Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest movie of the year. Marvel Studios has become the most profitable franchise in history. Millions of people who will never read a comic book are flocking to see these movies and Marvel just announced what movies we’ll be seeing from them over the course of the next five years.
I’m going to go over each of them and my thoughts about them. For those of you wondering where the X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Spider-Man films fit into this, they don’t. Years ago when Marvel was far from a household name, they sold the rights to those franchises to other studios. For more information on that, feel free to click here where I talk about it more.
So what’s next for Marvel?
May 2015 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
The next Marvel Studios movie is the second Avengers movie. They’ve just released the teaser trailer for this. Everyone (except for Loki) is back for this along with some new faces. Joss Whedon is writing and directing again so the dialog will be snappy and the possibility that a major character might die will be ever present.
For those who don’t know Ultron is an artificial intelligence bent on destroying humanity. In the comic books he was created by Hank Pym, but in this one, it looks like it’s going to be Tony Stark who makes the mistake. In addition to Ultron, other new characters include the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Vision.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were both seen in the after credits sequence in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s worth noting once again that this Quicksilver has nothing to do with the Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. While both based on the same character, it’s safe to say that Quicksilver and his sister, the Scarlet Witch will have very different origins in Age of Ultron as Marvel can’t use mutants (or the father of the two characters in the comics, Magneto).
The first Avengers movie made over a billion dollars and is still an incredibly watchable movie. I expect much the same will be true about Age of Ultron.
July 17, 2015 – Ant-Man
This year the big risk from Marvel Studios was Guardians of the Galaxy. It was the first of the Marvel Studios films not to have any major film star or popular comic book characters. Needless to say, the risk paid off. Next year’s big risk is Ant-Man. While a founding Avenger in the comic books, he’s still relatively unknown and after the big action of Avengers: Age of Ultron just a couple of months earlier, Ant-Man is going to seem like a dramatic shift in gears.
For those who don’t know, Ant-Man can shrink to insect size, talk to ants, and grow really big. He does this using something called ‘Pym Particles’ named after their inventor and original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. In the movie he’s played by Michael Douglas while Paul Rudd is playing Scott Lang, who eventually becomes the new Ant-Man.
Originally this was going to be the funny Marvel Movie with Shaun of Dead’s Edgar Wright writing and directing. Unfortunately, creative differences forced Wright to leave. He’s been replaced with Peyton Reed who’s a less original voice but still capable of bringing the funny.
There’s also the question of whether or not Ant-Man might make his debut in Age of Ultron which would definitely help this movie’s success at the box office.
May 6, 2016: Captain America: Civil War
Winter Soldier is my personal favorite super hero movie and the fact that the same creative team is back for Captain America: Civil War makes me all sorts of excited.
In the comic books, Civil War was a massive crossover in which hero fought hero. Essentially the fight boiled down to Tony Stark and others believing that heroes need to be regulated and registered and Captain America and others feeling otherwise.
Robert Downey Jr. has been confirmed as a costar in Civil War. So it’s clear that the movie will likely follow similar themes. It’s also worth noting that in the comic books, Civil War ended with Captain America getting killed.
Nov. 4, 2016: Doctor Strange
There’s a lot of buzz about this movie right now because Benedict Cumberbatch is said to be playing the illustrious Dr. Strange. He’s a fine choice and I hope that it turns out that he gets the part. (Though personally I wanted Alan Rickman.)
This will be another risk because it will be the first Marvel Studios movie dealing with magic. They grounded Thor and his magic by basically saying they’re an advanced alien race rather than Gods. It will be interesting to see what grounding, if any, they give Dr. Strange.
It’s been said that this will not be an origin story. This is probably a good idea if only because half of all super hero movies end up being origin stories. It’s too bad though because I like the origin of Dr. Strange. He’s an arrogant world-renowned surgeon who crashes his car and crushes his hands. He then seeks out a new path in Asia and becomes Sorcerer Supreme. Fun stuff.
May 5, 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Not much is known about the sequel except that much like the Cap movie, everyone is back again, both in front of and behind the cameras. Given how much fun the first Guardians of the Galaxy was, this one is likely to be even more so since they don’t have to spend time establishing characters. We’ll likely get to see more about Star-Lord’s father and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a bit more Thanos. After all, so far we’ve only seen two Infinity Stones, and we need six for the Infinity Gauntlet.
