Sunday, 7 April 2013

Marvel Month: What To Expect In Marvel Phase 2

Iron Man 3

For a few years now, Marvel have been playing the long game. Slowly putting all the pieces of their intricate puzzle together, one could be forgiven for thinking that last year's Avengers film was the zenith of years of planning and build-up. In actual fact, The Avengers was just the tip of the iceberg, the first phase of something that is bigger and bolder...

The first phase of Marvel's puzzle (which began with 2008's Iron Man and concluded with 2012's The Avengers) set a new standard in cinematic shared universes; that is to say, they all interlink with one another and they share characters, settings, plots and casting with one each other. The way in which Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and more all melded together in The Avengers was nothing short of a rip-roaring success. Phase One: Complete.

The release of Iron Man 3 on Anzac Day sees Marvel kick off the second phase in their wide-reaching grand plan that extends until the release of The Avengers 2 in Summer 2015. So what can we expect from one of the most ambitious movie studios over the next three years? Well dear fellow, read on...

Iron Man 3 (April 2013)

Iron Man 3
The first film in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) set after the events of The Avengers, Iron Man 3 sees Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.) picking up the pieces of his life and trying to move on from the attack on New York. It isn't long however before he is confronted with a greater threat in the form of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). 

What we can expect to see in Iron Man 3 is a very stripped back story that focuses on Tony Stark. The Avengers may have opened horizons for the MCU but Iron Man 3 isn't embracing that. Instead, it'll show us a very vulnerable Tony Stark who is taken back to the isolation he felt in the first third of the first film.

Exciting stuff, and it hits cinema screens in Australia on Anzac Day.

Thor: The Dark World (November 2013)

Thor: The Dark World
Chris Hemsworth dons the winged helmet for the third time in Thor: The Dark World, his second stand-alone adventure as the hammer-wielding God of THUNDAAAA.

I'm especially excited for this one as the original Thor (released only two years ago) is my favourite stand-alone Marvel film. Hemsworth is a great actor with a massive future ahead of him and I can't wait to see him lock horns again with Tom Hiddlestone's maniacal Loki.

Also returning to the fray are Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba and Stellan Skarsgard, all of whom are reprising their respective roles from the first film.

Not just that, but the action in Thor: The Dark World will stretch across all of the Nine Realms that make up the Asgardian dimension. We'll see all kinds of Dark Elves and Warriors thrown into the mix as well as Christopher Ecclestone (side note: great casting choice) as Malkeith the Accursed.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Another exciting project coming up in the 2nd Phase of Marvel films is the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger.

The first Captain America film was a real delight for me, I hadn't expected much but found it hard not to love. The WWII setting, the retro look and feel as well as raft of great casting choices made it a distinct entry into Phase One of the MCU. 

For the sequel, we will pick up from where The Avengers left off. We find Cap is still well and truly stuck in the 21st Century, a fish out of water who is struggling to adjust to modern life. The title 'Winter Soldier' is taken from a comic-book arc from 2005 in which (SPOILER ALERT) Cap's best bud Bucky Barnes is actually not dead and is subsequently brainwashed into becoming a Russian spy. Damn those Ruskies! 

Also rumoured to be joining the cast is Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, another superhero who has the ability to fly and speak with birds. Frank Grillo is confirmed to play Crossbones whilst Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders are all rumoured to reappear as Black Widow, Nick Fury and Maria Hill respectively.
All of these elements add up to make Winter Soldier a pretty mouth-watering proposition in my mind.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014)

The first and only entirely fresh film to be entering the MCU during Phase 2 is that of Guardians of the Galaxy

As you can tell by the title, GOTG is an ambitious project for Marvel. A film based around a troupe of intergalactic superheroes that really opens up the boundaries of the franchise, GOTG has been touted for quite a while; Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige originally mentioned GOTG back at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010.

It is both ambitious and risky. The comic is not the most well known in the Marvel Universe and is also not the most popular. It does however add a much wider scope to the films as a whole, showcasing just how far the studio plans on taking things in the future.

So far we have Chris Platt signed on to play Peter Quill/Star-Lord and Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. Zoe Salanda (of Avatar and Star Trek fame) is in talks to play Gamora. Will Thanos (last seen in the post-credits sequence of The Avengers) slot in here? Who knows, but here's hoping Marvel don't bite off more than they can chew with this one. 

The Avengers 2 (May 2015)

The Avengers
Yep, 2015 will see Earth's Mightiest Heroes reunite on screen for a second time in The Avengers 2. Joss Whedon is pencilled in to write and direct once again and it is most likely we will see Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury joined on screen by other additions to the group like Falcon(?) from Winter Solider and a whole host of others from GOTG

Other than that, little else is known about The Avengers 2 other than that it will begin filming in the United Kingdom in early 2014 and it will mark the end of Phase 2. 

And Beyond Phase 2...Ant-Man (November 2015)

So far the only film to be announced as a part of Phase 3, Ant-Man is set to be released the November after The Avengers 2.

No casting news has been released but we do know that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is on-board to write and direct the script. Hopefully, this means that Ant-Man will be the funniest and most whimsical entry into the franchise yet! 

What are your thoughts on Marvel Phase 2 (and beyond)? Which film are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading. 

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