The Marvel Cinematic Universe used a clever trick to unify its movies before Avengers: Infinity War, and Marvel Studios can use the same strategy in the run-up to Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. The MCU Phases 1, 2, and 3 are rightfully lauded as wildly impressive and entertaining stretches of cinema history, and a big part of why is how well Marvel Studios succeeded in bringing together its diverse slate of characters and stories for a two-part finale that stuck the landing. Though the Infinity Stones’ time in the MCU is over, they created an opportunity for disparate movies to all fit together.
Though Phases 4 and 5 have still delivered some of the best MCU movies to date with the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Spider-Man: No Way Home, there’s little doubt that the franchise overall is missing that little je ne sais quoi that made the earlier years so special. However, all is far from lost. With the MCU yet to deliver a phase and a half of content, Marvel Studios can still learn from its early success and retroactively make even the more disappointing of its recent projects better.
The MCU Phases 4 & 5 Need More Connective Tissue
One of the big reasons that the MCU Phases 4 and 5 have been so divisive is that the movies lack the strong sense of interconnectivity enjoyed by early streaks in the franchise. That’s to be expected to some degree with the larger number of heroes in the MCU now compared to Phase 1, 2, or 3, but that excuse doesn’t do much to make up for the significant number of unresolved plot threats with no answer seemingly coming in the near future. Also, well-received characters like Shang-Chi and Kate Bishop have simply disappeared after their one and only project, making the MCU seem even more splintered.
As such, it’s clear that the MCU needs to do something to refocus both its narratives and characters to present a more unified franchise in which audiences can expect timely follow-ups to game-changing reveals and massive cliffhangers. However, without specific objects of power like the Infinity Stones to do the job, Marvel Studios may have to get a bit more creative. Fortunately, there’s a playbook they can follow.
The MCU Retconned Its Early Movies To Build Towards Infinity War
In hindsight, the MCU’s Infinity Saga flows incredibly well. Despite not every single movie being a hit to the same degree, the franchise collectively built a narrative that naturally built its characters up to a climactic battle with Thanos (and then, later, another Thanos). Even the Infinity Stones, objects with near-infinite power, are sprinkled as far back as 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, seven years before Infinity War. However, while the Stones are mentioned by name and clearly part of the MCU’s macro-level plan starting with Thor: The Dark World, it’s clear that the Space and Mind Stones were retcons added once Marvel’s Thanos story solidified.
In their first two appearances, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers, it’s clear that the Tesseract was clearly meant to be the Cosmic Cube, not the Space Stone. It makes sense, too, as the object is more of a super battery than an object with the ability to affect space until later in the franchise. Furthermore, it makes little sense that Thanos would willingly give Loki the Mind Stone in his scepter, but it works if the object was originally an extension of the Cosmic Cube.
How An Infinity Stone-Style Retcon Could Work For The Current MCU
All that is to say, the Infinity Saga worked exceedingly well by smartly retconning a few early objects to fit its grander plans once they materialized. The same can be done with the MCU Phases 4, 5, and 6, aka the Multiverse Saga. So far, Kang and his variants have been confusingly absent from Marvel’s big-screen outings, only making a sizable but disappointing appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and otherwise only showing up (to much better success) in Loki seasons 1 and 2. While future movies will hopefully flesh out the villain and his role in the MCU more, they can also recontextualize what has already happened.
What form this takes is, of course, the job of writers, directors, and producers, but Marvel Studios has already set itself up for some potential connections. Notably, theories have already run rampant that Kang is behind objects like the Ten Rings and Kamala Khan’s bangles, and more reveals could prove Kang has been leaving himself tools through the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to re-attain in another potential Multiverse War. However it happens, the Infinity Saga could use some connective tissue, and Marvel Studios has already proven that retcons can help achieve just that.
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
An MCU Infinity Saga trick can work again. Read More