• Columns 

    We Want Comics: The Marvel Cinematic Universe

    By | April 17th, 2018
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    Marvel Studios’s Avengers: Infinity War will be with us very soon, and a young adult novel by Barry Lyga starring the film’s villain, Thanos — Titan Consumed, has been announced for publication in November. Despite an apparent correction stating otherwise, the official synopsis shows it is clearly based on the movie version of the character. Be aware of minor spoilers, though none of this is new if you’ve been reading the directors’ comments about the film:

    Space. Reality. Mind. Power. Time. Soul.

    Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots…

    Infinity Stones.

    Only beings of immense power can hope to wield these stones, but for those who are worthy, the powers of a god await.

    Thanos is one such being. But he wasn’t always.

    Born on a doomed world and cast out by his people for his genius, physical deviancy, and pragmatic but monstrous ideas, Thanos is determined to save the galaxy from the same fate as his homeworld… no matter how many billions have to die.

    Learn the origins of the most formidable foe the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther have ever faced—a foe whom even a group of remarkable people, pulled together to fight the battles nobody else could, will fail to stop….

    Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.

    Thanos is here.

    It is exciting to know Thanos’s story is being expounded upon outside the movies, but it also raises the question as to why are Marvel doing this in a prose novel, as opposed to a comic book series? There’s the possibility of them adapting the book down the line, as Jody Houser and Luke Ross have done with Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn, but that’s a strong reminder of how anemic the MCU comics line have been compared to Marvel’s “Star Wars” comics.

    There’ve been a lot of promotional comic books for Marvel Studios’s films, some of which have been decent, though none have been as extraordinary as the best films, and many, frankly, have been 2-issue dross rushed out to meet a release date, created solely to be packaged with selected classic stories in trade paperbacks aimed at new readers.

    Take last year’s “Thor: Ragnarok Prelude” for instance: it was just an adaptation of The Incredible Hulk and Thor: The Dark World, which didn’t even take the opportunity to actually show us how Loki usurped Odin’s throne. A really good prelude comic would’ve worked without spoiling some of the film’s big reveals, concentrating on events we expected, like how the Hulk became Sakaar’s greatest gladiator, Thor and Jane’s “mutual dumping,” or when Sif and Heimdall were banished by Loki.

    As Drew Bradley wrote here, “There’s lots of room for comics to expand on the MCU. I’d be interested to see how other characters reacted to Iron Man’s home being blown up by the Mandarin, for instance. Or Iron Man’s reaction to SHIELD’s disbanding. Or seeing War Machine round up that ice monster that was running around London after the convergence in Thor: The Dark World. I don’t see any reason the movie tie-ins should all remain current with whatever film is currently in theaters, and these also seem like the ideal way for comics to capitalize on fans of the films.”

    Agent Carter by Phil Noto

    A strong MCU line of comics would sate the desire of many fans, who for years have wondered what exactly happened to Hawkeye and Black Widow in Budapest, or to see characters introduced in the TV shows (like Daredevil or Quake) co-star with the film characters. Many fans are hungering for more of Wakanda, so why not a series of OGNs about Nakia, Shuri, Okoye et al.? And then there’s Agent Carter, which was cancelled after a cliffhanger.

    Personally speaking, Tilda Swinton’s controversial depiction of the Ancient One would be the most interesting character that could be explored in an Expanded Marvel Cinematic Universe, because she is (after all) hundreds of years old, and there’s no shortage of characters she may have encountered. Was she apprenticed to Agamotto himself? When did she start drawing on the Dark Dimension’s energies? Has she been to K’un-Lun or encountered the founders of the Hand? There’s so many corners to the MCU that, like Wakanda, can produce their own expanded universes.

    Continued below

    Some fans may argue that it’s asking too much of Marvel to invest in a line that could wind up contradicted by later films. But just because something isn’t canon doesn’t mean it can’t be worthwhile or enjoyable: IDW’s Transformers comics tying into the first three films weren’t rendered worthless just because The Last Knight ignored them. The Star Trek books have never been canon, and the Star Wars ones weren’t canon (or at least weren’t considered as much by George Lucas) until 2014, but that didn’t mean fans couldn’t enjoy them. Simply put, are you less excited for the Thanos novel because Marvel responded it isn’t canon? Just because the Red Skull may return to the MCU someday, doesn’t invalidate a depiction of a second reckoning between him and Chris Evans‘s Captain America.

    The next Spider-Man movie may answer what happened next, but it'd be nice to see

    Usually at this point we’d list creators we’d like to see on these books, but we’ll just say we want Marvel’s best writers and artists – from their “Young Guns” to veterans like Leinil Yu and Phil Noto – to get to explore the MCU. More importantly, is that letting them play around with the MCU would lead them to having more leeway with the mainstream Marvel Universe. Would creators be under as much pressure to bring back older versions of characters like Captain America and Iron Man – ousting their younger, more diverse, successors – if their beloved film counterparts appeared more regularly? Would Nick Spencer’s “Captain America” experiment have been so negatively received? We may never know, but it’s well worth pondering, along with all our other reasons for a stronger MCU line.

    There’s so much else we could get into, like moments glossed between movies – like Doctor Strange claiming the Eye of Agamotto – or “What If?” stories, like if Ultron had brought about his self-titled dynasty. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes peeled on how the MCU goes from strength to strength in every other medium, and hope this post can inspire you to watch the films and TV shows in a whole new way. ‘Nuff said.

    //TAGS | We Want Comics

    Christopher Chiu-Tabet

    Chris is a writer from London on the autistic spectrum, who enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, games as well as history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic. He also writes for Nerdy POC.


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