The Casual Notice Timeline of the MCU: Part 4

2000-ish to 2005 or so

  • A large green monster is sighted near Dr. Bruce Banner’s lab. The Bush administration, abetted by Fox News and MI6, declares war on southern Nevada and parts of Utah. General Thaddeus Thunderbolt “Sam Elliot” Ross is given command of the illegal expeditionary force and attacks Banner based on the incriminating evidence that he’s dating Ross’s daughter, Jennifer Connally. After an extended battle in the desert and, for some reason, San Francisco, the Green monster–now called the Hulk– is captured, but not before he uses an M1 Abrams as a baseball bat.
  • The Hulk is revealed to be Bruce Banner, after all. His abusive and batshit insane father is called in to assist the army, because when you are trying to contain someone who turns into a giant green rage-monster, the best way to do so is to contract the one person most likely to send him into apoplexy. This works out exactly as well as anyone could have predicted and the Hulk escapes after punching an underground bunker into oblivion.
  • The above two items never happened.
  • Tony Stark stops even pretending to run the company with his name on it, electing, instead, to do PR and sales, and drop off the occasional scribbled design for new hardware, while leaving the day-to-day business to his bizarrely loyal assistant, Pepper Potts and his father’s former partner, Obadiah “Bad Company” Stane. This move will surely benefit everybody.
  • Bruce Banner moves from the Alaskan wilderness to Rio de Janeiro (or possibly Sao Paolo, or Brasilia…it’s hard to tell) where he works on the floor of a soda pop bottling plant, because underpaid 3rd world factory workers never face stress.

2006-ish to 2008

  • Alarmed at Stark’s increasingly erratic behavior, the DoD assigns USAF Major James “Empire” Rhodes as his handler, with the mission specs that he is to (a) protect the asset (Stark) and (b) prevent him from becoming too much of an embarrassment. He fails spectacularly on both objectives.
  • While on a press junket in the middle east to show off top secret Stark Industries weaponry to the press and mid-rank officers, Tony Stark is caught in an ambush by an organized militia. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
  • Held captive in a terrorist camp/spooky cave, with a piece of shrapnel edging ever closer to his heart, Stark devises a magical energy source and a suit of plot armor. He murders his way out of the Terrorist camp, crashes his suit, and is rescued by an Army helicopter crew that just happened to be flying over an unoccupied section of desert for some reason.
  • Arriving home, Stark upgrades his original plot armor plans to be much sexier and have a bitchin red-and-gold metal flake paint job. Forgoing the usual testing process, he decides to fly his improved armor into the desert and murdalize some terrorists. He gets shot out of the sky by a pair of Air Force fighters.
  • His two trips to the Middle East having revealed how many Stark Industries weapons were illegally obtained by terrorist groups, Stark announce that Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer, will no longer manufacture weapons.
  • Stane unethically uses Stark’s previous erratic behavior and his decision to terminate the company’s involvement in its one industry to unfairly influence the Board of Directors and have Stark removed as CEO.
  • Potts, while trying to steal proprietary company technology, stumbles upon evidence that Stane was illegally selling Stark weapons to terrorists and orchestrated the ambush that led to Stark’s capture AND used a collection of burner phones to rig the most recent American Idol. She gives this info to SHIELD agent, Phil Coulson, who promptly moves to arrest Stane.
  • Stane uses a piece of plot armor, originally based on Stark’s first suit, but with more weapons, a cup holder and a back-up camera, to escape the SHIELD detail sent to capture hi and goes after Stark.
  • Stark gets into a head-to-head battle against his father’s old friend, and owing to his brilliance and the advanced nature of his Mark III plot armor, is absolutely pummeled into obscurity by Stane who is wearing what can best be describe as, “a battleship with legs.” Stark is forced to save himself by using his magic energy generator to vaporize Stane’s head.
  • Stark announces that he is Iron Man (cue Black Sabbath…or the Cardigans, whichever you like better).

