The long-awaited (and impressively titled) "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One - Avengers Assembled" box set is finally available, giving fans the be-all, end-all collector's item for the first round of stand-alone superhero films and last summer's record-smashing mashup, "Marvel's The Avengers." The 10-disc, 6-movie set, which comes in an official-looking S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase (or something), includes both Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D copies of "The Avengers," "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger," Blu-ray copies of "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2" and "The Incredible Hulk," collectibles and a bonus disc chock full of special features.
One of those special features is "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two Preview," an exclusive early look at life after "The Avengers." Phase Two begins with "Iron Man 3," opening next month, and not surprisingly the preview puts Tony Stark front and center. Marvel Films producer Kevin Feige acknowledges Stark as the character who started this ambitious cinematic endeavor with the original "Iron Man" (2008), becoming the first piece in a much larger superhero puzzle (as foreshadowed by the audience-pleasing post-credits recruiting sequence featuring Samuel L. Jackson's first appearance as Nick Fury). So it only makes sense that Phase Two will also kick off with Stark, the maverick industrial genius who now knows how to work as a member of a team ... and who has yet to face his greatest challenges, which he'll have to take on without the help of Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and his own personal hero, the Hulk.
In true Marvel fashion, the just under-a-minute preview manages to get fans psyched for the next round of Marvel mania without really revealing anything at all. Saying Tony Stark's new adventures are "more grounded with everything that's been set up but also more complicated and more challenging" isn't some incredible insight or spoiler -- that's just basic Hero's Journey 101. But when you add shots of Iron Man flying around and a battered Stark looking contemplative in his workshop, well ... it makes for the most exciting bit of info you'll hear all week.
"Iron Man 3" opens May 3, which is, like, only a few weeks away.