Marvel Studios: 11 years of stories
It’s been 11 years since Marvel Studios started the most successful movie series of all times.
Movie theaters have been filled with excitement in each new production, and what began with the simple desire to see on the big screen the most classic characters from the House of Ideas, evolved to be one of the most profitable franchises in history.
The Marvel Studios journey is defined in three phases, which form a saga of 22 films that meet its end in Avengers: Endgame (2019). It was through them that Marvel Studios was able to introduce to us a universe where superheroes are not mere punches and extraordinary powers. In that way, characters that only existed in comic books became personalities that now live in all of our hearts.
In My Family Cinema Editorial, we review the three phases that made Avengers: Endgame the most awaited film of the decade, and also what comes with the Phase 4 of the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe.
Phase 1: Building the characters
Since 1939, Marvel Comics has been creating especially charismatic characters. To stand out from the competition, Marvel developed stories that present everyday life characteristics, where we see superheroes with incredible powers that not only fight against supervillains, but also the vicissitudes of a family, academic or even a romantic life.
Over the years, many of these characters appeared in films co-produced by Marvel Studios. However, none of them managed to capture the essence of the source material. It wasn’t until the first decade of the 2000s that, with the success of X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002), the superhero genre acquired the acknowledgement it needed to tell a new kind of story.
Thus, Iron Man (2008), the first film produced entirely by Marvel Studios and its president, producer Kevin Feige, was born. Directed by Jon Favreau and with Robert Downey Jr. portraying Tony Stark, the movie zoomed in the character’s vulnerabilities, presenting a Stark that, far from being a role model, embarks on a personal quest to do what’s right, starting by rethinking his own motivations.
After being pictured within a frame of personal redemption, Tony Stark becomes the first hero of the genre to assume the consequences of his actions, revealing himself publicly as Iron Man and radically changing the universe he lives in. Consequently, this opens the doors to the construction of an interconnected world of films, whose magnitude had not been yet explored, thereby bringing life to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
With the purpose of creating stories guided by the evolution of its characters, Marvel Studios produces Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), deepening in the construction of a Cinematic Universe, inspired by the very universe of Marvel Comics.
In order to distinguish itself from other studies, Marvel proves that the secret to a good story is the development of the protagonist. Far from using them as excuses for generic stories, Marvel focuses on developing deep and unique characters, with peculiar personalities and particular interests, whose decisions unveil the story before the audience’s eyes.
The project is wrapped with Avengers (2012), where Joss Whedon‘s exceptional direction brings together a group of previously developed characters, giving them the opportunity to prove themselves and interact within an ambitious and successful film, consolidating a work that would change the scope of the cinema forever.
Phase 2: Accomplishing goals
With the Avengers premiere Phase 1 of Marvel Studios finishes, and the focus goes to the development of relationships between the characters that from now on mark the future of the saga.
Although the releases of Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2014) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2015) deepen into the previously presented characters, deal with the consequences of the events of Avengers and introduce new heroes in the MCU, the release of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), proves once again the success of the Marvel formula. Written and directed by James Gunn, the movie shows a new story about a group of unknown heroes that became one of the most acclaimed entries in the franchise.
At the same time, the studio tests new fields with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film for which they designated the Russo Brothers as directors, who re-empower Captain America until they become the new focus of the MCU. This is when the character of Steve Rogers begins to deal more closely with a time tin which he does not belong, while he explores his skills and develops the relationships that will continue to forge his personality until the culmination of Phase 2, with the premieres of Avengers : Age of Ultron (2015) and Ant-Man (2015).
With nicely established characters, it is in this phase that the Infinity Stones begin to appear, paving the ground for the cosmic side of the MCU in Phase 3.
Phase 3: The Infinity Saga
The work of the Russo Brothers becomes crucial for Phase 3. The release of Captain America: Civil War (2016) raises the expectations bar of the fans, becoming the first and, so far, only one-character based film in which we see so many heroes together and that deals with the dissolution of the Avengers as an irremediable consequence to treat in next films.
After the introduction of several new heroes with the releases of Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and the Oscar nominee for Best Picture Black Panther (2018), the climax of 10 years of history is introduced by the Russo Brothers with Avengers: Infinity War (2018), one of the most anticipated films of recent times.
Avengers: Infinity War was the summit of the MCU, showing us the death of half of the heroes, whose stories we have been enjoying for the most part of the last decade, and transforming the history of the cinema. With the premieres of Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), Captain Marvel (2019) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), strong foundations for the future of the franchise, Marvel Studios concludes the Infinity Saga.
Phase 4: Coming up
Although the stories of many of the original MCU heroes have come to an end, the universe still has much to tell.
With the leadership of Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the entire project, Marvel Studios is preparing the Phase 4, expected to be announced after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home in July of 2019.
So far, the films confirmed for the future of the franchise are Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with the return of James Gunn as writer and director, to give a closure to the story of the guardians; Black Panther 2 and Doctor Strange 2, to be released in 2021; a Black Widow movie and a film called The Eternals, where we will once again have a glimpse of the cosmic side of Marvel.
The official launch of Disney+, Disney‘s new streaming platform, has bring important announcements for the Marvel fans. Apart from including all the Marvel Studios movies, the platform will premiere new series that will take place in the MCU, telling the story of what happened before and between movies.
The series announced so far are Falcon & the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, where the actors Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) will return to play their characters. Another series was also mentioned where Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role of Loki, in a story situated millions of years before the events of the films.
We can’t forget that, with Disney’s recent acquisition (20th Century Fox) many of the Marvel Comics film licenses came back to their homes, so we can expect that films such as X-MEN and the Fantastic 4 to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The future of Marvel Studios is brilliant and we will be there to enjoy it. Cheers to 11 more years of great cinema.