A sane person would say the best part of Marvel completing a series of movies is getting to see those movies. That person would be half right. The other great part is they get to release a big Blu-ray box set collecting all types of information about the movies.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2 box set will be released December 8 as an Amazon exclusive. However, Disney was nice enough to send us a copy to review and holy crap, it’s absolutely incredible.
Let’s work from the outside in. Once you open the box (which itself is pretty nice and well-packaged) you’ll reveal a plastic orb and base. It’s the orb from Guardians of the Galaxy, of course, and on the side is a purple Infinity gem. The orb opens into two halves so the stone can go inside. Plus, one side has a button that makes the stone glow. So cool.
The base is also nicely detailed, but mostly it’s just the case for the six movies inside, which represent Phase 2. They are Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Each comes not only with a Blu-ray, but a digital copy and the 3D Blu-ray too. Plus, they all have their original special features—deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes, all that good stuff. And of course, artist Matt Ferguson did awesome new art for each film.
Next, there’s a bonus disc with nearly three hours of content. It’s basically broken down into three sections: new stuff, one-shots, and then the films. Each film is given an additional series of features on this disc including brand new deleted scenes (for every movie!) as well as a “Preproduction Creative” option. This varies on each movie, but most have one or two full animatics of major action sequences in each movie. Some even have screen tests. They’re really, really cool additions and well worth a watch.
The one-shots, Marvel’s name for their short films, originated on the older Marvel Blu-ray releases. Here, for the first time, they’re all collected in one place (That’s The Consultant, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Tto Thor’s Hammer, Item 47, Agent Carter and All Hail the King) and they also have commentaries from the stars and directors. Again, great stuff.
The new content consists of three brand new featurettes called “From Here to Infinity: Phases 2 and 3 of the MCU,” “Phase 2 Tag Scenes: A Making Of” and an additional gag reel that spans both Phase One, Phase Two and has Natalie Portman with a runny nose.
The gag reel is self-explanatory; the other two are not. From Here to Infinity runs 19 minutes long and takes about 2-to-3 minutes to go over each of the films in Phase 2. Oddly, there’s no real through-line about what’s being said for each movie. It’s all very general and feels like almost a highlight reel of other features. But once you get to the 15-minute mark, that’s where the gold is. We get to see footage from the set of Captain America: Civil War, including stuff not in the new trailer, as well as concept art and some interviews with the cast and crew, including Chadwick Boseman who plays Black Panther.
Next they talk to the director of Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson, and show a few quick shots of concept art from the movie. The feature then ends with some teases about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
In a way, this featurette is kind of the marquee one on this set and while it’s mostly good, I would’ve liked even more. Even just a mention of Captain Marvel or Inhumans would’ve rocked, as well as Marvel’s Spider-Man (he’s not part of this at all. At the very least, they could’ve shown footage from the Phase Three announcement ceremony from Hollywood in 2014, but no. It’s a minor stumble in an otherwise solid feature.
What’s not a stumble is the Phase 2 Tag Scenes featurette, which features behind-the-scenes footage from every post-credits scene not just in Phase 2, but Phase 1 as well, most of which I hadn’t seen before. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige also talks through where each came from and the thinking behind them.
Together, all of this would be way, way more than anyone could hope for in a box set, but there are still a few more extras! Included in your box is a paper envelope that looks like the file Captain America has on Bucky at the end of The Winter Soldier (seen above).
Inside is a huge dossier of papers, stickers and more from all of the Phase Two films. There’s a slide of Ant-thony, a Bern 2000 name tag, a Pym Technologies security badge, a SHIELD patch, a Howard Stark newspaper clipping, a Five Rings of the Mandarin tattoo, some Dark Elves book pages, and more. The highlight, though, is the Sokovia Accords from Captain America: Civil War. Here’s a scan:
As great as Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was, I personally think Phase Two is better; this box set not only does it justice, it exceeds your wildest expectations. It’s perfect for weeks of exploration or just a great display piece on a shelf.
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