Why You Shouldn't Throw in the Towel on the MCU's Nonlinear Storytelling

In a post-Avengers: Endgame world, Marvel Studios has never had fewer ties holding them down. With the "Infinity Saga" having now come and passed, the studio isn't building towards one singular narrative for the first time in a decade. Because of that, Kevin Feige and company now have the opportunity to explore other nooks and crannies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline previously untouched. We started to see that in Captain Marvel when the team headed back to 1996, and we're sure to see it when Black Widow and The Eternals both hit theaters next year. Heck, even Endgame co-director Joe Russo confirmed with us the studio would be depending more on nonlinear storytelling.

Because of the sudden emergence of prequels, a growing contingent of MCU faithful have started pointing out since we already know Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) dies in Avengers: Endgame, the Black Widow solo film has suddenly become meaningless. "We already know how that character's story arc ends, so why watch," they wonder.

An equal amount of people have mentioned similar things about Captain Marvel. If the main group of Avengers have already gone through these major events like the Battle of New York or stopping Ultron from destroying Earth, why would be interested in Captain Marvel 2 if it takes place between the events of Captain Marvel and Iron Man?

You need not go too far to understand why. All you've got to do is look at Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) now-iconic line from the initial Avengers: Endgame teaser, "Part of the journey is the end," and you'll see why this new, nonlinear storytelling is still important. As Stark says, the end is simply just a part of the entire journey. Sure, we know that Black Widow dies in Endgame, but what about that other 30-some years of her life off-screen? We know she's dead in the current timeline, but what about the fabled Budapest story? What about her time in the Red Room or what about her time on the lam with Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Secret Avengers?

The same goes for both future Captain Marvel and The Eternals films. Yes, we know that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) came back to help the Avengers take down Thanos in Endgame. But what intergalactic adventures among the cosmos did she get into beforehand?

What about The Eternals — a group we've seen none of? Even though the story could be set millennia before any single event in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it could be the one movie that changes the entire MCU as we know it, even though we've already seen the universe as it stands now in the current timeline.

Despite knowing the status of various characters and groups as it stands now in the current timeline, that doesn't detract from the fact they've all gone on tremendous adventures in the past, each of which could provide for incredible storytelling. Just because a film isn't set in a place that will advance the overall timeline forward, doesn't mean it won't come with a worthy story that continues adding depth to the overall narrative, and that's why you shouldn't throw in the towel on Marvel's plans of nonlinear storytelling just quite yet.


What other prequels do you think we could see in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by tweeting me at @AdamBarnhardt!

Avengers: Endgame is now in theaters while Spider-Man: Far From Home is due out July 2nd. Captain Marvel is now available wherever movies are sold.