Because Winter Soldier is still my comfort movie...
Being a Marvel fan requires acceptance. You need to accept that if you create any Marvel-related content, it’ll be out of date 30 seconds later.
So what’s been added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since I last sat down with CK and GK?
The MCU is a collection of stories told through movies and streaming TV series that happen within one universe. Those stories are linked to an overarching storyline. This storyline is referred to as a saga. Projects within the saga are grouped together in phases.
Why do you need to know this? Because it’s a HUGE part of Marvel’s marketing, so you’ll see it come up a lot. It’s also one way that Disney+ categorizes Marvel properties.
The Infinity Saga
Heroes come together for the first time
Birth of the Avengers
We start to see true character arcs forming
Introduce the Saga and start connecting the puzzle pieces
Introduce more characters
Introduce the Infinity Stones
Completion of character arc for outgoing characters
All saga puzzle pieces are put together
Big fight with the Big Bad Villain
Saga is complete
OK, But What's New?
When Caitlin and Jenny had me on the show in November 2021, the Infinity Saga was complete and we were in the middle of Phase Four. Phase Four is the beginning of the Multiverse Saga and just ended with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The Multiverse Saga
Starts with WandaVision and ends with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Has the most content of any phase
Threads the events of The Snap to life after people are abruptly returned
Completion of character arc for many OG characters
Introduce Multiverse Saga characters
Introduce the concept of a multiverse
Introduced the Big Bad Villain
*A quick note about Black Widow. While Black Widow was released in July 2021, after the events of Avengers End Game, the movie itself takes place after Captain America Civil War. It does, however, introduce us to Yelena Belova so it also serves as an origin story movie.
At the time of this posting, Phase 5 is officially underway with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Hold on. WTF is a multiverse?
Glad you asked.
The multiverse is a concept in which there is one “true” timeline or reality, but alternate realities exist alongside it. The Multiverse Saga is using this concept to tell stories with deeper themes about loss and grief, found family, ancestral connection, race and colonization, and responsibility to the greater good.
Deeper and more intentional storytelling is one of the big differences between these two sagas. A post-End Game MCU has more diversity throughout the entire filmmaking process. There are more women and people of color in the writer’s room and in the director’s chair. This has led to more diversity on screen with women and people of color in leading roles to be a part of their own stories.
We’re also seeing the MCU play with different styles of storytelling. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness directed by Sam Raimi has a very distinct horror movie feel, while She-Hulk is a comedy that leans more heavily into an episodic TV format. Ms. Marvel is delightfully kid-friendly and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will tug at every single one of your heartstrings.
The original Iron Man debuted in 2008, so there is literally 15 years' worth of MCU content. With that much in the queue, I still contend that it’s fun to sit down and watch the entire MCU chronologically.
But, if that’s just not something you’re up for, I've got shortcuts.
3 Ways to Jump Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe
#1: Pick a character and watch their movies
Plenty of original characters are in the post-End Game MCU, and watching their earlier movies can help understand their character arc. For example, before watching Thor: Love and Thunder, watch all of the other Thor movies.
#2: Watch Infinity War and End Game only
Infinity War and End Game will give you a decent amount of context for understanding where the world is when Phase 4 begins with WandaVision. Phase Four release order is basically chronological order. Three years of Covid-19 production and release delays may have messed with it a little bit, but not so much that it matters.
#3: Watch only what interests you
There’s enough MCU content on the internet to give you the TL;DR background you need to watch any of the streaming series or movies. Watch what piques your interest and use Google to fill in any blanks. This is what I do with Star Wars and I think it can be done with Marvel as well.
My Four Phase 4 Favorites...
Phase 5 Projects I can't wait for...
To be clear...
There's no wrong way to watch Marvel movies and shows. I'd recommend that you start with those and see if there's a particular character that you enjoy or connect with, and move on from there. You'll be a fan in no time.
Listen to Caitlin & Jenny's episode with Ariella
Ariella has been hyper-focused on Marvel since the fall of 2020 and plans to ride the wave for as long as her ADHD lets her. She has an academic and professional background in local journalism and web content writing.
When she's not writing blog posts for the CK & GK Podcast, she's writing steamy romance stories. Her work can be found on her website (ariellamonti.com) and on Kindle Vella.