The Marvel, the Sony and the Fox

This post delves into the movie space, and I thought I’d start by explaining the following statement. Not all Marvel movies are Marvel’s movies.

Marvel Studios has been one of the most successful and emulated movie studios in recent years. But the general movie goer may not realise which movies are actually created by themselves, and which were created by other movie studios.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to explain in layman’s terms:

  • What the Marvel Cinematic Universe is.
  • Why it does not include Fantastic 4, or the X-Men.
  • Why the character Quicksilver appeared in X-Men and Avengers.

I’ve never been good at history, I’m terrible at remembering facts. But for some reason this bit of “useless” history stuck with me.

It all started when Marvel Comics weren’t doing well financially. So they started selling the licence to use their characters to movie studios. Sony took Spider-Man, and 20th Century Fox took a number of others including X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and all characters associated with them.

(Now before you jump the gun, I’m not referring to the recent Daredevil Netflix series, I’m talking about the forgettable Ben Affleck version in 2003).

It wasn’t long before Marvel thought they could do these movies themselves (and better). But they can only use the characters they haven’t licensed out to other studios. So newly named Marvel Studios released their first movie in 2008 – Iron Man.

Here’s a trick to recognise Marvel Studios movies – they always have their logo at the beginning animated with flipping comic book pages (not “flipping” as in the swear word, I mean… you get the idea) titled “Marvel Studios“. Not just “Marvel”, or “Marvel Knights” which just credits Marvel for creating the characters in the first place.

When Iron Man was released (to critical acclaim) it started a newly shared cinematic universe, dubbed the Marvel Cinematic Universe(or MCU). The long and short of it is that their movies will essentially be “episodes” in an overarching massive storyline. This began with the end credits scene of Iron Man, where Nick Fury indicates that Tony Stark was not the only superhero in the universe.

Just as it is with TV shows, they have “seasons” which they call “phases”. Phase 1 ended with Marvel’s The Avengers, and the next phase began with Iron Man 3 and ended with the recent release Ant Man. Phase 3 begins with Captain America: Civil War next year.

Confused yet? Let me help introduce more confusion.

There are now Marvel TV shows which are contained within the same MCU. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was the first one, and it generally ties in with movies that are released. Often, before a big movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Avengers: Age of Ultron, the events of Agents of SHIELD would lead into or explain part of the plot of the movies.

Given this is the case, their characters, the storylines of all of their movies are connected. You’ll see Tony Stark (Iron Man) appearing at the end of The Incredible Hulk. You’ll see his father, Howard Stark in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger and Ant Man. And so on. Sometimes the plot in one movie would explain the motives behind characters in another movie.

This can make things rather complicated… comic books have the same problem sometimes as they operate the same way. But what Marvel Studios try to do, is make the movies self-contained enough such that anyone could enjoy them without needing to be up to date. But if you watch the “seasons” in the order released, you will get so much more. Just like watching an episode of 24 is nothing like watching a whole season.

Breathe.

So, back to Sony and Fox. Part of the deal of the characters they licensed, is that they have to continue making movies over a time period. As a result, some bad movies have been produced just so they keep the rights to continue making Spider-Man or X-Men movies.

Recently, Sony gave up the ghost. They eventually made a deal with Marvel Studios to reboot Spider-Man again and this time, he’ll be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU). Different actor and all – Tom Holland.

Yeah, I have no idea who this dude is either.

This means that he’ll be connected to the current storyline, he can meet the Avengers (and in fact will do in the next Captain America movie), and potentially even more exciting – other Avengers or MCU characters can appear in his individual movies.

Other characters whose rights have reverted back to Marvel Studios are: Daredevil, Punisher and Blade. This is why we have the recent Netflix Marvel Daredevil series which is part of the MCU storyline (and so has nothing to do with the 2003 Daredevil movie). Also it has been reported that season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil will feature The Punisher as a villain.

As for the characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? They were seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, and then a different version in the MCU movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. The reason for this is that those characters are in a grey area in the comics – they were mutants (children of Magneto no less… though I hear things have changed as to their true parentage) and they were also Avengers at some point. So the licensing deal allows Marvel Studios to use those characters as long as they don’t mention mutants at all.

Now you realise of course that you probably have a lot of homework to catch up on, just to keep up to date with the MCU series, or phases. So here’s a quick run through of the Marvel Studios movies so far, as well as connected TV series.

  1. Iron Man
  2. The Incredible Hulk
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Thor
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger
  6. Marvel’s The Avengers
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Agents of SHIELD (Season 1)
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy
  12. Agents of SHIELD (Season 2)
  13. Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix)
  14. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  15. Ant Man

Marvel has a futurist mindset.

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