Tuesday, 25 February 2014

It's MARVEL-ous (Let's Talk Super Heroes: Part II)

Cant Help But MARVEL.
A few weeks ago i wrote a short piece on the changing face of the Superhero Genre and while I continue to work on my upcoming Terminator Overview (Which is quickly becoming my biggest review yet) I decided to take a short break to write partly a follow up piece to my previous article, part reaction to this weeks release of the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, partly a reaction to Marvel's Phase 2 as a whole and just how pre established characters have developed post Avengers and finally partly an introduction to my inevitable Captain America: The Winter Soldier review.

It Comes In Phases.
It really should be obvious by now that Marvel and Disney are currently the leading force in the superhero genre with Phase 1 having already fundamentally changing the scope and just how large studios approach Comic Book adaptations.

Beginning with Iron Man back in 2008 and ending with The Avengers (Or Avengers Assemble: This still bothers me) in 2012 which showcased just what Marvel's cinematic Universe had become capable of in the past four years and five movies there was no denying that Marvel had struck hit after hit with each new movies audience only growing, while film-goers were introduced to new characters they may not have been so open to viewing on the big screen without a little coaxing from the previous movie's hero easing the transition.

But due to the hand in hand nature that makes Marvel's current film series so unique compared to any other saga it is important that each film is able to stand as its own single installment, fit as part of a film series for that character alone (for example: Iron Man 1-3) AND as part of Marvel's overall cinematic universe and in doing so each film features a ripple effect that effect another movie an example being that Iron Man 3 establishes that the current President of the United States of America is President Ellis played by William Sadler the knock on effect of this being that while never seen during the events of Thor: The Dark World (and presumably) Captain America: The Winter Soldier President Ellis is still the leader of the United States in both these movies as well as all the films are share the same universe meaning each new installment will directly or indirectly effect the world of a different character (however minor).
     - Pretty tough to keep track of Huh?

But it is the feel of connectivity that makes the Avenger's universe so very rewarding to invest in as you can't help but wondering what one hero is doing during the events of another's movie, searching for Easter Eggs and references.
And it does very much feel like a shared 'Universe'.
A universe that is about to get a whole lot bigger with the introduction of The Guardians of the Galaxy, If Thor opened the idea of there being more to Marvel than just Earth bound Heroes then Guardians is going to push just how far out there audiences can get.

 While We Were Waiting To Get The Band Back Together. 
One of the biggest issues to face the currently crisscrossing series is that once the Heroes have returned to their individual films they should be allowed to continue to grow and develop individually rather than simply waiting around to all meet up again, So far the two movies released following the Avengers Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World explore this return to individualism in two different ways with Iron Man approaching the issue from a character standpoint with Tony Stark actually being traumatized by the events of the avengers having to overcome an issue that occurs as a result of the battle in New York and how this effect his relationship with his status as Iron Man and his dependence upon his suits.

While Thor: The Dark World instead choose to focus on how the impact of the previous movies have effected Thor's world itself, how Asgard's absence from the Nine Realms as a result of the Bifrost's destruction has effected the rest of the universe, During the events of the film not only is Thor's actual world threatened but so is his personal one as their are both deaths and twists that insure our future return to Asgard will never be the same.

Needless to say that by the conclusion of both films the two title characters have moved on substantially from where they were back in 2012 which guarantees that when they inevitably meet again they will not simply be the same people as last time around, they will have grown and hopefully the same will be true of Captain America when he returns to the big screen in March.

Phasing Out.
It is daunting to think just how close we are to the end of Phase 2 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier set for release in just over a month, Guardians of the Galaxy set for release in early August and that The Avengers: Age of Ultron began filming back in February.

Of all the Phase 2 follow up films the one I was/am easily the most excited about was Captain America 2 as of all the Phase 1 introductory films Captain America seemed to recieve the most mixed reception, I personally loved it (Not my favorite, But damn enjoyable) but amongst others it seemed to split people, a friend of mine suggested that perhaps this was due to the heavy patriotic content and national exclusion of the film and that other countries could not appreciate the film and character the way that Americans could, but I suspected that it had more to due with the film having more to achieve in a single installment than previous Marvel films as it is required to

  • Introduce audiences to the character of Steve Rogers.
  • Introduce  audiences to his world: World War II.
  • Set up the Red Skull and Hydra.
  • Establish the Tesseract it's origin, it's powers and in doing so set up a major plot point for the Avengers.
  • Show Steve's transition into becoming Captain America.
  • Convey Cap's entirely military career fighting the Nazi and Hydra.
  • Have Cap travel from Past to Present Day in order for him to be Avengers ready.
it is a lot to squeeze into a lone installment with Cap's military career featuring enough material for a Trilogy of films but the need to get him both introduced to the audience through his origin story and yet in the same movie in the present day to allow for his Avengers appearance forced his entire combat history to be condensed into a short montage.
And so The Winter Soldier is Captain America's first standalone film without any major time constraints giving more time for character development and world building. 

A Bunch of A-Holes.
While Phase 1 only featured a single sequel (Iron Man 2) Phase 2 is amusingly comprised entirely of sequels and features only a single new film property Guardians of the Galaxy which had its first Trailer debut last week and while it is impossible (or more to the point: irresponsible) to judge a film based on the contents of its trailer Guardians early footage looks INCREDIBLE! 
It will be interesting to see just how closely Guardians ties into the other established Marvel franchises with both The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World's post credit sequences each introducing a character whom will feature in Guardians with Avengers introducing the terrifying force that is Thanos while Thor 2 introduced The Collector played by Benicio del Toro but beyond these two introductions the films seems rather far removed from anything that has been established up until this point.

But the best thing about Guardians so far goes easily to the films tagline which is simply "You're Welcome".


Can we please take a moment to appreciate the fact that there is currently a film in existance that stars a talking Raccoon AND a talking Tree and so far that films only tagline is - You're Welcome.

End Phase.
It's marketing brilliance and while I predict that Guardians of the Galaxy will more closely to connect to The Avengers 3 than any other film (Hopefully setting the worlds greatest heroes against the might of Thanos) it does open up a lot of possibilities for Phase 3 which while may already have another Captain America and Thor installment in the works along with The Avengers 3 while Marvel is also set to begin introducing new heroes with Black Panther and Dr. Strange films rumored and Edgar Wright's Antman adaptation currently in pre-production.

DC you may have you're work cut out trying to compete with this monster franchise that continues to show no sign of slowing down.

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