What if… Marvel’s Third Phase went like this?

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Since the dawn of time my people have observed the universe. I have seen its glory and its folly, its trimuph and its tragedy. Observed… but never interfered… not like Uatu who lives next door and keeps saying he won’t interfere but keeps on doing it. Yet I shall not, for I am… The Watcher’s Neighbour.

Behold, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its pure majesty and wonder. Since Iron Man it has succeeded beyond the studio’s wildest dreams and every film has been a successful part of building the bigger picture… even The Incredible Hulk, although just try explaining that to the studio bosses who don’t want to make another one right now. Their plans are in motion and have scheduled their cinematic future until 2019.

But this is on your world, and The Watcher’s Neighbour sees all worlds – alternate worlds, parallel realities where such events have played out differently. In another universe these films have already been made and enjoyed. Fans have cheered, viewers have cried, and so we must ask ourselves “What if Marvel’s Third Phase went like this?”

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron had succeeded, although the events in it shocked the world. While the Avengers stood victorious and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch had redeemed themselves, the heroes were appalled at the carnage Tony Stark’s creation Ultron had wreaked. Captain America claimed that they should be held accountable for their actions, but Tony Stark convinced the Scarlet Witch to use her reality-altering powers to ensure that the public forgot who created the villain. Disgusted with his actions, Captain America left the team. So too did Thor, knowing of Captain America’s moral worth when his ally nearly lifted Mjolnir. The Avengers disassembled, while rumours of Stark re-forming SHIELD began to circle.

In Ant-Man, Henry Pym revealed himself to be a former colleague of the late Howard Stark and who worked on the original Ultron project with him. This much was already evident to Scott Lang, who took on the mantle of Ant-Man from the aging Pym, but the post credits teaser of the original Ant-Man being taken prisoner many years ago raised many questions and set in motion Marvel’s Phase Three.

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Captain America: Civil War was huge, and while the entire Civil War story from the comic books couldn’t be covered, Tony Stark was painted as the villain in a film that divided the fans. Cameos from countless other heroes added to the bigger picture. As witnessed, Stark was appointed head of SHIELD and jettisoned the Hulk into space, although the biggest surprise was seeing Captain America dying.

Doctor Strange was indeed a strange film, but a brilliant one. While it made a nice change of pace after the intensity of Civil War, his spirit walk to all realms gave those who viewed it some breathtaking footage of Marvel films past, present and future, from Hulk now on an alien world to Loki ruling Asgard and the appearance of the Kree aliens and even the Infinity Gems.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was another fun interstellar adventure, and in a tale that covered both Star-Lord’s father and their aid to Adam Warlock’s quest it was still astonishing how much they managed to show regarding the Kree and the hints of their old foes the Skrulls. Those shot-down rumours of the Guardians encountering the Hulk may have proven true, but the green goliath’s presence was felt in the cryptic message that “He is returning to Earth” in the post credits sequence, and the many other references of the new king of planet Sakaar.

Thor: Ragnarok was one of the biggest surprises, for being a perfect bookend to Thor’s solo Asgardian tales as well as showing the big picture regarding what’s been happening on Earth in his absence. Yes, seeing his fight alongside his brother Loki and father Odin against Amora the Enchantress and Surtur was impressive, and Loki’s decision not to return to Asgard at the end was poignant, but the fallout was even bigger. The movie’s title not only implied the end of days for Asgard but was also a subtle reference to the Civil War story from the comics. Did anybody see that coming, the Stark-controlled clone called Ragnarok, after Thor pulled the superhero equivalent of taking his ball and going home?

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Black Panther seemed odd, even despite his appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Still, explaining that his country of Wakanda was the source of vibranium for the whole planet had to be done, and set up the state the superheroes in the Marvel universe before…

Avengers: The Infinity War part 1 hit. Thanos in pursuit of the Infinity Gems and countless cameos made this a fanboy’s dream come true. Seeing various superheroes take on Thanos’s dark versions of the heroes was good, but learning that it was part of an ongoing infiltration was massive. This was about seeing our heroes at their lowest and proof that (as Stark said years ago) it takes them a while to get some traction. When those “dark” versions of themselves were revealed to be the shape-shifting Skrulls, it made perfect sense.

Plus in the background we had a young woman named Carol Danvers experience a moment that changed her life forever.

After all the build-up and talk of Krees and Skrulls in Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD, Captain Marvel‘s alien connection was huge. The tag scene in Captain Marvel was perfect, as we saw Carol Danvers respond to a distress call and enter a space station. Her reaction shot – even though we didn’t get to see what astonished her upon her arrival – was priceless and left fans craving more. It’s almost a shame that The Inhumans came next.

It’s a good thing I’m sworn not to interfere, because while The Inhumans filled in lots of great backstory with the Kree… well, that damn Lockjaw once went on my lawn and I’ve never gotten over it. Still, seeing Black Bolt apparently leading his people against Thanos’s agents was good, and seeing Skye from Agents of SHIELD join her people was a thrill. Their decision to return to Earth to aid the fallen Avengers was a perfect set up for the final film.

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Avengers: The Infinity War part 2 was mind-blowing. Seeing Black Bolt and several others being exposed as Skrulls was huge, and with a question of Stark’s involvement (and possibly being a Skrull too) the tension was almost overwhelming. Captain Marvel’s return was brilliantly played, bringing with her various characters who had been replaced by Skrulls. The real Henry Pym was good to see, Black bolt even more so… and Captain America was the crowning glory, not only returning but going in for a knockout punch on Thanos.

It was good seeing the plot threads of so many films nicely tied up, but even better was the shocking tag scene which has set Phase 4 in motion. Just when our heroes thought it was all over, the appearance of another space vessel in the rubble sent a shiver down my spine. Seeing the Guardians of the Galaxy come out of it was a good laugh, especially Rocket’s comment about arriving late for the party, but Star-Lord’s bombshell about receiving the radio transmission of something heading to Earth was huge. The terrified reaction on every hero’s face when it played was priceless as the words echoed: “You made me angry. I warned you, you won’t like me when I’m angry…”

These are the events that I have seen unfold on another world. I saw Marvel films rise to greater heights and set World War Hulk in motion. I saw the coming of the Skrulls and the death and return of Captain America. Will these events occur once again, or will a new path be forged? Time will tell… you will see…

So speaks Uafo, The Watcher’s Neighbour…

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