After many years of careful building, and three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, things have certainly reached a climax in 2018.
This year will see a total of five Marvel movies hitting the screens, including sequels, films that continue long-established storylines, and even films that introduce new characters.
It has certainly been a Marvel-ous year for comic book movie fans, so let’s take a closer look at what we’ve seen, what is still to come, and why we should be grateful to have Marvel in our lives.
After just three Marvel outings in 2017 (Guardians 2, Spider Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnorak), 2018 will see no less than five superhero blockbusters.
Not only did this introduce the first major black superhero (in Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa), but it also broke the mould with a host of strong female characters, including the fearsome, all-female royal guard.
This captured the zeitgeist that was sparked by DC’s Wonder Woman, which has seen women finally getting the recognition they deserve in the film industry.
Having suitably whet our appetites with a massive success, April brought us the movie that everything has been building towards—or at least the first half of that story.
Avengers: Infinity War drew together threads from films as diverse as Spider Man, Captain America: Civil War and even Black Panther, in a massive final showdown with the evil Thanos.
Despite uniting so many storylines, characters and sub-plots, Infinity War succeeded in holding together as a film in its own right.
for the Marvel newcomer, it would perhaps not be the best film to see as an introduction to the franchise.
While it wasn’t only for the die-hard fans and Marvel nerds, a little foreknowledge of the characters certainly helps your understanding and enjoyment.
What’s more, without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, let’s just say that the stunning surprise ending leaves us all crying out for the second part, which is due out next year.
A massive worldwide hit, Infinity War has taken in over $2bn to date—half a billion more than its nearest Marvel rival, The Avengers.
As if by way of a light-hearted antidote, May brought us the sequel to the surprise hit of 2016, Ryan Reynolds’ notorious Deadpool, which took an astonishing $783m with a budget of just $58m.
Unimaginatively titled Deadpool 2, this slightly-disappointing follow-up took the same shock tactics as the first film and dialled them up to an eleven in an attempt to be even more shocking, bloody and outrageous.
Unfortunately, because we know what to expect, this never quite makes up for the lack of surprises, as compared to the first film.
Deadpool was always going to be a hard act to follow, and, in fairness, they did a pretty good job, however, unlike the Guardians crew, I can’t see Deadpool being invited to fight alongside the Avengers any time soon.
Still to come in 2018, we have another sequel and a brand new character getting his own spin-off from the Spider-Man franchise.
The sequel, Ant Man and The Wasp, pairs Paul Rudd’s miniature Marvel hero, Ant-Man, with a new partner, The Wasp, played by Lost actress, Evangeline Lilly.
Get set for lots more scale-changing fun as the two shrink and swell to take on the latest villainous plot, all under the watchful eye of the inventor of their technology, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
A new character for 2018 is Venom (played by Tom Hardy), who has seen brief appearances in Spider-Man as his alter ego, Eddie Brock, but who now gets the full Marvel treatment with a film of his own.
With the tag line ‘embrace your inner anti-hero’, this is clearly not going to be a straightforward superhero film. Due out in October, this will be the last of Marvel’s scheduled releases for the year.
Of course, it doesn’t end there, with plenty more to come next year and beyond, including Brie Larson’s gender-busting debut as Captain Marvel, an as-yet-untitled Spider-Man sequel, an X-Men reboot, New Mutants, and (of course) the eagerly-anticipated second part of Infinity Wars, which is surely set to break all box office records after keeping us all in suspense for a year.
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the appeal of Marvel films, with four of them placing in the all-time box office top ten and six of them passing the $1bn mark worldwide.
And let’s face it, it could be a lot worse.
For all the city-smashing battles and occasional in-fighting between the heroes, Marvel films are generally based on positive ideals of right and wrong, the benefits of teamwork, and the morals of putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
Of course, Deadpool is the exception, but even he has his selfless moments of uncharacteristic self-sacrifice in his latest movie.
We can learn a lot from these characters on screen, in their original comic book form, and even from their associated video games.
Poker champion Randy Lew honed his decision making and reaction skills by playing Marvel video games, and then went on to become a superhero legend in his own right, playing 23,493 hands online in the space of 8 hours.
No doubt inspired by Spider-Man, Malian immigrant Mamoudou Gassama recently turned into a real-life super hero when he scaled the side of a building to rescue a small child. He asked for nothing in return, but was granted French citizenship for his bravery.
If our young people are to look up to anyone on screen, then we couldn’t ask for better role models than the Avengers. They are always ready to help and even put their lives on the line to protect humanity.
They look after each other and work together for a common cause. And while we may not share their special powers, if we can share their attitude—both to each other and to our planet—then we won’t go far wrong.