When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with 2008's original Iron Man film, few people realized that the first appearance of Nick Fury in the inaugural Marvel Studios post-credits scene would've led to something so monumental. It's actually kind of hard now to think about a superhero film climate without the massive shared universe's presence, since it's existed for nearly a decade by now.
In 2008, the big superhero movies that arrived that summer were the aforementioned Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and that was also the summer that gave us The Dark Knight. We were only two years removed from entries like X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns, with both of those franchises being in precarious positions by the time the MCU debuted. Now, though, we know that cameras have begun rolling on Marvel Studios' most ambitious crossover film yet.
They even gave us a look at that film with this very brief entry from the set of the now in-production Avengers: Infinity War. Take a look.
The Single Biggest Marvel Movie Yet
In addition to Marvel's Kevin Feige giving us just the slightest hint at the possibilities that come with the Avengers meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, seeing Tom Holland on the set definitely helps to elevate the proceeding as a truthful, all-encompassing Marvel crossover. Spider-Man doesn't often fully lead the charge in many of Marvel Comics' biggest crossover events, but he generally has some pretty memorable roles to play. In the original Secret Wars, we got our very first look at his black symbiote costume, and who can forget when he unmasked himself in the original Civil War comic book series?
Seeing an image of Rocket Raccoon fighting alongside Thor, the God of Thunder also makes a lot of interesting character interactions possible by parsing that out. Do you think Drax will get along with the Hulk? How will the quick tongues of Iron Man and Rocket clash? Will Captain America be able to look past the whimsical witticisms of Star-Lord? Will Gamora be able to work on an even bigger team than the smaller one she's already had trouble with?
Of course, the threat that will unify all of these heroes together is Thanos, as played by Josh Brolin. Thanos has been teased ever since the conclusion of the original Avengers film, and even pre-dates the moment in the MCU when we realized that the films were oriented toward the "Infinity Stones:" the celestial objects of power that, when unified, can allow their wielder to virtually become an omnipotent god. We detailed the Stones and their places in both the movies and the comics in a previous edition of this article, but the threat represented by the unity of the Stones onto the gauntlet of Thanos is certainly a threat big enough to warrant the unification of all the heroes we've seen across all the MCU films thus far.
Can Infinity War Possibly Live Up to the Hype?
This is a key question as we move through the rest of 2017, and into 2018 when the massive crossover film will finally bow in theaters. Interestingly enough, a similar question was asked way back in 2012 right before the premiere of the first Avengers film. Back then, the idea of a tightly-woven cinematic shared universe was an unusual – and largely unprecedented – prospect. Ultimately, The Avengers was the film that solidified the power of the Marvel brand even more than the breakout success of Iron Man.
Joss Whedon's first Marvel film did a significant amount of work to bring even the most ardent doubters of Marvel's mission into the fold. At the time, The Avengers was billed as "total payoff" to the films that encompass what we now know as "Phase One." We didn't realize at the time just how much the scale of the stories could be increased, but in the last five years, the scale has increased exponentially while still, amazingly, not getting out of hand.
While the superhero films themselves have all been blockbuster powerhouses, the effort in Guardians of the Galaxy likely did the most in laying the groundwork for the galactic scale that Infinity War will continue and expand upon. When coupled with strides made in the superhero side of things with films like Captain America: Civil War and quirkier pieces like Doctor Strange, scale is certainly not an element that the films have a problem with.
In our review of Civil War last year, we called it the most direct representation of a comic book crossover come to life. With the same creative team in the director's chair(s) and on the screenplay, it's hard not to feel the excitement that comes with the confidence of a proven series. Can Infinity War live up to the hype? Yes, it certainly can. Let's just hope that the planning for this largely-spanning entry is the most impeccable we've seen from the series thus far.
I wouldn't bet against it.
Avengers: Infinity War will hit theaters on May 4, 2018. It's shooting now.