The Marvel Cinematic Universe! By the time it has run its foreseeable course, it will be 21 movies long, and have at least 7 television shows running over the course of 11 years. It is currently the second-highest grossing franchise ($7,160,192,712) ever, and is not quite halfway done yet. It has impacted people all over the world, and has revolutionized how we see films, comic book heroes, and life all together. This franchise, no, universe, has, and will continue to shape cinema for decades. It is an all-encompassing idea. What other franchise can have fantasy, science fiction, thriller, spy, escape, and action film all rolled into one? There really isn't a single other film series out there that can compete with the variety and accessibility of the MCU. That being said... there is a theme to this entire universe. A trilogy has been formed right in front of us. I don't mean Avengers 1-3.5, I mean that each "phase" creates a linear story all its own. Without further ado, let me begin with the beginning, a very good place to start...
We begin with Iron Man (2008). This was the one that started it all, and what a bang to begin with! I recently rewatched the film, and was still impressed at how amazing it was. It set up the world, the idea of the Avengers Initiative, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the existence of other heroes. Now, I'm not sure how far Kevin Feige and the other creators of the MCU planned to go originally, but they opened up the world for other movies. Soon after, the Hulk was introduced (The Incredible Hulk, (2008)), then Thor (Thor (2011)), and Captain America (Captain America: the First Avenger (2011)). We had also seen[Black Widow](movie:1070824)and Hawkeye appear in Iron Man 2 and Thor. We had our team, and each movie kept setting up the movie Avengers: Assemble, which would finally come in 2012. That movie brought a group of individuals together, and created the most powerful force (sorry Justice League, you're slacking) in film history.
Now, why am I going through this very boring disposition on Phase One? Well, let me ask you a question: What does this sound like to you? Introduce a bunch of individuals, each with different strengths and weaknesses, create a world full of life and potential, and then throw all of the main characters together and give them a singular purpose. Now, to me, that sounds like the first part of a trilogy. Let me explain. Using The Lord of the Rings, let's compare. In The Fellowship of the Ring, all of the main cast is introduced, they are given a singular purpose, the world is set up, and they are all thrown together. So, Phase One is the build-up, the setting of the stage, if you will. Let's move on to the second Phase, shall we?
Okay, this is where things get dark... seriously. We started things off with Iron Man 3, and what seemed to be the last of Iron Man. I'm not going to start on how the movie was a let-down, or any of that. It certainly took the franchise in a slightly darker direction.[Thor: The Dark World](movie:206462)(2013) wasn't the best film in the series, but still solid, and certainly gave the universe a darker tone. I mean, a title does not a series make, but it sure helps. We also had the introduction of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which hasn't done as well as fans have wanted, but certainly has not been as kid-friendly as the earlier films. What really made this Phase get "real" was Captain America: Winter Soldier. What is arguably the best of the MCU, this film set the tone and bar so dark and so high, that it has completely changed the series. Long gone are the days where Loki caused havoc, and witty retorts flew like flies. This was a paradigm shift for every character. The core of the universe, S.H.I.E.L.D., had fallen to the oldest enemy in the MCU, HYDRA. Then a new plot was set into motion.[Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) (2014) took us to a new place with new characters and new settings. However, the villain we caught glimpses of, Thanos, has come into play more. Things are being set into motion elsewhere, and Guardians of the Galaxy gave us a taste of that. The final battle is coming. But first, there's Ultron. I don't know what the upcoming film will hold, but, it will change the way the universe runs.
Again, using Lord of the Rings as a base, The Two Towers brings the story to a new, dark level. Everything seems to go wrong, and everything sort of falls apart. Gandalf has died, the Fellowship has split, and the enemy is growing stronger. The classic formula for the second part of a trilogy is that it is a time when the night gets strongest, and evil usually gains the upper-hand. And, like what Guardians did, it sets up multiple story-lines. Now, this next part is simply conjecture on my part, since I only know the titles and basic ideas of the following films. But, on we go to Phase 3...
This kicks off with [Captain America: Civil War](movie:994409) (2016), and if anyone knows what happens (I won't spoil it for those who don't), you know that it's going to be incredibly hard on both the characters, and the audience. We see the wrapping up of several story-lines (Captain America, Thor, and perhaps others), and the introduction of characters to help in the ultimate fight. We see what appears to be the coming together of both the Cosmic universe and the Terrestrial universe, in Captain Marvel (2018) or[The Avengers: Infinity War](movie:738027)Part One (2018). All the loose ends and various stories are coming together to culminate in Avengers: Infinity War Part Two (2019), where the final fight for the entire universe happens. Thanos is likely to come into the fray in this film, and it will require every single hero we've seen, and will see. And, with Inhumans, we will see that Earth is still protected, and can still defend itself. In theory, of course.
The Return of the King starts off with some sadness, and everyone converges on an epic battle - one last push against the night. It seems that all hope is lost, even with new allies, and powerful aid. Then, in one last act, evil is defeated and good triumphs in the end. It is bittersweet, but the world - the universe is saved. Everything, or most everything is tied in a nice bow, and the audience is left decently pleased.
So, what does this mean for us? Assuming that the MCU is finished with[The Inhumans](movie:910490) [The Inhumans](movie:910490), it means that they have given us the largest trilogy of all time. We will have seen a team come together. Then nearly fall apart as evil prevailed. Then watch as the team musters one final push to save the universe. Sounds like a pretty epic trilogy to me. I hope that you've enjoyed this article. If you have any thoughts or critiques, please use that comment section! Here's to another four amazing years of Marvel!