The Casual Notice Timeline of the MCU: Part 3

1950-ish to 1980-something

  • Following orders from Arnim Zola, who somehow made the jump from cowardly little weasel to super-villain with enough charisma to command a death cult, Hydra operatives find a still-living Bucky Barnes. They remove his left arm and replace it with a super-cool robot arm, then they brainwash him into being a super assassin and put him in cryostasis so they can use him later, but not too often, because he’s expensive, and doesn’t mix well with others–like saffron, only less likely to share names with a stripper.
  • The last entry should have probably gone into the previous section.
  • Howard Stark and the newly formed SHIELD find the Tesseract in the Arctic ocean but fail to locate the giant, wing-shaped bomber containing the cryogenically-preserved Steve Austin Rogers.
  • Dr. Henry Pym develops a process for shrinking and growing things while ignoring mass, physics, and the square-cube law. This is sure to be a benefit for everyone.
  • Howard Stark gets married and has a kid who’s even smarter, snarkier, and less sincere than he is. He also becomes even more insanely rich by using his vast intellect and unimaginable resources to solve hunger, pollution, and the looming energy crisis. Just kidding, he makes a lot of weapons and partners up with a guy named Obadiah who looks like the Dude but talks like Rooster Cogburn. This partnership will surely benefit everyone.
  • The Pentagon Papers and Watergate Scandal trigger a period of intense scrutiny of the Federal Government, revealing such abominations as the Tuskegee Experiment, Project MK Ultra, and the New Coke Marketing Conspiracy, but somehow failing to reveal that fully half of an agency with military powers and access to advanced weaponry is staffed by adherents to a murderous death cult that worships a psychotic, life-sucking colony creature.
  • The Kree go to war with the Skrulls, a galaxy-spanning empire of lizard-like beings that have the unique ability to take on any shape they see. The Kree are definitely the bad guys, here, because there’s no way the Skrulls could use their ability for evil.
  • Dr. David Banner, working on a new version of Stanley Tucci’s super-soldier serum (cf Part 2), injects his infant son, Bruce, with the serum, because he’s an awful father, then he murders his wife in front of his son. Despite this, and the traumas inherent in the foster system, Bruce grows up well-adjusted in every way.
  • Physicist Anton Vanko raises his son on apocryphal tales of how he provided Stark with all of his ideas but they were stolen from him. There’s no way this harmless bit of hyperbole can have consequences.

1980-ish to 2000

  • Ego wraps up his Dissemination and Insemination Tour by stopping at planet Earth and having a whirlwind romance while disguised as a CGI Kurt Russell. He begins to have feelings for his baby momma, so plants incurable cancer in her head and hits the road.
  • Henry Pym, tired of SHIELD and Stark pressuring him to industrialize his size-changing technology, quits his job and goes into business for himself. He also starts doing covert operations as the size-changing Ant-Man, bringing his wife along, code-named Wasp.
  • Bucky, brainwashed and using the code-name, The Winter Soldier, kills Howard Stark and his wife. Despite a surprising amount of camera footage–from multiple angles–for an isolated country road, this crime goes unnoticed and is ruled an unfortunate auto accident.
  • The Kree win the Kree-Skrull War and embark on a policy of genocide, as one does. A Kree doctor named Mar-Vel defects, steals some technology, and hides a small group of Skrull refugees aboard a huge warship in earth orbit while she gets a job building Tesseract-powered sub-orbital jets for the US Air Force.
  • On the day his mother dies of the Ego-induced brain cancer, Peter Quill is kidnapped by aliens. He is never heard from again.
  • Hank Pym’s wife, Janet van Dyne (she kept her last name for professional reasons), goes sub-atomic during a mission. She is presumed dead and never seen again.
  • A Kree strike force, led by young Dumbledore, discovers Mar-Vel and murders her while trying to steal the Tesseract. Her pilot, US Air Force Captain Carol Danvers touches the Tesseract and absorbs some of its power, then passes out. She is kidnapped by the Kree and renamed Vers, because that is what the piece of her broken dogtag says and the Kree are unfamiliar with the concept of incomplete data.
  • Thanos murders a planet and adopts a girl child after making her watch her mother die, then raises her to be the most efficient assassin in galactic history. This works out so well, he does it a second time, only with physical and psychological abuse and lots of needless limb replacement surgery.
  • Tony Stark, continuing his father’s tradition of never taking anything seriously, blows off a brilliant young scientist who has some remarkable ideas that might get the super-soldier program (of course that’s still a thing) back on track.
  • Bruce Banner, begins working on the super-soldier program because it will surely have benefits for everyone and not be used solely for making super-soldiers.
  • Captain Danvers returns to Earth in pursuit of a Skrull agent. Believing herself to be a Kree warrior, she powers through a wealth of misgivings and flashbacks to secure her objective. Once she’s done that, she realizes she is not, in fact, a Kree, and that the Kree are kind of assholes. Hilarious hijinx ensue.
  • Having assisted Captain Danvers during her recent trip to Earth, SHIELD Agent, Nick Fury, starts thinking super-heroes are kind of awesome and begins the SHIELD program, the Avengers Initiative.
  • Under pressure from his military sponsors, Bruce Banner tests his version of the super-soldier serum on himself and adds a dose of Gamma radiation because if he doesn’t use the particle accelerator it won’t be in his budget next year. It’s a good thing Banner is so well-adjusted; who knows what kind of hulking rage-monster would have resulted if he had anger and impulse-control issues.

