Beware, spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and different Marvel movies lay forward!
One is the story of an peculiar American household in an peculiar American city; the opposite is the saga of extraordinary individuals with superpowers. One resets to the established order on the finish of virtually each episode; the opposite revels within the vastness of its decades-old continuity.
And but, regardless of being chalk and cheese on so many ranges, The Simpsons and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have rather more in frequent than longevity and their availability on Disney Plus. As a result of whether or not you’re hanging out in Springfield or one of many far-flung corners of the MCU, their supporting characters could be simply as memorable as the large hitters with their names within the titles.
Ask anybody to call their favourite Simpsons character, and so they’re as more likely to point out Moe, Sideshow Bob or Comedian Guide Man as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa or Maggie. The truth is, again within the present’s 1990s glory years – keep in mind these? – a significant purpose for The Simpsons’ success was the best way the main target may very well be on Principal Skinner one week, then Reverend Lovejoy and Aunt Selma the subsequent. In impact, Springfield rapidly grew to become an enormous shared universe populated by recurring characters you got here to know and love.
We don’t know if Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is a Simpsons fan – he did voice a Thanos parody in 2020 episode ‘Bart the Dangerous Man’ – however it actually appears like he’s been taking inspiration, even for the reason that MCU’s early days.
Within the authentic Iron Man, it felt protected to imagine that Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson was a random authorities swimsuit who’d by no means be seen once more. However by the point Loki bumped him off in The Avengers – after appearances in Iron Man 2 and Thor – Coulson’s loss was such an enormous deal that it introduced the feuding Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk collectively to save lots of the world. In a room stuffed with supersoldiers, billionaire genius playboys, and Norse gods, it’s the ‘peculiar’ character who retains issues grounded and actual. Coulson additionally provides us mere mortals some perspective on what it’s wish to work alongside superheroes – and ask Captain America about getting your prized assortment of buying and selling playing cards autographed.
Greater than comedian reduction
And for all Tony Stark and Loki’s fantastically crafted one-liners, it’s often the characters additional down the forged listing who carry the most important laughs. Luis (Michael Peña)’s uniquely subjective method to storytelling provides Ant-Man its most memorable scenes, whereas wannabe revolutionary Korg (Taika Waititi) is arguably the standout character in Thor: Ragnarok – a film stacked with A-list comedian performances.
Regardless of their comedian reduction assignments, nonetheless, the MCU’s funniest supporting gamers aren’t simply there to carry the laughs. They’re additionally totally rounded characters, with lives and motivations of their very own, whether or not their pursuits are staying out of jail (Luis) or operating a profitable leafleting marketing campaign (Korg). Crucially, Marvel places within the onerous yards to be sure you care about characters who get comparatively restricted screentime. Certainly, the thought that Korg could have been killed in Thanos’s assault on the Asgardian ship in Infinity Struggle got here as simply as a lot of a hammer blow as that well-known finger snap.
Even Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), up there with the silliest of all of the MCU characters, is given a level of pathos. A lauded British stage actor paid to masquerade as terrorist boss the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, Slattery is undeniably ridiculous. However he’s additionally tragic, as a collection of questionable life selections and dangerous luck have landed him in Xu Wenwu’s jail by the point Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings rolls round. Nearly as good as he’s for a hilarious anecdote – his musings on discovering inspiration in Planet of the Apes are priceless – you possibly can’t assist however really feel for a person who’s spent years in solitary confinement, with solely his faceless Dijiang pet, Morris, for firm.
When a personality like Slattery does make a shock return, it enhances the connectivity of the universe. Whereas it’s often the big-name Avengers-style crossovers that seize the headlines, Marvel’s formulation permits smaller-scale encounters to occur in virtually each film or TV present – and so they don’t even should shout about it.
It doesn’t even matter in the event you don’t do not forget that the vlogger on the bus in Shang-Chi additionally appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Or in the event you didn’t spot that the Abomination is a returning character from The Unimaginable Hulk – a film many viewers have chosen to neglect anyway. However in the event you’re an enormous MCU fan, these callbacks – nonetheless massive or small – make you’re feeling like a privileged member of an interior circle, peeking backstage to see how every part suits collectively in Feige’s grand plan.
The place stars are born
Maybe the very best factor about supporting gamers, nonetheless, is that they don’t should lurk within the shadows ceaselessly. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), successfully Steve Rogers’ love curiosity who by no means was, grew to become surprisingly pivotal to the broader MCU when she turned up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, whereas Ayo (Florence Kasumba) acquired the prospect to guide the Dora Milaje in Okoye’s absence.
Dr Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) obtained a fair larger promotion in WandaVision, after spending the primary two Thor motion pictures in a thankless sidekick function. Marvel may simply have created a brand new scientist to be the viewers’s eyes and ears in Westview, however by bringing again Darcy – working alongside FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), himself a veteran of Ant-Man and the Wasp – they emphasised that reference to earlier entries within the MCU.
Now, as Section four kicks correctly into gear, Physician Unusual’s librarian-in-chief Wong (Benedict Wong) has emerged as a stunning frontrunner to turn into the MCU’s MVP. Not solely does he present up within the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home and the opening of Shang-Chi (alongside the aforementioned Abomination, bizarrely), he’s a part of the mind belief introduced in to resolve the thriller of the Ten Rings.
Whereas Wong, Darcy, Sharon, Korg and Luis are unlikely to ever headline their very own live-action motion pictures or TV reveals, the actual fact they’re there, exhibiting up once in a while to work together with the superstars of the MCU, makes the universe richer. So everybody else who’s attempting to construct a fancy shared universe ought to take a be aware from The Simpsons – it by no means hurts to present your supporting gamers the respect you give your leads.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings streams on Disney Plus from November 12.