With the advent of Jessica Jones coming to Netflix (along with the announced Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and a second season of Daredevil, ultimately culminating to The Defenders series), the continued saga unfolding on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and one of Marvel's most anticipated storylines coming to the big screen May 6, 2016 ([Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409)), Marvel fanatics are currently in a very happy place as we look towards the future.
But, as surprising as it is, not everyone has jumped onto the Marvel bandwagon, leaving some still asking the question, "When will we see the Avengers and X-men team up?"
This article is for the uninitiated, the lost at sea; those of you that are still confused about the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Let's begin with the movie rights for all of Marvel's characters.
Marvel's Movie Rights
As you can see, things have changed a bit in the past few years with Marvel gaining the rights (or partial rights) to all of their characters, excluding the Fantastic Four (for now) and the X-men.
Iron Man marks the beginning of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, so anything made before that is not a part of the current movie-verse. The confusing part about all of this is with characters that have had movies since 2008, but weren't characters that Marvel had the movie rights to at that time (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, for example). So, while Marvel recently regained the rights to specific characters (and we hope to see them in the MCU at some point), they haven't officially been involved up to this point, even though they had movies made about them... Nowhere is this more confusing than with Spider-man.
Everyone's favorite web-crawler has been stuck in the indecorous webs of Sony Pictures for years, already having gone through two iterations; however, after The Amazing Spider-man 2 (which was seen as a massive failure in many eyes) Sony and Marvel decided to share and cut a deal. From what I understand, Sony still own the rights, mostly, while Marvel maintains the creative license involved in making him a part of their Cinematic Universe. The important part to remember is that the Raimi Spider-man Trilogy (with Tobey Maguire) and Webb's two attempts at being "amazing" (with Andrew Garfield) are not connected to the MCU. Spider-man is going through another (and hopefully final) change, with the recently cast Tom Holland being featured in Captain America: Civil War for the first time in the MCU (marking yet another reason this film is so highly anticipated). Sony will have the rights to Spider-man's solo ventures after Civil War, but his story will still be highly connected to the rest of Marvel's Cinematic Universe.
The Many Phases of the MCU
Back in 2008, Marvel ventured into this idea of a shared cinematic universe with their first movie, of what would later be known as Phase 1, Iron Man. You may remember the first after credits scene that fanned the flame for all of Marvel geekdom, featuring Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Everyone that stayed after the credits knew what this meant: the Avengers are coming!
Phase 1 was a five year journey that gave us (most of) the founding Avengers in their own solo films before coming together to form Earth's mightiest heroes. The Avengers is still one of the highest ranking Marvel films to date, bringing together our favorite heroes to battle another fan favorite villain, Loki. Though if that was the only reason the Avengers came together, it would have been a mighty high climb just to leave us with one team up and the disbursement of these beloved heroes. But, than of course, there was this little gem at the end of The Avengers:
This is where all of the comic fans pooped their pants and the others just had questions.
This moment is when we found out that a much larger game was afoot, but we had no idea... Headed into Phase 2, back in 2013, Kevin Feige gave us another gem of information that left everyone in awe:
"Feige lets it slip that all you need to do is walk into his office to find out what the next Marvel movies are. He claims he has a map of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - past, present and future - all up on the wall. Said Feige, 'It’s like looking through the Hubble telescope. You go, ‘What’s happening back there? I can sort of see it’... They printed out a new one recently that went to 2028.'"
Phase 2 was a little less appreciated, compared to it's predecessor, but fans still dedicated the time and money to it knowing what was coming with Phase 3 (thanks to a few well placed teases of the Mad Titan, Thanos.
If that wasn't enough to get fans excited, the Phase 3 lineup continues to give me the chills just thinking about everything yet to come to the MCU.
With many months between some of these films, the question over at Disney must have been something like, "What could we do to satiate all of our die hard fans?" and, while it's not necessarily an essential part of the MCU, they came up with a few fantastic ways to do just that.
Marvel TV on ABC and Netflix
During Phase 2, due to their newly minted partnership with Disney, Marvel decided to take their connected cinematic universe to ABC with the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While slow starting, the show really started to pick up once it began systematically connecting to the movies, beginning with the aftermath from Thor: The Dark World and leading to a dramatic shift in storyline after the surprising happenings from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Adding Agent Carter to fill in the gap of mid-season breaks, Marvel TV was doing something new with their cinematic universe by taking it into the fans homes and we were thrilled to be along for the ride. And then came Daredevil.
Partnering with Netflix, Marvel ventured even deeper into their cinematic universe bringing us the man without fear in April 2015. Daredevil was masterfully done, being hailed by fans worldwide, as the first of four hero series' to partner with Netflix. Jessica Jones, which was just released this November, will be followed by Luke Cage (who appears in Jessica Jones), a second season of Daredevil, then Iron Fist, before culminating to The Defenders. If this wasn't exciting enough, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told Collider that a crossover between the TV shows and films Is bound to happen.
There is also a rumor for another Marvel show on ABC, this time for a comedy sitcom called Damage Control.
According to the series description, the Marvel cleaning crew specializes in dealing with the aftermath of the unique fallout from super hero conflicts. They are the ones who are in charge of returning lost ray guns to their rightful owners, help to reschedule a wedding venue after it has been vaporized in a super hero battle or even track down a missing prize African parrot that’s been turned to stone or goo. Sometimes the most important super heroes are the ones behind the scenes — and that’s who “Damage Control” will follow.
Not sure what I think about this, but I can't help but trust Marvel's tract record.
So, with all of this going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you may be asking yourself where you can even get started in watching it if you've been out of the loop? While I, myself, would suggest watching it in the order that it was released, there's other ways to get into the MCU, as well.
*How you begin is really up to preference; if you're aiming to be mostly chronological, you can start with Captain America: The First Avenger if you understand that the last scene (after Steve's de-icing) obviously doesn't happen before Agent Carter, but before The Avengers (though the movie certainly paves the way for the rest of Agent Carter's story). If you don't mind the use of flashbacks in your story, I have the personal bias of watching Captain America before The Avengers. That is also the way the films were released, so I'd keep that in mind for the way Marvel wanted to reveal things.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger.*
2. Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (on Iron Man 3 disc).
3. Marvel's Agent Carter, Season 1.
4. Iron Man.
5. Iron Man 2.
6.Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (on Captain America: The First Avenger disc).
7. The Incredible Hulk.
8. Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
10. Captain America: The First Avenger*
11. The Avengers.
12. Marvel One-Shot: Item 47.
13. Iron Man 3.
14. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 1, Episodes 1-7).
15. Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King (on Thor: The Dark World disc).
16. Thor: The Dark World.
17. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 1, Episodes 8-16).
18. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
19. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 1, Episodes 17-22).
20. Guardians of the Galaxy.
22. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 2, Episodes 1-19).
23. Avengers: Age of Ultron.
24. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 2, Episodes 19-22).
26. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 3, Episodes 1-8).
27. Jessica Jones.
28. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episodes 9-10.
Another difficult thing to keep up with is which villains are in the MCU, particularly if you haven't been watching the TV shows. Here are photos of the villains that have been presented thus far and their current status. If you want to proceed with this article to see who has been killed off, fair warning...
*SPOILERS FOR NEWBIES AHEAD*
Also, if you haven't finished Jessica Jones... spoiler, spoiler, spoiler.
X = dead
? = unknown
Star = in custody
So, there you have it! I'm hoping that this is helpful for those of you new to the MCU (and even for the not so new, this is a good reminder). I'll try to ensure that this is an updating article (for factual timeliness), so don't be afraid to bookmark this page or come back in the future for more updates.