As the year comes to a close, I believe that it might be the right time to recap the additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have seen in 2014, and the news unveiled this year for the future. Between TV shows, movies, and potential crossovers with other studios, it has been a huge year for Marvel Comics, and in order to appreciate the big events coming up in 2015, it’s probably best to get everyone on the same page.
First out of the gate this year was the mid-season premiere of ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ which propelled the show past its initial promise in the latter half of its freshmen season with storylines introducing blue-skinned aliens, the big reveal of the procedure that saved Coulson’s life from his Loki-wounds (and the consequences thereof), and the massive tie-in to ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’ that rocked the very foundation the show was built on, and helped launch the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D into bigger and better storylines that continued to build in the first half of the second season. With the introduction of a super-powered agent to the team in the Winter finale in December, and with the show opening the door to the Inhumans storyline (and potentially setting the stage for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ this spring,) the show is a definite must-see for any Marvel Cinematic Universe fan (and a lot of fun even for those not caught up on the MCU).
Next up was the movie that changed everything in the MCU, by destroying the very organization that brought the Avengers together in the first place. ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’ was not just a good super-hero movie, it was a great movie in general. It brilliantly tied in storylines and characters from the first Captain America film while adapting the hero for a modern storyline and making the film more of a suspense spy-thriller, all of which suited a story that culminated with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Being the last movie (on Earth) to occur before the highly anticipated sequel to ‘The Avengers,’ Cap 2 had a lot of work to do to set the stage, and it did so brilliantly, leaving an earth defended solely by Captain American and his allies, and leaving the once omnipotent S.H.I.E.L.D. organization clinging to life, a shadow of its former power and glory.
Lastly we have ‘Guardians of a Galaxy,’ the movie once described as a huge risk for Marvel, which had even longtime fans of the studio (including yours truly) wondering if Marvel could actually pull off a space-opera with a talking raccoon and a walking tree. True to form, the studio not only pulled it off, but made it into one of (if not the) best Marvel movie to date, jam packed with action scenes, space-ships, alien worlds, a brilliant score, dozens of memorable one-liners, and a cast that we can’t wait to see together again. Combine that with the work ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ did to set up the future of the MCU by explaining the Infinity Stones (through the Collector) and finally introducing Thanos properly to audiences, and this film is definitely a milestone in Marvel’s filmmaking.
And that’s just the stories that came out this year; I haven’t even gotten to the announcements for the future! Marvel pulled out all the stops when they announced Phase 3, and fans could not help but scream in excitement at what is to come. From ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (co-starring everyone’s favorite tin-man Robert Downey Jr.), to the sequel to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ the first female Marvel hero to land her own movie “Captain Marvel,’ the announcement of ‘Doctor Strange’ and the awesome casting of Benedict Cumberbatch to the role, to the culmination of the Thor/Loki story in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (for those not in the know, that’s the apocalypse in the world of Asgard), to the excitement to finally meet T’Challa and his homeland of Wakanda in ‘Black Panther,’ and the massive excitement for the announcement of the culmination of everything the MCU has built toward, ‘Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and 2’ (alongside the ‘Inhumans’) which will finally show Thanos achieving his goal of gathering all the Infinity Stones and waging war on all of the heroes we’ve come to know and love. All of this announced in ONE DAY, Marvel sure does know how to put on a show and get people excited for their movies.
Finally, the last bit of unofficial news to come out this year involves my favorite superhero, ‘Spider-man,’ who until now has been relegated to the small universe Sony has built for him and his allies/enemies in the last few years. I mention him because due to the Great Sony Hacks of 2014, rumors have leaked that the studio has been (and potentially will continue in 2015) talking to Marvel Studios about letting them use Spidey in the MCU, with the webslinger potentially making an appearance in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ or perhaps in one of the ‘Avengers’ sequels. Which would be thrilling for fans that have waited for the day for ‘Spider-man’ to be freed from the purgatory of the Sony Spidey Universe and brought back in amongst the heroes and world he should have always been a part of.
So that’s all that has happened in the MCU in 2014 in a nutshell, which even I’ll admit is quite a lot. It’s comforting to know that the good folks at Marvel/Disney have a lot of plans for the future, and are not just streaming out endless sequel after sequel without some kind of end game in mind. Here’s to hoping it all works out as seamlessly as the original road to ‘The Avengers,’ and that Marvel can continue to entertain us for years to come.