I was on vacation last week so I am playing a bit of catch-up with everything that I missed. By far the biggest event that I missed out on was Kevin Feige's Marvel event which announced the full size of phase three and gave a lot of casting news and also hinted at Marvel's direction with certain existing characters.
Starting off, let's look at this massive schedule they gave us...
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 I (May 4, 2018)
Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)
Inhumans (November 2, 2018)
Avengers: Infinity War - Part II (May 3, 2019)
In addition to this schedule there was confirmation that all films will be released in 3D. The title of Captain America also confirms the Civil War rumor that was floating around, so we will see Robert Downey Jr. in that film. It is also possible that he could appear in Thor: Ragnarok seeing that there is no Iron Man 4 on the list.
Speaking of casting, there were announcements regarding Black Panther along with Doctor Strange. The surprise introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was definitely Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. You might recognize Boseman from the James Brown biopic, Get On Up, and the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42. He has reportedly signed a five film contract with Marvel and will appear as early as Captain America: Civil War before appearing in his solo film in 2017. Black Panther, otherwise known as T'Challa, is the leader of the panther tribe in the African nation of Wakanda. He later joins The Avengers.
Regarding Doctor Strange, we did finally receive word of an actor who has entered final negotiations to star in the lead role. So much for people wishing it would be Jared Leto because Benedict Cumberbatch has secured the role. Cumberbatch has seen a big surge in work in the past couple of years and I personally am worried that he is becoming a little overused, especially for a big franchise like this, but I don't think he will do badly. His voice alone is a great fit for the character. Prior to his involvement, Joaquin Phoenix had secured the role but negotiations fell through and he walked away from the project. The inside rumors were that Phoenix was not comfortable with the amount of backlash that came with the role such as press tours, talk shows, multi-film commitments, etc..
Moving onto the announcement of Thor: Ragnarok, this does tie into Robert Downey Jr.'s extended involvement with this film franchise aside from solo Iron Man films. The story of Ragnarok apparently takes place right after Avengers: Age of Ultron where Tony Stark creates a cyborg clone of Thor to aid his pro-Superhero Registration Act team in the Civil War. This also could tie into the characters to be introduced in Ant-Man as Stark works with Hank Pym in order to properly clone Thor. There was also confirmation by Kevin Feige that the lineup of The Avengers will change after Age of Ultron, so it's possible that Chris Hemsworth's Thor will go missing or will be killed in the 2015 Avengers sequel causing Ragnarok to be created.
However, there is another possibility with Thor: Ragnarok. According to some sources, there are guesses that the Ragnarok subtitle could be referencing the "Norse End of Days" where Asgard is destroyed and submerged into water. It is also worth mentioning that insiders are saying Thor will not appear in Avengers: Infinity War - Part I or Part II, so the possibility of Marvel retiring Thor from the MCU is plausible.
In addition to all of this Thor news, we did not receive any information on if the actors exclusive to those films will be returning. I am of course referring to Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Jaimie Alexander, and so on. I would assume Natalie Portman's contract wasn't just for two films but you never know. I would personally like to see Jane Foster in a bigger role as the universe expands but that could just be wishful thinking at this point.
Continuing on with what we aren't seeing, or potentially aren't seeing, Marvel has also said that they have no immediate plans for solo films for Black Widow and Hulk. All of us who were hoping for the Planet Hulk arc or another solo Hulk can sit down and keep wishing. Kevin Feige stated that there was a possibility for a solo Black Widow film but that he was never fully on board with it and that the Hulk might happen but nothing is in the works as of right now. He feels the character was successfully rebooted in The Avengers with Mark Ruffalo and that it can be left at that. He wants to focus on bringing us new characters and begin expanding the universe.
Many thought Black Widow was Marvel's chance to showcase a female driven superhero film, but they are doing that with Captain Marvel in 2018. It's still up in the air on whether she will appear in either of the Infinity War films, or have a cameo in Civil War, but we will be receiving the film either way. The Captain Marvel we are getting is Carol Danvers, a NASA director who is turned into a Kree-Human hybrid after encountering Mar-Vell (a Kree warrior). Her powers include super strength, super speed, invulnerability, and the ability to fire energy blasts from her hands. (A sidenote to remember was the introduction we had to the Kree in Guardians of the Galaxy) There is no casting announced for Captain Marvel, but I am sure it will be a coveted and much sought after role, especially with the direct competition with Warner Bros/DC's Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot.
In addition to these announcements, we did once again receive confirmation on the release of Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Guardians will see James Gunn return to write and direct once more as Inhumans currently has no director attached and no cast.
Saved the best for last... let's talk about The Infinity War. Marvel has decided to compete with the division of Justice League into two parts by dividing the third Avengers film into two parts with two films in between. We got our first tease of Thanos in the mid-credits scene of The Avengers film and finally got our first full look at him in Guardians of the Galaxy. We might see more glimpses of him as more infinity stones are revealed, but the major reveal of Thanos will indeed come with these two Infinity War films. We already have Josh Brolin cast as the villain.
The Infinity Gauntlet is the culmination of all of these little trinkets we have seen introduced bit by bit; the Tesseract, the Aether, and the Orb. There are six infinity stones total so we still have three to go, but with five films coming before Part I and another two in between, there is plenty of time for Thanos to obtain all six stones. In his quest to obtain them he does murder a lot of Marvel heroes, so the idea of Thor disappearing might just become a reality. We also must keep in mind the rumor surrounding the Winter Soldier arc where Bucky takes over for Captain Rogers.
Personally, I hope these two films act as a massive team up with all of these characters. Seeing Guardians of the Galaxy fighting alongside The Avengers would probably make me giggle in my seat. I think all of this being set up is very exciting.
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