A question could it happens to anyone who watches The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a good show so far, which turns into a look at racial politics in America, but also with punches and shots.
As the Disney + Display WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place in the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the 13th TV show that’s going on there, I think, with 23 movies (Avengers, Iron mans, Ant-Mansetc.), all telling stories with a synaptic character and intriguing connections to others. In other words, by my rough count, over 400 hours of history, spanning almost a century of time in the universe. I’ve seen them all and have been a comic book reader for decades with a good memory. But I’ll tell you, even I can’t keep it all without Wikipedia and a pause button.
This happens every time one of these programs triggers the visual grammar signals. A character enters their light. The scene stops. The music changes. This person is important. But … Why? Are they new? Or are they not? It’s time to ask the question: Wait – who is this?
If you’re a casual (or even avid) consumer of Marvel stuff, or Star Wars content – just as vast, and also on the verge of spreading even more to television – maybe you recognize this sentiment. If you just want to watch an episode of Star Trek: different uniforms, or even a new James Bond or Doctor Who (if those ever come out), you’d be sorry for freaking out a bit. The continuities have become too vast; each new episode becomes a quiz for a course you took three semesters ago.
At the entry and intermediate levels of these story universes, it’s fun to learn all the new stuff. This is the phase of acquiring expertise. Climb on board! And at some kind of advanced level, sharing these obscure references and interconnections is part of the regrouping process. It’s like knowing all the starting lineups of your favorite baseball team.
But for the kind of people who haven’t spent their childhoods immersed in all of these stories, perhaps you are now faced with what seems like an impossible to climb mountain of canonical content. To my great luck, I was able to professionalize my nerdiness. Do you have a reference? I am a reference librarian. I eat Easter eggs for breakfast. And I’m here to suggest you deal with the excess barrel like I do:
Do not worry.
Because, come on! Who can remember it? Go back on WandaVision, it was Darcy, the charming and reliable Kat Dennings, scientific assistant of the Thor. Oh, and also Agent Woo, the charming Randall Park, FBI comedy movie from The ant Man. Sure Falcon and the Winter Soldier it was Baron Zemo, the sinister Daniel Brühl who blew everyone up Captain America: Civil War, and Sharon Carter, Emily VanKamp of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a reliable and charming secret agent. But who is Owen Wilson playing in this new Loki trailer? And wait, isn’t Loki dead? Oh no, it’s the Loki who escaped when the Avengers went back in time ever since. Avengers: Endgame at Avengers. To the right. These shows and movies introduce new characters with the same confidence as people who have appeared elsewhere before, and there’s so many people now.
Of course, the way these modern story universes intertwine and weave together is a storytelling miracle. Captain America: The First Avenger dropped story seeds in 2011 that blossomed in Avengers: Endgame in 2019. The last season of Clone Wars recounted the massacre of the Jedi described in Revenge of the Sith from the point of view of ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano, whom Rosario Dawson now plays live – on The Mandalorian and, at one point, his own spin-off. Cared for! In some movies, Batman is just getting started; in others it is grizzled and jaded. Should you care why Spider-Man has a robot costume? Do you need to know where the bad guy is The Mandalorian do you have a dark version of a lightsaber, or do you have dark versions of a lightsaber?