The Casual Notice Timeline to the MCU–Part 2

Classical Period to 20th Century

  • Odin raises his two boys using the time-tested method of combining benign neglect and unjustified over-reaction. He repeatedly reminds them that, while they are both being raised to be king, only one of them actually will be king. This cannot possibly go wrong.
  • Ego continues his campaign of seed planting and hot girl boning, occasionally taking time out to “test” his bastard children, which, inevitably, results in their deaths.
  • Pre-Hydra continues its policy of pointless evil and occasional underling murder.
  • Thanos raises an army of psychopaths, murders some planets, somehow takes control of an entire race of colony creatures that depend on continued input from a central base to survive.
  • Most of human history happens, but it’s not as ‘splodey as it should be for a modern film audience, so meh.

1930-ish to 1940-something

  • Adolf Hitler hires Hydra because he’s afraid regular Nazis don’t embody enough psychotic evil.
  • Dr. Stanley Tucci develops a serum to make all of the most prominent aspects of a person jump to the fore. He gives it to Johann Schmidt, a Hydra agent who is even more Hitler-y than Hitler. This, surprisingly, results in Johann becoming a superpowered evil monster with a red skull for a face. Dr. Tucci vows never to make the serum again.
  • Hydra invades Norway and steals the Tesseract from its secure location in a church behind a relief showing Odin entrusting the Tesseract to the church leaders.
  • Hydra engages Arnim Zola to use the Tesseract to create weapons.
  • The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor–you’d think this would be a bigger deal, but it really never comes up again.
  • Dr. Stanley Tucci decides to tell the US Army about his magic potion because he is caught up in the post-Pearl Harbor enthusiasm to get back at the Japanese kill some Nazis stop Hydra.
  • Howard Stark uses his money and influence to skip the draft, and, instead, spends the war slouching around Army black sites, amusing himself by making random toys that have very little practical value.
  • Steve Rogers tries to join the Army and is classified as 4-F. He tries three more times and is remarkably not thrown in jail for attempted fraud. On his final attempt he is noticed by Dr. Stanley Tucci, who believes a scrawny–but scrappy–nobody is just what his project needs to create a supersoldier equal to the horror show he created in Germany.
  • Rogers is injected with the superserum in a secret test that includes an audience of Senators, their staff, and possibly members of the press, as one does when testing secret weaponized drugs. A Hydra agent posing as a Senator’s aide murders Dr. Tucci, steals the last vial of superserum, and blows up a corner of the lab that didn’t have anyone in it. Rogers pursues the spy who jumps into a one-man sub he’d been storing in a berth in New York Harbor. Rogers catches him but not before he destroys the last vial of superserum and bites a cyanide tooth.
  • Despite Rogers’ show of heroism and obvious wish to serve, Colonel Tommy Lee Jones turns down Rogers’ request to go to the front. Rogers is recruited by the Senator to appear in films and stage shows to sell War Bonds. Peggy Carter, an agent with the Strategic Science Reserve (SSR), and also somehow Colonel Jones’s ADC is upset by this but is shut down by vague threats from the Colonel.
  • Hydra develops the Tesseract weapons and decides to fight the war for themselves, winning some early victories and taking a number of prisoners for “testing”. It doesn’t occur to anyone that keeping trained enemy soldiers inside an advanced weapons development and testing facility might not be the best idea.
  • Rogers, now going by the sobriquet, “Captain America” is booed off the stage at a forward performance. He learns that his best friend, Bucky Barnes, is among the missing, and determines to mount a rescue mission. Agent Carter agrees to help him because of the power of boners. Howard Stark also agrees because it’s a slow Thursday, and he’s got the extra plane.
  • Rogers single-handedly frees the captured soldiers who, in a move no one could have foreseen, proceed to steal a bunch of advanced weapons and absolutely wreck the facility. Rogers encounters Schmidt, who shows off his Red Skull and is disappointed when Rogers responds with the 1940’s equivalent of “Sucks to be you.”
  • Rogers returns to Colonel Jones’s camp with the MIAs and stolen weapons, is given a battlefield commission of Captain, and put in charge of ferreting out the rest of Hydra’s bases (since Rogers memorized a map he saw for a few seconds on the wall of the facility). He does this with his commando squad, a surprisingly diverse (for the time) group called the Howling Commandos.
  • The Howling Commandos attack a Hydra train containing Arnim Zola. Bucky is knocked down a five hundred foot cliff. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
  • Zola gives the army the location of the last Hydra base, and the Commandos attack it with an entire division at their backs. Too late, however because Schmidt takes off in a flying wing full of piloted bombs set to fly to multiple cities throughout the Atlantic and set off their Tesseract-powered payload. Rogers gets aboard the plane and destroys all of the bombs, but one, before getting distracted by Schmidt monologuing. This is thankfully cut short when Schmidt grabs the Tesseract and is melted in a completely unique fashion and not at all like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Despite having literally landed a piloted bomb on a moving plane just minutes before, Rogers is unable to pilot the bomber to a safe landing, and chooses, instead, to crash it into the nearby ice shelf. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
  • Peggy Carter has adventures and flirtations, but never gets over Rogers enough to pull the trigger with anyone. She becomes director of SHIELD, which does not have a corps of “reformed” Hydra agents using SHIELD resources to rebuild the evil organization. That would just be silly.

