A shoutout here to Joshua M. Patton, whose writing and social media presence I discovered when serendipity intervened; I used a similar hashtag on Twitter, #MCURewind. I hadn’t intended to use that hashtag when, independent of the rest of the universe, I decided to “countdown” the days to the premiere of Avengers: Endgame. (Apparently. Joshua hadn’t either since the original title of his piece was “MCU Rewatch.”)
With every prior MCU premiere, I had marathoned every previous film beforehand. I have a YouTube playlist (linked below) set up just for that purpose. However, this time around there was sufficient time to plan a one-a-day re-watch of every MCU film to-date. (Hopefully, on 25 April, my local movie theatre is still showing Captain Marvel.)
By way of introduction, Joshua (although anyone reading is welcome to follow along), I’m a 65.5-year-old commentator on the social zeitgeist. (Don’t let that avatar fool you.)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the things that got me back in the movie theatre. When Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk first appeared, I was more than content to allow the rest of geekdom to trot out to the theatre while I sat back and consumed the MCU the way I consume most forms of entertainment these days: in the comfort of my own home.
When those movies hit streaming, I purchased them on my Digital HD service of choice — VUDU (an unsolicited, unsponsored blurb) — and watched both movies to see what all the hubbub was about.
To go even a little more in depth, at that time, I had found comic book movies to be a hit-or-miss proposition. Between 1980 — the year Superman II premiered — and 2005 (Batman Begins), I had seen little in the realm that pleased me. There were a few exceptions: Michael Keaton’s first turn as Batman (1989) and M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) which I enjoyed much more than The Sixth Sense. Other attempts such as subsequent Batman-, Superman-, and any Marvel-branded films were left on the wayside and pretty much ignored by me.
Batman Begins, a DC comic-book based movie, was the first to make me take notice. It wasn’t because it was a comic-book film. It was because it was a Christopher Nolan film. Christopher Nolan was the other thing that got me going into movie theatres again.
I consumed my first Nolan film like all other content — at home. Batman Begins was a serious and extraordinary take on the Batman mythology, and I was impressed with how Nolan told the story — so much so that I wanted more. In 2008, as Marvel Studios was gearing up to develop the MCU, Nolan, Warner Brothers and its corporate cousin, DC, produced a second film based on the Batman character, The Dark Knight (2008). I was in the theatre. Those first few moments, which Nolan filmed in IMAX, had me hooked.
As times passed, I consumed everything Nolan: Insomnia (2002); Memento (2000); Following (1998), which has presumably an unintended reference to Nolan’s future work directing Batman movies; and, finally, The Prestige (2006). I was ready for how Nolan was to conclude his trilogy.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in SoCal, a producer named Kevin Feige had a plan. Perhaps it was a small plan; maybe it was a grandiose one. That’s a story for another correspondent to tell. For me, however, I hadn’t been consumed by comic-book culture; so Marvel Comics and characters were foreign to me. I had certainly heard of them, but in the framework of Marvel vs. DC, I had always been a DC guy. I had never read more than a few comics, but when I had, they were DC-branded ones. I knew of Marvel and certainly of Spider-Man, but I never much paid attention to them.
When Marvel and Feige decided to produce a slate of films based on their stable of comic-book characters, I was sufficiently intrigued that I decided to watch those first two films on Digital HD. As you mentioned, Joshua, Feige’s decision to use mid- and post-credit scenes in those and subsequent films was important, if not critical. Feige had either learned or intuited what moviemakers of the past had discovered. Those scenes built those individual movies into something akin to the old Saturday matinee serials that our parents and grandparents were exposed to during their lifetimes. It is also the basis of television since its invention until the current day. Give audiences characters and stories that they care about and they’ll keep coming back for more.
By the time Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) rolled around, like Nolan before him, Kevin Feige had me sitting in a dark theatre again. Ever since, I’ve discovered not only numerous Marvel and DC comic-book movies but countless other films that I’ve watched and enjoyed in a movie theatre.
So, Joshua, like you and millions of other movie fans, on April 26th I’ll be sitting in a dark theatre — an IMAX 3D one — preparing myself for, perhaps, the conclusion of the greatest Saturday-matinee movie serial of my lifetime: the Infinity Saga, as you called it. I hope we all enjoy it.
And so it goes.