We all might die of old age before the conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our kids’ kids may die of old age before we see the end of this universe, and in no way is that depressing. Marvel have all but reinvented the super hero movie genre with their incredibly ambitious and well-executed live-action universe.
Late last year it was announced that the live-action universe would expand beyond the staple movie releases and ABC’s Agents of Shield to multiple Netflix series’, including Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist among others.
This year at San Diego Comic-Con that Marvel had plans for years to come, including a sequel to the then unreleased Guardians of the Galaxy. While that may have seemed a bit over-ambitious at the time, Guardians turned out to be a smashing success, grossing nearly $800 million out of what is arguably a c-list comic. At this point, it seems as if Marvel can do no wrong.
Today the subsidiary of Disney announced even more super hero-y goodness, revealing plans through the year 2019(!!!). 2019! While that may not seem far away, let me put it into perspective. The first film entry into the MCU was 2008’s Iron Man. That’s 11 years of interconnected movie magic, with even more on the horizon it would seem.
Today’s reveal in Los Angeles unveiled Marvel’s outline for phase three of their cinematic universe, including the following films:
- Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
- Dr. Strange (November 4, 2016)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017)
- Black Panther (November 3, 2017)
- Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)
- Inhumans (November 2, 2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War Part I (May 2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War Part II (May 2019)
Most of these movies have been rumored for quite sometime, especially Captain America: Civil War which recently added Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark to their cast. Marvel pulled a fast one on fans, originally showing the logo for the film as “Captain America: Society,” but later revealing it was indeed Civil War. In addition, information on how the famed comic story arc would come to life given the fact that there are not many secret identities in the MCU at the moment. Instead they will be approaching it in a fashion similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where the drama will come from the government trying to determine who each hero reports to, and using them as an extension of the government.
Next on the slate, Dr. Strange, have been in the public eye quite a bit recently with the alleged fallout of talks between Joaquin Pheonix and Marvel around the time of New York Comic-Con this year which led to a plethora of actors being rumored to be involved including Ewan McGregor, Matthew McConaughey, and Jake Gyllenhaal among others. Previous to these supposed developments, my personal favorite for the role, Jon Hamm, was rumored to be involved, but Hamm shot those rumors down back in August.
Most recently, news has broken that Benedict Cumberbatch will be the sorcerer Steven Strange, though no official word has been released from Marvel yet.
Following Strange will be Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which seems like an absolute no-brainer. At this point in time details are mum, but for a production like Guardians, that isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. The element of surprise was part of what made the original Guardians so great, so if Marvel can keep that aura of mystery and discovery going into Guardians 2 it pay huge dividends.
Thor: Ragnarok will most likely be the conclusion to the Thor/Loki story. Thor is probably the Avenger I am least familiar with, which is what has made his movies so interesting to me. Ragnarok is essentially the Norse apocalypse, resulting in the deaths of figures such as Odin, Thor and Loki (those names sound familiar, so this may be the last we see of Asgaard or Thor altogether. What’s most exciting about this installment is that it may introduce fan favorite, Beta Ray Bill, an alien who is deemed worthy of Thor’s power by Mjolnir after Thor is separated from his trusty hammer. Bill also has deep ties to the Ragnarok story from the comics, and after an Easter egg in Guardians of the Galaxy, it seems like a near lock that we will see his character sooner or later.
The following three films, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Inhumans are all properties that I am personally not too familiar with, so I won’t be going into too much detail outside of basic summaries and what could connect them to the MCU.
Black Panther, who will be portrayed by Chadwick Boseman of “42” and “Get on Up” fame, is a prince from the fictional African country of Wakanda by the name of T’Challa. Black Panther was also the first black superhero in the Marvel universe, predating other heroes like the Falcon, Storm, and Luke Cage. The fan favorite is a hero with genius-level intellect, enhanced agility, and Olympic level strength. He also wears a suit made of vibranium, the material that Captain America’s shield is comprised of. There was much speculation before today’s announcement that we might see T’Challa in the Avengers: Age of Ultron, as the trailer for the second ensemble film featured images of Captain America’s shield laying broken on the ground, as well as an unknown character being portrayed by Andy Serkis who looks an awful lot like Panther’s nemesis, Ulysses Klaw.
Captain Marvel will be the first female-led film that Marvel has released, continuing what appears to be a push for more diversity within their universe. The Captain Marvel incarnation being used will be Carol Danvers, a human woman who is caught in a Kree explosion and seriously injured. Years later, Danvers resurfaces with super-human powers including flight, super strength, and energy absorption. This story has the potential to be a nice tie-in with Guardians of the Galaxy, as the Kree were heavily featured in that film. There are currently no names attached the film, unlike the aforementioned productions.
Inhumans is another production that may have cosmic ties. After being experimented on and subsequently abandoned by the Kree, these heroes were once a primitive offshoot of human beings who were being modified to act as a war asset to Ronan the Accuser (Remember him from Guardians of the Galaxy?). Eventually the people experimented on would go on to found their own society, and eventually super-human powers, becoming the Inhumans. From there, the story gets kind of complicated. Each Inhuman has a different sort of power, and draw a lot of parallels to the Mutants in the Marvel world. Of course, Fox owns the film rights to any all X-Men properties, including the word “Mutant,” so this may be Marvel’s workaround to explaining certain characters who overlap from the X-men into other teams, like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who will be featured in the Avengers: Age of Ultron. There have also been rumors that Vin Diesel is attached to the franchise.
To wrap up the current timeline, the third Avengers film, Infinity War, will be split into two parts. These films will be a culmination of all of the previous films, tying up the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet storyline that has been teased for quite some time now. It’s probably safe to assume that each installment will feature an eclectic cast of heroes that will be different than it’s counterpart due to Marvel juggling contracts with their big stars, as well as giving all of their heroes a fair amount of screen time.
Missing from the reveal today was any news on whether or not we’ll see Spider-Man making his way into the MCU, as had been heavily rumored recently. We also probably won’t be seeing any standalone films for Black Widow, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Falcon, or War Machine either, which is kind of disappointing given the rich stories that could be told with these characters, especially the Hulk.
All in all, some pretty crazy stuff coming out of the Marvel camp today. We have an insane amount of comic book based films coming out in the next six years alone, including Marvel’s Ant Man which will wrap up Phase 2 of their cinematic universe. There may even be some films that haven’t been announced yet. Here’s to hoping we all don’t get fatigued by the massive outpouring of spandex and superpowers, and the competition between these comic cinematic universes encourages high quality productions.
Your move, DC.
ADDENDUM: Check out the new trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron that was aired during Agents of Shield last night. It isn’t very different from what we’ve already seen, but it does have some footage of the team trying to lift Mjolnir which is pretty funny.