The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Examining a Post-Endgame World (Roundtable)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Women's and Gender Studies

Lindsay Bryde (SUNY Empire State College)

This roundtable will be looking holistically at perspectives on the first twenty-two films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). A promise of an epic adventure was made at the end of 2008’s Iron Man, when Nick Fury brought on his first recruit, and it was reaffirmed when audiences were shown what prompted him to devise the concept at the end of Captain Marvel. This arc will be brought to completion with Avenger’s Endgame. Now would be a good time to look back and assess which gambles have worked and/or failed now that a full narrative arc has been completed.

Over the course of time, many big and small characters have been adapted and redefined for modern audiences from their comic book origins. This has been particularly true thanks to Marvel Production’s dedication to finding directors who put their distinct imprint on their respective films while finding pockets to maintain continuity. This was certainly evident in Avengers Infinity War, which showed all the calling cards of The Russo Brothers (Winter Soldier, Civil War) prior films and then layered in the aesthetic choices of Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) when the action moved to Wakanda.

Each film has been a leap of faith to see how willing audiences could be tested. Where can the story continue with the next phase? Marvel has been reticent to reveal their full slate of upcoming productions (to avoid spoilers and temper expectations). In the upcoming months, quite a bit will be announced to indicate where the franchises are moving independently and alongside each other. As a result, the roadmap for critical discourse will be getting set. This session will allow participants to look at the series either as a whole or within particular corners of the universe to jumpstart this conversation.

This roundtable will be looking holistically at perspectives on the first 22 films in the MCU. This arc will be brought to completion with Avenger’s Endgame. Now would be a good time to look back and assess which gambles have worked and/or failed now that a narrative arc has been completed. Participants are encouraged to consider the MCU both as a whole as well as specific franchises under the overall banner.