(WARNING: Spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe throughout. Proceed with caution)
Do you like politics? I don't. Especially in today's world. This year's presidential election in America put a bad taste in my mouth and some of the social issues running rampant on the daily can indeed be frustrating. Movies are typically seen as a form of escapism from reality, but even movies tend to reflect current times, and the movies and shows that all make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe are no exception.
Even in a world where superheroes and other beings with superpowers confront evil and deadly threats to protect average human beings, there are a lot of social and political issues that the #Marvel universe has in common with our own. But even more interesting is the fact that the MCU doesn't just drop the issues into a random movie to create conflict. The issues start out small and then grow bigger and bigger over time, until finally an event occurs where the issues really rear their heads. To point this out, I will be using six examples of large events within the #MCU that caused ripples and changed the world as the people within knew it.
1. The Creation And Usage Of Abraham Erskine's Superhuman Serum
In 1940, a German named Johann Schmidt took an unstable version of a serum sample created by German scientist Abraham Erskine. The serum was an experiment meant to enhance human abilities to superhuman levels, which is something that Schmidt obviously coveted. When he injected himself with the serum, it worked, but with an unfortunate side effect. His face took the form of a red skull-like head. Very shortly after this, he became the leading man of his own HYDRA headquarters, casting aside HYDRA's ancient goals of bringing an ancient Inhuman named Hive back to earth to exact world domination, replacing them with a more militant power.
Once Steve Rogers was injected to become the world's first super soldier, the identity of Captain America was born. Though Erskine was shot and killed by a HYDRA agent, his superhuman serum would continue to be used in various forms throughout the years, most being used as secret deals and government and HYDRA-funded projects in attempts to use its power to the person's advantage.
- The Winter Soldier program is created by HYDRA, attempting at first to recreate the serum but fails, leading to using stolen samples of a recreation of the super soldier serum. Steve's best friend Bucky Barnes became the most popular subject. Howard and Maria Stark are murdered by Bucky so that HYDRA can have the samples.
- Bruce Banner uses a similar serum financed by the US government, but exposure to Gamma radiation results in the Hulk.
- Other versions of the serum are created such as Extremis by A.I.M. and Project Centipede by HYDRA, which combined Extremis with a variant of Erskine's serum.
2. The Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist Becomes Iron Man
Before Tony Stark donned the famous "Iron" suit, he was already riding on a path of fame, largely due to two major things — his genius, tech-obsessed mind and the fact that he was the son of another iconic inventor and playboy (I'm surprised no one has pointed out the fact that had it not been for Howard Stark, Coulson wouldn't have had his precious flying car, Lola). Though Tony Stark was not the first official eventual Avenger in the timeline, he was the first one to be approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury with the proposal to take part in the Avengers Initiative.
This simple but very important confrontation in the post-credits ending of Iron Man is what sparks the beginning of the Avengers' formation, and as we are aware already, the world is never the same again after this special team is assembled. With Tony Stark's reluctant but successful participation in the team, this would lead to a series of events responsible for so much of the state of the world currently in the MCU.
- After Tony Stark announces himself as Iron Man, others rise up to try and compete against him and his abilities. His tech and/or his inspirations are used by his enemies such as Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko.
- The Avengers are eventually fully assembled, through which New York is saved from an alien invasion (more on that later).
3. The Battle Of New York (Or The Incident As They Call It)
After the full recruitment of the Avengers, Loki Laufeyson leads an army of aliens called the Chitauri to invade Earth, starting by opening up a portal into New York for the aliens to begin their attack. The portal is opened up using a special blue cube called the Tesseract, which happens to contain an Infinity Gem in it. The Avengers' battle against the Chitauri in the heart of New York becomes known as the Battle Of New York, or — as most New York civilians called it — the Incident. The battle ends when Tony Stark takes the nuke launched by the government to wipe out the threat through the wormhole in the sky and allows it to hit the Chitauri mothership, killing the rest of the aliens on Earth. The outcome of these events causes division between the public, as some hail the Avengers as heroes while others grow fearful of what they're capable of.
- In a fashion much like Bonnie and Clyde, a young couple in love manages to get ahold of a Chitauri gun after the Battle of New York and uses it to rob banks and collect money until S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sitwell tracks them down and takes it.
- A Chitauri helmet is found and recovered by an average man. Little does he know that it contains a virus that poisons S.H.I.E.L.D. biochemist Jemma Simmons. Simmons is cured; however, and the helmet is disposed of.
- Awareness of the existence of super-powered people and extraterrestrial life rises to an extreme.
- Tony Stark suffers Post-traumatic stress after his near-death experience over New York, leading him to obsessively create more iron suits to be ready in case a similar event happens again.
- In an attempt to neutralize more wide-scale threats in the future before they even have the chance to happen, S.H.I.E.L.D. produces Project Insight, which consists of three massive helicarriers that can take out any ideal terrorists from above. This project was later revealed to be supported and manipulated by HYDRA.
- During the Battle of New York, Hell's Kitchen in particular was wrecked, encouraging criminal businessman Wilson Fisk to come out of the shadows and promise that he will help rebuild Hell's Kitchen and make it even better than it was before. This sparked what would give rise to the legacy of vigilante Daredevil.
- "Gifted" private investigator Jessica Jones was directly targeted by a woman with the goal of revenge against her for the death of her mother during the Battle of New York.
In the next part, I will list just several more key events and its effects, and how it all reflects not only the current state of the MCU as it now stands after Doctor Strange, but also how it reflects our own society in America.
What other events of Phase One do you think were hugely impactful?