The Casual Notice guide to the MCU Timeline Part 1

Prehistory

  • Someone, for some reason, creates a set of six insanely powerful magic stones, any one of which gave its holder the power to rule pretty much everything, but, if all of them are brought together, the person who holds them gains access to god mode and a fully populated map, AND infinite weapons and ammo.
  • Odin conquers the 9 worlds with the help of his dangerously psychotic daughter Hela, triggering the “Domination” Victory in Civilization. He decides he doesn’t want to be that kind of immortal god emperor, so reloads a later save, locks Crazy Girl away in a pocket dimension (because nothing bad happens when you lock people in solitude for centuries) and bangs out a son, making sure his wife drinks a lot during pregnancy so their son would never be bright enough to become a threat. He also adopts an ice giant baby because Petco was having a sale.
  • The Kree, a vast, galaxy-spanning empire that spends all of its free time getting into wars with other vast galaxy-spanning empires for murky reasons, takes time out from its busy schedule to visit Earth and create the Inhumans from primitive men. This goes well for about ten seconds until one of the Inhumans becomes a living swarm of CGI bug things that sucks out life force and makes convoluted plans to take over the universe. They lock the swarm away on a soon-to-be deserted planet in a pocket dimension. Meanwhile, the other Inhumans rebel, and start two secret colonies: one high in the Himalayas and the other on the moon.
  • Ego, the Living Planet, discovers that almost all of the universe is not him, and decides to rectify that appalling situation through a two-part strategy:
    • He leaves seeds of himself lying around that–on a special signal–would start growing and take over whatever planet they are on.
    • He bangs a hot chick on every planet with hot chicks in order to give himself enough offspring to something something, PROFIT!
  • Some humans start worshiping Swarm (above) and create a secret society that would form the basis for Hydra.

Ancient History

  • Odin and the Norse gods decimate the dark elves, essentially committing genocide. One troopship, led by the Ninth Doctor, escapes and hides in a pocket dimension. Odin has Bor (who never really comes up again) hide the Aether, also called the reality stone, in a place, somewhere.
  • The Ancient One travels to Kamar Taj to learn magic and wear comfortable, airy pant suits with flats.
  • Pre-Hydra discovers or invents a monolithic black rock that is a wholly independent creative concept and not at all plagiarized from an older work by Arthur C. Clarke. They uses this rock to contact Swarm and occasionally send him loyal acolytes to murder.
  • Thanos fails to emerge from his mopey Goth phase and decides his home planet (Titan–but definitely not the large moon of Saturn–that would just be silly) would be much nicer as a post-apocalyptic hellscape instead of as a peaceful advanced society. Then he decides Malthusian philosophy is pretty awesome, despite the fact that Dr. Malthus would not be born for a few thousand years.
  • Odin places the Tessaract, containing the space stone, in the keeping of a house of peaceful monks. This can’t possibly go wrong.
  • An ancient mage, god, or extradimensional being, forges a necklace to hold the time stone and calls it the Eye of Agamoto, because Deus ex Machina was not yet a concept.
  • The Kree Supreme Intelligence, a biomorphic computer composed of the uploaded mental engrams of all the greatest Kree, starts using telepathic dreamscapes to communicate because it doesn’t want anyone to know it really looks like Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series.

The Casual Notice Guide to Negotiation

I’ve been told that I’m a good negotiator. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never had to negotiate with myself. I do know that at one time, I was a bad negotiator, but have learned many of the things I was doing wrong, and I’m more than happy to share my experience, because a world that negotiates better is a world that runs more smoothly.

But why should you want to be good at negotiating? I mean, I get that you’re doing fine paying MSRP for whatever you buy, and “haggling” seems so…flea market. That’s what they want you to think. I don’t know who “they” are. I assume there’s some shadow cadre of real estate agents, auto dealerships, and furniture stores that have a vested interest in keeping you ignorant of good negotiation. So, yeah, stick it to them.

