Five Marvel Comics events to read if you’re lost in the MCU’s multiversal madness

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Civil War Art #1 by Steve McNiven.

Civil War Art #1 by Steve McNiven.

Combing through panels of major Marvel Comics crossovers to find crucial reference points for what’s playing out — and what may still be on the horizon — in the MCU.

With wonder wrap up what is currently the studio’s final TV series of the year – She-Hulk: Lawyer Season One – The MCU’s Phase 4 will be pushed into its 56th hour of runtime. For those who count, it’s already two Black Panther longer sequels than the previous three phases combined, and that’s not even factoring in the second season of the What if…? animated series expected at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, the real Black Panther sequel released on November 11, or the standalone Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special, which will wrap up this wildly bloated saga when it lands on Disney+ sometime in December.

With so many minutes to record and threads to follow across Marvel IP’s endless sprawl, it’s nearly impossible to trace Kevin Feige’s bell and Disney’s master plan for the splintered, but loosely overlapping, segments. of the MCU. And, frankly, the liberties taken with the source material don’t make it any easier. However, despite a severe lack of canon fidelity in Writer’s Rooms, the comic panels that inspired the current and future phases remain a singular source of context for what’s playing – and what may yet be to come. the horizon – in the MCU. After all, we’re only just beginning to get hints of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four slowly seeping into the MCU, as both teams contributed integrally to stories already turned into hit adaptations.

How Feige & Co. Navigate Introducing These Key Players As They Participate In Ambitious Events Like Secret Wars, Secret Invasionand whatever else they have planned for The Richards Family (and Doom, of course) once they’re firmly in the MCU, should determine just how much The Marvel Multiverse will expand over the next few years. And so, instead of fixating on where, when, or even why we landed in a perpetually frayed state of dimensional imbalance and how the missing pieces will fall into place, we combed through major Marvel Comics crossover events from last two about. decades to find crucial reference points for those who might be lost in the multiversal madness of the MCU.

Many of them will seem obvious; with a few exceptions, the MCU doesn’t tend to pull obscure leads. And there are so many elements of already adapted stories that have just been nurtured, that hitting the books will prove an invaluable resource for keeping your eyes on an endgame, no matter how quickly Feige accelerates. his cinematographic universe capped and costumed.

Head over to Marvel to pick up the digital versions. But in many cases, the art alone is worth the trip to your local store (or even eBay), and it’s highly advisable to seek out hard copies if you can.

Six(ish) Marvel Comics events to read if you're lost in the madness of the MCU

Marvel Comics’ House of M #7 art by Oliver Coipel

House of M

While this isn’t exactly source code for the direction Marvel has taken with the character, Wanda Vision (and the general breadth of Wanda Maximoff’s abilities/implications across the MCU) is at least loosely inspired by Brian Michael Bendis’ 2005 run in a mutant-dominated Marvel Comics alternate universe. The main links between the House of M pages and the screen adaptation, are Wanda’s sudden escalation into a reality-bending universal threat, and how her grief has defined this transformation, which has been the impending tragedy of the Scarlet Witch’s current status in the MCU. Beyond that, Wolverine’s pursuit of reuniting the X-Men following Wanda’s “big moment” could serve as a way to properly introduce the team into the MCU. That is, if the writing team doesn’t go for something less obvious/more contemporary like John Hickman’s stellar House of X/Powers of X relaunch in 2018 (or some weird hybridization of the two), as a multiversal origin story for mutantkind.

Marvel Comics Civil War #1 art by Steve McNiven.

Marvel Comics Civil War #1 art by Steve McNiven.

