How to Make Head or Tails of All the Comic Book Movies

Are you confused by all the Marvel and DC movies that have come out this century? With all the reboots and crossovers and team-ups and civil wars, it’s fairly complex. But let us break it down for you:

We’ll start with Marvel’s X-Men (2000), the beginning of the original X-Men motion picture trilogy (completed by X2: X-Men United (2002) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)) which starred Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (a character who was given his own prequel origin movie in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), a film that was more or less ignored in the subsequent standalone Wolverine movie The Wolverine (2013) and hopefully in the as-yet Untitled Wolverine Sequel (2017), and which featured Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool (who we will refer to again later in the context of Deadpool (2016))) and many other mutants who shared a prequel origin movie in X-Men: First Class (2011), which unlike the earlier X-Men films (earlier in date of screening, not in in-Universe chronology) was not partially rebooted by the time-travelling robot army-fighting shenanigans of X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), which will itself be followed by X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) later this year and which featured one of the two current cinematic incarnations of Quicksilver, a mutant who appears in both the “X-Men Movie Universe” (which includes all of the aforementioned films, arguably The Fantastic Four (2015) (a reboot of The Fantastic Four (2005) and its sequel The Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)), and possibly the upcoming Channing Tatum vehicle Gambit (2017) and Untitled X-Force Film (2017)), as well as the unconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe (Quicksilver having appeared in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014), which helped to set up Black Panther (2018) by including one of the Prince of Wakanda’s enemies but cut its planned post-credits reference to Captain Marvel (2019) (a character who eventually forced DC’s “Captain Marvel” to be renamed Shazam! (2019))), which kicked off with Iron Man (2008) the origin story of a playboy billionaire genius turned superhero (continued in Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013) (commonly referred to as “the one where Ben Kingsley is awesome”)) whose path collided with the beneficiaries of other stand-alone origin stories - The Incredible Hulk (2008) (itself a re-boot of yet another Hulk origin story in Ang Lee / Eric Bana’s Hulk (2003)), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) (which was followed up by Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)) and Thor (2011) - along with two other minor characters (Black Widow and Hawkeye) and Samuel L Jackson (playing himself, as he did in DC’s The Spirit (2008)) to form The Avengers (2012), Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (at least as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned), who in the Battle of New York defeated Thor’s adopted brother Loki (though not emphatically enough to prevent Loki’s return as an anti-hero/anti-villain in Thor: The Dark World (2013)) and the Chitauri army lent to Loki by the “Mad Titan” Thanos (played by the star of the stand-alone DC film Jonah Hex (2010), Josh Brolin), a loan we only know Thanos was responsible for because he said, “fine, I’ll do it myself” after the credits of The Avengers (2012), which is similar to the level of involvement the character had in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), a film set in a different part of the same Marvel Cinematic Universe (and set for its own sequel in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)) but connected by Thanos’s pursuit of the “infinity stones” (“infinity” as in Avengers: Infinity War Part I (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War Part II (2019), because really those stones and those films represent the MCU vision statement of “tying everything together no matter how complicated it gets” (though, as you can see, none of this is that complicated)), much of the groundwork for which will apparently be laid by Captain America: Civil War (2016), which will not only introduce Spider-Man (a character who will already be familiar to many viewers from the original Spider-Man trilogy (Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007)) and the aborted rebooted Amazing Spider-Man trilogy (The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in preparation for the Untitled Spider-Man Film (2017), but will also develop the character of engineer-turned-thief-turned-“going subatomic”-person Ant-Man (2015) so that we haven’t all forgotten about him by the time his personal sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), rolls around (and that apparently comes after Thor: Ragnarok (2017) despite how cataclysmic that sounds to anyone with a passing acquaintance with Norse mythology), which is pretty much the opposite of what Fox wanted to do with Deadpool (2016), in which Ryan Reynolds returns in a different incarnation of the same character from The Wolverine (2009) (see above), breaking the fourth wall to help put that role behind him, as well as his lacklustre roles as Hannibal Kane in Blade: Trinity (2004) (a sequel to the Reynolds-free Blade II (2002)) and Hal Jordan in Green Lantern (2011), the last of whom is generally a member of DC Comics’ Justice League, the Earth’s greatest heroes (at least as far as the DC Cinematic Universe is concerned), who will join together for Justice League Part One (2017) (though, incidentally, this Justice League movie will not include a Green Lantern (hopefully unlike Green Lantern Corps (2020)), instead opting to unite several characters who will not get stand-alone movies until at least after that first Justice League movie (i.e. Wonder Woman (2017), The Flash (2018), Aquaman (2018)) and in at least one case not until after Justice League Part Two (2019)  (i.e. Cyborg (2020)) with the title combatants of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the latter of whom was most recently rebooted in Man of Steel (2013) (following Superman’s earlier reboot in Superman Returns (2006)), and the former of whom might have been rebooted from the Nolan-helmed reboot trilogy Batman Begins (2005) (the tale of a playboy billionaire genius turned superhero), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (though I honestly couldn’t tell), the last of which also rebooted Catwoman following the stand-very-much-alone film Catwoman (2004), and the second of which reintroduced The Joker, who might be the villains’ villain in the ensemble supervillain piece Suicide Squad (2016), though possibly not, but it seems appropriate given The Joker (or at least an earlier incarnation of the Joker) is a sufficiently iconic villain to be quoted at the end of Kick-Ass (2010) (the Marvel film which itself spawned a sequel Kick-Ass 2 (2013)), and also given The Joker seems to be rebooted every time he appears (see again Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice starring Ben Affleck, whose Batman was at least better received than his titular Daredevil (2003) and its universally-panned sequel Elektra (2005) (from which Ben Affleck’s brief appearance was deleted), two characters who have themselves both had more success on the Netflix reboot featuring the famed Devil of Hell’s Kitchen (not the actual devil, who would be more at home in Constantine (2005), Ghost Rider (2007) or Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)) that also features the Punisher (who had two reasonably unsuccessful films of his own - The Punisher (2004) and The Punisher: War Zone (2008)  - that were entirely separate in continuity to any other DC films)), which is probably a good idea because it will keep The Joker’s story in copyright so he doesn’t suffer the fate of the stolen fictional characters who make up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) whose archenemy (Moriarty) is stolen from Sherlock Holmes a.k.a. Benedict Cumberbatch a.k.a. Doctor Strange (2016) and whose comic co-creator Alan Moore was so disappointed in the film he refused to watch or have his name attached to (the far better) V for Vendetta (2006) or Watchmen (2009).

Got it? Good. Because Inhumans will come out in 2019, and I’d like someone to explain to me how that fits in.