Note: There will be no spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, except a quick mention of the trailer at the end.
A lot has happened in the last decade. For starters, I had way more hair, Facebook was in the news for less nefarious reasons, and I was just still living with my parents. Let’s see….What else…. Oh yes. A trenchcoat clad Samuel L. Jackson said two simple words: “Avenger’s Initiative”. Does anyone remember how they felt when they heard those two words? I do, and they were magical and promising. My young brain couldn’t imagine the effect they would have.
Nearly 20 movies later (just in case you are curious, the 20th installment is Ant-Man and The Wasp coming out this year), and the population has either gotten superhero fatigue, or are still pumped for every new announcement. It all started with a stinger, a time when they were cute Easter eggs instead of plot devices. Audiences are now going to see what 20 movies, 15 directors, and let’s just guesstimate a few hundred thousand different actors have done. As much as I would love to share my experience going through every single movie one by one, I don’t think you have the patience to read the word “awesome” more than a couple dozen times. Instead, I’ve been waiting on for a long time for this movie, this event: Avengers: Infinity War.
SPOILER ALERT for most of the recently released Marvel movies. If you have yet to see any of these films, then why did you click on the article? Otherwise, I would love to take you through my decade long adventure through the three incredible phases.
(Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: the First Avenger, The Avengers)
Let’s go back to a time when the Marvel studios logo lasted all of five seconds
Overall, Phase 1 was a fantastic experimentation period. They brought in unusual, but talented actors to play the roles of a lifetime, in a series of movies that no one expected to be the powerhouses they are today. Marvel Studios had yet to own the rights to the X-Men and Avengers, so they needed to scrape the barrel for a B level superhero they could splatter onto the movie screen. No one expected the darkhorse movie known as Iron Man would rock the cinematic world. It became a catalyst to a (currently) $6 billion dollar franchise. To this day it still remains a solid film, but the real story was tucked away in the psot credits sequence. When they teased an Avengers idea in the stinger I felt like a child on Christmas. My dreams were simply a “just imagine” scenario. How cool world that be? Obviously, today we all know how cool it is.
Phase 1 was essentially a series of origin stories. Though they can be a little to expositional, I felt they were required for the casual viewer because no one really knew the details for Thor or Captain America. I think a lot of people were excited to see a new stinger, teasing the next movie. With every stinger, my glee started to grow out of control, my excitement for The Avengers was nearly unhinged. This culmination of superheroes was becoming more of a reality. You can’t imagine how I felt the fateful day The Avengers was announced and made a stamp in history. I never expected they could pull off this Herculean labour. This experiment brought in big names, big movies, and big action together under one roof with enormous amounts of success. I couldn’t ask for more, until I saw the stinger in The Avengers. Thanos’ rigged purple smirk emerged, and teased the possibility of The Infinity Gauntlet. It could be (is) happening I wanted more.
(Iron Man 3, Thor: Dark World, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man.)
I won’t be the first to express this opinion, but Phase 2 was by far the most fluctuating experience of the Marvel movie madness. The first couple of sequels didn’t pan out too well because they played it too safe. The only benefit to the Thor sequel was the unforgettable introduction to The Collector and the Infinity Stones. It only solidified my hope that the gauntlet was starting to become a reality inching it’s way closer to my soul. Yet, part of me was worried that Marvel was acting out the story of Icarus. They lacked that same inspiring touch they used in the first phase. Maybe they peaked too soon? Did Thanos plan for world domination fail before it got off the ground? These questions are clearly hypothetically, as he’s showing up in the movie this week.
Marvel Studios quickly learned their lesson, and took a big risk by bringing in unusual directors not known for big budget action films. The Russo Brothers, known mostly for their comedic material, directed the sequel to Captain America: the First Avenger, and created what soon became one of my favourite film in the series. They proved to the world that a man with a flag on his chest who kicks some serious terrorist ass can look cool doing it. Marvel hit another homerun with a concept completely out of left field, Guardians of the Galaxy. Journalists, casual movie fans, and other movie studios were confused. They thought that a movie with a cast consisting of a talking raccoon, a Vin Diesel; tree, two green skinned aliens, and the dumpy guy from parks and Recreation, will fail. Boy, was the world wrong. Not only did we actually see and hear Thanos for the first time, we saw more connections to the Infinity Stones. It was clear that this will be happening. Unfortunately, this is where Phase 2 peaked. Avengers: Age of Ultron didn’t live up to the original’s hype, and is wrought with flaws. Ant-Man, though entertaining, seemed too close to Iron Man to stand on its own. They’re not bad movies, but they missed the mark. Marvel might not be able to make something awe-inspiring anymore. Once again, these negative thoughts were purged.
(Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther.)
Not that you need this reiterated to you, but many stories follow a special arc. The hero is introduced, they fail and they turn to a dark place, then like a phoenix they rise once again defeating the great evil. Phase 3 is Marvel’s phoenix moment. This is not to be confused with the Fox owned X-Men and the incredibly popular Dark Phoenix Saga. Before I continue, I would love to give a quick autobiographical moment.
I started reading comics in 2006. This was a time in comic book history that many consider to be a high point. The major event at of the time was a cute story called Civil War. It was a tale of friend vs friend. Two semi-popular heroes, Iron Man and Captain America, were pitted against one another over superhuman ethics. Though it had a lackluster ending, it still remains one of my favorite stories. I thought it would be too difficult to make. But, nce again, how cool would it be if they did? When I saw the title card on the screen during a press conference, I jumped out of my seat. I got more excited than I did for The Avengers. Captain America: Civil War, (aka Avengers 2.5 or Captain America 3), came out strong, and to this day remains my favorite film in this maddening bunch of superhero films.
Everything afterwards in Phase 3 were huge successes. They included lighthearted comedies with Guardians of the Galaxy VOl 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, special effects extravaganzas with Doctor Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok, and cultural commentary with the powerful Black Panther. Marvel Studios started to give the audiences everything they wanted, which includes Spider-Man, a Spider-Man that turned out to be the best version to date. I will defend my point against anyone who disagrees. Tom Holland is the bets live action Spider-Man. With success after success, and Infinity Stone after Infinity Stone, every fan was looking forward to one thing: Thanos. I am one of those diehard and hardcore fans. So much so that when the Avengers: infinity War trailer was released, I got chills. The moment Thanos walked through that portal, my eyes widened, and I literally choked up. What came over me was a series of emotions I can’t explain to normal folk. But I knew that anything is possible.
I’ve learned a lot throughout this whole 10 year endeavor. These movies proved to me that there is no concept too weird or too strange, and stories that have been done to death can still be entertaining. I also learned that dark and gritty doesn’t equate to maturity or quality. Finally, it told me to embrace the weirdos, embrace the fun, embrace the risk. This decade in moviedom shows that anyone can be a superhero, even the oddball actor or director in the popular comedy of the year. Thanos is at our doorstep, and I am ready to go through a 2 minute long Marvel Studios logo to see him.