Part 1 can be found here.
I wasn’t thinking about doing a part two to my post last week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4. In fact, I pretty much had said my piece about it. But something hit me as odd the other day, so I figured I would dive into it a little bit more.
So up until Phase 4, all our storytelling was done on the big screen. Well, that’s not entirely correct. We had the Netflix shows which clearly were in the same world (they even mention the Incident or something like that when refering to the events of the Avengers movie). And then there was Agents of SHIELD which took a movie character, Agent Colston, and built a story around him and his team at SHIELD. That one didn’t really influence much (if anything) in the movies, but it did have to react to the big moments in some of the films (with one of the biggest reflecting HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD, which the tv show dealt with much of the fallout from Winter Soldier).
Oh, and Agent Carter, which tied into the Captain America movies as well as Black Widow.
Regardless, the movies played on one side and the tv shows were on another. The movies were the only thing to push the overall Infinity Stones story-arc forward.
It’s actually sad that there wasn’t a Marvel show set during the 5-years post SNAP. It seems like there might be a lot of stuff to mine from that era, and yet aside from a couple of flashbacks here or there, there isn’t much story being told about that time.
However, when you talk about Phase 4, you can’t ignore the tv shows. Or, at least, you likely can’t ignore them. Hawkeye is somewhat of a sequel to the Black Widow movie. Loki introduces Kang, who is our villain in Ant Man 3 and is the BIG BAD for the Phase 4 through 6 movies. Falcon and Winter Soldier sets up Sam Wilson as your new Captain America, leading straight into Captain America 4: New World Order. Even Ms. Marvel is going to be in the Captain Marvel sequel: Marvels.
Oh, and I nearly forgot about Scarlet Witch in WandaVision and then following up on her in Doctor Strange 2.
Ok, we get it. You need to watch the tv shows to get the full picture. So what?
Well, here’s the thing. If you are only focused on the cinema side of things, then you are going to miss out on not only the introduction of some (many) of the characters and storylines in the upcoming Phase 5 (and potentially Phase 6) movies, you are potentially not seing the bigger picture. It the multiverse storyline feels a bit hodgepodge to you, perhaps it is because you didn’t watch Loki (or What If?) where that is an extremely important portion of the overall story. In fact, it pretty much sets things in motion for the next phases of stories.
Put another way:
Phase 1 – 6 movies (2008 – 2012)
Phase 2 – 6 movies (2013 – 2015)
Phase 3 – 11 movies (2016 – 2019)
Phase 4 – 7 movies (2021-2022), 8 tv shows (2021-2022)
Phase 5 – 6 movies (2023-2024), 7 tv shows (2023-2024)
Phase 6 – 7 movies (2024-2026)
We’re used to getting about 6 movies ever two years. However, for Phase 4, we not only had 7 movies, but another 8 tv shows. Now there’s an arguement to be made that might be too much, but the other aspect is that if you are bitching you can’t see the BIG STORY from the Phase 4 movies, I’d argue you need to watch the tv shows as well. They have clearly been intended as a part of the BIG STORY.
To put it another way, it would be like reading the BIG EVENT Comic Book, without reading some of the key issues leading up to it. Sure, you can understand what is going on alright enough, but you might be missing out on some of the bigger context of how things connect.
It’s something Marvel hasn’t asked us do prior to this last two years either. Where before the tv shows were something that could be watched or not watched, these fall more in line with potentially KEY STORIES. Which the end result is to allow Marvel to tell their story over the course of 6 years rather than 12 years.
This isn’t to say you have to watch all the tv shows. I haven’t gotten to all of them, and I would argue that Moon Knight doesn’t really tie to anything else (as of yet). What If? is also one that is more for those paths not taken and could be skipped. But, for better or worse, Marvel has decided to make these shows a part of the narrative. To ignore them is to only get a portion of the story.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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