July 28, 2017: Thor: Ragnarok
Last time we saw Loki he was on the throne in Asgard pretending to be Odin. Nothing good can come of this so it’s not a surprise that Ragnarok is the result. Marvel seems to be keeping the solo movies to three movies so it also makes sense to end the Thor trilogy with Ragnarok.
Given how much The Dark World embraced the Thor mythos, we can only expect that Ragnarok will embrace it even more so. The question remains as to whether or not the happenings in Ragnarok will be connected in any way to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or if it will be like the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie where it’s still in the same universe but nowhere near anything else that’s happening.
Nov. 3, 2017: Black Panther
Most Marvel Comics originated back in the 1960s at a time when African Americans weren’t even allowed to vote. Diversity in classic superheroes is rare. The Black Panther is an exception. He originally appeared in 1966. Leader of the technologically advanced fictional African Nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther is both monarch and hero. At the press conference today, they announced not only that the character of Black Panther would make his debut in Captain America: Civil War, but that he’s going to be played by Chadwick Boseman.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen much of Boseman’s work, though his guest appearance as ‘Flex’ on Justified a few years ago was memorable and so far Marvel’s casting has been spot on. So while I would have LOVED it if Michael K. Williams got the part, I’m still looking forward to Boseman. No director has been announced for this one yet.
May 4, 2018: Avengers: Infinity War – Part I
Since we first saw Thanos smile at the end of Avengers, the seeds of Infinity War were planted. This was no surprise. The big surprise is that they’re splitting it into two movies. While there was an Infinity War comic book crossover, it’s safe to say that these movies will much more likely be drawing on Marvel Comics’ The Infinity Gauntlet for inspiration.
In the Infinity Gauntlet Thanos kills literally half of the universe with the snap of his fingers (such is the power of all six Infinity Gems together). Needless to say, the remaining heroes show up to stop him. The interesting choice is that they aren’t doing Part II next. There are two movies between Infinity War Part 1 & 2. Do they continue the story of Infinity War or are they entirely separate? What will be their connection, if any? We’re going to have to wait and see.
July 6, 2018: Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel is a well-used name. Over at DC Comics, it’s the other name for Shazam. At Marvel Comics more than a couple of people have had the title ‘Captain Marvel’. However, at the press conference today they made it clear that Captain Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Carol Danvers.
This will be the first solo female hero movie by Marvel Studios and it’s a good choice (though there’s an argument to be made that Black Widow should have had her own movie). Carol’s known for being both Earth-bound and cosmic. It’ll be interesting to see which direction they take it. Perhaps she’ll be part of the glue between the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
With the movie only announced today and a release date four years away, almost everything else is speculation.
Over in Marvel Comics, there has been a big push for the Inhumans so it’s not surprising that they’d be featured in their own movie. Inhumans are basically humans that were genetically modified by the Kree thousands of years ago and once exposed the mists from special crystals they manifest unique super powers. In the comics, there was a worldwide bomb set off that caused random people with trace amounts of Inhuman blood to develop powers.
If this sounds a lot like the X-Men, there’s a reason for that. Marvel can’t use mutants, but they can use Inhumans. So this basically gives them the ability to tell whatever mutant stories they might want to tell by using Inhumans instead.
That’s not to say that the Inhumans are mutant ripoffs. They have their own back story and they have some genuinely unique characters. Their leader, Black Bolt has a voice that can shatter mountains. So he doesn’t talk except when using his voice as a weapon. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of actor they get to play a part that’s essentially non-speaking.
Four and a half years from now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe culminates in Avengers: Infinity War Part II. Given that by this time Robert Downey Jr. will be 54 and many of the actors playing other characters might well be tired of playing those characters, there’s a reasonable chance for some major changes.
This will be the end of an era for Marvel Studios and it will mark the start of something new. What comes next after the Summer of 2019 for Marvel is anyone’s guess.
And of course this isn’t even taking into account Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter shows, much less Netflix’s announced Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Defenders shows, all of which also take place in the shared Marvel Universe.
All in all, it’s a great time to be a Marvelite. And as I’ve said before, if you can’t wait five years for all of this, don’t. Get down to your local comic book shop and start reading.
– Jack Cameron