The Storytelling Potential of Marvel’s ‘Blip Event’

by Antonia Haynes

Spoiler Warning for Various Films and Themes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe including Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Episode 4 of the Disney Plus series WandaVision.

When it comes to epic storytelling, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has certainly raised the bar. Marvel Studios has done what once seemed impossible by bringing so many classic superhero characters to the big screen but they have also managed to bring forth some of the most ambitious storylines in comic books. “The Infinity Gauntlet” storyline from Marvel Comics was the first to be adapted, kicking off the MCU in an epic fashion with one of the biggest comic storylines spread across twenty-three films. These culminated in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which saw a half of all life in the universe wiped from existence- in an event referred to as “The Blip” only to be brought back five years later thanks to the Avengers. Hooray and all that, right? Well yes of course but what about the reality of that situation? Let’s have a look at how the MCU has dealt with this and the various narrative possibilities of “The Blip”.

The first proper look at “The Blip” following the events of Avengers: Endgame– when those who had been snapped away by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War returned- was in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. It wasn’t handled with as much nuance as you may expect, basically being a bit of a comedic intro to the film as the teenage news reporters at Peter Parker’s high school describe the sudden return of their classmates. We see a clip of a bunch of students at a pep rally disappearing following Thanos’s snap before we then see those same students returning during a basketball game. It results in people getting hit by balls. Classic comedy. The reporters explain that those who were snapped away did not age as so they return the same age as they were whereas those who remained continued their lives and are therefore five years older. This leads to one of the teens noting that they are now the younger sibling after he blipped away and his younger brother survived. It’s played off as a joke- and it is kind of funny seeing the teenagers giving their Comic Sans laden tributes to Tony Stark and watching kids getting in the face with basketballs- but there is so much potential for interesting stories when you dig a little deeper into the calamity that would have been caused by the “Blip”. Even that small statement about the younger sibling becoming the elder sibling leads to so many questions that could make for some great stories. How would a family even deal with that situation? And what of the families completely torn apart by the event, only to have their loved ones return in a state of relative normalcy? How do people move on from something like that? Can they even move on from something like that? I like the way that “The Blip” is played for laughs here. Watching everyone disappear was such a soul-crushing thing to see in Infinity War and- let’s be honest- kids and teenagers would be the ones creating memes and funny videos out of it. That being said, it made me want Marvel to delve further into what the disappearance and sudden reappearance of half the population meant. We did actually get a glimmer of this though very recently…

In Episode 4 of the WandaVision series on Disney Plus (make sure you check it out if you can, it’s pretty awesome), we get to see through the perspective of a blipped person as they are brought back into existence. This person is Monica Rambeau- who we see as a child in Captain Marvel– as she slowly regenerates back to reality whilst in a hospital. Thinking that she must have fallen asleep, she rushes to find her hospitalized mother- Captain Marvel’s best friend Maria Rambeau. As people start to return to existence in a panicked frenzy all around her, she questions a nurse about her mother only to find out that she passed away three years ago due to her cancer returning after Monica disappeared. These are the kinds of interesting stories that I wanted to see from the “Blip” and even though the surface was only scratched with this scene- depicting the confusion from the returning blipped people and the panic of those around them- the potential for great human drama with this concept is rife. The return of the blipped is messy, frantic chaos, just as it was when they disappeared in the first place. I want to see more of how the world coped when people were blipped away- which we got quite a bit of in Avengers: Endgame- as well as how they managed when they were blipped back. What about all those people who were on a boat or an airplane at the time? Would they return mid-air or did Bruce Banner manage to get everyone blipped back somewhere safe? Imagine the road accidents if not. Surely a lot of people would die, maybe even as many as when they disappeared in the first place. The potential for interesting stories to tell here is limited only by the imagination of the creators. It’s pretty evident that- even though it initially seemed that those left behind were the lucky ones- the blipped got off a little easier. What seemed like mere minutes to them was five years to the rest. Of course, they would have had to handle the changes that occurred in those five years but those who survived the snap would not only have had to deal with that, but they also had to live those five years thinking that their loved ones were gone forever.

There is so much that can be done here and I really hope that this is a key feature of the next saga of Marvel films. Even in this one short scene in WandaVision showing the blipped returning was highly engaging, leaving me wanting a lot more. I really don’t want the situation to just be tossed aside in favour of another storyline. I understand that “The Infinity Saga” is done and dusted (pun intended) but the effects of such a universe changing event cannot be left by the wayside either. It would be fantastic if a balance between new stories and the effects of “The Infinity Saga” could be established in the next line up of Marvel films, so here’s hoping that Marvel Studios can pull it off as well as they did with “The Infinity Saga”.

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