It would’ve been so good, you guys. I would’ve watched at least two seasons before dropping off…
Sci-fi anthology series are the tits, man. I love em. I love em all. There’re obviously the absolute greats like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Black Mirror isn’t going… terrifically right now, but the whole body of work contains some of the best fiction of the 21st century that more than makes up for the duffers. But honestly, I go for everything regardless. I eat up written short story collections like Philip K Dick’s I, Robot series alongside fun TV shows like Star Wars: Visions or Love, Death & Robots. I don’t care if they’re not very good for the most part like Electric Dreams and the most recent reboot of Twilight Zone. I especially love unexpected gems like Cabinet of Curiosities or Tales From The Loop. But it doesn’t matter, if it’s a sci-fi anthology series, I will be down to watch it
You know what else is the tits? Time-skip stories. You know, where a person or group of people skip time in a story and deal with the consequences of that. Sometimes it’s via the real-world phenomenon of time dilation like in Interstellar or Lightyear, sometimes it’s thanks to a magical button like in Click or The Stanley Parable, and sometimes it’s due to the fickle nature of memory like in Before Your Eyes. This is quickly becoming one of those trends like the multiverse where you blink and suddenly it’s in everything everywhere all at once, but at least from my perspective, it’s still fresh enough and with enough potential for storytelling that I still leap at it every time I see one.
Which is why I’m slightly annoyed (read: perplexed, hurt, offended) that the MCU never made a dedicated anthology series about the Blip. I’ve put off making this video for such a long time in the dim hope that they were actually going to do something interesting with the Blip, but here we are in 2023, and it’s clear that’s not happening. So I wanna take a second to talk about what could have been, and why it doesn’t exist.
Just a quick aside for terminology, cause this can get a bit confusing: I’m referring to the Blip as the five year period between Thanos erasing half of all life in the universe, and Hulk bringing everything back. I’m referring to the event where Thanos initially killed everyone as the Snap, and those people as being snapped, blipped or dusted interchangeably. I don’t have a specific word for the second Snap so I’m probably calling it Hulk’s Snap or the Unsnap if I talk about it at all. Ok?
So I wanna be clear about what I’m saying I wanted, because the MCU undoubtedly did explore some cool ideas about the Blip. For example, Monica blips back in the hospital, which erupts into chaos, only to find that her mother, who was battling cancer, has died in the time she was gone. It’s a genuinely frightening and upsetting scene. We also see the Blip from the perspective of someone who was actually dusted in Yelena, who blips in the house of the former Black Widow she’d been fighting, to find that she’s now got a partner and a kid. It’s super disorienting to see how instantaneous the experience is for most people who aren’t Peter Parker.
There’s a whole bunch of other ripple effects on the world that some of the movies and shows explored to various effect and with wildly different tones. School kids who were blipped, in general, found it extremely unfair. Many students are resentful that their siblings and classmates are now older and taller than they were before, and those that didn’t complete the school year needed to retake the whole year. This scene where a band blips back during a basketball game and Jason can’t deal with the whole concept is hilarious. Dr Strange blips back to find that Christine moved on in that time and is getting married. Due to his absence, Wong became the Sorcerer Supreme instead. Dr West blips back to find that his brother and his cats have all died while he was gone, and presumably all his clothes and razors were also lost in that time because who the hell turns up to a wedding looking like that.
There’s a couple of cute little background set details about the Blip that make me exhale out my nose a bit but you could easily miss them. In Shang-Chi, there’s an ad for Blip Sync, a dating app exclusively for blipped people, and a number for the National Blip Support Hotline. The Blip Blog was a thing they did as part of the marketing around No Way Home which featured small stories of people who were blipped.
Most times, the Blip is just brought up as the event that set into motion the plot of whatever thing you’re watching, completely divorced from the emotional impact. Nagel blips back to find that the supersoldier serum program he’d been working on had been shut down by the CIA so he begins working for the Power Broker in Madripoor, which leads to the Flag Smashers receiving powers in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The sudden increase in population from the Blip results in the awakening of Tiamat, which sets into motion the plot of Eternals. Hulk spends the Blip working on fusing with the Hulk persona and eventually succeeds, leading into Endgame. The Blip also allowed Talos to bring a million Skrulls to Earth and assimilate into human life.
