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The Road to Infinity War: Phase Two (Part 2)

by Andrew Siddall. Published Fri 06 Apr 2018 00:00, last updated: 12/04/18
The Road to Infinity War - Part IV
The Road to Infinity War - Part IV

Phase Two (Part 1) is available to read here.

Now that the majority of the lead characters had been given sequels, it was time for Marvel to shake things up and introduce the world to lesser known heroes. They also decided to experiment with their newly returned properties.

Marvel branched out their cinematic universe with two successful shows that aired on Netflix. These shows were aimed at an older audience with mature stories and darker tones, showing that Marvel could make more serious stories as well as the more family friendly movies.

Daredevil (2015) was the first show, which starred Charlie Cox as the blind lawyer trying to make his city a better place, with Vincent D’Onofrio on top form as Wilson Fisk the Kingpin. It was followed by Jessica Jones (2015), a detective noir series that starred Kristen Ritter as a former superhero suffering with PTSD being tormented by David Tennant’s sinister Kilgrave.

The second half of Phase Two properly introduced the audience to the all-powerful Infinity Stones, which will play the main McGuffin of Infinity War. For a complete list of the stones and where they currently are in the MCU click this link.

Marvel President Kevin Feige had decided to stick to a set structure for cinematic releases, with a sequel being followed by a new property each year, starting with Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014. The new property that followed was an interesting choice, and one that raised many eyebrows with what it contained.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

When Marvel announced they were making a movie featuring a talking tree and a racoon as two of its protagonists in a tale set to rival Star Wars, the audience thought Marvel had lost it. It came as a real surprise when the movie was not only good, but one of the best and funniest they had made to date.

Guardians of the Galaxy saw five misfits banding together to protect an orb with incredible powers, but when an intergalactic terrorist known as Ronan the Accuser threatens the universe with destruction, the guardians put everything on the line in a last and desperate attempt to stop him.

Directed by Super and Slither creator James Gunn and written by Gunn and Nicola Perlman, we are taken to the other side of the galaxy along with Peter Quill, who is abducted from Earth as a kid after his mother dies by the blue skinned Yondu, played by Michael Rooker.

Over 30 years later, Peter, now played by Parks and Recreation’s lovable Chris Pratt, is on the hunt for a mysterious orb to sell to a buyer. Unbeknownst to him, Djimon Hounsou’s gun for hire Korath the Pursuer is also on the trail.

Guardians was the first MCU movie to incorporate songs into its story telling, with Peter’s Walkman used regularly to play various pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Some of the songs include The Jackson Five’s “I Want you Back” and Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”, which plays over Peter dancing through an ancient tomb during the opening titles.

The Guardians consist of five members. They are: Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as the deadly assassin Gamora, Dave Bautista as the revenge driven Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper as weapons expert Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel as the lovable Groot, who’s vocabulary consists of three words: “I am Groot.”

After coming together during a prison break, they attempt to protect the orb from falling into the wrong hands by taking it to Benicio Del Toro’s Collector, returning from his brief introduction in Thor: The Dark World, who reveals its origins and we learn that the orb houses another Infinity Stone with the power to destroy entire planets.

This is the first movie to properly introduce the mad titan Thanos, now played by Deadpool 2’s Josh Brolin and hints at his master plan of collecting the six Infinity Stones, one of which Peter currently possess. To find the orb, Thanos sends out the hammer wielding Ronan the Accuser and his cyborg daughter Nebula.

Ronan is played by The Hobbit actor Lee Pace, a blue alien from the species known as the Kree. Nebula, a bald blue-skinned cyborg, is played by the Irish redhead and former Doctor Who actress Karen Gillian, who happens to be Gamora’s adopted sibling.

The movie takes us across the Universe to new worlds beyond what the Thor franchise ever could. We travel to the planet Xandar, home of the Nova Corp. lead by Glenn Close’s Nova Prime, and Knowhere, a mining colony in the gigantic severed head of an ancient celestial being.

The credit scenes, like Iron Man 3, don’t have much relevance to the wider MCU, with one featuring a dancing Groot hiding from Drax. The other introduces a minor character, voiced by Seth Green, who had previously appeared in his own self-titled movie in the 80’s, Howard the Duck.

Guardians of the Galaxy was disconnected from the rest of the MCU, but that didn’t mean that it had no effect over what would come. The following movie expanded the MCU’s knowledge of the Infinity Stones, whilst putting a strain on Earth’s mightiest heroes.


AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

When the first Avengers became the third highest grossing movie of all time, it was a no-brainer bringing director and writer Joss Whedon back on board to helm the sequel.

After witnessing a vision of what the future could hold, Tony Stark jump starts a peace-keeping programme that goes horribly wrong and creates Ultron, an A.I. android hell-bent on wiping the Avengers from existence with the aid of the enhanced Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

Like Iron Man 2, five years prior, Avengers: Age of Ultron attempts to weave together multiple stories in a short running time. We are introduced to three new heroes, encounter multiple villains and see the setups for many movies in Phase Three.

Yet again, Marvel managed to find a writer who was able to find a believable plot that could encompass all of these stories without it becoming a tangled mess, however, some elements can be a little disjointed and rushed.

Back when Joss Whedon was working on Avengers Assemble, he suggested where the sequel should go by featuring the mechanical menace Ultron. Voiced brilliantly by The Blacklist’s James Spader, Ultron is an intimidating force that was brought to life using the Mind Stone.

The Mind Stone is another of the six Infinity Stones, which was hidden in Loki’s sceptre. Ultron attempts to upgrade himself by using the mind stone to create a new version of himself, unfortunately for him, the Avengers stop him and help to create Paul Bettany’s good-guy android Vision instead.

