The Marvel Universe has become a force unto itself. After 15 years and 40 movies and series (and counting), keeping everything straight in your head can get a little difficult. And if you didn’t get in on the ground floor it can be downright overwhelming to try and join now. Enter Smart Pop Explains Marvel Movies and TV Shows. This unauthorized guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is perfect for anyone who is new to the MCU and needs an introduction, or anyone who already loves the MCU but wants an easy-to-access answer guide. It provides a comprehensive and easily digestible guide to learning more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that more franchises should have! So let’s explore what makes Smart Pop Explains Marvel Movies and TV Shows a must-have for those starting off or collection completists!
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Smart Pop for the purpose of this review.]
Smart Pop Explains Marvel is easy and fun
Smart Pop Explains: Marvel Movies and TV Shows was a super easy and fun read. It is an unauthorized guide of the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to July 2021 and is in no way connected to the MCU’s creators or keepers. But as far as I could tell it was accurate and, more importantly, accessible.
The book’s main format is a question-and-answer system. So a question is posed in bold, such as “Why do people keep telling the Hulk that “the sun is going down?” Then they give the answer below that. The writing style is very conversational with a teenage-ish Marvel geek flavor, so there is a lot of humor and the occasional sarcasm to spice it up. Overall, it’s a pleasant style that makes the book a quick and entertaining read.
Thrown in with the questions are random charts and lists to share knowledge that doesn’t fit a question and response style as well. This includes a list of Stan Lee’s appearances, the ultimate fates of different villains, and “Where does my mom know that actor from?” This one is super important for those watching with their parents. The different charts and lists help to break up the reading and are convenient ways to quickly find some interesting information.
This guide is a great start for kids
My big thought when reading Smart Pop Explains: Marvel Movies and TV Shows was that it was perfect for a kid or young teen who wasn’t around or ready for the MCU when it began but wants to dive in now. Sure, they can simply watch all the movies, but there is a good chance that they’ve seen bits and pieces already on TV and don’t necessarily want to watch all of them.
I know a lot of parents loved the MCU and are at that point where they want to start sharing it with their kids. This book can be a nice bridge to draw their kids in. Of course, they’ll want to watch the movies together too. But if your kids read this first it might stop the ten million questions during the movie, allowing you to just enjoy it with your kiddos. It can also help kids to make sense of what they’re seeing and fill in any blank spots they might miss.
The perfect bathroom book
Back in the day, the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series was in everyone’s bathroom. It was full of quick trivia questions and answers, top 10 lists, and various other interesting and easy-to-read information. Smart Pop Explains: Marvel Movies and TV Shows reminded me of these books but in more niche areas than Uncle John’s. The short answer format to the questions made it the perfect book for the toilet because it was really interesting but could easily be set down at any point. It’s also a great book for on-the-go when you only have a few minutes to spare therefore you only want something light to read.
One drawback to Smart Pop Explains
Smart Pop Explains: Marvel Movies and TV Shows is a great book for learning about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It contains tons of information from every movie and show that’s been released from Iron Man to Spiderman: Far From Home. The problem is that all this information is jumbled together. There is no organization to help you find specific information fast. So if you have time to read through and pick up random information it’s great. But if you’re trying to settle a dispute with your best friend about whether Captain America or a helicopter is stronger, you’ll have to do a lot of flipping to find it.
If the information had been sorted into chapters by subject, it would have made finding the information faster and easier. There is an index at the back of the book that helps with finding things, but it is a little confusing still. I really think that some organization in the book itself would have gone a long way. It would have elevated Smart Pop Explains: Marvel Movies and TV Shows from a bathroom reader to a real, if still unauthorized, reference book.
A fun little Marvel introduction
Smart pop bills their Smart Pop Explains Marvel Movies and TV Shows as a collection of “smart answers for questions that pop up”. And it does contain tons of answers to all different MCU questions. It can be used this way but the book lends itself more to casual reading. It is perfect for someone new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but is just as interesting to someone who has been watching since 2008.
I’m not sure that it has a high re-readability, but you might keep it around to solve arguments about the MCU. Or for an emergency bathroom book when your phone dies.
My Rating: 7/10
Smart Pop Explains Marvel Movies and TV Shows is available now! Have you read this book? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord! And if you haven’t already, check out another book review from Smart Pop, The Princess Bride The Official Cookbook!