Jul 17, 2012

COMIC CON: Get Ready For Marvel's PHASE TWO!

While I already covered some of the early highlights from this year's Comic Con, there's still plenty to talk about.  Let's kick things off with all things Marvel...

Obviously the folks at Marvel are in high spirits in light of the overwhelming success of The Avengers, but they're far from resting on their laurels.  As "Phase One" will hit DVD and Blu-Ray this September in the form of a giant boxed set (complete with glowing Tesseract!) Kevin Feige and friends laid out their blueprint for "Phase Two" on Saturday in Hall H.  Here's what it looks like, including logo branding and new titles!

First up, we've got the Shane Black directed Iron Man 3, hitting theaters May 3, 2013.

Marvel put on a helluva show with this one, including an exclusive footage presentation that more than impressed the audience.  Highlights included shots of Don Cheadle's Rhodey in his new red white & blue War Machine armor and the first glimpse of Ben Kingsley as the now-confirmed Mandarin.  (He does not appear to be playing the role as Asian.)  For a more detailed take on the footage, check out Drew McWeeny's excellent description over at HitFix.  They also had all seven previous versions of Iron Man's armor on display, as well as the newest model we'll see next spring:

Thor: The Dark World opens November 8, 2013.  

That subtitle doesn't give too many clues as to where the story is headed, but we might get a better clue as they finish up casting.  They've already had to replace Josh Dallas with Zachary Levi as Fandral (which is ironic as Levi was originally set to play the role in the first film, but was later replaced by Dallas, both times due to unexpected TV renewals.)  They've also lost their villain in the form of Mads Mikkelsen, whose commitments to the upcoming Bryan Fuller-helmed Hannibal Lecter television series forced him off the Marvel project.  We'll see who emerges to torture the thunder god in his next go-round.

Arriving on April 4, 2014 is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

As opposed to the Thor sequel, this title speaks volumes.  It's clear the Russo brothers (!) will be drawing heavily from Ed Brubaker's infamous run on the comics in which Cap's sidekick Bucky is revealed to be very much alive, now a deadly Russian assassin with a mechanical arm who's spent the decades since WWII in and out of cryo-stasis. (I almost put a spoiler warning there, but ultimately decided the title indicates that Bucky's presence in the movie will probably be well advertised beforehand.)  We've also learned that Cap's 70's-era partner The Falcon will appear and that Marvel is in negotiations with Anthony Mackie.  The Falcon is one of Marvel's early black superheroes, a Harlem native who can fly with the help of a special suit.  He also has a psychic link with his pet Falcon and can generally see through the eyes of birds.  Mackie is a fantastic actor who should be far more successful than he is, so here's hoping he'll get a bit of the Marvel bump.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him appear in the next Avengers flick either.

Marvel's also opening up a new franchise, Guardians Of The Galaxy, on August 1, 2014.

This one is WAY out there compared to the Marvel movies we've seen so far.  This is a huge outer space epic, with a team of heroes named Star Lord, Groot, Frax, Gamorra and Rocket Racoon.  Yes, that last one is an actual racoon.  With automatic weapons.  Oh, and Groot is a walking tree.  Here's some concept art, to give you a sense of the characters.  

The Guardians will be teaming up to fight Thanos, who was briefly glimpsed during the credits of Avengers and will definitely be the villain the next time Earth's mightiest heroes assemble.  I actually love the idea of using this new franchise to flesh out the Avengers' newest foe, as we'll have essentially had three (or in Tony Stark's case four) movies with each of our heroes by the time we get to the next Avengers movie.  Since most folks aren't terribly familiar with Thanos, it'll be nice to have the team fighting an enemy with some serious backstory that the audience might even be more aware of than some of the characters. 

And finally, the much anticipated Ant-Man from Edgar Wright.

Wright recently shot some test footage to see how Ant-Man's growing and shrinking abilities could be utilized on-screen, but this project is still quite a ways off.  While Marvel formally announced the project with Wright attached (and showed the footage, which sounded beyond cool, even sans-ants) there is still no official release or production start date.  Wright is about to start shooting The World's End, the final entry in his infamous "Blood & Ice Cream" trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

All told, an ambitious and (hopefully) impressive slate for the next two years.  Color me stoked.

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