So, here I was… deciding that I was going to watch twenty-one films in a period of three weeks. For someone who works a 50 hour a week job plus almost another full time job as an indie author, no problem right?
But here we are… my tickets for Avengers: Endgame are set for Friday, April 26th and I sit here April 25th and I’ve just finished watching Avengers: Infinity War. My MCU marathon is complete, just in the nick of time.
During my recap for Phase 2, I made sure to mention how impressive it was that the folks behind the Marvel Cinematic franchise are able to introduce new characters and make them meaningful and relatable, not just to the comics faithful, but for the general viewing audience at large.
As impressive as Phase 2 was, Phase 3 may be even better. Sure Phase 2 gave us Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and the pop culture icons who are the Guardians of the Galaxy, Phase 3 introduced Black Panther (whose solo film got an Oscar nomination for Best Picture), Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, and brought the Amazing Spider-Man to the MCU in grandiose fashion. Every one of these characters now plays a crucial lynch pin role within the MCU, even though they came a bit late to the party. Pretty remarkable how they’re able to make that work.
But what about the films themselves? Here are some of the take aways:
- Captain America: Civil War gets a bad rap. Does it? Honestly, it seems like a mixed bag, but I feel like there are a lot of people who turn their nose up at it, and I really don’t get it. Obviously coming off of Winter Soldier I can see why people would think it might not measure up, but the way they balance all of those different characters as well as the over-arching story line and bring the Cap/Iron Man conflict to a head was truly well done. There’s a huge cast of characters, including the introduction of both Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU yet none of it feels especially cheap or phoned in.
- At some point along the way, the MCU films became spectacle films. It’s especially evident when you watch them all in such a compressed time frame, but looking at the Phase 1 films, which were generally understated more “real world” sorts of comic book movies, then looking at films like Black Panther and Dr. Strange, which were more or less CGI, special effects laden blockbusters, and you can really see the evolution of these movies. Some will argue if that’s for better or worse. I will admit I felt a little disconnected from both Black Panther and Dr. Strange because they were so heavily dependent on special effects to tell their story. Black Panther especially almost felt… fake? Like real life physics no longer applied. It was a great movie but when you compare it to the visceral, hard-hitting films like Winter Soldier, Civil War, or even Age of Ultron and Iron Man, it felt like a lot “flashier” and more “blockbuster” than previous films did.
- Infinity War was insane. I’m not sure I appropriately appreciated the scope and spectacle of Infinity War until I watched it for a third time and truly absorbed all of the different cast of characters coming together into a single cohesive film which managed to do credit to a now classic comic story in a way that felt like a culmination of everything that came before, yet did justice to everything new that was introduced. If this is any indication what we can expect from Avengers: Endgame… wow. Tomorrow afternoon is going to be fantastic.
- Even the Phase 3 sequels didn’t feel like sequels. Phase 3 felt like a “fresh start” even if it was a continuation of what came before. Technically there were several sequels – Civil War, Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, Ant Man and the Wasp, but both Civil War and Ragnarok almost felt like new franchises. More like “mini-Avengers” films that were quite different in style and scope than previous films. GOTG and Ant Man/Wasp felt very much like the sequels they were, but between Civil War, Ragnarok, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Captain Marvel, it was almost a “new generation” of the MCU in the immediate ramp up to Infinity War, which is a remarkable achievement.
So. I actually did it. Somehow I found time to watch every film in the lead up to Endgame, and as much as I can’t believe it, I loved every moment of it. There were films I was sort of dreading (as much as anyone can dread watching an entertaining film) but watching them as part of a larger whole felt incredibly rewarding. As amazing as it seems, there are pieces and parts from every single film, no matter how small, which end up creating part of the whole of the MCU. A fantastic experiment, and it put me in the perfect mood for Avengers: Endgame.
BRING IT ON.