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While all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are interconnected, there was a fun aspect to some of the Phase One films that we haven't seen repeated in recent years. While most of the blockbusters have their own distinct place on the canon timeline roughly based on the movie's release date, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk actually all take place around the exact same time (as evidenced by both plot points and Easter eggs). It was such a cool trick that I felt compelled to ask Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige about it during an interview last week, and he explained why overlapping storylines isn't really something that we see anymore. Said Feige,
I think people like to talk about our long term plans, which we certainly have. But very rarely do those long term plans dictate the specificity of any individual film. It's usually the opposite. It's focusing on a story, and focusing on the individual movie that we're making to do what's best. And then, if something changes that we weren't quite expecting down the line because it was made for a better movie, then we deal with it down the line. I think that's what happened in Phase One. We were telling those stories and having the crossover of Nick Fury talking about the Southwest Region, when the hammer fell...
I spoke with Kevin Feige last week at the Los Angeles press day for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and while most of his answer in this particular area was his stock answer to most questions about cameos and cross-franchise tie-ins, the bit at the end is an interesting bit of trivia about the development of Phase 1. The executive/producer suggests that it wasn't necessarily the original intention to have those titles crossover on the timeline, but that it wound up being an idea that they felt was worth playing with.
For those who don't remember the exact details, the middle movies of Marvel's Phase One did some clever things with the young big screen comic book franchise. While the events of Iron Man 2 take place immediately after the first movie, there is evidence in both The Incredible Hulk and Thor that the stories are all happening generally at the same time. As Kevin Feige points out, the whole deal with Agent Coulson traveling to New Mexico was because he was investigating the Mjolnir crash site, but the Hulk reference is much more subtle. In the scene with Tony Stark and Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man 2, a screen can be seen broadcasting the same news report that is shown in the Louis Leterrier feature after the big green monster tears up a college campus. Sadly, we haven't seen any timeline crossover like this since then.
As much as us Marvel geeks would like to see more of this in future MCU movies, it is understandable why it doesn't happen that often. On beyond Kevin Feige's comments about individual approaches to individual titles, the fact that the studio is now working on so many films simultaneously changes the game as well. It wasn't too much of a challenge to have Incredible Hulk, Thor and Iron Man 2 connect because those were the only plates that were spinning back then. Now there are 10 movies coming out in the span of just four years, which is exponentially harder to manage.
Do you miss the timeline crossover in Marvel Studios movies, or was this something that you never even thought about before reading this article? Hit the comments below with your thoughts, and stay tuned for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's arrival in theaters next Friday, May 5th.