(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Not everything in the Marvel Universe works out according to a master plan handed down from on high. It’s just that 99% of it does appear to arrive that way. Maybe that’s because they’re all just super geniuses over there. Or maybe it’s because they are quick to take advantage of happy accidents. Or maybe sometimes it’s just a matter of being patient enough for a bad idea to find proper application.

Today’s moment offers a good example of all three approaches. It’s an extremely minor scene from Captain America: Civil War, which is now an ancient five years old. Civil War is a movie with a whole lot of business to conduct. You have to get Captain America and Iron Man at odds with each other, dramatize everyone else in the MCU picking a side, and make a little headway on the brewing romance between Wanda and Vision. Then you have to introduce major characters like Black Panther and the shocking inclusion of a new Spider-Man. Oh, and there is a villain to worry about too. Plus, all the heroes have to fight for like 20 minutes at some point.

So there’s a lot of movie to stuff into this movie. Which is why it’s important Marvel (or in this case, the Russo Brothers) utilize a deft hand at quick moments of characterization. Each quirk has to run a mile, which is basically what happens in this very brief scene.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Will whatever the new Avengers team look like enjoy a character dynamic as fun and long-lasting as the one shared by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark? They’ll probably be charming and have great interactions with each other, but it’s hard to believe any will have such a thoroughly antagonistic bromance across so many films. The current main grump, Doctor Strange, will be mean to everyone, but that’s not the same. This, of course, assumes Tony Stark and Steve Rogers won’t somehow come back because…

Actually, time for a new paragraph. Did Avengers: Endgame do away with death in the MCU altogether? Not that there was much to begin with. Still, with Hank Pym back from the dead along with everyone else, his Pym Particles are probably no longer in such dramatically-convenient short supply. And Tony already took the science work far enough along that Hulk can push the buttons by himself. So any of these jokers can pop back in time to abduct Steve or Tony, have them do some heroic stuff in the present, and then plop them back from whence they came. Right?

Oh heck, why not a third paragraph? These characters have been in comics for decades and not only do they never stay dead, they hardly even age. I need to just get along with the fact that mortal consequences are never what this series should be about.

Okay, sorry about that. Assuming Tony and Steve really are done, I feel it’s time to memorialize one of the MCU’s greatest pleasures: their fights. And the best of them came at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

As WandaVision ramps up to its conclusion, Avengers: Age of Ultron’s importance to the current status of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has found a surprising boost. There was a time where the film felt nearly inconsequential. Ultron did not stick around as a villain. Thor’s search for the Infinity Stones did not add up to much. And Avengers: Infinity War kind of swept aside the long-term consequences of the Sokovia Accords, which originated in this film.

And yet, this is where both Wanda Maximoff and Vision get their start. Their relationship would gain ground later, but this is where we saw his birth and learned of her ability to warp reality. It is also where the MCU lost its first superhero, Wanda’s brother Pietro, a plot point that has new relevance with the emergence of Evan Peters’ alternate universe version of the character in WandaVision.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

It is hard to quantify power levels in the MCU. Everyone seems a little bit invincible and capable of handling whatever’s in front of them. Thor is a God, Tony Stark’s suits can do anything, Captain America is fond of telling us that he can fight all day. Yeah, they have it rough every once in a while, but usually not for long. Nevertheless, even with that high-level playing field across the board, some Avengers do seem higher-powered than others. 

This is particularly true of Vision, an android with a perfect body originally designed for Ultron, who is powered by one of the Infinity Stones. Vision can fly, phase through objects, shoot a laser out of his head, and punch things very hard. The magnitude of his power was addressed soon after his birth when he casually picked up Mjolnir in Age of Ultron. Granted, you don’t have to be strong to lift the hammer, just worthy. Nevertheless, audiences hushed when he did the deed, as if he was automatically worth taking seriously.

And then Avengers: Infinity War comes along and grounds the guy almost immediately.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Two episodes of WandaVision are out now on Disney+, with seven more on the way before Marvel Studios’ first proper foray into television wraps up. But even two episodes in, it’s safe to say Wanda and Vision’s life of domestic bliss has issues. For one, it appears to be some kind of fantasy based around sitcom episodes. For another, one of the participants had his forehead crushed by Thanos and is supposed to be very dead. And to add a third thing, neither Wanda nor Vision seem to be themselves on the show. Vision was never meant to slave away in a generic office and the Sokovian Wanda Maximoff is a far cry from an American-as-Apple-Pie housewife.

But Wanda and Vision’s courtship has always been weird. This is true in the comics (leading to extremely depressing rabbit holes for both of them), but it is also true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the following clip from Captain America: Civil War reminds us…

Read More »

Best Scene in Guardians of the Galaxy

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Some early Marvel movies are smaller blockbusters than you might remember, getting by on the charm of their leads and one or two modest action scenes. Revisiting Guardians of the Galaxy reveals a different mainstay left behind with Marvel’s massive success: a willingness to get a little grimy with it.

