As Captain American: Civil War takes the U.S. by storm on Friday, Marvel’s Phase 3 will begin in earnest in North America. An exemplar to other shared-universe builders, their first two Phases marked a different approach to cinema which launched what has been titled the Golden Age of superhero cinema. However, Marvel hasn’t been without its criticisms thus far.
And if there’s anything the MCU has been faulted for, it’s the lack of compelling villains. Marvel scribes Steve McFeely and Chris Markus understand this critique and plan to address it going forth into Avengers: Infinity War.
In an interview with JoBlo (via CBR) the Civil War and Infinity War writers address the one-dimensional-villain issue in their cinematic universe. Part of the main problem with many MCU antagonists, the pair says, is their overall importance to the films. Each solo picture, like their co-written Captain America: The Winter Solider, is usually focused on developing the main characters, like Steve Rogers or Tony Stark. McFeely says:
“The early phases were all origin stories. It tends to create a similar villain. When it is no longer an origin story, I think you might have a little bit more freedom to create different villains. I'm sensitive to the problem. I get it. But it wasn’t Robert Redford’s story, it was 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier.' It wasn't the Red Skull's journey, it was the journey of one guy going from ninety pound weakling to American hero and then going into the ice."
Part of the challenge, the writers say, is finding adequate time to digest the lives and problems of one or more characters the filmmakers want audiences to care about over several films. The more origin stories the writers pack into a film, the more viewers' attentions are separated from the main thrust of the film. Now that most of Marvel’s heroes are fully established, the two-stage soon-to-be-retitled Avengers: Infinity War can address the one-dimensional nemesis concern. McFeely added:
“In a 120-minute movie it is difficult, and Thanos will possibly change that, but you want time spent. Excuse me for going on a tangent but I love the Marvel Netflix shows because you have so much more time to spend with your villains. It's literally minutes and hours spent. We have 120-minutes and 'Jessica Jones' had how ever many it had."
The writers also address the alterations to characters and plot, which every comic goes through as its adapted for the MCU – and how Infinity War and Thanos will face this as well. McFeely explains:
“We tend to take the ingredients and make a different meal out of it. 'Winter Soldier' owes a great deal to the [Ed] Brubaker run but it's not the Brubaker run. 'Civil War' owes a great deal to [Mark] Millar, but it's not close to the 'Civil War' run. So we'll do the same thing with Thanos and his gauntlet."
While it’s understandable to favor a heroic character or characters, it’s also important to create a villain who keeps fans riveted. McFeely, Markus, and the MCU will take steps in the right direction if they can round out Marvel’s classic villain Thanos for Infinity War. Through countless films, audiences have fallen in love with the characters and nuances of the Avengers (separate or together). However, with the debatable exception of Ultron, Loki, and a couple other baddies, most of Marvel’s film villains haven’t truly stood out.
But as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. With a whole host of new and established superheroes joining the fray in whatever the Infinity War films will be called, McFeely and Markus should have a spare few moments to delve into Thanos’ backstory. Even if the Phase 3-ender is too action-packed for backstory, there are also several more standalones on their way, including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain Marvel, which could at offer Easter eggs about the method behind the galactic terror’s madness.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.