But that’s all we really get – lip service to the event, or merely the kicking off point to a different plot. There are some fascinating concepts brought up that always fail to come to fruition, the big one here being the issue of housing, feeding and employing everyone who was blipped after five years of humanity adapting.
Mass displacement of blipped people triggers the creation of the Global Repatriation Council by the UN, whose job it is to provide housing, security and rehabilitation for blip refugees. Existing organisations like the Salvation Army pivot some of their resources to achieve the same goals. Cassie gets involved in activism to support people made homeless because of the Blip, but that’s set in San Francisco so what’s new. Falcon is denied a loan because he doesn’t have any income from the past five years due to being snapped, which is a wee bit weird but I’m not gonna get into it here. Poor resource management, food and medicine shortages, border disputes, housing disputes – it’s all a huge problem happening just off screen while these guys punch this lot.
I think all of this stuff is cool as heck. It’s by far more interesting to me than wondering whether our plucky hero who signed on for 4 more films will beat the guy who wants to kill all the main characters and destroy the world. So why the hell did the MCU barely touch on it, and move on from that period almost immediately?
One big thing getting in the way of fully exploring the concept is that the existing movies and shows need to be focused on superheroes. Whether you’re a demigod or a relatively normal person who punches good, most of the time they’ve got bigger things on their mind than a housing crisis (usually, we stan for Daredevil and his arch nemesis – gentrification). After all, when you’re dealing with the environmental impact of a mass extinction event, what can Thor bring to the table? What can Love & Thunder Thor, thick as two short planks, couldn’t find his own dick with Google Maps and a set of directions Thor, do to help? Captain Marvel said she’s going around the universe helping people who are in a similar position as Earth, but helping with what? As far as I’m aware her three main skills are snarky quips, firing lasers, and being a human cannonball. How exactly is she going to assist with the sudden loss of half of all essential workers?
Another issue is Marvel’s insistence on the threat being the end of the world as opposed to something more small-scale. If the Blip is brought up in the first act, the entire universe is usually in peril by the third act. Dr Strange is initially dealing with still loving someone who’s had five years to move on from him and is unable to give him the closure he needs but SHUT UP because this gal punched a star in the spacetime continuum and there’s a convergence of parallel realities that’ll destroy the entire universe. The Eternals are these immortal beings tragically forced to watch mass death events like the genocide of the Aztecs, the dropping of the nuclear bomb and even the Snap but SHUT UP because the Earth is a big ol’ egg and inside there’s a big ol’ guy and he was real sleepy (like super sleepy), but he’s ready to come out like the Kool-Aid Man and explode the entire planet. Nick Fury, once a near-omniscient major player on the world stage, comes back from the Blip to find that he has no idea what’s going on anymore, so he has to figure out if he can set aside his pride and find a place in this new world but SHUT UP because the Skrulls have gotten hold of all the Avengers’ DNA and they’re making a Super Skrull that can go pew pew and bam bam all at once and no one can stop ’em except these guys.
One thing, undoubtedly, is time, like in the real world time is a linear thing and boy howdy does it go quick sometimes. All your actors playing kids will suddenly look closer to 30 than 15 unless you’re the eternal twink Tom Holland. Older actors are going to find it harder and harder to pull off stunts – not everyone can be or wants to be Tom Cruise. Most of these actors sign on for a finite number of projects with no guarantee of them coming back after it expires, so you need to make sure whatever you put out with them in it is an absolute banger. Besides, none of these actors even want to be playing these roles for their entire lives, they just wanna strike a hero pose, collect a big pay check and move on to play some of the best villains of the decade. Seriously, when Chris Hemsworth stops doing these things, just watch him play Stalin in a historical drama.
