13th Nov2018

‘Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

MS-10-Years-Cover

Can you believe it has been 10 years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to life with the release of the original Iron Man film back in 2008. I certainly can’t. I still remember trying to persuade my reluctant wife to come to see it, but at the time a boys own fantasy of some guy in a suit of technological armour was a hard sell. Now? My wife is Robert Downey’s biggest fan, and has seen every Marvel film released to date. Voluntarily I might add for you cynics out there. It’s been a fun ride, and every time I thought they had bit off more than they could chew (choosing Ant-Man for a movie ahead of so many others? Really? ) Marvel proved not only equal to the task, but over and above.

Having hit the ten years and 19 film mark, and now coming to the end of the initial three phase project now seems as good a time as any to have retrospective of those films. The first features in this special are interviews with Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito, co-Marvel Studios Presidents, which is more than appropriate as it was Feige’s vision and guidance that made all this possible. He was given the job and allowed to get on with it unhindered, and reading the interviews you realise that no matter how difficult things got, you had a man at the helm who genuinely loved the material and characters. He believed in what he was doing. Contrast that with the corporate system at Warners, where multiple hands all try and grab a piece of the DC superhero pie. No coincidence that while Superman, Batman and the Justice League are every bit as big characters as their Marvel counterparts, without a Kevin Feige at the helm they repeatedly fail to shine.

The meat of this celebratory retrospective is of course a look at the films themselves, in chronological order. A nice Marvel Movies Timeline is followed by a breakdown of the individual films, starting with 2008′s Iron Man. Each film gets a few pages, with an interview, some film stills, and some interesting ‘easter egg’ type facts about each film. The interviews are short, standard stuff, decent enough but you’ve read it all before. The photos are the same, a mix of film stills and publicity shots. Some very nice ones though. Looking at some of the character stills it does remind you yet again just how perfect the casting for these films was, virtually every role from Captain America to Loki was perfectly cast.

Another good aspect in having all the films laid out in front of you chronologically like this is it reminds you how the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew organically, how it established a world where all these characters co-exist and it all manages to make sense. Just calling them ‘superhero’ films also does them a great disservice, as looking through the films shows. With some films you get light comedy (Ant-Man, Thor: Ragnarok), with some political thriller (Winter Soldier, Black Panther), space opera (Guardians of the Galaxy), and just plain balls to the wall widescreen action with the, to date, three Avengers movies. There’s a flavour for everyone, and therein lies the reason for Marvel’s success. Keep a little of that traditional recipe, but always throw in some new spice and flavour.

Is this Collector’s Edition a must buy? Possibly not for the average cinema-goer, but as a long time comic book guy (no Simpsons jokes please) I really enjoyed this. It’s nice to have all the films arranged in release order, and there some things in there I never knew and who doesn’t love a bit of trivia. Biggest complement I can pay is to say that having read this, I now want to go and re-watch all the films again, in order. Anything to keep things ticking over until the Avengers Infinity War sequel comes out, right? Well, except a Thanos swimsuit special.

So, Titan, job done. A celebration of Marvel films that hits the mark.

**** 4/5

Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years will be available at comic shops and all good bookstores on November 20th. Or you can order it online at Amazon.

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