Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is comprised of six films; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. Each of the first five films act as jigsaw pieces forming the Avengers film.
These films don’t just introduce our roster of super heroes that will save the world, it builds the world for them to save. Between cameos and subtle nods to Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D we discover that everything is in fact connected allowing us deeper investment in the franchise as a whole.
The films settings vary considerably taking place in the modern world, world war two and the world of Asgard. All roads lead to the Avengers battling an alien invasion force’s attempts to conquer earth on behalf of the Titan Thanos and whilst our heroes will be victorious it’s clear that our world will never be the same.
I think Phase One does a brilliant job of introducing us to some interesting characters and heroes and villains alike. The films feel so different from each other yet the merge together so well as a whole. There was no TV component to Phase One but we did get Marvel One Shots; shorts set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe mainly for fun.
The first One Shot ‘The Consultant’ features S.H.I.E.L.D Agent’s Coulson and Jasper discussing a solution to their latest problem. The World Security Council is requesting Emil Blonsky, otherwise known as The Abomination, be a member of the Avengers Initiative (wonder how that would have worked out!). The two decide to send a patsy (Stark/The Consultant) as a liaison to General Ross ensuring that the general is pissed off to the point he won’t release Blonsky… which he does by buying his favourite bar and scheduling it for demolition heh. This gives a nice taste of S.H.I.E.L.D’s perspective on events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and flesh out the cameo characters a little.
The second One Shot ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Thor’s Hammer’ centres on Agent Coulson stopping for gas (and donuts!) prior to arriving in the film Thor. A robbery takes place whilst he’s there and he decides to kick the robber’s asses with some fancy moves. Again character development for Coulson which demonstrates he’s not just a pretty face but can handle himself in a fight. If Captain America is the first Avenger I’d be happy to name Coulson the second.
The third and final One Shot of Phase One ‘Item 47’ follows the story of two citizens of New York following the battle in The Avengers finding a Chitauri weapon and fixing it. They decide to rob banks until an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D is dispatched to retrieve the weapon and neutralise the couple. He instead recruits one of them into S.H.I.E.L.D’s Research and Development team leaving the other to annoy his colleague. This One Shot was great at world building and became a theme use throughout future films where people cannibalise the technology from the Battle of New York to further their goals. In addition it set up the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D recognising talented individuals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and recruiting them into their cause. This was definitely inspiration for the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which was green lit by Disney Chairman/CEO Robert Iger after he watched the One Shot. In fact the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D recruits one of their targets (Skye… or Daisy… or erm Quake…god she has a lot of alias’s) who becomes a main character for the series. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see the characters from Item 47 in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D at some point even a brief cameo would have been nice.
I really enjoyed Phase One overall and aside from the recasting of Bruce Banner (I love both Actor’s portrayal of the character, I just hate recasts!) it builds a wonderful Cinematic Universe that I definitely marvel at.