Modern Marvels #4: Phase 3 (or How To Announce An Upcoming Slate of Films)

Modern Marvels is a bi-weekly column where I, Sverrir Sigfusson, speak openly about the happenings and goings-on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; be it re-caps of the most recent episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., thoughts on past developments or rumors regarding the future of Marvel’s properties. Hell, my own crazy ideas or theories might show up as well! Note: Due to the immense amount of news this edition will be split into two parts, with regular service resuming tomorrow, this just couldn’t wait.

The teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron dropped this week, but it’s probably not the biggest thing to happen since the last installment of Modern Marvels, so I’ll go into that a little further down. It’s almost becoming a running joke but overtime I start thinking about writing this bi-weekly column, Marvel decides that it has to either hint at, announce or release something huge the day after. This week was no different. Marvel gathered fans and press alike today for a special event. Kevin Feige announced Marvel’s Phase 3. Like, all of it. And it’s huge!

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

So, right off the bat we have Cap 3 confirmed as Captain America: Civil War (though the pulled a fast one on event attendees by putting up the subtitle “Serpent Society”), directed again by the Russo Brothers. Both RDJ and Evans were on hand to butt heads on stage for a bit, partly through the introduction of Chadwick Boseman, who’ll be playing Black Panther in both his titular film while also appearing in Civil War. They also showed this piece of concept art, which looks fantastic. Heads up to Latino Review for basically breaking the story of Boseman getting the role more than a year and a half ago. Feige also explained how Civil War works without secret identities:

“I don’t want to give too much away, but needless to say, the generalities of the act are the same. Something happens, perhaps it’s cumulative for things that have happened though all of the movies leading up to this point. It has made the governments of the world say “we need to have some oversight of these guys. They need to report to somebody. So it becomes more… it falls under that umbrella, rather than “you have to take off your mask.” It’s not about the secret identity thing, as much as it is about, overall, who reports to who, and who can agree to oversight committee. Because as of now, in Avengers 2, there is no more security council, there is no S.H.I.E.L.D., obviously. Stark is paying for it, Captain America is running it, and things occur that will make governments begin to question.”

Of course, this lines up with what I’ve said on the matter before. Go me!

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

Next up they officially set a date for Doctor Strange. Feige quickly recapped the basic story of how Strange becomes a superhero and emphasized how this opens up the supernatural and magic to the MCU, in the same way that Guardians of the Galaxy opened up the cosmic side. Feige has been talking up Strange for years and we already knew that Scott Derrickson is directing with Jon Spaiths scripting. What we still don’t know, as it wasn’t confirmed here, is who’s playing Strange, though it seems very, very likely that Benedict Cumberbatch will take the mantle. Nick already ran news of this, so I’ll keep it concise: I love, love, love this casting. It’s the best conclusion to an exhausting casting saga.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017

Speaking of Guardians of the Galaxy, the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (I really love that logo treatment), got a brief mention with a video message from James Gunn, who’s working on the script. We’ll probably be seeing more Guardians in the film, so expect more news in the future. Feige quickly moved on to the reason why the film was pushed forward two months: It’s insane success means they believe in it as a summer film and it has to make way for another big piece of the MCU pie.

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok, will see the return of both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston (recognizing the strongest element of the Thor films) and will reinvent and recontextualize Thor in the same way The Winter Soldier did for Captain America. He explained that Ragnarok, as most people from Northern Europe would know, means the end of everything and is basically the apocalypse in norse mythology. The film will pick up directly after Avengers: Age of Ultron and should explain why he’s potentially absent from the third Avengers film.

Black Panther – November 3, 2017

Then came the first real bombshell: Black Panther. As stated earlier, Chadwick Boseman is playing him and the suit looks awesome. It’s big news, adding some much needed diversity to Marvel’s leading heroes and it’ll also be the first superhero tentpole to star a black superhero (take that DC’s Cyborg! Oh, and Blade, Spawn and Catwoman don’t count, as their budgets didn’t exceed $100 million). The film will deal with “how the isolationist country of Wakanda encounters the rest of the world.” Feige joked about Boseman’s casting not leaking by poking fun at the Doctor Strange rumors: 

“I like that Chadwick, for the most part — I think there’s always been speculation on lots of good actors for Black Panther — but I’m glad that didn’t leak in earnest, the way every single other actor in human history that is of a certain age has been for Doctor Strange.” 

Feige also confirmed that they’ve been teasing him. Off the top of my head there’s obviously vibranium in Cap’s shield, the Africa scenes in Age of Ultron, Andy Serkis potentially playing Ulysses Klaw (will he be the villain of the film?) and spots on maps in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Here’s the concept art that they released of him:

Yeah, that looks perfect.

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018

Next Feige announced another new franchise: Captain Marvel. This made a lot of people happy as he clarified that it’d be the Carol Danvers version, star of the current, excellent, Kelly Sue Maconnick run of the comics. Feige explained that she effectively bridges the gap between Earth-set heroes and the cosmic, as her powers (which are quite plentiful) can lead her on space faring adventures yet her origin is distinctly of Earth. Again, finally a female lead, long overdue. Marvel won’t be the first, with Sony and WB/DC beating them to market, but something tells me they have a realistic shot at being the best. Anything that helps establish a new status quo for superhero leads is just great in my book.

Inhumans – November 2, 2018

For the twentieth (!) MCU film we’ll be introduced to literally dozens of new heroes in the form of the Inhumans. This one had already been heavily rumored and Feige revealed that we’d actually see signs of this sooner than later (Skye as Inhuman confirmed?). This could also open up large opportunities as their ranks are immense, basically they’ll be the MCU’s X-Men.

