Marvel’s Movie Slate: Redefining Epic
A few weeks ago, DC made their opening salvos in what I imagine will be a large and prolonged war for the loyalty, adoration and more importantly, paycheck of all comic book geeks everywhere by announcing a mind-boggling 10 movies over the next 6 years. (http://geekswithwives.com/dcs-movie-slate-good-bad-ugly/). Yesterday, Marvel returned fire by announcing their own upcoming movie schedule for the next 5 years and it is packed! There will be 11 movies in 5 years which is staggering when you really think about it. What’s coming? Read on and find out…
First off in 2015, we have two movies coming out by Marvel which at this point most of you probably know about, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. The first teaser trailer for AoU has just come out and looks amazing! Check it out here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmeOjFno6Do. Ant-Man (who’s actually a founding member of the Avengers but you knew that right?) has had a bit of a troubled development but will hopefully, come together in the end. I have to be honest, as much as I love Paul Rudd (who will be playing Ant Man), I’m much more excited about what’s coming down the pipeline.
In 2016, two Marvel movies will be coming out, the first is Captain America – Civil War which to me is a very odd choice. For the sake of brevity, Civil War is when a superhero registration act is passed requiring all masked heroes to register with the government and receive training in the use of their powers. This act is passed when a minor superhero team fails to save the day, resulting in the death of 600 civilians including children. Tony Stark supports the bill while Captain America who’s all about freedom and civil liberties opposes it. Various heroes within Marvel universe support one side or the other which is what results in the civil war.
This is exactly why I think Civil War is such an odd choice for a movie. Think about it, there’s VERY few actual heroes within the Marvel Cinematic universe. X-men don’t exist there, those characters are owned by Fox. Neither does Spider-Man who is owned by Sony. Of the ones who ARE in the cinematic universe, they have no identity to hide. Thor’s a god who doesn’t live on earth so he’s out. Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye ALL work for S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark revealed his identity on NATIONAL television. The only other character is Bruce Banner who the government is also obviously aware of. Even if you factor in the new characters that will be introduced by the time this movie comes out (i.e. Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Ant-Man) there doesn’t seem to be enough characters to fight over much of anything. While the issue of freedom vs security is one that is incredibly relevant in our current society, I’m not sure there’s enough characters in Marvel’s cinematic toy-box to make a proper movie out of this beloved comic.
The second movie out in 2016 will be Dr.Strange although rumors are swirling that Benedict Cumberbatch will be tapped to play the title character, nothing is confirmed at this point. The most interesting tidbit to come out of this particular announcement is that Marvel wants to use it as an excuse to explore “the world of parallel dimensions.” This opens the door to potential crossovers. For example, a rumor of late has been that Sony and Marvel are in negotiations to allow Spider-Man to enter Marvel’s cinematic universe. If those prove true, a convenient explanation for his existence would be parallel dimensions. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, Marvel could easily use this mechanic to explore and introduce any number of characters.
Things really pick up in 2017 when Marvel will be releasing 3 superhero movies. This fact alone makes me a little anxious. Up to this point, Marvel has been very steadily releasing two movies a year with great success. DC has decided to follow the same approach and starting in 2016, will be releasing two films a year. This means that in 2017, we’ll have 5 different superhero movies in the same year. At some point, people are going to get tired of the superhero genre. It’s bound to happen. Will this be the tipping point? Only time will tell.
As for the movies themselves, in May 2017 we’ll be seeing the return of The Guardians of the Galaxy. This comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone. GotG was a tremendous hit with both critics and audiences, I would not be surprised if Marvel did everything in its power to make it a tent-pole franchise with as many merchandising opportunities as possible. The second movie out from Marvel will be in July 2017 and will be centered on Thor. We know very little about this movie beyond the fact that it will take place after the events of Age of Ultron and its subtitle Ragnarok indicates something very bad will happen. However, we can make some educated guesses, Thanos will use some conflict as a smokescreen to steak the infinity gauntlet which was briefly glimpsed in the 2nd Thor movie. What makes me so certain? Keep reading….
The 3rd movie of the year will be Black Panther coming out in November 2017. This is a bit of an interesting choice for Marvel. First off, it should be noted that the Black Panther will be making an appearance in the Captain America Civil War movie. Observant viewers will have noticed that Captain America’s shield is shown broken in the Age of Ultron trailer footage. Those with good memories will also remember that his shield is made from a Vibranium and Admantium mixture. Lastly, those with way too much on their hands will know that there’s only one source of Vibranium in the Marvel Universe, the fictional African country of Wakanda ruled by….you guessed it, the Black Panther.
