Before going any further, do note that this post is about speculating over the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – therefore expect SPOILERS from the MCU’s Phase 1 & Phase 2, as well as some comic book SPOILERS for characters like Ultron, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Looking Back on Phase 1
It all began with a bang, as Jon Favreau introduced the perfect Tony Stark – Robert Downey Jr. – a character he was born to play. The first solo-film for Iron Man began the first phase for Marvel and Kevin Feige – and it gave us a great battle between the confident and brainy Stark, and the powerful and cruel Obadiah Stone. The film also introduced the character of Pepper Potts, who is extremely important in today’s Cinematic Universe. Also, do note that the computer version of Jarvis was used for these films, and J.A.R.V.I.S. will be of importance sooner rather than later. The film not only began the first phase for Marvel, it also outlined the basic information of the Avengers Initiative – and suddenly fanboys everywhere ran amok in joy – myself included.
One character that Marvel has tried to perfect for a very long time, is Bruce Banner – once perfected with Lou Ferrigno – and they had actually prepared long ago for the return of this green smasher, with Ang Lee’s Hulk from 2003. Eric Bana played Bruce Banner in the 2003 film, but as it became a failure, Marvel had to rebuild with the beginning of the Avengers Initiative – and this was one character you could not leave out. Marvel went about it the right way, trying not to retell the origin story, but instead including clips designed to tell the tale of the 2003 film, now recreated with new actors. People knew how Banner became Hulk, and Marvel didn’t need to retell – something the Amazing Spider-Man by Sony should’ve taken notes from. Edward Norton played the part of Bruce Banner – and for me, he did a fine job – but in the end, he was not to be the future Banner. The one used by Joss Whedon for the future project of Avengers.
Building on the massive success of Iron Man, Jon Favreau made Iron Man 2 in 2010. The film focused on both corporate, as well as supervillain, villainy – by having both Justin Hammer and Whiplash as the rivals for Stark and his suit. At this point, Stark’s a superstar – based on his Iron Man reveal, and the military desperately want his suit. When unsuccesful, Whiplash helps Hammer create these new mechs to defend America – but when Whiplash makes his move – and unleashes hell on Stark and Rhodey – the movie reaches its boiling point. The film itself wasn’t a huge success, but it stands as a huge part of the build-up to the Avengers Initiative. Why? Well, we are introduced to Natasha Romanoff in this film – the Black Widow. The film ends with the information that Stark is too difficult to work with, and that a hammer has been discovered by the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
2011 introduced us to Thor, a Norse God, in a film by Kenneth Branagh. The film has had mixed reviews, but personally, I loved this film – and it touched on a lot of stuff I love about the Marvel Cinematic Universe – though I disliked the big battle with the Destroyer; a special type of action, I feel they’ve had a lot of problems with, on most projects. The film is of the utmost importance when looking at the bigger picture. The, at that point unnamed cube, Tesseract is introduced here – as well as the premier Phase One villain, Loki. Loki is brilliant, and this film is perfect in introducing him. Also, this is the first film wherein we see Hawkeye.
Then came a film, that I felt was placed poorly in the Phase One schedule – AFTER Thor. Captain America: The First Avenger. The film introduces Bucky Barnes, someone the most unaware Marvel fanboy would, sadly, easily forget. The Red Skull appears in this film, but his weight is not felt really – and in the end only the scenes that feel important are involving the Tesseract.
Then came the finale – Marvel’s The Avengers. Featuring an ensemble cast, the film gave us something most thought we’d never see on film – dialogue featuring all the principle Marvel heroes. As the Avengers are finally assembled, including the new Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), they battle Loki and his army of Chitauri. The long battle ends with Stark sacrificing himself for New York, and Loki being beaten down and imprisoned. In the mid-credits scene we see the huge Marvel villain, Thanos – someone interested in courting death.
Phase 2: An Avengers World?
One thing these films always have to battle is the fact that no solofilm should matter anymore. If Romanoff was in trouble, she could just call up Stark, who’d call up the rest of the Avengers. And that should be the end of it – but that’s not how comic books work – and that’s something Hollywood realists have to get used to. For appearing almost a year later than Avengers, was Iron Man 3 – this time by Shane Black. The film was supposed to include the premier Iron Man villain, the Mandarin – but as millions of fanboys would soon find out; that was not really the case. The film ends with Stark being ‘fixed’ and him destroying his suits. The film was a success on the box office, but received mixed reviews.
