Avengers: Final Countdown

Today marks 7 days (6 at the day of posting) until the culmination of 10 years of film wizardry. And needless to say, I am excited.

On 26th April, Avengers Infinity War launches in the UK and the hype is still dialed up to Hulk. The film represents a universe that has been built over a decade and about 18 films, which to the best of my knowledge, has never been done before. A lot of properties and franchises are now trying to emulate the cinematic universe concept, such as DC and even the horror genre with the Mummy movie, but none in my opinion have rivalled the monster that Disney/Marvel have created with the MCU.

To begin with, I think the fact they are industry leaders with a considerable cashflow has certainly helped, but it didn’t always start that way. They did however have a long term plan and develop and build the individual characters and franchises slowly, taking the time to develop the characters and the shared world they inhabit. As a result, the later films spent less time on origin story’s but instead shaking the very universe they built; for example Winter Solider flipped the political balance on its head with ramifications on the future films. That is why I can expect BIG things from Infinity War.

Much like Sim City or the Sims, sometimes there can be a certain satisfaction tearing down everything you have built. The well placed blocks come tumbling down and you feel like a god. Now I’m not going to say I will be happy that there will be a huge ecological shift in the MCU but I am excited as to the possibilities it offers. I have grown up with these franchises and they have often grown and matured with me. Radical change allows progress so although there is a sadness that comes with the end of an era and many beloved characters, there is also excitement as to what (and who) is yet to come.
Who will be left?

I’ve spoken about this before as to who is going to die, but I would rather focus this time on who will remain. Dr Strange is a clear focus as a figurehead in Phase 4 as his spotlight outside his solo film was limited, but his potential story arcs are literally multi-universal. Some of his most recent comic book runs have been great as well, and given the contemporary tones Marvel trys to emulate I can definitely see a Death of Magic arc supporting his development. There has been some speculation that he was only signed for 3 films (Solo film, Ragnarok and Infinity War) although I imagine he has signed for 5/6 films… surely? Please?

The other key player left standing is Spider-Man. Now he is obviously going to survive as Marvel have just fought so hard to get him as a player from Sony. But his second solo film also launches Phase 4. And it’ll be great to see the character development of what is essentially a super-powered Millennial coming to terms with the new status quo following the shake up between Avengers 3 and 4. This will be especially true if a few of the veteran mentors he has bites the dust (I’m looking at you Stark and Cap) and he will have to find his own identity as a young hero with less guidance. He may even take on a mentor role himself if other new heroes take the stage. At the moment, the Champions comic is doing well and although Parker isn’t in this team, there is no reason other characters couldn’t rock up in the MCU.

An interesting outcome of the film will be the Guardians who have a very close connection to Thanos and Earth. One has sworn to kill him (Drax) due to his connection to Ronan and another is the adopted daughter of Thanos who also killed her family and raised her and turned her into a killing machine. If Nebula survives (unlikely) then make that two disgruntled daughters…. Starlord will have returned to Earth for the first time in a very long time and Groot would have landed on a planet (if he gets to earth) that could be populated by sexy trees for his teenage branch to lust over… But in all honesty, do they return to space? A lot of that hinges on the 4th film to be honest but given a lot of their stories often relate to the stones/thanos I can’t help but wonder what’s left for them following the conclusion of the Thanos arc. If the situation of the comics ever echos the cinematic universe, they may be sidelined to key support characters for the cosmic stories. They provide a good bridge between the Earth’s Mightest Heroes and the cosmic stage leading to a lot of potential good stories but I wonder what level they will play. I also wonder if the Guardians have got too big and we could see some casualties here- possibly Gamora as that would tie up her Daddy issues… Or Mantis as I really don’t see the point in her all that much other than a comedic foil to Drax.

Fall of a giant?

Also let’s take a minute to talk about Loki… He has met Thanos before which only just dawned on me. Thanos had an infinity stone in the shape of the Mind Stone in staff which he handed to Loki. He then proceeded to get a second stone, which was then in Thanos’ grasp and then proceeded to lose both stones. I can’t imagine Thanos taking that too well even though Loki will be handing over the space stone… I reckon, to add to my list from last week, Loki is going to die and I think he could be the first casualty of Thanos’ killing spree. It would set Thor up on a personal journey of revenge and heroism especially it looks like Loki won’t be the only Asgardian to kick the bucket early on as the whole ship looks like it is in a spot of trouble.

From a contractual point of view, this wouldn’t surprise me considering Tom Hiddleston has thrown his hat in the ring for James Bond and I can’t imagine it being easy being both a often recurring villain/anti-hero in the MCU and being a British spy at the same time. If it is true, it will be a shame as he has been one of the few solid Marvel foes but, much like a lot of the universe, the door needs to close on his reign of trickery one day.

If this is the case, I do worry about what compelling villains Marvel can produce in Phase 4. Spider-Man offers a selection of solid villains in his rogues gallery, and even the New Avengers have some solid recurring villains however none of them are really Avengers level foes, not like Loki could be. With the acquisition of Fox however, I am eagerly anticipating a proper, successful take on Dr Doom who could well prove a worthy foe for the Avengers, especially filling both the political void left by the events of the coming Avengers films, and the absence of any singular meance like Loki. Another villain we could look to who began their origins as a solo villain of one of our heroes would be Dormammu. He has been established in the Dr Strange solo outing so providing Stephen Strange doesn’t get obliterated in this film he could provide the next Thanos-level threat.

All of those aside, Loki was a different type of villain. He played the line between good and evil, he had motivation and he had fleeting moments of weakness and emotion. Unlike other villains in the MCU he has enjoyed an arc where he has grown developed and even died. He has mourned the loss of his adopted mother and even “sacrificed” himself for Thor. Even in Thor’s final outing in Ragnarok he follows a complicated character path balancing self-preservation and selfless acts. I can’t help that feel his happy reunion with his brother at the end of Ragnarok is a way of drawing this up. And if he does die, does he die handing over the stone to save the Asgardians or to save himself?

Needless to say, the Avengers will be a lot of what I think about this week. I want to try and get another post out in the next few days where I talk about the potential of the Fox acquisition and the significance it could play with the impending Universal change in Infinity War.

Hope you enjoyed this and let me know what you thought.

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