Why I am looking forward to Marvel Phase 2.
I have a love hate relationship with Marvel's phase one. Individually the films have always been made with the right intentions but the results have varied. The films have flashes of awesomeness mixed in with utter mediocrity. Great characters mixed with lifeless cardboard cutouts. Cool action sequences mixed with extremely poor finales. I've given the studio crap for their poor handling of talent, ripped them apart for weak story and character development, and blasted them for not giving their heroes a genuine threat to battle. Some of the issues I think are genuinely justified and have had many battles with fans about them. That said I'm looking forward to phase 2. Why? It's because something dawned on me recently - Avengers was the real start of all these solo franchises.
Phase one suffers because of the studios infancy. The films for the most part lack ambition and relies too heavily on typical superhero cliches and simple stories with little attempt to push any boundaries. The exception is obviously Iron Man and most of that comes down to RDJ, without him that first movie is not nearly the massive hit it is and subsequently the Avengers possibly wouldn't have been made (at least not in the form we know it). What we were left with were films that were mostly 'ok' but not spectacular (IM2 though was just a waste of time), the phrase I constantly used to describe the studios attitude was playing not to lose rather than playing to win. It was that tip toeing philosophy that was so frustrating to me because I could see better movies within if they just did a few things differently.
In the end my attitude toward the eventual team-up film was almost indifference. Given how the previous slate of films turned out Avengers to me was something I was always going to see, but not something I really cared about, I almost felt like I was seeing it just to be polite, more out of necessity than actual desire. So I went to the midnight screening, but sadly wasn't feeling well which meant I couldn't give the film a fair review because I wasn't focusing much on it. A couple days later I went again when feeling better and enjoyed the crap out of the movie and watch it 2 more times after that. There wasn't much story, but there was a dedication from all parties involved to make this the best possible movie they could. It wore it's superhero heart on its sleeve and didn't apologize for it. It was that positive attitude that was missing from the previous films. They were too passive, too scared of their own shadow, not bold enough to go for the win.
So why am I looking forward to phase 2? It's because phase 2 is the real start of the solo franchises. For all the negative talk about Warner Bros doing Justice League first then spinning off solo franchises I think what Avengers has done is given the solo films the licence to actually go for the win now - which is what they weren't doing in phase one. The question is what did we really get out of the phase one movies? With the exception of a kick arse RDJ Iron Man there isn't much. We basically got some long introductions with no underlying stories that would affect Avengers (except IM2 dog's breakfast attempt). Avengers however is the real starting point and it's exactly why WB should launch JL first because now everyone
knows these characters exist in the same universe and the consequences in the solo film are going to affect Avengers 2 much more giving that film potentially more weight.
I know most people here are of the opinion that everyone knew each solo film was part of a wider universe, but until the promotion started popping up the vast majority of cinema goers would have had no idea, you only have to look at the solo films to see the underlying connection is really only something fans would see. As such you could have easily started the MCU with this Avengers film and if I'm honest I think it would have better to have done so. The issues I have with the phase one films stems from the unknown, a studio looking to simply get to the point where they can break free of their self imposed shackles. Yet all they really had to do was start with Avengers. Sure there wouldn't have been as big a build up, and the pay off wouldn't have been as ridiculously rewarding, but from a creative perspective it would have been because now those characters are free to finally let loose. What's funny to me is that IM3 looks more and more like it's the 'first' IM movie, I'm actually excited to see it, physiologically that comes down squarely to Avengers and I think a lot of people feel the same. The only question is whether Marvel will continue with a positive attitude or sit back and tip toe their way to Avengers 2, if they revert back to a phase one attitude then they haven't learned anything.
Ultimately phase one is something I've moved on from, and if I'm honest I don't think it's going to be remembered all that well by many people outside of the fan base. Avengers will be remembered by everyone, its impact will be up there with Superman, Star Wars, LOTR and TDK. The real story started a year ago and I can't wait.