Reaction: Marvel’s ballsy PHASE THREE lineup announcement

Phase Three logos

I began writing this post on Tuesday, October 28, the day Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige did a Steve Jobs/Apple style keynote address in L.A. announcing Marvel’s entire slate of films through 2019, which will comprise “Phase Three” of this interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a very ambitious lineup of 9 films, which shows just how confident Marvel has become given their success since “Phase One” began with the original Iron Man in 2008. It includes several already established characters and properties (Captain America, Thor, Loki, Hulk, the Guardians of the Galaxy) along with brand new films and characters that Marvel hopes/assumes will each turn into their own hit franchises. The newbies include the already announced Doctor Strange movie (which will now presumably star Benedict Cumberbatch), a Black Panther movie, a Captain Marvel movie, the third Avengers movie (with the awesome Infinity War subtitle), which will be split into two parts, and finally, The Inhumans.

In case you can’t read the photo (click on it for the bigger version), here’s the full lineup:

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)

The Avengers: Infinity War Part I (May, 2018)

Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)

The Inhumans (November 2, 2018)

The Avengers: Infinity War Part II (May, 2019)

I’ve stated many times that I wasn’t a comic book reader growing up, so I’ve had to look up just who the hell Black Panther, Captain Marvel and the Inhumans are. Inhumans is obviously a group of people, which will introduce a whole new set of characters in much the same way Guardians of the Galaxy did this year. And just like Guardians, The Inhumans could eventually spawn their own individual films farther down the road. But that’s the last of this new group that will come out (11/2/18), so we’ll worry about that later.

We don’t yet know who will write and direct most of these films, either. We know the Russo brothers will return for the third Captain America movie, and rumor is Marvel also wants them to do the third Avengers, but that’s not set in stone yet. I guess Joss Whedon is all Marvel’d out? I assumed he was the Lord of the Avengers. Other than, all that’s certain now is that James Gunn will return for the Guardians sequel and Scott Derrickson (who did the Day the Earth Stood Still remake and mediocre horror movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and Deliver Us From Evil) will direct the first Doctor Strange movie. Per Marvel’s previous tactics, I wouldn’t expect any A-list directors to hop on board any of these other projects.

All that said, let’s get into specifically what I like and dislike most about this monumental announcement:

WHAT I LIKED

Captain America: Civil War. I absolutely love what it looks like they’re doing with this movie. The idea that Tony Stark could potentially be the villain of the movie is a brilliant break from the norm of what we understand a “superhero movie” to be. Aside from The Avengers: Infinity War, this is probably the film I’m most excited about on this slate, given the concept and just how good The Winter Soldier was. I’m curious though what this means for the Winter Soldier/Bucky character, who we previously assumed would play a big role in the Captain America story once again. I believe Robert Downey Jr. is still signed up for the third Avengers, but I’ll be very curious to see where his character is left at the end of this movie. In case you were wondering, this confirms that there will be no Iron Man 4 anytime soon.

Civil War art

Risk-taking. Most of the characters post-Age of Ultron are less grounded and more sci-fi/fantasy than we’ve been used to thus far, and they aren’t sure-fire hits like Iron Man or Captain America or Thor. But then again, a lot of people (including me) thought Guardians of the Galaxy was a somewhat risky move. Feige admitted that the success of Guardians gave them the confidence to go full steam ahead with Doctor Strange (which features a lot of supernatural stuff), Captain Marvel (who has big-time, Superman-style powers) and Inhumans (who are genetically enhanced superhumans). I didn’t adore Guardians of the Galaxy like so many others did, but I’m excited about the potential of some of these characters. It’s all in the writing, though, so let’s see who gets hired to write these scripts.

Diversity! In Black Panther and Captain Marvel, we’ll finally be getting legit comic book movies with a non-white and a female lead. We don’t yet know who will play Captain Marvel (who I honestly thought was a guy prior to today), but Chadwick Boseman will play T’Challa/Black Panther (a character I guess originates in Africa), which is fantastic. He’s one of the best up-and-coming black actors working today, and it’ll be nice to see him doing something other than a biopic. He’s allegedly signed up for 5 movies, so he’ll definitely appear in the two-part Avengers movie and get his own sequel(s) if the first one does well. Mr. Feige confirmed that we’ll first see him in Civil War, which is very cool.

