The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a film series like none other. As it approaches its twentieth film in Captain Marvel, it’s the highest grossing film franchise of all time with 17.5 billion dollars in box office gross, and with the upcoming release of Avengers: Endgame that total is set to rise. After over 10 years of dominance there’s no stopping it and I don’t want it to stop. The films are of consistent quality and every time I feel my interest waning, a film is released that instantly makes me invested again. So, I don’t want the films to stop but I do think they need to evolve. I’m not talking story beats – Kevin Feige and co know what they’re doing – but rather I’m talking more about format. I think it is now time to make the MCU the star of its own universe.
Let me explain because, I admit, that last sentence makes little sense. I do believe that you can only get so much mileage out of progressing the franchise going character-by-character sequentially. Especially after Infinity War and its upcoming sequel which have been what the entire MCU has been building to for over 10 years now. That’s not to say I don’t want another big event to be set up over multiple movies and then paid off in spectacular fashion again but I don’t want the series to just repeat itself. There are now opportunities for more unique films that will feel refreshing among the character-focused sequels.
Every MCU film so far has been character-based. It’s either an Iron Man movie or a Thor movie or a Captain America movie. I’d be a complete fool to complain about that up to this point because it’s how the series has grown and dominated the market. Just look at DC rushing through the opening phase of their universe to make crappy team-up movies before we even know who the characters are. But now that we’re over a decade in, I think the MCU should evolve. As the name suggests, this is a universe unto itself, ready to be explored, not just some backdrop to character drama or information to fill Wiki articles. Over 20 deeply connected movies, they’ve put the effort in to make this a living breathing world and now they can reap the rewards. A film could instead be built around an event or a place specific to this unprecedented cinematic universe. It would still be character-focused too but with original characters taking the lead with maybe supporting performances by characters we already know. In other words: make the MCU the star of one of its own films.
Let’s compare the MCU to Star Wars for a minute, which I admit is a very flawed comparison. The Avengers movies are like the Star Wars Saga movies – the ‘Episodes’ – which progress the meta narrative. The character movies like your Iron Mans and your Spider-Mans are like last year’s Solo, a unique venture for Star Wars and arguably not a successful one. But where’s the MCU’s equivalent to Rogue One? An original film with an original story that ties very closely to a story already told, but with mainly new characters and only small appearances by legacy characters. Essentially, a story born out of its universe, not its characters. This is what I want from the future of the MCU. I guess this is why I like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D so much. It tells its own stories but is set very much within – and effected by – the wider universe of the movies.
So, there’s no point me blabbering on about this without giving some examples. What about an historical epic that charts the foundation of Wakanda after the meteorite holding the Vibranium lands and sees the birth of the very first Black Panther. So, kind of an adaptation of the opening prologue of Black Panther; very much like Rogue One in fact. Or why not a sixties-set spy thriller with S.H.I.E.L.D? Kind of like what the Kingsman franchise is doing with its next film being a set in WW1, opting for a prequel rather than a sequel to the very disappointing ‘The Golden Circle’. Captain Marvel is finally giving us a film set out of sequence because it takes place in the nineties but I want to see the franchise go even further and almost have anthology-style films set at different points in the MCU timeline.
Although having said that, I think my best pitch for this evolution of the MCU is ‘The Raft’. The Raft is a prison designed to house super-powered criminals and was seen in Captain America: Civil War, as well as mentioned elsewhere including, surprisingly, the second season of Jessica Jones. I would love a film set exclusively on The Raft as a Die Hard-esque prison break movie. It could follow several security guards, just regular people in a world of superheroes, as they try and deal with the dangerous event while also having a cameo from Nick Fury or General Ross (now Secretary of State Ross) or maybe even an Avenger. It could be a way to bring back forgotten villains like Blonsky/The Abomination and Samuel Sterns/The Leader from the often overlooked The Incredible Hulk. Maybe Justin Hammer and Zemo have been moved to The Raft for some reason and we get to see which villains team up to try and escape and which fight among themselves. The film could still tie-in to other MCU films; maybe the Spider-Man villains, such as Vulture, have been moved there and break out ready to face Spidey again in another movie or maybe the prison break is impromptu because it occurs during the craziness that ensues after Thanos snaps his fingers. Guards have disappeared and the ones left are preoccupied with calling home to check if their family still exists. I know it’s all going to be rewritten in Avengers: Endgame but I really want to see the effect of ‘The Snap’ on the world of the MCU. It’s the universe’s own ‘Sudden Departure’ from The Leftovers.
Well there are a few of my ideas on what kind of films I would love to see in the future of the MCU and why. Have I convinced you of my proposal or should the MCU continue on its path of character-focused movies, sticking to what it’s good at and raking in the billions while doing so? Where would you like to see the MCU go next after Avengers: Endgame and, if anthology-style films do get made in the future, what do you want them to be about? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.