Finally, there’s the financial and logistical impact of running projects like this. Getting all these big name A and B-listers to saddle up in Georgia for months at a time can’t be easy. Getting quality writers and directors who the studio won’t immediately railroad into making the same thing as always is tricky, although they seem to be getting better at that. Disney doesn’t even want to pay its existing writers and animators a reasonable wage for a reasonable number of working hours so lord knows they’ll want to cut costs that won’t lead to surefire returns in other areas. Marvel is already scaling back its output, and depending on who you ask it’s because the quality of the output is declining or because people are getting superhero fatigue.
All of those are very compelling reasons why you can’t or wouldn’t want to make a full-length, wide- release Blip-focused story starring one of the big name Avengers. So don’t do that. Do the exact opposite. Do a streaming-only anthology TV series featuring relatively ordinary people dealing with the effects of the Blip. You don’t need big names necessarily so you don’t have to break the budget paying for Scarlett Johanssen and Samuel L Jackson. Effects are mostly irrelevant so you don’t have to work the VFX team to death. All you’d need is a couple of good ideas, some talented actors, and some good writers. Sure hope you don’t do anything to alienate those folks!
Alright you might be thinking this sounds kinda boring, like how interesting and varied can it be – they got snapped, people were sad for around 5 years, and then they came back. That’s everyone’s experience, why would you need to tell more than one of these stories? Well Strawman, allow me to give you a couple of elevator pitches of interesting story concepts set during the Blip.
First idea: A Leftovers-style meditation on loss from the perspective of someone who is the only survivor out of everyone in their life. Literally everyone. Friends, acquaintances, exes, colleagues, family, old schoolmates and teachers, neighbours – all gone. The story would grapple with the idea of existing by being connected to other people and how much you’re defined by others around you. It’d follow them trying to get back out of the isolation they’ve been forced into. Hell, you could make it one of the people who attends the support group in Endgame. It’s the most extreme case of moving to a new place and having to start over making friends again. You could even set a significant portion of it after the Blip when everyone comes back, and the main character isn’t exactly overjoyed because they’ve just rebuilt a life without them.
How about a story about a detective who specialises in determining whether people have actually been snapped or are just pretending for various reasons. That could’ve been a super fun way to bring Jessica Jones back into the picture – these kinds of small-scale, street-level stories are perfect for the Defenders and their respective gangs. Have it start off funny, you know someone is pretending to be snapped to get out of paying back debts or like a kid trying to get out of school. Then have it get oofy, have Jessica or whoever take a job from someone who suspects their partner pretended to be snapped. Jessica tracks them down through various sources, learning their relationship wasn’t exactly perfect. When she finds them, it turns out they were being abused, and Jessica agrees to keep their secret, maybe have her lay down some smack on the abuser.
Here’s another one – a resident of a country in the midst of a social revolution blips back to find their culture has completely changed and it’s not the one they wanted. I’m talking like Iran level of upheaval. It would follow their struggle to adapt to the new world and decide if they even should change. Make them wonder if they’d think differently if they’d have lived through those five years. If you want to make it more Marvel-y, the character can find similarities between their own experience and Captain America, albeit on a smaller scale. Take that quote about saying, “no, you move” and have it define their stance. If you wanna make it super goofy, have the main character be obviously on the wrong side of history, and the fact that they feel validating by Cap’s ethos could be a negative thing.
It’s all been a bit much so far, so break the ice a bit: A New Girl-style sitcom about someone who comes back to find someone else living in their apartment. They were both looking for a roommate in their times so they decide to live together, but they both hate how the other lives. You can make all sorts of jokes about how culture has changed in five years, that was like the majority of the humour in the first season of Arrow. You would absolutely need to get someone younger to write this one because holy hell would anyone older than a millennial butcher it.
You could take some of the concepts that were barely scratched at before and expand on them a bit. To start with, literally anything about the GRC and a new solution for the refugee crisis beyond “do better”. Or, even better, no solution. A classic loss of innocence story from the perspective of someone in the GRC trying to reconcile their idealism with political realities, achieving small victories but ultimately being unable to dismantle and rebuild the great machine itself, and struggling to prevent their sense of self and purpose from being eroded.
