As of 1st December, I have seen the Ant-Man movie. I missed Cap2Ultron and Paul Rudd’s Marvel debut in cinemas but I’m finally caught up and ready to get my Civil War on. Yes. Let’s do it.

I much prefer my epic fiction to be as contained as possible, so that you get all the excitement of a sprawling and intricate fantasy with minimal effort. Star Wars had an expanded universe that you could keep up with if you like terrible books and the films just weren’t enough for you. You could get by on just The Lord of the Rings and maybe the Hobbit, but no one needs to read the extraneous stuff unless you want a nerd-off with Colbert on American TV.

Comics are and were far too much work to keep up with. There’s history, there are interweaving stories and there’s an awful lot of material being released every week. You can buy the key stories as trade paperbacks or whatever, but you’re not gonna get away from the fact that the X-Men story your reading is an advert for some Fantastic Four story too. There’ll likely be a clumsy aside mentioning how Aunt May once kissed Omega Red then an asterisk leading to that most horrible message

*See The Delicious Daredevil: Adventures in Super-Tasting #145 – Ed.

So the implication is… what? Do I track down a copy of Daredevil’s experiments in home cooking just so I know what relevance Aunt May’s seduction of evil mutants has on… I can’t even remember what I was reading.

Ah, film. Films don’t have this problem. We had Spider-Man and X-Men doing their separate things and then Marvel/Disney opened a portal to everybody’s wallets. Fortunately, I’ve enjoyed all the Marvel films and the way they tie together really excites me, for I will always be enthused by childish things. But it feels like it’s getting out of hand.

Apparently, for me to be truly caught up with the MCU, I need to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Agent Carter, and at least two Netflix series. “Oh boo hoo, ‘there’s too many nice things for me to watch’. What a wonderful problem for you to have”. Thank you for your condescension, hypothetical conversation partner, but it’s kind of the reason I’ve never been invested in the comics for any serious amount of time.

The Marvel films and series have formed a web of reliance, where you need to be fully clued in to really appreciate them. Imagine if Power Rangers needed you to be up-to-date for them to sell the toys to you. Last time I watched it one of the Zords was a fire engine. I’d be screwed, I wouldn’t know WHAT toys they were selling to me, and the Marvel films are no different.

Only they’re not just selling toys (if they’re selling toys at all, I can’t comment on that), they’re selling the other films and media. The comics, films, series, videogames are all supporting each other. Now Disney has Star Wars, they’re almost inevitably going to bring Indiana Jones back at some point, it seems like they’re aiming for a monopoly on the cultural consumptions of people that like these things. Which is everyone, isn’t it?

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