In the Limelight

Avengers: Endgame opened to critical acclaim, smashed a handful or so of box office records, and capped off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga,” which began 11 years ago with the debut of Iron Man. The success of these films managed to bring comic book stories out of their niche status and into the pop culture consciousness, and it shows absolutely no sign of stopping or even slowing down any time soon.

Those of us at Scoop wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the last decade-plus of Marvel storytelling on film has meant to us personally, looking at how it’s impacted our lives and how we’ve looked at the comic industry as a whole.

This reflection on the MCU comes to you courtesy of Gemstone Creative Director Mark Huesman.

Back in May 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was introduced, and that month I saw a mind-blowing, visually epic presentation featuring fierce battles between powerful and intricate machinery and eye-melting scenery and special effects. But it wasn’t Iron Man.

I first saw Iron Man a week earlier and liked it, but it was overshadowed by the Speed Racer movie from the Wachowskis, not only in IMAX, but an IMAX at a science center (which is almost double IMAX-y). Iron Man wasn’t as visually flashy, but it had a good story and nailed the main casting with Robert Downey Jr.

For the most part, the MCU movies have provided good stories and spot-on casting (Terrence Howard notwithstanding). I’ve always been more of a DC fan than Marvel, but the quality of the MCU stories, the costumes that are faithful to the comics, the big name talent in the minor roles (Jeff Goldblum, Glenn Close, Garry Shandling) and the narrative threads linking the various movies won me over. Plus, Batman V Superman and Justice League were so disappointing.

My three favorites:

Captain America: Civil War (2016): worked as a top notch Avengers movie as it had all the Avengers, and it still had room to introduce Spider-Man and Black Panther. I especially liked how they set up the cliché ending of Captain America and Iron Man putting aside their differences to defeat the five newly thawed super-soldiers, then went in a totally different direction with the five already dead super-soldiers and the revelation of Bucky’s role in the death of Tony Stark’s parents. I was so grateful that there was no “your mother’s name was also Martha?...did we just become best friends?” moment.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017): was plain fun, with the humorous tone, the gorgeous visuals (the flashback of the Valkyrie attacking Hela as painted by Michelangelo), Led Zeppelin on the soundtrack, and the Matt Damon cameo as the cherry on top.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) nailed the landing. The quickest three hours in a movie theater for me and my bladder. It’s nice that there’s still another Spider-Man movie six weeks away, but I’m ready to get back to season two of Game of Thrones. I hope that show nails the (King’s) landing too.

A full retrospective on the MCU can be found in the Main Event this week. Personal reflections by J.C. Vaughn, Amanda Sheriff, Carrie Wood, and Braelynn Bowersox are in the In the Limelight section.