Civil war

The 2016 film may seem like a relic at this point, but we’re still living in a post-Civil war MCU. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are absent. The capped populous is fractured along a number of philosophical and metaphysical lines. And we’re only just beginning to see how what’s left of those teams are deliberating on the merits of remaining anonymous vigilantes, as opposed to living open and transparent as superpowered officials. This final track is at the heart of Mark Millar’s colossal (and categorically epic) Civil war crossover, which spanned nearly every corner of the Marvel map and redefining “bond” as we know it, when it first started hitting shelves in 2006. Although the MCU had no “incident of Stamford” or “Superhero Registration Act” verbatim to polarize his ruling people, the Sokovia Accords introduced in Captain America: Civil War perform the same regulatory function in the governance of the MCU. It feels like we’re headed toward a callback to that, and how heroes navigate the moral, social, and political math of being a public figure with savage abilities. In Millar’s story, tensions and ideological divisions pit the heroes of “Big Brother” against other “blue-collar” suits, led by a street-level team that includes Daredevil, Spider-Man and Luke Cage. , all three of which, based on the titles slated for Phases 5, 6, and 7, will likely play a pretty pivotal role in the Earthbound MCU’s future. So don’t be surprised if other aspects of Millar’s panels are blown up for the big and small screen.

Six(ish) Marvel Comics events to read if you're lost in the madness of the MCU

Cover of Marvel Comics Secret Invasion #1 by Lenil Francis Yu.

Secret Invasion

While we can’t yet say which parts of Bendis’ thrilling multi-angle alien infiltration will factor into Feige’s cinematic reckoning, there is a series inspired by Secret Invasion is coming to Disney in 2023, and it’s a great opportunity to add a new style of storytelling to Marvel’s bag. Bendis’s 2008 run was a conspiratorial investigation of intergalactic proportions, identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in the hero community uncovered during Civil war, while sowing the seeds of distrust and paranoia among them. Handled correctly, a small-screen adaptation of Secret Invasion could be the first step in expanding Marvel’s Cosmic Diet just like JGuardians of the Galaxy prepare for their release, while providing additional exposure for a (re)introduction of the Illuminati, who tend to make some pretty terrible decisions on behalf of the planet.

Six(ish) Marvel Comics events to read if you're lost in the madness of the MCU-5

Art from Marvel Comics’ World War Hulk #1 by David Finch.

Planet Hulk / World War Hulk

Speaking of the Illuminati, should you end up reading Secret Invasion Where Civil war, you’ll probably notice the suspicious absence of a certain green rage monster smashing through all the ruckus. This would be a direct result of the shadowy supergroup deeming it too dangerous to stay on Earth, and then launching it into space to fend for itself on a distant planet, which is the subject of Greg Pak’s 2006 run. Planet Hulk. In the MCU, we saw a rough adaptation of this in Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnorok. But based on the surprising conclusion of She-Hulk: Lawyer, it’s safe to say that Hulk’s time rising through the ranks, starting a family, and ultimately leading society in Sakaar has prompted renewed scrutiny. Paired with the Avenger Sequel world war hulkPak’s Two Irons on the Hulk’s transition from unhinged and volatile to smooth-talking and weirdly sophisticated, is an exciting and empathetic read that should offer plenty of context for what may be on the horizon for the Jade Giant in the MCU.

Comic Events to Read if You're Lost in the MCU Madness

Art from Marvel Comics Secret Wars #2 by Alex Ross.

Secret Wars

Finally, we’ve reached what could be considered the holy grail of Marvel Comics crossovers. Told through three years of releases and nearly a decade of world building and destruction, Jon Hickman’s Secret Wars arc is the big, rather dark reset that a frayed and overly convoluted Marvel printed universe was probably always destined for. It collapses all multiversal madness into a unique and disastrous circumstance, in which Doctor Doom recreates the world from a dying universe and becomes a literal god after absorbing the powers of an entity that exists beyond the fabric of space and time. Due to licensing and legalities, much of this Secret Wars the covers have yet to be explored on screen. However, the first traces of Secret Wars fodder have already been spotted in the MCU with the introduction of forays (or two terminally colliding realities) into Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. That means we’re likely on track for a cleanup of similar scale and impact in the cinematic universe. The good news is that you have about four years to assimilate that many Secret Wars series as you deem necessary. The slightly less good news is that you’ll probably need all this time to go through all the links, supporting components and peripheral details of a story that Hickman started writing with his absolutely essential Fanstastic Four reboot in 2009. .

Lisa M. Horner