6 steps Marvel needs to take now that 'The Avengers' is a smash hit
I’m not going to bother asking you if you’ve seen The Avengers yet, because if you haven’t, then you should probably stop reading this article. Just go see it — it’s great. Not only is it a wonderful movie that makes sweet, sweet love to your eyeballs, but it hate-f*cked box office records into oblivion, and more importantly, accomplished something totally new: the creation of a shared cinematic universe. Yeah, yeah, we technically already had that starting with Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, etc, but this is the first time where the characters from those tonally disparate films got to really live in their new house together and remind all of their many (many, many, many) viewers that they live in the same world.
It’s the thing that sets comic books apart as a medium — the idea that any one story can have an effect on another one going on elsewhere in the Marvel Universe. However, I read a comment from Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige today indicating that the next wave of films will be a bit more self-contained, and I have to say that I feel like that’s a major step in the wrong direction. We HAVE a cinematic Marvel universe now, so I want to explore it! (Cause it has Thanos in it! We saw Thanos on a big screen! Like, WHAT?!?!?!) And so, here, from the depths of my Avengers-addled brain (I’ve seen it three times already), are the steps that I think Marvel needs to take to continue the astonishing feat they’ve accomplished with The Avengers.
Don’t ignore things for the sake of accessibility
I understand that movie studios need to think about getting people into the theater to see their movies, and a complicated continuity can be off-putting. Joe Normal isn’t gonna know who the hell Thanos is, much less why Hulk can’t pick up Thor’s hammer. (The Answer: ‘Cause it’s, like, a rule.) The more movies that get thrown into this universe, the more things there are that could potentially confuse someone who hasn’t seen the other films.
This is, fortunately, something that The Avengers dealt with very well, doling out information quickly, cleanly, and efficiently without ever slowing down the action. First of all, anyone who is going to see Avengers 2 should obviously at least watch Avengers, which means there are cornerstones of the Marvel movie universe — films that you should watch if you’re going to watch certain other ones without having to resign yourself to bingeing on every Marvel movie ever made.
Since audience will have these cornerstones, build on them. Avengers tower was set up at the end of the movie, which means that we had better see it in Iron Man 3. If the whole movie takes place in LA again and totally ignores the things Stark has going on in New York, I will feel lied to. Don’t lie to me, Marvel. I’ve always been good to you. I don’t even care that you’re seeing millions of other people.