Why MCU will Continue to Evolve and Stay Relevant After Avengers Endgame
There is a ground beyond the Avengers series in Marvel Cinematic Universe, and be sure that the Marvel Gods will meet you there.
Image courtesy: Avengers/ Instagram
There was once a man named Stanley Martin Lieber, who wanted to write the next great American novel. However, that dream of his never got fulfilled. Instead, Lieber or Stan Lee -- as he is popularly known among comic book fans, went on to rewrite the rules of comic-verse by creating a universe so unique, and marvellous that it enthralls and engages millions of people across the globe even today.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has, in the past 11 years, been the cradle of 22 Hollywood films, most of which were mega success at the box office. The most recent film to originate in MCU is Avengers: Endgame, which hit the screens this Friday and already has the biggest global opening in the history of cinema and made $644 million worldwide. As everyone on planet Earth might be aware of by now, Avengers Endgame marks the end of the Avengers series as well as the Infinity Saga. However, the good news is that phase 3 of MCU will continue, at least for a little while longer. This means that the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it isn't ending just yet.
Reportedly, in a recent event in Shanghai, the President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, declared that end of Marvel's phase 3 will happen after Spider-Man: Far From Home releases this summer.
MCU is a dynamic and ever-expanding space, and the credit for that goes as much to its creators like Stan Lee, John Kirby, and Steve Ditko, who back in the 1960s, came up with the concept of a shared world, where narratives of different superhero stories, converged and diverged seamlessly, as it does to comic books fans, who, for almost 6 decades, have tried to understand this universe and followed all the cross-overs and teaming up of superheroes with much dedication.
The early crossovers back in the '60s happened to team up the not-so-popular superheroes with the popular ones. The Avengers, in the comic book world, first came into existence in 1963. Even Fantastic Four was conceived during this decade. However, it wasn't until the early eighties that the various worlds of individual superheroes began to come together, into one big limitless space, known as the MCU.
When it was first announced that the films of infinity saga that started in phase 1 will come to an end, many wondered why is the most profitable movie franchise of all time ending so soon, especially when it is at the peak of its popularity? However, now that the end has come and gone and we have all said our emotional goodbyes and made peace with the completion of the narrative arcs of some of our favourite superheroes, we know that we are nowhere near the end. We are just going deeper into our already beloved universe.
In phase 4 of MCU, we will rearrange our focus from superheroes like Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, who were exceptionally popular so far, to lesser-known superheroes like Loki, and Hawkeye. Reportedly, MCU will spread out in Disney Plus. Although some of the Marvel characters like Jessica Jones, The Defenders, Agents of SHIELD were already inhibiting MCU on the fringes, in the small screen, the new shows on Disney Plus featuring Loki, Hawkeye, as well as, two more shows -- one on Buckey Barnes, and Sam Wilson, and the other on Wanda Maximoff, and Vision will take the center-stage soon, and take off from the narratives of Avengers film franchise.
Phase 4 will also see the return of some of our other favourite superheroes like Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy, which reportedly will also feature Thor. Black Widow too, will finally get her solo film, so it will be interesting to see on what timeline we will actually see her story play out. Whether we will go back to her past (which will surely answer many questions about why she is the way she is), or in some way, we will see her in the future.
In whichever way these narratives play out, one thing is for certain, MCU is far from over. It will continue to exist as it did for the past decade by evolving and becoming more diverse, teeming with a new set of superheroes. But the big question is, after 11 years of knowing and loving a certain set of characters, will it be possible for the fans to invest another decade perhaps, in completely another set of characters, who until now, had only appeared as supporting casts in Avengers films?
Will the audience be invested enough to care to continue following the evolving timelines of these superheroes' narratives? Chances are they will, given how fanatic Marvel fans are. Also, in all probability, the Marvel studio gods will give them enough reasons to continue to stay invested.
When Iron Man released in 2008, he too, was a fairly obscure character to the non-comic book lovers. Tony Stark (Iron Man's alter-ego) didn't even have the makings of a hero, let alone the capacity to be a superhero. But here we are 11 years down the line mourning Stark's death collectively.
Stan Lee once said that he made up Stark's character as a dare for the readers. He wrote a character who was immensely unlikable -- a war-mongering, weapon building, philandering industrialist -- and somehow forced the public to like him. It was so easy to make someone like Tony Stark a villain that Lee chose the challenge of portraying him as a hero instead. And, the way fans had emotional breakdowns after Stark's death in Avengers: Endgame is the proof that Lee succeeded in what he had set out to do.
It isn't just with Stark though. There is a reason why Marvel superheroes, irrespective of how big or small they are, have a way of connecting with their audience. Unlike the straight-jacketed characters of DC, Marvel superheroes seem to be more ordinary, and human even in their grandness. In the last decade, we saw Iron Man go through post-traumatic stress after New York's battle went down. We also saw Hulk struggle to accept the duality of his character.
We have also seen Thor come-of-age and seen Captain America face repeated rejection as a puny human hellbent on being a soldier. We have witnessed Doctor Strange's ego and seen Hawkeye give into violence to deal with the deaths of people he loved. The reason these characters are so immensely loveable is because they are as flawed as us, and they navigate through their own flaws with their wisecracking humour, trying to make the best of the situation and yet fail miserably every now and then, much as we do. Their world, this grand Marvel Cinematic Universe, is also not devoid of politics and power struggles or love animosity as well as friendship. That is why perhaps Marvel Superheroes and MCU will continue to stay relevant and we will continue to return to this universe, because you just don't leave a universe, because a few superheroes you loved died, grew old, or gave up going to the gym.
You stay there, with the memories of those that are gone hoping for a better future. And an interesting future may indeed be on its way with Fantastic Four, Shang Chi, and The Eternals likely to enter the MCU.
Stan Lee in his book Excelsior!The Amazing Life of Stan Lee had called Marvel, "... a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.”
Whether you are a comic book fan or just a Marvel movie lover, you know that this is absolutely true. You also know that Marvel is that cornucopia of fantasy, that swashbuckling attitude that allows us all 'an escape from the humdrum and the prosaic.' And it is indeed hard to leave such a wonderful universe.
As some of our favourite superheroes recently said, "Some people give up. But, not us." Not yet, anyway.
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