When the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced, I too made an announcement: I would refuse to watch in the theaters. It just seemed like a dumb movie. The trailer didn’t impress me. Nor was I familiar with the characters, and apparently many other people weren’t familiar with them either.
Familiarity didn’t matter. The movie finished as the highest grossing film of 2014, and the only film of the year to finish with over $300 million in domestic gross. It also was the third-highest grossing Marvel Studios film, behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
At this point, Marvel Studios could make a movie about Howard the Duck and make millions. Heck, they could make a movie about you and people would flock to the theaters. They have the Midas touch and they know it.
Two days ago, Marvel Studios stole the Apple script by renting out the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to make public product announcements. They announced that, as part of its “Phase 3″ schedule, they have eight films in the pipeline with firm release dates. For those unfamiliar (like I was prior to their announcement), here are the Phase 1 and Phase 2 list of films:
Phase 1 (six films):
- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man 2
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Avengers
Phase 2 (also six films):
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: The Dark World
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians Of The Galaxy
- The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)
- Ant-Man (Jul 17, 2015)
Phase 3 is eight films (Marvel counts the two parts of Avengers 3 as one film):
- Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
- Doctor Strange (Nov 4, 2016)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (Jul 28, 2017)
- Black Panther (Nov 3 2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 (May 4, 2018)
- Captain Marvel (the female version) (Jul 6, 2018)
- Inhumans (Nov 2, 2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 (May 3, 2019)
Marvel has a clear road map of how all the characters will interconnect in their movies. For example, people at the Marvel Studios event saw a clip from Avengers: Age of Ultron that showed serious tension between Cap and Tony Stark, which—along with the nation in ruins after the super-fighting of Avengers 1 & 2—feeds easily into the Civil War storyline in Captain America 3. Though the title of the film is Captain America: Civil War, there will be a lot of Iron Man in the film too, as Robert Downey Jr. confirmed his casting. [Incidentally, for The Winter Soldier, CinemaSins listed the multiple references to Iron Man during the movie but lack of any actual Iron Man appearances—despite the destruction of a big swath of Washington D.C.—as sinful.]
Also, Black Panther will make an appearance the Civil War movie before his solo movie and is rumored to play the “which side will I choose” role that Spider-Man played in the comics version of the storyline (since Marvel Studios doesn’t own the rights to Spider-Man). Also rumored is that the Avengers will team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
Meanwhile, Sony announced one confirmed Marvel movie of its own: Sinister Six, set to release Nov 11, 2016 (featuring Dr. Octopus, Vulture, Green Goblin, Rhino, Kraven the Hunter, and Mysterio). Apparently, these villains will team up with a re-cast Spider-Man to fight an unknown larger threat. Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which was originally scheduled for Jun 10, 2016, has been pushed back to an unspecified date in 2018 after the lackluster box office for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Incidentally, I had been a vocal critic of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 while actors were still being cast, saying it would likely fail due to having too much going on. After watching the film, critics criticized it, saying (surprise, surprise) it had too much going on.
Recent rumors that Sony may sell the rights to Spidey back to Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios head, did not debunk the rumors, saying rather vaguely that it “is either not true at all or still rumor until it’s worked out.” The fact that Feige did not stop at the former but also added the latter has the internet somewhat abuzz about the possibility of the iconic character joining the studio with the Midas touch. Feige did say in 2012 that “clearly we would prefer everything (in this case, Spider-Man) be at home, so to speak,” and admitted there is “no doubt that Spider-Man is the most well-known (Marvel character),” so the comment about things being “worked out” could be a sign that Marvel Studios and Sony are in some sort of negotiations. Back in 2013, Ain’t It Cool News reported that Sony co-chair Amy Pascal said she would “never ever ever” let go of the Spider-Man franchise. And even though Amazing Spider-Man 2 underwhelmed at the domestic box office, it still earned a very healthy $709 million worldwide, So before Spidey fans get excited at the possibility of Marvel Studios getting its hands on the web-slinger, Marvel Studios would have to fork over a lot of money before Sony is willing to let go of such a lucrative film franchise.
Finally in Marvel news, Warner Bros is reporting five Marvel-related movies to come:
- Fantastic Four – Jun 19, 2015
- X-Men: Apocalypse – May 18, 2016
- Wolverine 3 – Mar 3, 2017
- Fantastic Four 2 – Jul 14, 2017
- unknown – Jul 13, 2018
I’m staying far, far away from the Fantastic Four reboot—like ebola. I won’t even watch the movie when it comes out on DVD. Casting the white Johnny Storm character with a black actor is sacrilege. Or worse, stupid sacrilege. It’s a MUCH bigger deal than changing Nick Fury to a black character because Nick Fury is a minor character in the Marvel universe. The Human Torch, however, is one of the most familiar comics characters of all time. You don’t change the identity of such a major character. I’m not alone on this minor insight either. Commenter mongoose wrote: “I can only hope that the FF reboot falls on its face so hard, FF2 will be scrapped in lieu of something else (ANYTHING else).” It’s like Marvel letting a woman become Thor—stupid.
Oh, by the way, Fox announced a Deadpool movie expected Feb 12, 2016.
As for DC, two weeks ago, DC announced a slate of 11 movies through 2020 (not including future stand-alone Batman & Superman movies):
- Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
- Suicide Squad (2016)
- Wonder Woman (2017)
- Justice League, Part 1 (2017)
- The Flash (2018)
- Aquaman (2018)
- Shazam (2019)
- Justice League, Part 2 (2018)
- Cyborg (2019)
- Green Lantern (2020)
However, unlike Marvel, DC reportedly does not have a concrete plan for building a cohesive universe through all its various planned movies.
Last but not least, Lego Batman gets his own star turn in “The Lego Batman Movie” in 2017, followed by presumably another cameo in “The Lego Movie 2″ in 2018.
Whew! That’s a lot of superhero movies in the next 5 years…about 29 if you count the animated Big Hero 6 from Disney! There’s already speculation about superhero fatigue, superhero overload, comic book bubble, etc. but as long as the movies tell good stories, I don’t think superhero movies will become a bust anytime soon.
I do hope, however, that these movies won’t fuzz the line between good and evil. What makes superheroes so attractive among any generation of children (and yes, adults) is the draw that bad things get their just reward and good will prevail. It brings out hope. There’s enough despair in the real world that we don’t need to see despair in our entertainment. Superhero movies are escapist forms of entertainment. Talk of superheroes dying in future movies is cause for concern. The superhero bubble will burst if the good guys don’t win in the end. If they do win in the end, then bring on all 29 superhero movies!