We knew there was a phase 3, we knew there were dates slated, but tonight we finally had the official announcement. Personally, whilst waiting, I jumped in the shower. When I got out and read my tweeter feed explosion I danced around the house naked. Carol Danvers is finally being born into the Marvel cinematic universe!
Given my recent posts urging Marvel to get on with a Captain Marvel movie, and my theories regarding the future of Agent’s of SHIELD and the possible inclusion of Inhumans, I wanted to briefly put to page a few of my thoughts on Phase 3.
Though Avengers: Age of Ultron and Antman are slated for release, Phase 3 is said to be kicking off with Captain America 3, already confirmed as Civil War. What we can expect at the least, is that it will not 100% follow the comic universe, which I am totally cool with. Something Marvel have been excelling at is creating a cinematic universe that simplifies the comic universe for the laypeople at the same time as layering up it’s complexities movie upon movie. Making it completely identical to the comics would be almost impossible and probably end up a combination of boring and confusing. Phase 3’s show yet more layers being added, though we can expect the story to have twists and turns not seen in the comic universe.
MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF SPECULATION AND UNFOUNDED GUESSWORK AHEAD!
Captain America: Civil War
From what we’ve already seen of Age of Ultron in the trailer and stills, we know that we are about to hit a turning point in the earthbound Marvel universe. Tony Stark, rather than Hank Pym, is going to be the creator of Ultron, adding to the weight of the responsibilities he already felt in Iron Man 3. He is a man ready to admit that his behaviour hasn’t always been appropriate, that his gate-keeping of his tech and inventing things because he could rather than should might not have been the right course of action. I’m predicting that by the end of Ultron we’re going to see a Tony Stark that will hold himself up as an example of why the Superhero Registration Act needs to happen, and from Captain America: Winter Soldier we already know Rogers’ feelings on the preservation of civil liberties – setting us up perfectly for the inevitable face off between Stark and Captain America in Civil War. A noticeable absence despite persistent rumours of a loan agreement from Sony, is Spider-Man. He features in a pivotal role in Civil War which will be difficult to replace with another Marvel hero. He is one of the few masked heroes and we know and care deeply about his family, so when he is unmasked in the comic we feel the weight of those repercussions, something that might be hard to replicate without him in the movie, it would possibly also not be a move the fans would appreciate. Keep working on that loan agreement!
In the comics, the events in Age of Ultron lead up to the events in 2013’s Infinity, which we might imagine will be the story of Avengers: Infinity War. Throughout Ultron, Civil War and Infinity, the group called the Illuminati feature. Led by Stark and Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), the group collect together six of the infinity gems coveted by Thanos (some of which have already been revealed in the cinematic universe). Doctor Strange, along with Black Panther and Black Bolt (king of the Inhumans) are prominent members of the Illuminati, so it makes sense that whether called the Illuminati or something else in the cinematic universe, Doctor Strange will be part of the lead into Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Continuing where we left off with this fun pack of rogues, we can probably expect another stand alone adventure, though perhaps now starting to connect with the earthbound heroes – both Iron Man and Captain Marvel have done stints with the Guardians in the comic-verse. We might expect that this one is going to start positioning the Guardians as part of the Infinity War movies, where we can assume the Avengers and Guardians come together. In the months to come I’m expecting further speculation on the identity of Quill’s father. In the comics it is the Spartax Emperor, but the cinematic universe is diverging and so we might expect him to slot in some other way – perhaps a connection to Infinity War or even the Inhumans.
I think it’s safe to assume this will be Thor’s last standalone movie. Phase 3 is going to be a transition period moving away from the established characters – Stark, Thor, Rogers, etc – and embracing a new group. Given the fact that Thor can head back to Asgard whenever he feels like it, this film can potentially remove itself from any repercussions of Civil War. However, from the title we can’t assume this is all going to be hugs and puppies. Ragnarok is essentially an apocalypse in Norse mythology, and a lot of the Gods die (including Thor, Loki and Odin), basically setting up a new world order. This movie is likely to tie up the loose ends of the Thor threads, undoubtedly including a return of Loki. Perhaps that won’t be the end though, it may well leave the door open to the new and mysterious female Thor recently introduced to the comic universe.
This is a welcome and interesting addition to the roster. Black Panther will no doubt bring with him his nation of Wakanda and perhaps open the door to his rival nation Atlantis and nemesis Namor the Sub-Mariner. Again, we can expect Panther’s position as a member of the Illuminati to tie him into the unfolding events. With Ulysses Klaw rumoured in Age of Ultron we can speculate that Black Panther may well be introduced there and feature to some degree in Civil War (where he has a notable role in the comics) and possibly Doctor Strange – building them up as replacements for the potentially outgoing Stark, Thor and Rogers. What we are unlikely to see is Black Panther’s connection to the X-Men and his marriage to Storm, a loan from Fox seems unlikely.
Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1
Given the title and the build up of Thanos over both the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, we can expect this first installment to introduce him as the villain proper, rather than sitting behind the likes of Loki, Ronan and Nebula. He’s been pulling strings for some time so perhaps now, he is going to join the game. Aside from Civil War, there is a common denominator in the titles leading up to this – the infinity gems. As members of the Illuminati (or however it is played) we might expect Doctor Strange and Black Panther to feature new gems not yet seen in the cinematic universe. Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy can return the two we have already seen – the Tesseract now on Asgard and the “orb” now residing on Nova Prime. With the potential set up of the infinity gems and possible events set in motion from Age of Ultron, we might expect this to follow reasonably closely the story line of 2013’s Infinity (the trade paperback of which was released in two parts also).
Interesting timing on this one. We knew it would eventually happen, Kevin couldn’t ignore us forever, but it is intriguing that this one is set between the two halves of Infinity War. Captain Marvel has a prominent role in 2013’s Infinity, so we can expect that she is introduced in Infinity War part 1. There are several paths that can be taken this far along the roster in terms of how they present Carol Danvers to the world. We could see Ms Marvel in Infinity War part 1, becoming Captain Marvel in this movie or she could be Captain Marvel from the get go (which might be less confusing for the lay audience). In Guardians of the Galaxy we already met the Kree, so arguably they could retain her original version of getting her powers by becoming a human-Kree hybrid (or a simplified version thereof). This movie could be a retrospective origin movie, or a standalone effort bridging current events, either way it is likely to set Carol up as a prominent character in Infinity War part 2, perhaps even taking over some of the reins from the potentially fading Stark, Thor and Rogers.
Now this is interesting! I refer you back to my season review of Agents of SHIELD where I speculated on the introduction of Inhumans, partly as a stand in for the lack of X-Men/mutants. We can perhaps expect that some of the titles leading up to this will introduce the concept of Inhumans. In a step away from the comic universe it may even become a simpler way to explain the abilities and existence of characters such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and perhaps Quill’s father, rather than exploring too much their original origins and making them instead Inhuman. And there are arguments to be had for keeping it simple in the cinematic universe, especially now so much is going on. We might also expect in this movie the introduction of Black Bolt and Medusa (Inhuman royalty and both Illuminati members at some time) as well as the concept of Inhumans and their origins as a Kree genetic experiments (fits well with Captain Marvel no?). If Strange, Panther, Danvers and possibly Quill begin to count in their ranks, it’s possible that the Inhumans are actually the replacements for the Avengers.
Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2
Remember when Avengers came out and it was this amazing thing where all this stuff came together and created a multitude of nerdgasms? Well, Infinity War has a lot to live up to. Not only at this point are we going to have also had Age of Ultron, which will presumably set the bar higher again, but also the build up to this will have been insane. We’ve got new super heroes, Inhumans, Thanos being a dick. This needs to be a winner of an ensemble movie, but who will that ensemble be? With a lack of Iron Man titles, and some other Avengers lacking in their own titles (Black Widow, Hawkeye) we can presume the Avengers themselves are winding down and it is unlikely we are going to see Stark, Thor and Rogers in a potential Phase 4. With this movie being the end of the phase and a period of apparent upheaval and conflict we will need a happy ending. This is why I think Carol may step up to a bigger role in this movie, because chances are a lot of the original Avengers won’t make it to this line up. For one reason or another, they may get lost along the way, and that shouldn’t be the focus of this movie. Perhaps in Infinity War part 1 we’ll be sadly counting our loses but in part 2 we need to be triumphantly heading into the future, and onto Phase 4!
Based on my massive assumptions, presumptions and speculations, Phase 3 could point Phase 4 in some interesting directions. I’ve persisted in my guesses that we will likely say goodbye to Stark, Thor and Rogers, and possibly even Black Widow and Hawkeye. I’ve kept Hulk out of these musings because he is on his own path and always has been, it was even a little surprising not to see his own standalone movie in Phase 3. But that doesn’t mean he’s out for the count, he could feature heavily in some of these movies, and the less earthbound the movies become the closer they may get to Planet Hulk.
Who will be in the lineup at the end of Phase 3 – we can see spots open there for Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. We can’t also discount a new Captain America, with both Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) and Sam Wilson (Falcon) both having taken up the mantle in the comics and both having been introduced to the cinematic universe. In place of Iron Man I’d also like to put forward (as pure wishlist material) the addition of James “Rhodey” Rhodes in his role as either War Machine or Iron Patriot, who incidentally is Danver’s current squeeze in the comic universe. As I discussed this with Hubster he began singing Black Sabbath’s Ironman, substituting Iron Man for War Machine…
Two possible new editions that could appear or be further developed in Phase 4 is the female Thor and Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel. Both comics are fairly new (Thor has only just started, and we’re 9 issues in to Ms Marvel), but by the time Phase 4 hits we can expect that they could carry over into the cinematic universe – especially if their popularity in comic form continues (issue 1 of Ms Marvel had at least 6 printings!). Thor: Ragnarok could easily lay the ground work for female Thor and we know from recent issues of Ms Marvel that Kamala has just discovered she is Inhuman. Well, let’s just tie all that up with a nice little bow!
If Phase 3 tells us anything, it’s that the possibilities are endless and Marvel isn’t afraid to explore them all.