Comics on Film: What the Ultimate Marvel Fan Can Do Before the Ultimate MCU Marathon

Comics on Film: What the Ultimate Marvel Fan Can Do Before the Ultimate MCU Marathon

Mar 16, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War
We're now just only a month-and-a-half away from the global premiere of Avengers: Infinity War, the ten-year culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will team up the vast majority of casts from every single MCU film as the heroes prepare to clash with the Mad Titan, Thanos.
Chances are that the biggest MCU fans are counting down the days – if not the hours – until the point when they'll be able to watch the next Avengers epic, and AMC Theatres has quite a treat for the hardest of the hardcore.
Coming to public attention online yesterday from a few outlets (including Digital Trends), AMC Theatres nationwide will be playing host to an unprecedented 18 movie marathon of every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will then be capped off by the latest entry in the decade-long series featuring the massive team-up in Infinity War. That's a grand total of over 38 hours in a movie theater, taking in the full MCU – from Iron Man all the way up to Black Panther – and including the latest epic.
Are you crazy enough to actually buy a ticket to such a bonkers event? Are you the absolute biggest MCU fan that walks the face of the earth? Well, if so, here are a few things we recommend you do (besides drinking a gallon of water and stretching) to get the most out of your full MCU journey.
Read Marvel's MCU Tie-in Comics
Iron Man
While it's not entirely clear how much time you'll have in-between the end of each film and the beginning of the next one during the marathon, Marvel Comics has been publishing tie-in comics for their films at least since the release of 2010's Iron Man 2. Because of that, one way to kill time during the end credits of one movie before the next one begins is to read each appropriate tie-in series, to get the "full" story along with all of the movies.
Thankfully, you can do this without lugging a giant sack full of paperback graphic novels under your arm, since the vast majority of these tie-in series are available through the Marvel Unlimited service, basically a "Netflix for comics" that allows you to bring up the vast majority of individual issues from the company's superhero back catalog going — back to around the 1940's — for about $10 a month.
Captain America: The First Avenger
As Iron Man is ending, for instance, you'd be able to log into Marvel Unlimited on your smartphone and call up issues #1-4 of Iron Man 2: Public Identity to get a fuller story of the partnership between Howard Stark and Ivan Vanko. Similar mini-series also deal with the lead-in and aftermath of films like Thor: The Dark WorldGuardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers films, Doctor StrangeSpider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok.
For the full list of applicable series, check out this list via Wikipedia, and be sure to have a fully active Marvel Unlimited subscription and app on your device as you head into the theater! For more recent comics-based tie-ins for films like Black Panther and Infinity War itself, you can purchase those series digitally either through the same app or ComiXology.
Watch Marvel's "One-Shot" Short Films
All Hail the King
One of the better "expanded universe" explorations of MCU characters are the five short films they call "One-Shots." These are short films that do a wonderful job of fleshing out other events and characters in the world, and since there are only five of them, it's certainly manageable to watch them all.
Here's the problem: unfortunately, the One-Shots themselves haven't been made available on any official channels for people who have bought digital copies of the MCU films. So, if you want to watch the shorts themselves, you'll have to yank out your MCU Blu-rays ahead of the marathon. Here are each of the five One-Shots, where they take place in the MCU timeline, and which Blu-ray you can find them on:
  1. The Consultant, takes place after The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, found on the Blu-ray for Thor.
  2. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer, taking place after Iron Man 2, found on the Blu-ray for Captain America: The First Avenger.
  3. Item 47, taking place after and found on the Blu-ray for The Avengers.
  4. Agent Carter, taking place after Captain America: The First Avenger and found on the Blu-ray for Iron Man 3.
  5. All Hail the King, taking place after Iron Man 3 and found on the Blu-ray for Thor: The Dark World.
These One-Shots feature such fan-favorite characters as Agent Carter and Phil Coulson, who both became stars of later Marvel-affiliated TV shows, as well as some greater context to events like Tony Stark's meeting with General Ross, the immediate aftermath of some alien evidence in The Avengers, and a very interesting new look at the man who called himself The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 (which features another hilarious performance by Sir Ben Kingsley).
Don't Worry About the TV Shows
Marvel's Agents of Shield
While shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter were originally envisioned to be more solidly intertwined with the events of the MCU films, the shows and the films have increasingly diverged as time has gone on. Sure, it's interesting seeing the show react to the events of Thor: The Dark World or deal with the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but more and more these shows seem to be operating much more in their own corner than anything else.
The same is true of the (generally better) Netflix shows, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Punisher. While there are a few aspects of these shows that seem to indicate that they all take place in the same shared universe as the larger films, none of the story content even attempts to cross over one way or another, and prominent MCU members have even gone on record saying that TV and movie cross-pollination shouldn't be looked for too hard by fans.
So, while you may be tempted to watch season recaps on YouTube or to watch some episodes to see how Infinity War may reflect these smaller aspects of the universe, don't worry about it. The movies and TV shows are pretty much doing their own things at this point.

So, for those of you brave enough to sit in a movie theater for nearly two days watching nothing but Marvel movies, please do your seat neighbor a favor and bring a stick of deodorant and a toothbrush, remember to stretch after every movie, and enjoy the full MCU. However it turns out, I'm sure your experience will, at the very least, be memorable.
Seriously, though: stretching. And deodorant.

Chris Clow is a comics expert/former retailer, and pop culture critic/commentator. He hosts two podcasts: Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast and Comics on Consoles. Find his column "Comics on Film" weekly at, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.


Categories: Comics, Features, Geek, Editorials
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