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May, 2018 & Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 2019

Finally, Feige announced what will be the culmination of a decades work of build-up. A nerd chilling video montage of the Infinity Stones from the MCU (confirming that Loki’s staff is indeed an Infinity Stone) leads up to a shot of Thanos wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, complete with all the stones, announcing Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 & Part 2. Seriously, this is going to be huge and they’ve been building to it since the end of Iron Man, which is so bold and impressive. They’ll be released a year apart and the sheer volume of heroes involved, along with the potential developments of the story over the course the coming films, would seem to justify the split.

Here’s the full list again:

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017

Black Panther – November 3, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018

Inhumans – November 2, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019

This event revealed a bunch of information to us but there’s still loads of stuff we don’t know. We don’t know who’s directing Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Inhumans and Infinity War (though signs point to the Russos). Outside of Black Panther we don’t know who’s playing those characters. Simply put, there’s still a bunch of news to come over the coming years. Captain Marvel being positioned between the two parts of Infinity War brings to mind the possibility of her being human in Part 1, her becoming superpowered in her own movie and then coming back with style in Part 2. Either way, I’m psyched she’s getting her own film, the character is fantastic.

There’s also a marked difference in how Marvel made all these announcements today compared to their rival, DC. They made them for the fans. They held an event where they invited not only press but also fans. There’s an element of showmanship and fun that you can’t get out of a conference call held for investors (seriously, DC. Why?). We also have the fact that they announced fewer films, not as far into the future and all on the basis of 

“We want the fans to be on the frontline of the information we’re giving out” – Kevin Feige

Make mine Marvel.

Also, Ant-Man, which has been shooting for 50 days, is now seemingly part of Phase 2, or at least some sort of middle stage. And they wanted to announce at least some of this at SDCC, but deals didn’t come together soon enough, hence the necessity of this megaton event.

All this of course happens after they released the first teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it’s awesome. By now you’ve probably seen it a dozen times and scoured through break downs, so I’ll give you my general thoughts and weight in on a couple of key points.

First off, holy shit! This trailer looks crazy! The overbearing sense of desperation and the ever present menace of Spader’s Ultron is amazing. This is exactly the kind of teaser I love, one that shows a bunch of imagery but know exact plot details or whole scenes, so there’s a bunch of stuff that you can try to piece together but mostly you’re just marveling (zing!) at it. Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor in particular looks badass. We get a look at a lot of the characters, including several forms of Ultron but no Vision (though Mark Ruffalo says he’s “dope”). Keeping us hungry, eh Marvel? There also appear to be several set piece action moments, but RDJ has said that the film doesn’t follow the traditional third act structure of the previous MCU films, which further pushes the perception of this film as Joss Whedon’s Empire Strikes Back.

There’s a shot that I deem to be the most important in the trailer, and if you’re worried then this might technically count as a spoiler, but it’s just a theory. Here:

See how the team is framed? There’s a symmetry to their positioning, out from the central figure of the cowering Banner. Cap, Widow and Thor are all looking away from them but if you look at they’re blocking (how characters are arranged in a shot) you see how there’s this huge, gapping hole to the right, in the seat that mirrors Black Widow’s. I think that’s Hawkeye’s seat and I think that Hulk accidentally kills Hawkeye. Bear in mind, this means I’ve probably prophesied the death of practically every Avenger in the film, but I have a really strong feeling about this one. Also, no Tony, which is also important. The Avengers will be well and truly shattered by the events of this film.

There are also several shots in the trailer that appear to be flashbacks, namely the shot of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver right at the beginning, the ballerinas (relating to Black Widow’s past) and the split second shot of Cap at a USO ball in the 40s. I find it highly unlikely that the Time Stone is involved in the film which leaves two other possibilities: These are either just straight up flashbacks or Scarlett Witch’s reality altering powers at work. Now I don’t think her powers will be as crazy as they can be in the comics so instead of constructing new realities I’d wager that this is closer to superpower induced hallucinations. Come to think of it, Thor might be having one of those in the trailer as well, in his topless, angry bath scene.

Also, who’s this lady standing next to Thor? It’s not Jane Foster and people have been speculating that it’s Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun Anyone got a better idea?

The trailer was viewed 34 million times over its first 24 hours, breaking the previous record of 20 million, held by Iron Man 3. It’s almost as if interest in these films is growing, imagine that. There’ll also be an exclusive scene shown at the end of tonight’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (check back tomorrow for a recap), in place of the originally intended teaser trailer.

NEXT: TOMMOROW! on Modern Marvels #4.1: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap and Agent Carter info!

P.S. Guardians of the Galaxy is now the highest grossing comic book movie of 2014 at the worldwide box office, and will become the second highest grossing film of the year over the coming weekend. Kinda just showboating for the people that doubted it at this point really.

Written By Sverrir Sigfusson

Tall, dark and handsome. Student of film theory at the University of Iceland. Purveyor of news and reviews. Consumer of fine music, quality films and fantastic video games. Opinionated and brutally honest yet totally nice and a huge fan of colorful pants.

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  • Rodney

    I wonder how many non-comic fans are gonna feel gypped that “Captain” Marvel isn’t a dude. LOL…. i can see the message boards now….

    Honestly, this announcement kicks DC’s ass yet again (dammit, WB, get yer frickin’ act together!!) and I honestly cannot wait for all of these movies.