Black Panther concept art

The implications of the Thor subtitle Ragnarok. Hey, it’s better than that lameass, generic title The Dark World. Amirite? Of course I am. If you look up what the word Ragnarok means in ancient Norse culture [here’s the Wikipedia entry], it implies some very epic, dark, world-changing events to come. This is especially important when you consider this will be the last movie that comes out leading into Avengers: Infinity War. I’m very curious who will end up directing this one and whether or not it will be the first Thor movie that’s better in quality than “just okay”. That’s what I’m hoping for most. The Thor movies have been the “least good” of all the MCU flicks thus far, and it’d be nice for one of them to be good-to-great before Chris Hemsworth stops playing this character.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

There will be no standalone Black Widow or Hawkeye movie. That kinda sucks. Everyone’s been assuming Scarlett Johansson would at least be getting her own movie, but I guess these two characters will remain supporting players as this thing progresses. I’d been advocating a Bourne-style Black Widow/Hawkeye teamup movie that would have the same espionage/political tone as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I thought that was the best way to give them both their own movie, but what the hell do I know?

There will be no standalone Hulk movie. This was a long shot to begin with, but considering how great Mark Ruffalo was in The Avengers and how The Hulk was perhaps the most popular character in that movie, a lot of people hoped it would eventually lead to Ruffalo getting his own Hulk movie. Apparently, tis not to be.

The splitting of the third Avengers movie into two parts. Ugh. Way to hop on the worst cinematic bandwagon going, Marvel. Is this really necessary from a story standpoint, or is it being done purely for profit? I’m skeptical. These splits make it nearly impossible to judge each part on its own merits, which is frustrating as hell. Whatever. We’ll cross that road when we come to it. I’ll be 38 years old when this fucking movie comes out, and that’s the most depressing part of all.

CONFUSION

-Why wasn’t Ant-Man included as part of this announcement? It’s the first Marvel movie that will come out post-Age of Ultron. Does it not count as a “Phase Three” movie? Or is it the official conclusion to Phase Two? Does it mean Ant-Man won’t be a part of the interconnected universe going forward? Ant-Man is the Marvel movie I’m least excited to see, but I’ll go purely out of duty to see how the film fits into the bigger picture. Other than that, the Ant-Man character sounds incredibly stupid to me, and the fact that the film lost director Edgar Wright over creative differences is hugely disappointing. He’d have been the first “visionary” director to handle any of these films, and now we’re left with Peyton Reed (Bring It On, The Break-Up, Yes Man) directing the film instead. …Yay.

-Since it appears Joss Whedon will not be directing Infinity War, is his involvement/stewardship of these movies over after Ultron?

Regardless, between Marvel’s Phase Three and all the movies Warner Bros. announced they’re making from the DC Universe, we’ll be getting at least one major comic book movie every 6 months or so for the next 5 years, including a Justice League AND an Avengers movie in 2019. Geekgasm, baby, geekgasm.

P.S. If you want more detailed, potentially spoilery analysis of these upcoming films, there are literally dozens of articles out there where you can find just that. I am deliberately avoiding all such posts so that I may remain as clean as possible going into Age of Ultron. I already accidentally read a couple of things that might happen in that film that I did not want to know, so proceed with caution when doing your own research. A lot of these fanboy sites do a pisspoor job with spoiler warnings.

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5 Responses to “Reaction: Marvel’s ballsy PHASE THREE lineup announcement”


  1. 1 Mike Courtney October 30, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    How can they not have Joss Wheedon direct the two Infinity movies? Seriously, who the hell else is going to give the characters enough of a light touch in a very serious movie. I loved the extended trailer for Ultron, just because you see Wheedon’s dialogue mastery between the different characters – can’t wait for that movie!

    Btw, what’s your feelings on the DC Universe? I’m like you, I didn’t read comics as a kid and was exposed to a majority of the characters through cartoons in the late 80s and early 90s.

    • 2 rograt1 October 30, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Biggie – I must admit you are my go-to resource for all things film related. Thank you.

      • 3 Biggie October 30, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        I don’t blame ya.

    • 4 Biggie October 30, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      There has been no solid information on if/why Joss Whedon is done after Ultron. I’ve talked to a couple people who were at the Marvel event and they didn’t hear anything either.

      I’m excited for the Batman and Superman movies, Wonder Woman and the Justice League. Until shown footage proving otherwise, I couldn’t care less about Aquaman or The Flash, and I’m gonna have a hard time taking any movie called “Shazam” seriously.

      So while Batman is my favorite comic book hero ever, overall I’m more excited for the Marvel flicks, because until we see differently, at least we know they have their shit together.


  1. 1 The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014) | BIGGIE'S PLACE Trackback on March 3, 2015 at 1:38 PM

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