A film that really did not work for me, was Thor: The Dark World. Featuring an angry Jane Foster and a crazed Erik Selvig, the film focuses on the power of the Aether, something that possesses Foster. The film also features the return of the imprisoned Loki, who wants to revenge his ‘mother’. Eventually, they save the day – though not without losses. A seemingly dead Loki, is mourned somewhat – but soon we are shown that Loki has taken the form of Odin to rule Asgard. Thor returns to Earth. In a post-credits scene we spot Sif and Volstagg at the Collector’s place – and he is given the Aether to keep it safe. The Collector then says: “One down, five to go” – setting up the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Prior to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released. The film was huge, both in success and result. The film features Captain Ameria doubting S.H.I.E.L.D. – and the reveal that HYDRA has taken over the once great agency. One teased element of the film, is the idea that Nick Fury is killed by HYDRA – but in the end, it is revealed not to be the case. And the last remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes Alexander Pierce down. In a ‘side-quest’ Cap faces off with the Winter Soldier – a Russian assassin – who we learn is actually Bucky Barnes from The First Avenger. In battle, Cap tries to convince Bucky of his origin – but is somewhat unsuccesful. Thankfully, The Winter Soldier decides to save Cap from drowning – and a severe plot point for Captain America 3 thickens. In a post-credits scene we see Baron Wolfgang von Strucker – who’s captured the SPOILERS children of Magneto (don’t tell Fox). The Age of Miracles has begun.
The final film in the second phase, prior to the unreleased Avengers: Age of Ultron, was Guardians of the Galaxy. The film has elements of Firefly, Star Wars and Back to the Future in it – and is somewhat of a stand-alone film (even if that’s not exactly the case), as the main characters aren’t associated with the Avengers yet. The film follows these Guardians as they race to protect a special orb, now titled Infinity Stones, from the powers of Thanos and Ronan. They are eventually succesful, in what is a perfect summer blockbuster – to rival the ones from the 80s. No post-credit scene of Avengers importance is shown, though someone else appears… Quack quack.
We have one final film before we close out the 2nd phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Age of Ultron will feature the cast of the last Avengers film, as well as these two new siblings. They will battle ULTRON, a ‘robot’ presumably built by Tony Stark in the Cinematic Universe – to ensure that the Avengers Initiative can end. Expect Skynet-like results. A teaser trailer was shown at San Diego Comic Con, but I’ve not seen it. It has been described as a somewhat ominous trailer – showing Tony Stark shaken and seeing his fellow Avengers beaten down, and Cap’s shield broken. There are no strings on Ultron – and the Pinocchio metaphor will take front focus in this Whedon-production.
This is where I begin to speculate – I expect Ultron to be beaten (this is a comic book universe after all), but, like some comics, I expect Ultron to be thrown into space – and then uploaded by the SPOILERS Phalanx – which could be how Guardians of the Galaxy get to encounter the Avengers in the future.
The following dates have been marked by Marvel:
Ant-Man – July 17th, 2015
Captain America 3 – May 6th, 2016
??? – July 8th, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – July 26th, 2017
??? – November 3rd, 2017
??? – July 6th, 2018
??? – November 2nd, 2018
??? – May 3rd, 2019
Now, a Dr. Strange film has sort of been announced – but not really – and I expect it to be released July 2016, directed by Scott Derrickson. As you should know, Marvel’s been talking to Joaquin Phoenix about the project, something I’ve been wanting for a while now. At the end of this blog-post I will attempt to guess the entire schedule for Phase 3 for Marvel, but before doing that – I have some ideas. First for Captain America 3.
With the introduction of the Winter Soldier in Cap 2, it is expected by many that ‘The Fallen Son’ storyline is coming up – this will be important for Marvel, as it would be the first time they’d kill off a main character. Can they really afford to lose Chris Evans? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Another trilogy ending film we’re waiting for, is Thor 3. When that eventually comes to fruition, we all expect something like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ – that would be natural.
I doubt we’ll see another solo-Iron Man film with Robert Downey Jr. (due to contract issues), but I’m still hoping for it – instead, we can discuss the future of Guardians of the Galaxy. The sequel to the 2014 hit, will have to focus on Star-Lord’s father and Gamora’s ‘sister’ – however, I feel that perhaps this would be a great opportunity for Marvel to unite the Avengers and the Guardians, by having Tony Stark find them – to take down a potential Ultron-led Phalanx army. I guess we’ll have to see.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to ask questions in the comments – and without further ado, here’s my guess for the schedule of Phase 3:
Ant-Man – July 17th, 2015
Captain America 3 – May 6th, 2016
Dr. Strange – July 8th, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – July 26th, 2017
Black Panther – November 3rd, 2017
Untitled Mark Ruffalo-Hulk Project – July 6th, 2018
Thor 3 – November 2nd, 2018
Avengers 3 – May 3rd, 2019