Arts & Life, Movies

Navigating Netflix: Marvel

When Iron Man first hit the big screens in 2008, it heralded a new era of Marvel comic book adaptations on the big screen. The camp of many previous adaptations faded away, replaced by films that captured the history of the characters and storytelling of the comics as movies that connected with a wider audiences.

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Iron Man, in particular, was key as it was the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the appearance of Nick Fury after the credits to announce the beginning of the Avengers Initiative, a comic book universe made the leap from the pages. And not just as stand-alone movies or franchises. Characters appeared in each of the movies, creating an ongoing narrative that culminates in one massive story. Films featuring Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor were specifically plotted to build up to The Avengers.

Now, Iron Man 3 is about to hit theatres, pitting Robert Downey, Jr. against Ben Kingsley. It’s the first post-Avengers movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the beginning of their Phase 2 phalanx of releases.

And hopefully it will deliver.

But if you just can’t wait to get to the theatre, there are a few options on Netflix to sate your hunger.

Captain America: The First Avenger: A weakling turned perfect man by a Nazi-defector’s Super Soldier Serum, Captain America became the world’s first super hero. Well, in the context of this film. Set during an alternate history version of World War II, The First Avenger introduces Captain America to the Marvel films as well as the technological aspect to the threat to be faced in The Avengers. Plus, Hugo Weaving is the Red Skull and that’s just outstanding.

Thor: Marvel has always drawn heavily from the classic mythologies of a number of cultures, particularly Greek and Norse. This is Marvel’s version of the Norse God of Thunder and Asgard brought to life as a movie, adding the villain the Avengers will face into the mix. A second Thor is on the way in 2013, as well.

X-Men: First Class: This movie is absolutely, 100% not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s an extension of/prequel to the Bryan Singer X-Men film franchise released by Fox. But the thing with First Class is that it is, by far, the best movie in that franchise.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: This animated series is completely unrelated to the films but is a superb adaptation of the comics into another format. Several storylines are incorporated into the series as are a multitude of characters. Season one is currently available on Netflix.

Ian Goodwillie is a columnist for the Spectator Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at@ThePrairieGeek and on Tumblr at