Or maybe one about two parents who are blipped and return to find their once adolescent child is now a teenager. This actually kinda happened to Ant-Man and Cassie, but it pretty much never comes up, I guess because Cassie is used to Scott being absent for significant chunks of her life. I’m talking some random, perfectly normal family. I don’t exactly know why, but I imagine this being told from the perspective of the parents rather than the kid, so what they went through is a mystery to be solved. You could take this in a number of different directions: have it be a story about children growing up too quickly, and have them just accept their kid has moved beyond them; have it be about how parents deal with their children’s trauma and talk about mental illness, following them as they try to get the kid to open up about the Blip; have it be more about generational rebellion, exploring a rejection of the previous, seemingly obsolete generation by one that has learned to live without them. Or all three. This one is an absolute goldmine.
Dr Strange finding out Christine moved on must be a bit of an oof, but we only had half a movie to get to know her, and we hardly knew what their deal was anyway so there’s not much impact. So here’s an goofier pitch: Someone who was getting married, like at the altar and all, gets snapped. That’d be devastating enough to the surviving partner, but then they reappear to find their partner has moved on and is now getting married to someone else. I’d say you could do this one out of chronological order, Nolan-style. Make one or the other feel more sympathetic as you see things from their perspective.
You know how Bruce fused the human and Hulk sides of his personality with the help of Tony at his Mexican beach house during the Blip? I would have liked to see that. I know that Hulk movies are widely believed to be cursed, which is bullshit, they’re just not very well-made, but even so, gimme an episode of a show instead, he worked in She-Hulk and Ragnarok. I don’t care if RDJ is there or not, but there has to be like 10 minutes of B-roll from the Iron Man 3 end credits they could do something with. Apparently Betty and Ross both got dusted so maybe do something with that, Bruce losing both his lover and his enemy, I don’t care just give me more Hulk content. It’s infuriating to me that Ruffalo-Hulk was the best character in Avengers 1 but had his entire arc relegated to secondary roles in other peoples’ stories for the entire rest of the series. That’s a real DC move there.
Here’s a quick one – take the “Jurassic Bark” episode of Futurama, and just do that. They’ll call it derivative, but they’ll say it with a little hitch in their voice cause they’re trying to hold back tears.
Bit specific for this one but bear with me. Someone drink driving hits a pedestrian, killing them, and the police go in pursuit. However, the cops chasing them are snapped, and the rest of the station is preoccupied with the general chaos of the Snap, so they get away with the crime. The story would follow the driver dealing with their guilt, maybe ending with them seeking out the cops when they blip back and turning themselves in, given the last thing they’d remember is chasing the driver.
Or we could go even darker, do one about someone about to commit suicide by standing in front of a train, but instead they’re snapped, and when they come back, there’s no train there. This one would probably deal with whether they view the incident as a random accident or divine intervention. This would be all about determinism and fate, not in a Matrix Reloaded way but also very possibly I don’t know this is all hypothetical. Perhaps explore the complicated emotional relationship they have with Thanos, given that in a twisted way, he saved their life.
Fuck it, why does this only have to be focused on humans? Centre an episode around one of the last breeding pairs of a near-extinct species, and one of the two gets snapped, leaving the survivor or the people around them to have an existential crisis. It could be terrestrial, it could be alien, I don’t care, I’ll still cry.
Listen, I could probably be here all day throwing out ideas for ways you can use the Blip as the background for a compelling short story, but I feel like I’ve made my point. Whether or not you vibe with what I’m saying should be clear by now. There was an opportunity for Marvel to continue making their superhero content, but also diversify the portfolio with some compelling human stories, but they didn’t take it for the various reasons I mentioned earlier. I just think that’s a huge shame. They already made What If? so they’re not afraid of trying an anthology format. People loved most of the Netflix Marvel shows and they were 90% inner city crime dramas – Marvel doesn’t solely need to make effects-driven action thrillers to be successful and cohesive as a shared universe. Hell, that was exactly the point made at the end of She-Hulk.
But maybe I’m alone in this, maybe no one really wants a Blip anthology series. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, leave a like if you liked it, and subscribe if you want to see more videos from us. My name’s Drew, and I’ll see you in the next one. Au revoir.