Led by Troma wild child James Gunn, the first Guardians was pretty weird when it came out but only grows weirder as its characters soften to fit the Marvel mold. Star-Lord’s sleeping around the whole galaxy. Groot for-real kills a ton of bad guys. Gamora still works with her tyrannical father Thanos. Drax is a murderous prisoner. Rocket’s status as a failed science experiment is way more pronounced. Eventually they would all become a bickering family taking care of a cute infant, but in the early days, the Guardians of the Galaxy lived in an especially PG-13 corner of the Marvel universe.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Normally, the scenes in this column are chosen for their thematic significance or because they briefly display an example of why the MCU has been a gift that’s kept on giving since 2008 (excluding this year, of course). The point is, I usually pick big, obvious, and singular scenes. This week’s entry, however, is not that.

Instead, this is more an opportunity to broadly look back at Iron Man 3, Marvel’s Christmas movie. The clip is filled with adventure, excitement, jokes, and a full fleet of Iron Men fighting villains. Really, it was chosen because it features a lot of Christmas talk.

But hey, while we’re gearing up to bid 2020 adieu, might as well take the opportunity to examine what makes Iron Man 3 such an interesting entry in the MCU.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Recall – if you don’t mind being bossed around a bit – that viral video of an Avengers: Endgame audience losing its mind at the sight of Captain America wilding Mjölnir for the first time. What a huge moment. Endgame wasn’t so long ago that we forgot how that felt as it happened, but the existence of that video also helps make sure we never forget that elation, the straight-up childlike joy that moment produced.

Now – sorry, I am still bossing you around – imagine the first Avengers film. Compared to Endgame, the Battle of New York almost feels like a Max Fischer production (something Endgame actually gives you an opportunity to consider). Thor’s hair still isn’t quite the right mixture of prettyboy beauty and sweaty-warrior disgusting. Captain America’s costume is a little too plastic and cheesy. No one had any idea what to do with Hawkeye yet.

Nevertheless, Marvel was creating show-stopper moments even this far back. Not in every film, but certainly in the big ones. And The Avengers was their first attempt at a really big one. It seems quaint now, but at the time, the first fight between members of Marvel’s super-team was jaw-dropping.

Read More »

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Once upon a time, Guardians of the Galaxy was not a beloved corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring characters that would become eventually become Avengers. If you’d told me back in 2014 that both Rocket Raccoon and Nebula would be major players in the fourth Avengers movie, I would have had to look up who Nebula even was.

In its sixth year of existence, Marvel was not yet so bulletproof that a team of new characters would automatically succeed at the box office. This is especially true of a team with a talking raccoon, a sentient tree, and only one human. Movie fans waited nervously for Guardians, wondering if Marvel – having put their fate in the hands of known weirdo James Gunn – would finally make their first major misstep.

The answer was no. A very big no. Guardians went on to become one of 2014’s biggest films. But more than that, its emotional story of found family built a stronger than normal bond between the audience and its characters. To say we were hungry for a sequel would be an understatement, particularly given how the first film ended with the death of Groot and his resurrection as an adorable baby twig. We couldn’t wait to see the team again (or learn more about Star Lord’s mysterious father), but more than anything, we just needed to learn more about this new Groot.

James Gunn obliged with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the cockiest victory lap in opening credits history.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Travel with me back to ancient times. Joe Biden was merely Vice President. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice still had potential to be the greatest movie ever made. Prince and David Bowie were still with us. The year was 2015, approximately one hundred years in the past.

In terms of Marvel, this was the year of Avengers: Age of Ultron and today’s subject, Ant-Man. One film couldn’t be bigger. The other couldn’t be more dependent on charm. Between the two, Ant-Man has aged better simply because successful charm will always outlast confused, if well-meaning, bombast. 

This was also a Marvel era where characters had to earn their place in the Universe all by themselves. More recent Marvel films have gone heavy on team-ups to get more bang for their buck (Thor & Hulk, Captain Marvel & Agent Fury, Spider-Man & Iron Man). Ant-Man had to develop its own characters, joke structures, and action aesthetics. It also has to overcome behind-the-scenes drama as acclaimed filmmaker Edgar Wright left the project late in development, handing the reins off to the less obviously exciting Peyton Reed.

And (spoiler alert) it did overcome that drama. Ant-Man succeeded. The character immediately returned in Captain America: Civil War and later become a huge player in Avengers: Endgame. But people fell in love with him in a vacuum that had very little to do with the Marvel Universe. Having said that, the film’s best sequence does happen to be when it fully crosses over into the larger Marvel world.

Read More »