The Death of the MCU Origin Story

As the end of Phase 2 approaches in a little over a month, we look to the beginnings of Phase 3. The fullest of the phases so far, Phase 3 will begin a new era in Marvel, rapidly expanding the Universe and introducing numerous characters. The approach of these films, however, is going to be different than the other movies of the MCU. Let me explain.

For the most part, the films we have seen have been origin stories. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were all origin stories. Guardians of the Galaxy was also an origin story, although to a lesser degree. The Incredible Hulk is a notable exception, starting years after the accident, but I will attribute that to the attempt to differentiate the film from its 2003 counterpart. Phase 1 and 2 were origin stories.

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This is the general formula for superhero films as we know it. Even across the isle in DC, the origin story is the basic formula for the superhuman movies. Despite that, Phase 3 is looking already as if it will be breaking this rule. Although not guaranteed, almost none of the films in this next phase look like they will be origin stories.

Spider-Man is the obvious example. Marvel has stated that their new reboot will not be an origin story for Spider-Man, but will start with him with his powers. I understand that, as we have seen two origins of him on the big screen.

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Doctor Strange has already been mentioned in a list of hero-type characters during Cap 2. This implies that at this point Doctor Strange has already become Sorceror Supreme. Unless the film takes place in a previous time or through flashbacks, Doctor Strange will not be an origin story (not to say his origin won’t be mentioned, but it will not be the primary focus).

Black Panther may be an origin story, but it will not be the first appearance of Black Panther. He is already cast in Civil War, which will be before the solo movie. Even if his film is an origin of some sort, our first glimpse of him will be in another film. It’s a different approach than we have seen so far.

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The Inhumans have already been introduced. It’s unclear how much will be revealed in Agents of SHIELD, but our first knowledge of the Inhumans has already been revealed. We are watching something of an origin story already. This presents an interesting debate of how much the film will rely on Agents of SHIELD. Too much hints on SHIELD will turn away new viewers. Too little will not do justice to the show. Quickly, to note, this technically is the first film of Phase 4, but the principle still applies.

Ant-Man is the closest to an origin story we have. It’s the origin story of Scott Lang, but the powers will already exist in the Universe. We are still entering into a film where Ant-Man has previously existed.

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These films all demonstrate the death of the origin story in the MCU. I left out Captain Marvel, because we don’t know anything about it yet. As a general rule, this represents a shift in the approach of MCU films. Instead of creating more in the Universe, they are unveiling it, working with a tad bit of retcon as they do it.

The tough part of this approach is that it has almost no precedent in comic book movies. There has been almost no superhero movie without some form of origin story within it. This approach has not been done or even attempted (granted, an argument could be made for Hellboy or Watchmen).

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They attempted to introduce this concept in portions of Guardians. 4 of the 5 Guardians were not given origins, but the cosmic approach made this approach more probable. It will be interesting to see the approach enacted on Earth, where we have seen over 10 films on this location.

What do you think? Do you care about the different approach? Do you miss the origin story? Will it work? Sound off in the poll below, but for now, only time will tell.

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2 responses to “The Death of the MCU Origin Story

  1. Ant-man is technically still part of Phase 2, and I guess it counts as origin story to a certain degree.

    Otherwise, I really don’t care. Whatever fits.

  2. Backstories are important, but I wouldn’t say the origin of every character is absolutely necessary. Personally, I appreciate this new approach because I think it really shows off great storytelling skills when a wrtier/director can integrate backstory and help viewers understand a character’s past while focusing on a completely different, possibly more Universe-ally necessary story. We are more apt to love a character if we understand their perspective, and a lot of that comes from watching a character grow throughout their ‘origin.’ However, I am looking forward to the branching out of Marvel into this new style. And the kinds of characters we will meet through it.

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