It is hard to describe exactly just how gratifying it is to see Marvel own the cinema world right now. When Marvel first got the crazy idea in their heads to make their own movies, little did the world know that in a few short years we would be here.
Proving the geek cacophony right, that just telling the stories like they are told in the comics, has become an era defining moment. It has taken the comic book movie fad and turned it into a full-fledged cinematic genre that shows no sign of slowing down.
I hope you will pardon a little hyperbole on my part, but that is the kind of emotion that is running through my mind as the scope of Marvel’s movie-verse panel settles in my mind. Marvel trotted out their road map for ‘Phase 2’ this weekend in San Diego, and it brings ‘Phase 2’ into much greater focus.
Marvel officially announced a five film slate that, much like the five films before The Avengers, will act as a lead up to Avengers 2. Even though these films will lead towards a single event film, that doesn’t mean Marvel is treating them as tiny pieces to a whole.
On the contrary, Marvel is actually treating each individual franchise like they would the solo run of these characters in the comics. Which might just be the secret sauce that makes these films individually exciting, but collectively intoxicating.
So lets dig into the next five films and see what Marvel has in store for your pleasure in the coming years:
‘Phase 2’ begins here, and as the one film in this bunch that is actually filming right now, this is the movie we get the most concrete facts about.
New director Shane Black has, thankfully, pulled out of the J.J. Abrams ‘secretive for the sake of secretive’ phantom zone and brought with him a teaser that confirms what we all kinda knew. Sir Ben Kingsley is playing the Mandarin, Iron Man’s arch-nemesis.
Iron Man 3 is being touted as a very ‘Tony Stark’ centric film, and that makes sense. Of all the characters in the Marvel movie-verse, Iron Man is the most well-known to movie goers.
It is, however, a big risk to kick of phase 2 a year after The Avengers with a film that does little more than pay lip service to that event. So we shall see how audiences react to the film.
If I had to venture a guess, with the direction Marvel is taking with the rest of this phase, the next arch of Iron Man might isolate him a bit from the bigger Marvel universe. He will no doubt be a part of the Avengers sequel, but we may not see much Stark in any of the other lead up films.
Iron Man 3 is set to release May 3rd, 2013.
The next film Marvel will release after Iron Man 3 will be the sequel to Thor. This film is currently in pre-production, but curiously it is the one movie we know least about.
Director Alan Taylor, who recently has been impressing as a main director on Game of Thrones, has not let much slip as to the story for the God of Thunder.
We do know that just about the full cast from the first film will be returning, with the exception of Josh Dallas who will not return as Fandral of the Warriors Three. His duties on Once Upon A Time will, unfortunately, keep him from the sequel. Chuck star Zachary Levi has been tapped to replace him.
One major announcement for Thor: The Dark World we did get was that shiny new title. The subtitled moniker reveals two big things, one it gives us the first clues to the plot of the film. Two if sheds light on the sequel naming convention Marvel looks to be using moving forward.
The first instinct I get from the title is that we might be in for a further exploration of the other great realms, most probably including Muspelhiem, the ‘Hell’-like domain of Thor baddie Surtur.
Just rampant speculation on my part, but one that might make sense in a lead up to an Infinity Gauntlet inspired Avengers sequel.
Thor: The Dark World is set to release November 8th, 2013.
After Thor we move onto the further out projects. Starting with the freshly re-named Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Nothing really new to report about that film from the show, well except for the obvious.
Following the naming convention for the Thor sequel, the new Cap film now has a subtitle. The Winter Solider title pretty much confirms that the much praised Winter Soldier story line will be the basis for Cap 2.
This will be a big point of excitement for all three Sebastian Stan fans out there, as his Bucky is a major player in this story line. Which should be good for the movie too, Stan is a good young actor but was given a pretty thankless role in the first film.
As we get closer and closer to Avengers 2, we will also see these movies have more and more to do with direct consequences of the last film, and seeds planted for the next. It has already been confirmed that the nature of Captain America and where his character is after The Avengers will force this film to incorporate many elements that were apart of that previous movie.
Captain America: The Winter Solider is set to release April 4th, 2014.
Speaking of directly tying into The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy is most likely going to be a direct set up for The Avengers sequel. Joss Whedon hinted at the larger cosmic world of the Marvel movie-verse, and by bringing out the Guardians for phase 2 we should expect a much more cosmic Avengers sequel.
The Infinity Gauntlet comic story is a rather divisive work. Many people love it, but coming out in the ’90s during the holo-foil cover, cash grab era it does have certain creative depth issues.
If Marvel is truly laying the seeds for a version of the Gauntlet story, but set within the confines of their movie-verse, it has the chance to really rise above its source material.
In any event, there is one irrefutable fact. On July 31st, 2014 at midnight hundreds of thousands people will be watching a big budget, live action movie starring a talking space raccoon. Talking. Space. Raccoon!
How The Guardians will fit into the established Marvel movie-verse and how they will be realized on-screen is still unknown to us. It will likely be at least a year before we get really solid information about this flick, so until then we must have patience.
Guardians of the Galaxy is set to release August 1st, 2014.
The last of the confirmed phase 2 movies to be announced is the long rumored Ant-Man. Edgar Wright has been trying to get this film off the ground for some time, and he showed of a proof of concept video at the panel.
Ant-Man is a classic Marvel character and founding member of the Avengers who has gotten very little modern love. Of all the potential new Avengers to add to the team, Ant-Man and his gal pal Wasp are on the top of most people’s lists.
Interestingly though, this is the one film that does not have an established release date. Marvel has a bit of a gap in the schedule that could allow for the film to be an early summer 2014 film.
It is also possible that this film could play in tandem with The Avengers 2 some time in 2015. Where it ultimately ends up on the schedule is probably dependent on if Marvel has plans on adding any more films to phase 2.
The rumored Dr. Strange film might have to wait for phase 3 with the cosmic direction phase 2 is taking, but the rumored Black Panther film might slip into the schedule at some point too.
It is also possible that this could be the first Marvel Studios film that isn’t actively in the Avengers arc. It will no doubt be in the same continuity, but perhaps Ant-Man doesn’t play in the Avengers sandbox until the next phase, if at all.
So there you have it. Marvel Studio’s big road map to Avengers 2. Fans of the Marvel movie-verse should be quite pleased, I know I am.
Stay tuned to The Flickcast for any new developments on this massive slate of films in the coming months.