Guardians of the Galaxy releases August 1 — and I cannot MFin’ waaaaaaaaait, suckaaaaaaaas!
I’m not joking, either. While I never read the comic back in the days when I did read comics, I became excited about the film upon hearing it was going into production.
Why? Well, Zoe Saldana, for one. (My Lord, she is teh perfection.) But also because I knew it would somehow tie into the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe. And the prospect of that happening intrigued me to no end.
You see, I love how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly a shared universe. As TV Tropes says:
Because Marvel Films holds the rights to all Marvel Comics characters not given to other studios (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Men In Black and Kick-Ass), they have managed to bridge together a single continuity family named the Marvel Cinematic Universe with links between the characters’ stories. Nick Fury makes a cameo in Iron Man referring Tony Stark to the “Avenger Initiative,” Tony appears in the film of The Incredible Hulk talking to General Ross about putting a team together (also having a nod to Captain America: The First Avenger), Iron Man 2 gave many hints to Thor, and the whole thing came together in The Avengers as a Crisis Crossover. This cycle is planned to be repeated, starting with Iron Man 3 in 2013 and building up to to an Avengers sequel in 2015.
Nothing has been done like this in films before. The events of, say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have massive consequences for the Marvel films to follow. Characters interact and reference each other. These films take place in the same world.
Of course, they’ve done this forever in the comics. And the concept of a shared literary universe across completely different books and stories (not sequels or spinoffs) was introduced to me in the work of Stephen King. Again, from TV Tropes:
Stephen King‘s ‘Verse, which spins around The Dark Tower. Almost every novel he has ever written makes some small mention to at least one of his others. He is even a part of his own ‘Verse, referred to, for example, as “That fella up in Bangor who can’t write a sentence without the F-word.” This is lampshaded in Misery, in which writer Paul Sheldon has trouble starting a new book without his concordance.
My work is similar in that each book I’ve written so far makes some sort of reference or has a connect to another one. For instance, the burgeoning record label Kill A Nigga Records introduced in Guestlist is name-checked in Orange Mound. There’s a character named Karen Discoball mentioned in Guestlist who’s also briefly mentioned in Kisses for Tati — and who’ll make a bona fide appearance in Manhattan Sweetheart. Oh, and several characters from Guestlist also reappear in Manhattan Sweetheart.
The world-building approach of Marvel Studios certainly hasn’t been lost on me — as you can see, it’s been a rather large influence in how I’ve been writing my stories. And the beauty of it all is, you don’t need to read any of the earlier books to catch up or anything like that. Each story can stand on its own. But for those who have been keeping up with the continuity, and spotting those little Easter eggs, I think they are having a little more rewarding experience. Ha!