(SPOILERS for the entire MCU to date. Including Loki.)
So I’m freaking thrilled by the news that Anthony Mackie has locked up a deal to star in a new Captain America movie. There are many reasons. First, it’s important that African-American kids get to see a badass hero who looks like them. I had that growing up, and they deserve the same. Second, it’s important that I be around so I can hear the heads of racists exploding when the movie opens. These are the two biggest reasons to be sure.
But there’s also this. And I’ve been talking about since the MCU became a thing. It’s so important that the MCU moves forward. You need this from a business sense because eventually the actors are going to get old or tired or old and tired. Or too pricey. I mean…let’s face it, if you were going to have to spend that much time dieting and exercising your arse off to play a superhero, you’d want to get paid well for it too. And if you have characters who can step up to pick up the mantle (i.e. Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson), then you have your next hero built-in. Compare this to The Walking Dead, where apparently they were simply in denial that one day their lead would want to do something else, and as a result they had to scramble to fill the void.
And if it moves forward, you escape from the hamster wheel that the comics find themselves in. I think only recently they’ve started not to care how many Spider-Men they have running around–and I have no idea how long that will last–but for decades you’ve seen a struggle between continuity and progression…and Peanuts.
In Peanuts, none of the kids ever get any older. (I’m sure there might be a couple of rare occasions, since I know there were some changes over the five decades the strip ran.) It takes place in a sort of time limbo, where things just stay the same. And that makes sense. It’s a comic strip. If you try to tell an ongoing story in a comic strip, in my opinion, you run into the problem of Prince Valiant, where every Sunday you get about fifteen seconds worth of story. But I digress, albeit only slightly.
Both Marvel and DC always return to the status quo in the comics. Tony Stark will always come back to being Iron Man. Steve Rogers will always come back to being Captain America. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy alternate universe stories that take place within continuity (i.e. Age of Apocalypse or House of M) because they are going to snap back to “normal,” but before that happens, the writers get to actually take the gloves off.
But the MCU showed early on they were fine with moving forward. After setting up SHIELD as the bedrock that everything was based on, they blew it up in Winter Soldier. I found that extremely impressive and ballsy. SHIELD has never really come back around to playing the same role they did before. In the comics, that could have lasted as little as six months.
I know not everybody liked it, but I was thrilled with the five year time jump in Endgame. And I was waiting the entire film for Tony to have to make a decision that would reverse everything and make it all normal and then no one would remember it had ever happened except for a few chosen characters and…then they made the five years stick. That never would have happened in the comics.
And most recently, in Loki they basically blew up reality and opened up the multiverse. Another decision they can’t well reverse. And, smartly, they followed up now with What If?, expanding on the idea of variants as presented in Loki. And showing the audience, “Hey, this multiverse stuff can be fun! Check this out!”
And I know that some people like the time limbo version of things. And I totally get that. But in the comics, they need to decide. They seem to swing back and forth between “new ideas and fresh starts!” and “oh crap! back it up! reboot!” If they picked one and stuck with it, that would be so much easier to handle.
Anyway, all of that to say they appear to have chosen for the MCU and they have chosen wisely. If they want to bring Chris Evans back as Steve Rogers in a supporting role or even doing a side Captain America project with more WWII adventures? That sounds great. But for now they appear to be moving forward and doing it in the right way. And I’m so happy about it. Have I mentioned that? That I’m happy about it? Because I’m happy about it.