90s Nostalgia and What It Could Mean for the Future of the MCU

Fans of Marvel Studios who are also long-time comic readers might have noticed some big influences in the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like there’s a strong sense of nostalgia for the early 90s of Marvel in the movies we have so far, as well as the ones of the near future.

This past weekend at the 2019 D23 Expo, it was announced that Kit Harrington would be playing Black Knight in The Eternals, and Gemma Chan would be Sersi. For comic readers familiar with the time period of the early 90s, the two were not only Avengers and part of a big event at that time; they were also one of the Marvel “power couples” back then. Revealing those two at D23 Expo, after the rest of the cast back at SDCC, is a sign that the two will be taking a leading role in the ensemble cast. Which makes a lot of sense with the duo’s history in Marvel comics.

Marvel has also recently reprinted The Gatherer’s Saga, in which Black Knight and Sersi played a major role, and with their reveal in The Eternals the reprints make perfect sense now. They want to introduce new readers to two characters who will likely play very big roles in the future of the MCU, by having people read a major 90s comic event they were part of.

Prior to that, Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios adapted one of the great early 90s comic events as the Infinity Saga. Back when Thanos was first teased in The Avengers, many couldn’t see how you could adapt that event, just based on how “grounded” superhero movies had been up to that point in 2012. But they did it, and topped the all-time box office list in the process.

Towards the end of The Infinity Saga we got Captain Marvel. The movie, set in 1995, lovingly recreated the time with some pretty impressive accuracy. No one who lived through that decade can forget how computers back then worked.

But even just beyond the Marvel comics of the time, there are early 90s influences in the MCU; specifically Star Trek. Kevin Feige compared concluding The Infinity Saga to how Star Trek: The Next Generation ended with one of the all-time best finales in 1994’s All Good Things…, and the autograph end credits for the Original Six Avengers in Avengers: Endgame is directly inspired by the cast credits in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

If the early 90s hold a special place in the hearts of those who chart the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what could that mean for the future? Well, Marvel now has a whole cast of characters fans are eagerly awaiting them to bring to the big screen, and their 90s designs are perhaps the most popular of all time:

In October of 1991, Marvel Comics relaunched X-Men with a new first issue featuring art and character designs by Jim Lee. The comic is still the highest-selling comic of all time with 8.1 million copies sold, and those versions of the characters remain to this day to be extremely popular.

Recently when X-Men figures began to be produced again, there was a line of Marvel Legends featuring the 90s costumes. Cyclops and Colossus are appearing in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, and they’re in their 90s costumes. Fox even tried to reproduce the costumes at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, but seemed to forget about them when Dark Phoenix rolled around.

So when Marvel Studios does introduce the X-Men to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it wouldn’t be shocking at all if the Marvel Visual Development Team takes a crack at adapting those iconic and eternally popular Jim Lee costumes to the MCU. And if you thought people were excited about Marvel Studios handling the X-Men, that right there would send excitement for an X-Men reboot into heights we haven’t seen for a comic book movie yet.