We are properly introduced to Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver, whose abilities of telekinesis and super speed make a good change to the roster. Both are pretty accurate to their comic book counterparts, the only difference is their origins.

In the comics Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are Mutants and also happen to be the children of the master of metal himself, Magneto. Due to some problems with the rights to the X-Men franchise being owned by 20th Century Fox, the MCU versions are created after Baron von Strucker experiments on them using the mind stone.

When the Avengers finally locate where Ultron and the twins have fled to, we are introduced to future Black Panther antagonist Ulysses Klaue, portrayed by one of the greatest character actors today, Andy Serkis. Klaue is selling Vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth, from the Salvage Yard on the African Coast to the highest bidder, in this case: Ultron.

The movie takes a slight detour when Thor seeks out a pool of sight in London with the help of Stellen Skarsgård’s Erik Selvig, in order to piece together a vision he had, courtesy of the Scarlet Witch, involving the Infinity Stones, the birth of the Vision and the Norse apocalypse, Ragnarok.

Most of the film is focused on the characters and less so on the action, with one scene taking the team to Hawkeye’s small farm house to recuperate, and a sequence where the team are forced to see their worst fears by the Scarlet Witch, but when the action kicks off, it truly is satisfying.

The biggest action scene show the Avengers chasing down Ultron through the streets of Seoul in South Korea, the eagerly awaited throw down between an out of control Hulk and Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armour, and of course the epic final showdown in the city of Sokovia, which would play a big part in setting up the events of Captain America: Civil War.

Although this is still a solid addition, it did leave fans feeling underwhelmed, and after some controversy involving a few lines of dialogue and the portrayal of certain characters, this was the end for Joss Whedon with Marvel, leaving the fate of who would helm Infinity War in the air, until Anthony and Joe Russo were selected after their two Captain America movies.

The mid-credits scene is brief but sets the stage for Infinity War, with a vault slowly opening to reveal a gold gauntlet with six empty slots along the knuckles and back. Josh Brolin appears as Thanos and slips the gauntlet on announcing that he will “do it himself.” This is the last time he appears in the MCU before he tries to fulfil his plan of assembling the Infinity Gauntlet and shaping the universe to his will in Infinity War.

Phase One closed with the first Avengers, and many fans believed that Age of Ultron would do the same for Phase Two. However, Marvel had other, smaller plans.


ANT-MAN (2015)

It had been in the works since 2006 with Shaun of the Dead and Baby Driver director Edgar Wright, but in 2015 we finally got to see the astonishing Ant-Man get his big screen debut under the direction of Yes Man director Peyton Reed.

Scott Lang, a former thief is given the chance to redeem himself when Dr. Hank Pym enlists his skills to steal a dangerous weapon being developed by Pym’s former colleague as the astonishing Ant-Man.

Ant-Man was, if you pardon the pun, a smaller film compared to Age of Ultron. Scott was an incredibly relatable lead, with his main focus on wanting to see his daughter, who lives with her mother and step-dad.

Friends and Knocked Up actor Paul Rudd, leant his talents to the role of Scott, and was given co-script writing duties too, which he is set to do again with sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).

Ant-Man has the ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength and can communicate to hordes of ants using an EMP Communication Device in his helmet. Scott even uses a flying ant in order to get around quickly, which he affectionately names Anthony.

Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, is played by the incredible Michael Douglas, who has dedicated his time to the safekeeping of the formula for the Pym Particle, the reason Scott is able to shrink. But his fears are realised when his former work colleague Darren Cross manages to recreate the formula and intends to sell it as an infiltration weapon.

Darren is played by House of Cards actor Corey Stoll. He starts off as the standard man in a suit villain, but develops into something more as exposure to the Pym Particle alters his mind, driving him insane until he eventually suits up in his own shrinking tech, the Yellowjacket.

Evangeline Lilly makes an appearance as Hope van Dyne, the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne. Hope is quite resistant to working with Scott at first, but helps him train for his missions. She also wants to know what happened to her mother, who Hank insists died in a plane crash.

In an effort to distance the film away from the tone of the rest of the MCU, the movie acts as a heist film, with Ant-Man leading a small team in an attempt to steal the Yellowjacket and the particle before they are distributed.

His team consists of three crooks. They are David Dastmalchian’s Kurt, T.I.’s Dave and A Wrinkle in Time’s Michael Peña as the scene stealing Louis, who has a hilariously unique way of telling a story.

The movie expanded on the MCU in interesting ways, with a small cameo from Howard Stark, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, a fantastic scene involving Anthony Mackie’s Falcon at the new Avengers Facility, and there is even a small mention of a certain masked web-slinging menace.

Ant-Man also introduced other dimensions, more specifically, the Quantum Realm, a place beyond time as the inhabitant shrinks forever. This would later be expanded on in Phase Three with the Sorcerer Supreme himself Doctor Strange.

There are two credit scenes and both carry a significant impact over the future of the MCU. The first reveals that Hank had been working on a new Wasp suit for Hope, which both she and the fans say is “about damn time.” The Wasp is one of the original founding members of the Avengers back in 1963 and was originally meant to appear in Avengers Assemble, but was replaced with Black Widow.

The second scene showed a small clip from the next film in Marvel Studios’ pipeline, Captain America: Civil War. The scene shows Cap and the Falcon questioning the Winter Soldier about his past to see if the effects of his brainwashing have faded, but we would have to wait and see.



By the time 2015 ended, Phase Two had come to a close. There may have been a few bumps in the road, but phase two had proven that Marvel was a force to be reckoned with and that even their most obscure characters were destined for greatness. Something that would be explored further in Phase Three.



The Road to Infinity War: Phase Three (Part 1) is available to read here.



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