The Never-ending story of Marvel Universe
Doctor Strange 2: the Multiverse of Madness has just been released in the cinemas and there is a whole list of must-sees before the new movie. When my family came back from the cinema, they told me that… well, it’s strange. Not necessarily bad but complex, and if you have not heard about Wanda Vision, What if…? or the X-men movies, the plot is going to be a little blurry. The problem is you need to get Disney+ to have access to everything. You also need time – a lot of time. This issue leads to the misrepresentation of certain movies. A financial interest is behind this strategy, as often in the cinematic industry. If you liked the first one, you will watch the others, thus spending more and more money for the sake of the Marvel universe. But this implies keeping track of every new release both in cinemas and on the streaming platforms, and time flies!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is becoming more and more dense and complicated. If you’re losing track of it, I understand. Nonetheless, we can’t deny the incredible work the MCU did to build their world. It is the only example of such a wide cinematic universe. In 2008, Iron Man was released and marked the beginning of the journey. Since then, every movie has brought a new brick to the building. It works in phases, the current one being the fourth. Each phase has a thread: phase one was about introducing the characters and the universe to get familiar with them; phase two was centred on the infinity stones, what they are and where to find them, thus leading to phase three and the real involvement of Thanos, the super villain, into the chaos of the world. Phase three ended with the destruction of the stones and Thanos. One could argue that it could have been the end of it. Superheroes saved the world together, they gave a good lesson about the advantages of teamwork and solidarity, there is nothing more left of the villain but ashes, everything is just fine, apparently. Yes, but no. That would be too easy. So, there is phase four which may be the start of the mess. It focuses on a new thread: the multiverse. This means that the reality we live in is only one of the infinite alternative possibilities. The multiverse is introduced in the movies of the fourth phase, such as Spider–man: No Way Home but also in the new Disney+ series, like Wanda Vision or Loki.
The interconnection between the series and the movies was not always evident. Indeed, series have been produced on the side since 2012 like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D or Agent Carter on ABC and then in partnership with Netflix, giving birth to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. If the series plots sometimes make references to what happens in the movies, the reverse is not true. MCU movies only referred to other movies because the creators could assume that the spectators would have seen all of them before going to watch the next one. It became a game to spot the hints, the winks. The series then was a way to dive deeper into the universe, and provide more details and characters to complicate the storytelling.
It transformed the MCU into a transmedia experience, which means that you can find content on diverse platforms and in different shapes. Even videogames can add layers to the plot. It gives the firm more visibility and brings larger audiences because there is something for everyone. But as time goes by, cross-references are more frequent. For instance, the Daredevil character appears briefly in the beginning of the last Spider-man. And of course, the new series is directly related to the movies. Even though it’s not impossible to understand one without the other, having previous knowledge does help a lot.
However, it seems to be getting a little bit out of hand. The universe is truly infinite. There is an infinity of parallel realities, with different versions of the same characters in it. The writers could go on forever. Marvel created a whole universe and it’s impressive to see how rich it is. Not only are there many different characters with their own individual story, but they also meet and interact like we experience in the real world. It’s logical to see Iron-Man, Spider-Man or Captain America meet when they all live in the same city. Logical but not self-evident. It has never been done before on such a large scale. The MCU is like a fresco which offers a multiplicity of viewpoints based on the same plot. It has become gigantic.
Any new production released tells us that our knowledge of the universe was incomplete. It is also, of course, a tremendous source of money. Yet it is impressive to look at the overall content and think that it is far from the end. After so many movies and episodes, we still can’t figure out what could be the grand finale. So, I guess the conclusion is that, just like in the real world, it is impossible to embrace it all.
Design by Giulia Cristofoli
Do you want to double-check the information you just received? Here are the sources the writer used.