These very same people will tell you that the Black Panther was the first major black superhero to grace comicbooks way back in 1966. He’s a great character to add to the diversity of Marvel’s character lineup which hasn’t had any black cinematic heroes since Blade. Having said that, while the Black Panther was always an important character, he generally showed up in other people’s comic books and didn’t have too many stories focused on him (relative to other more popular characters.) As such, it’s hard to say what direction the film will go but the Black Panther has been one of the Avengers in the comic books so it would not surprise me if he was positioned to join the team.
I can confidently say that May 2018 will be a fan boy’s dream. Why? Because Marvel has confirmed that’s when Avengers Infinity War Part 1 will FINALLY hit the big screen. Fans have anticipated and salivated for this moment since we first saw Thanos’ smiling mug after the Avengers credits rolled back in 2012. It will have taken six years but finally one of the most badass comic book crossovers will occur! While I’m a little disappointed that the movie is going to be split into two parts, I’m going to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are going to toss in every single hero and comic book reference they can manage into these movies. I realize that I complained that the JL movie was pulling the same trick in my earlier article but there’s two key differences. Firstly, Marvel gets the benefit of the doubt, they’ve earned my trust by turning out consistently good (and faithful!) movies of their characters. Sorry DC but you’ve still got your work cut out for you. Secondly, there’s only a ONE year difference between part 1 and 2 for Avengers whereas the JL movie is going to be TWO years apart between parts 1 and 2.
Following the Avengers, there will also be a Captain Marvel movie coming out in July 2018. This is an incredibly smart choice for Marvel. First off, they aren’t going with the original Captain Marvel (who was named Mar-Vel) but rather Carol Danvers. I’m sure that Marvel will get some excellent press for not calling her “Ms. Marvel” as most comic fans know her but as Captain Marvel which she has been her comic book title only since 2012. More importantly, it gives Marvel a strong female character with a lot of power behind her. Up to this point while Black Widow is a cool character, she has felt shoe-horned in with the other powerhouses like Iron Man, Thor, etc. Captain Marvel can easily go toe to toe with any of the other characters in the Avengers line-up which I’m sure will be a big draw for younger female audiences who will have a new role model to look up to.
Surprisingly, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said, “This film has been in the works almost as long as Doctor Strange or Guardians of the Galaxy before it came out, and one of the key things was figuring out what we wanted to do with it. Her adventures are very earthbound, but her powers are based in the cosmic realm.” It’s clear that Marvel wants to get this movie right, because this is the kind of character that can just as easily help out the Guardians of the Galaxy as the Avengers, I foresee her being a very important part of the Cinematic Universe.
Lastly, 2018 will see the release of the Inhumans movie in November. At first glance, this seems like an odd choice. The Inhumans have never been front and center in the Marvel Universe much like The Black Panther, they most often show up in other character’s storylines and rarely have their own series. However, when thinking about the series from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense. Fox currently owns the rights to X-men and the usage of the word Mutant (for cinematic purposes.) This puts a really onerous restriction on Marvel for introducing new characters and Inhumans become their magic loophole. This is because the Inhumans look human but actually aren’t. In the comic books, when exposed to something called the Terrigen mists, it unlocks the potential of each individual. No two powers or abilities are alike. In other words, these are mutants without having to call them mutants. As long as Marvel crafts a movie script with interesting characters (something they’ve shown they can clearly do) this can easily grow to become one of their strongest franchises. To me, this movie is a dark horse, capable of virtually going in any direction and that makes me very excited for it!
Marvel’s only announced one movie for 2019 and that’s the 2nd part of the Avengers Infinity Gauntlet. Assuming that burnout doesn’t occur for the general public, it’s easy to see a very long and profitable future for Marvel. There is over 75 years of content and characters out there to bring to the big screen. As far as the movies are concerned, we have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. My only worry is that Marvel will focus a little too much on their movies and not enough on their comic books but that’s an article for another day. I think the best stuff for Marvel is still ahead of them so be patient and see you all at the movies!
May 2016 – Captain America 3 – Civil War
November 2016 – Dr Strange – Cumberbatch
May 2017 – Guardian of the Galaxy 2
July 2017 – Thor 3 – Ragnorok
November 2017 – Black Panther – Chadwick Boseman
May 2018 – Avengers – Infinity Gauntlet Part 1
July 2018 – Captain Marvel – “This film has been in the works almost as long as Doctor Strange or Guardians of the Galaxy before it came out, and one of the key things was figuring out what we wanted to do with it. Her adventures are very earthbound, but her powers are based in the cosmic realm.” – Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige
November 2018 – Inhumans
May 2019 – Avengers – Infinity Gauntlet Part 2