In the interconnected and increasingly elaborate MCU, each new film is designed to build on what came before, leading to a trend of bigger and bigger storylines. A decade of universe-building and character development culminated in Marvel‘s epic, world-hopping ensemble actioner Avengers: Infinity War, and there’s a good chance that next year’s Avengers 4 will bring us something even more expansive.
So, amidst this ongoing drama of superhero team-ups and multi-movie story arcs, what place does the humble origin story have in the MCU? It’s worth noting that no superhero solo outing has chosen to build up its protagonist from scratch since 2016’s Doctor Strange, with even Spider-Man and Black Panther making their first appearances, already suited up, as supporting players in Captain America: Civil War.
When CinemaBlend spoke to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, the producer explained that while the good old-fashioned superhero origin story isn’t necessarily a thing of the past, it might not always be the most interesting way of bringing a new character into the MCU:
“I don’t think there’s any overarching philosophy. I think it’s case by case. Had [Black] Panther not appeared in [Captain America:] Civil War would we have done a different version of the opening of that movie? Maybe. It is, sometimes, like Doctor Strange, origins can be great, origin stories can be fascinating. If there are, in the future, new stories that require origins… When I talk about a traditional origin structure, it’s Superman: The Movie, right? It’s following that – or even Iron Man. Taking an hour-plus to see the guy or the girl in the outfit. Sometimes that’s the way to do it. Sometimes that’s great. And sometimes there are other ways to do it.”
Feige went on to say that this open-minded approach goes beyond the introduction of new superheroes, and that the studio’s always looking for fun new ways to tweak and subvert old formulas with each new film:
“I think it’s much less specific to any notion of ‘origin,’ because, as I just said, sometimes it can be subverted, sometimes you just play it out. That’s the better way to do it. The bigger philosophy is, with each film we make, how can we do it in a way we haven’t done before? How, whether that’s a sequel, whether that’s an origin, whether that’s a spin off, how can we do a movie that entertains ourselves first, as we develop it and as we produce it, because hopefully that happens then when it’s on the screen, it’ll entertain the audience as well.”
All that being said, Marvel will indeed be revisiting the origin story format with the much-anticipated Captain Marvel. We’ll see if they’ve managed to keep the formula fresh and interesting when that film hits cinemas on March 8th, 2019. In the meantime, we’re now just one week away from the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp, and how exciting is that?