Last year I took a few minutes at Thanksgiving to think through things that I was thankful for in the MCU.  Thankfulness is a good thing to practice, so I’ve decided to take a look at the last year and consider all the things that have brought so much happiness to my Marvelite soul over the last twelve months.

In particular, we’ve seen a seemingly exponential growth on the TV side of the MCU.  Now, this hasn’t always been perfect.  Defenders underperformed, Inhumans fell flat.  But fans can be thankful that things are being tried.  Marvel is taking a lot of shots with a lot of properties.  I remember going to the theater for X-Men back in middle school and feeling a ton of pressure.  “This better be good,” I thought, “because if this fails I’ll never see another Marvel movie ever again!”  We no longer live in such fear.  Just since mid-August we’ve had a series of shows released with DefendersInhumans, PunisherRunawaysand the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I’ve gone five whole days and only seen one episode of a Netflix show because I’ve been prioritizing another Marvel show!  What a time to be alive!   And there are a couple shows in Cloak & Dagger and New Warriors that are headed down the pike, plus new seasons of DaredevilJessica Jones, and Luke Cage.  More Marvel shows will premiere in one year then I literally thought I’d ever see in my entire life.  That’s something to be thankful for, even if not all of them have lived up to expectations.

2017 has been a bit one note on the film side, but it’s been hilarious!  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Spider-Man: Homecomingand Thor: Ragnarok have all come out in the last six months and all are legitimately funny movies.  Historically comic franchises run the risk of getting darker and more serious as time goes on, but the MCU has purposefully done a bit of the opposite.  Phase Three thus far has been full of light-hearted adventures.  Sometimes, like in James Gunn‘s brilliant sequel, the laughs mask some dark and deep themes, but they are still fun.  While other franchises seem content to make everything rain-soaked explosion fests, Marvel fans continue to get new color palettes and attendant tone shifts.  Kudos to Feige and co. for giving us smiles on our faces, in addition to the action and spectacle.  A hearty belly laugh is something for which we can all show gratitude.

Historians may look back at 2017 as the year of the female superhero.  Wonder Woman‘s runaway success is a big part of that and deserves most of the plaudits.  But Marvel has been bringing women more to the fore as well.  The continued excellence of the actresses on S.H.I.E.L.D., Gunn’s work on bringing Nebula, Mantis, and Ayesha front and center both on screen and in merchandising, Serinda Swan‘s turn as Medusa, the powerhouse work of Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson, and great early work from the ladies of Runaways are all signs of a strengthening role of women in the universe.  Furthermore, both Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel are bringing titular female characters to the big screen.  I’m a dad of four girls and have tired of their complaints about the lack of “girl characters” in Marvel.  I’m thankful to have more female protagonists to enjoy with them as the universe grows.  

If you had tried to tell someone even five years ago that Marvel would continue the sort of unrivaled success they’ve had, they’d have doubted it would be possible.  More unlikely, however, has been the directorial voices they’ve used to continue the success.  In Phase 3 alone we’re seeing great films from TV directors The Russo Brothers, horror niche films guys in Scott Derrickson and James Gunn, then a couple of indie directors in Jon Watts and Taika Waititi.  Next up are up and coming directors like Ryan CooglerAnna Boden, and Ryan Fleck, as well as returning director, and the mastermind behind Yes ManPeyton Reed.  With all due respect to the filmographies of all those talented people, how is Marvel pulling this off?  Every single risk they take seems to turn into a home run.  They are not only making great movies and billions of dollars, but they are also developing young talent.  Perhaps no one shows this superior talent identification as well as Waititi.  I absolutely adore Hunt for the Wilderpeople but it isn’t a natural building block to making a $700 million-plus box office behemoth.  In a Hollywood world that seems intent on pumping out stale films with the same old directors of a previous decade, Feige’s risk-taking is worth a hearty thank you!

Thanks for reading and from all of us at MCU Exchange, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We appreciate all of you for reading our site.  Also, let me say on behalf of Rhiannon and Adam and our team at Marvel News Desk, thanks for listening to us!  The biggest reason we all write and edit and podcast and video produce and all that stuff is because we love Marvel and we love sharing our work with you.  So thank you and a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.