix, opening in June.
We’ve got years more superheroes ahead.