Or, face the fact that nearly every interaction you have after small-talk openers is a negotiation of some kind. Every topic from what to watch on TV to how many Hail Marys you’ll say if you find your keys boils down to a simple business concept: two people each have something the other wants, even if that something is a utility player to be named later. You need to negotiate well, because negotiating badly is how you end up alone and poor.

Negotiation is not war

No matter what those mid-eighties business guides that essentially plagiarized The Art of War tell you, negotiation is not war, and going into a room thinking it is will only generate casualties, and you will be one of them. In the ideal negotiation, both parties walk away thinking they’ve had one over on the other. Most come out with both sides feeling okay (but not ecstatic) with how it came out. In the worst ones, one or both parties feels ripped off. We want to get as close as we can to ideal while avoiding the worst like the plague.

The thing is, if you walk into the room ready for war, you immediately put your counterpart on the defensive. They’ll be less likely to make concessions and more likely to make unreasonable demands. Always remember that you have common ground: you each have something the other wants, and it behooves you both to make the trade cleanly and fairly.

It also helps to remember that nothing happens in a vacuum. If you walk away from the table leaving Marcy with five Skittles for her entire bag of m&ms, what are you going to do next week when she has Reese’s cups and all you have are Necco Nickels? A more friendly, cooperative strategy of negotiation helps in improving relations for later trades.

Do your homework

The best way to get the best deal is to know what the best deal really is. If you’re looking for a new car, research what cars in your class usually go for in your area. What’s the value drop between a new and late-model used car of that class? What amenities do you have to have, and what can you expect to pay for them? What sort of warranties are available?

You should also research your own situation. What’s the absolute most you are able to pay? What’s your ideal? What amenities can you live without? Would something smaller or less tricked-out be better if it fits more neatly into your financial situation?

Keep what you’ve learned in mind when you walk in. Doing so will not only help you keep your goals consistent, but will also give you insight into what your counterpart is doing. Knowing, even sympathizing with your counterpart’s position can only help, because the more open you are, the more they want to be open to you. He wants you commission, but he also wants your commission next year when you buy a junker for your teenager, and the year after that when your husband is looking for his car. Even if you don’t expect him to be around, later, develop a relationship as if you did.

Have benchmarks

Every negotiation is a dance between three points on each side. You should know and remember what these points are. If you walk in to negotiate and don’t have wiggle room, then you’re not negotiating. You’re laying down an ultimatum, and no one wants that.

So what are these points? Well the first one, the very top, is What you want. That is to say, what is the ideal outcome for you. Be realistic. You’re not going to get two acres of prime downtown real estate for 85 cents and a half-eaten chicken leg. It goes back to doing your homework, because your first offer should be what you want, and if it isn’t realistic, then you’re just being insulting. Try to stay in a range of plus or minus 20% of fair market value.

The next point is what you’d like. This is your most realistic expectation for how the negotiation will come out. If you’ve done your research, then any good compromise will get you pretty close to this benchmark.

The final benchmark is what you will accept. This is the worst deal you can make without feeling resentful. Again, be realistic, but mostly be realistic on your own behalf. If that plot of land bottoms out at 10 million, will you be able to make that money back? What further investment needs to go into the property before it can be developed? Can you afford it? Do you want to? Your point of acceptance should leave you in a position to make use of what you have without hardship and really should leave you a fair few steps above hardship.

Have options

During your research, you will undoubtedly come across things that are close to what you want. Keep these in mind, maybe even make some inroads into those items. It’s important to always know that you have options and what those options are. You’ll be more confident walking in if you don’t believe that your life depends on the outcome of the negotiation.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

You have options and you know what they are; you also know what the absolute minimum you will accept will be. What do you do if your counterpart isn’t willing to come up to your bottom? You walk away. 10 million is fair, but if your counterpart can’t make it construction ready by closing then it’s not fair enough. 65 thousand is too much, especially since you told them you don’t want (or need) the undercoat, since you live in the south and are unlikely to encounter heavily-salted winter roads. At some point, you have to recognize that the deal will not happen.

When you have to walk away, don’t be mad about it. The whole point of walking away is to ensure that no one feels hard done by. Thank your counterpart for their time and express your regret that a deal couldn’t be reached. Remember, this negotiation may not have gone as you hoped, but there will almost certainly be others. No matter how gratifying it might be to slam the papers and make gratuitous remarks about scheisters, a hanshake and a regretful shrug will do everyone more good in the long run.