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Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase Three and BEYOOOOONND

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I agree it isn't one but they're trying to build one.  That's the unusual take on the MCU, they are trying to create a broad franchise with continuity as a single universe, something nobody has really done before in movies, at least not successfully.  They mean for it to be careful and intricate, and stuff like this doesn't help that goal.  But then... same thing with their comics, which are such a snarled mess they have to reboot every few hundred issues.

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Well, by movie franchise standards I suppose the MCU is intricate, though we could debate for ages how careful they are being about its construction. But by comic book standards the MCU is pretty shallow and simplistic. And I think that is due to the time and cost it takes to add a single new entry (movie, tv series, etc.) into the continuity. By necessity they have to be somewhat loose in their world building, and if it sometimes feels like they are making this stuff up as they go (from a planning perspective), that's because they largely are.

 

For example, as soon as Marvel could ink a deal to get Spider-Man into the MCU, they shoved him in as quickly as they could. There was nothing "careful" about it. Fast-tracking ol' Webhead into the MCU was a business decision, not a creative one, just like sidelining the Fantastic Four and mutants in the comics was a business (and political) decision rather than a creative one.

 

Being "careful and intricate" may be the general perception Marvel wants to put forth, but it doesn't reflect the reality, IMO. Given the number of moving parts involved, I just don't think it ever can (or will). Constructing such a complicated (logistically speaking), loosely-connected multimedia franchise involves pleasing too many masters to ever achieve a clean, perfectly-architected result.

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Yeah its absolute fact that they had no intention of a large overarching shared single universe idea until after Iron Man did so well.  Up to that point they were fine with just individual films and maybe a fun little easter egg every so often.

 

The problem is, they never had someone in charge of the "Bible" for the MCU, so its been pretty much made up as they go along.  And that's fine but I wonder how much better it could have been with an actual effort put into creating a full universe intentionally with depth and consistency.

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Why the heck would they limit themselves like that?  I mean, seriously why?  If anything, actual effort was in exactly the right place.  This is not a 'Game of Thrones' style series of novels with one creator setting a perfect timeline and exhausting outline.  This a 10+ year ongoing cinematic arc.  NO ONE can factor in changing actors, character availability, contracts, movie rights...let alone changing directors' takes (and their important creative inputs), writers and producers, visual styles, and a thousand other things which can vastly affect a set canon and consistency a bunch of guys would've sat around and hammered out 10 plus years ago.  The addition of Spider-Man and Taika Waititi's brilliant curveball with Thor are just a couple of the things that can't be allowed if you have to stick to a bible from a decade ago.

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Indeed. And I think the looseness required to make this Jenga-like super-franchise work yields enough flexibility to set Captain Marvel's earliest adventure(s) in the 1990s without upsetting or seriously compromising established continuity.

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When Phase Three is complete the MCU will have completed a 22-film interconnected epic story arc that will be unprecedented in American cinematic history. 

 

Sure, things have changed since Iron Man was a success. The end credits scene was a "wouldn't it be nice" and further success of Hulk, Thor, and Captain America made The Avengers a reality. The end credits scene in Avengers, put there by Joss, was another "wouldn't it be nice" moments, with the end of that seed only 5-6 films away from being realised. 

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The '90s aren't some far-off period. The majority of people who will be creating it will have very good memories of living through it, and documentation and props aren't particularly hard to come by. Continuity control is generally a flat cost (doesn't much vary between Cinema and TV production costs) and TV produces more hours of footage than movies for a given project, so major film budgets should mean better continuity than the TV equivalent. 

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8 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

No, not officially or specifically, but the Iron Man film definitely implied that by the reaction of people.  There was no "not another one" or "he's like (insert previous hero)!"  Just "wow, who's that, its totally new!"  Its a minor quibble, I just have a personal dislike for retconning.  I could stand Captain America because its such a classic concept and it was far enough back people wouldn't have him in mind.

OTOH Stark also denies being "some kind of superhero" or words to that effect, which implies at least that the concept of superheroes already existed in that world. And given that basically everything Stark did was already front-page news before he outed himself, the press' reaction could also be interpreted as "Holy shot, Tony Stark is a superhero now!"

 

I'm not saying that was their intent at the time, of course. But I figure it's close enough to pass.

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OTOH Stark also denies being "some kind of superhero" or words to that effect, which implies at least that the concept of superheroes already existed in that world

 

Sure, but you could say the same thing in this world.  That doesn't mean Spider-Man really is swinging around Manhattan.  I mean yeah, you can retcon them in and come up with at least a somewhat plausible version of why that works like people who try to make the changes in the prequels fit with the original Star Wars movies (no, no its always been that way because [complex explanation]).

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I think we, the audience, are no different than the general public of the MCU in that superheroes were unknown to us prior to Tony Stark revealing himself in the first film. That doesn't mean others (like Captain Marvel) didn't exist (and have adventures) prior to 2008, it's just that they weren't known to the public.

 

It would be awkward to retcon Captain Marvel into the MCU's past as a well-known public figure (not as Carol Danvers, but as Captain Marvel the superhero), and I don't think they'll do that. I'm sure they will write her origin story and first adventure such that it takes place behind-the-scenes (in a "top secret military project" kind of way, at least in terms of public knowledge and perception) when she's on Earth, and won't even have to worry about it when she's fighting off-planet.

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Finished the Punisher season one on Netflix.  It was decent, but too long.  They could've trimmed it down to 10 episodes.  A lot of slow moments, but as a veteran with some PTSD myself, the side plot with Lewis slowly going insane was a story that needed to be told.

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I think Stranger Things has demonstrated that a tight, engrossing story can be told in eight or nine episodes. No need for the 12+ episode structure established by HBO.

 

Incidentally, it seems to me that such short episode runs really makes these shows more like classic mini-series from the 1970s, rather than full seasons of television (which used to span half a year when I was a kid). There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that calling eight episodes of anything a "season" just sounds bizarre to my ears.

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The British approach television as stories rather than seasons; they make a show as long as it takes to tell the story they have, then they're done.  If there are ideas to do another such story, they do another series.  Its odd to American audiences, but in the modern internet age, its a better option I think

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Back in the day, a typical national advertising campaign lasted around 6 months, and so advertisers wanted a 6-month-long vehicle for delivering that campaign. But shows are now being made as complete blocks of story that viewers "binge", with no advertising involved. That flourishes today primarily because of the paradigm shift towards the subscription-only streaming model. The classic advertising campaign structure is slowly losing its influence over the shape of production, and consequently the 20+ episode season is slowly becoming obsolete.

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4 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

The British approach television as stories rather than seasons; they make a show as long as it takes to tell the story they have, then they're done.  If there are ideas to do another such story, they do another series.  Its odd to American audiences, but in the modern internet age, its a better option I think

My wife and I prefer the British shows for just this reason.

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The British series model is like reading a novella that might or might not ever get sequels. The American binge model is like a series of novellas (or graphic novels), written and released a year or so apart, and nobody knows how many volumes there will ultimately be. The old American broadcast television series is like a series of full-length novels, with a four-month gap between volumes, and again nobody knows how many volumes there will be. Which model you like most probably depends on whether you prefer short-form or long-form storytelling.

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