Superhero movies and comic book adaptations have been standard fare for blockbuster entertainment and ginormous box office collections in the movie industry. In the epic rivalry between Marvel and DC, it can be easily said that right now Marvel has become the more successful franchise. With a bevy of smartly woven narratives, dazzling special effects and thunderous action sequences in its flicks such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers, Marvel has dominated the comic movie scene ever since the release of the first Iron Man way back in 2008.
So in the next series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a whole lot of new entries will be seen with the introduction of new characters as well as old warhorses such as Thor and the Guardians of Galaxy. The new series, termed ‘Phase Three’ kicked off with Captain America: Civil War, and deals with turbulent times, when public opinion is unfavorable against superheroes and cracks have appeared in the Avengers team.
According to the official Marvel site, Phase Three is described as:
‘Phase Three is set during a time of discord generated from the aftermath of Ultron’s attack against the Earth. With public opinion of superheroes becoming increasingly divided, the Avengers become fragmented. In the midst of the Avengers’ turmoils, a number of new characters are introduced, such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Wasp and Captain Marvel. Thanos’ plot to collect all of the Infinity Stones, which began late in Phase One, is drawn to a close in this saga.’
Here we give a lowdown on five important upcoming movies in the third phase of MCU, which can radically alter the way superhero movies depict people of color and of the female gender:
Scheduled for release in November 2016, BBC Sherlock favorite Benedict Cumberbatch plays the eponymous character of Doctor Strange, a neurosurgeon who becomes a mystical superhero after a car accident render him incapable of performing any surgery.
The movie has a stellar cast with Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One (although Marvel faced quite some backlash for whitewashing the character, who is Tibetan in the comics); Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo; Rachel McAdams as an unnamed surgeon associate of Strange’s; Mads Mikkelsen as unnamed, mystical main antagonist; Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West; and Benedict Wong as Wong, as well as Scott Adkins and Amy Landecker in undisclosed roles.
Doctor Strange could also herald new ground for MCU by being the first film in the entire franchise to have horror elements to it.
‘ This is going to show that other dimension side [of the Marvel Cinematic Universe]. I’m sure Scott Derrickson’s going to bring some of his horror element into it as well. It’s gonna be a different version of a Marvel comic,’ says Scott Adkins.
It should be noted that Scott Derickson is well-known for his horror ventures such as ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ and ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ and it will be extremely interesting to see what scary elements he would incorporate in Doctor Strange.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first installment of Guardians of the Galaxy was a terrific hit with audiences and critics alike, with its irreverent humor and swashbuckling action set pieces. The sequel is set for a May 2017 release and in the new story, the superhero team will help Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, Star-Lord) find out more stuff about his father. The original cast will return in the second part of Guardians, along with some new cast members such as Tommy Flanagan, Steve Agee, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff and Kurt Russell (who is rumored to play Pratt’s dad). According to a CinemaBlend report, Sylvester Stallone was also spotted on the movie’s Atlanta set.
James Gunn, however, has quelled any rumors of a Guardians-Avengers crossover after a pic he posted of him holding Thor’s hammer sparked speculation from fans.
How immensely satisfying it will be to see Hulk back? Thor: Ragnarok, to be released on November 3, 2017, will feature both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who travelled to distant planets and divided the Avengers team at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
According to Ruffalo, the most interesting clash in the movie will not be a possible showdown between Thor and Hulk, or Hulk and Loki, but between Hulk and Bruce Banner.
‘What’s exciting about Bruce at this point is the arc he’s ultimately making and his relationship to the Hulk. And how that is going to resolve itself. No one’s really gone to that place. They’re coming for a collision course with each other. I think could be pretty exciting if we could find a way to do it, multi-dimensionally,’ says Ruffalo.
Thor: Ragnarok is being directed by Taika Waititi and is reportedly inspired by the Marvel Comics storyline ‘Planet Hulk,’ in which the Hulk is banished from Earth and subsequently finds himself on a violent planet, where he is forced to participate in gladiatorial games. The movie will have a relatively lighter tone to be in sync with Jeff Goldblum’s villainous character knows as The Grandmaster.
According to Goldblum, his character will be someone who is certainly evil, but also someone who is a ‘hedonist, and a pleasure-seeker.’ Apart from Tom Hiddleston, Thor: Ragnarok will also star Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins and Tessa Thompson in supporting roles.
This is perhaps the most exciting addition that we will be seeing to the MCU. Carol Danvers or Captain Marvel will be a female superhero character and possibly the most powerful member on the Marvel power squad. The comic background of this character originated back in the 1960s where Danvers made an appearance in the stories of X-Men as well as the Avengers as a powerful woman with strong feminist tendencies.
Captain Marvel’s current powers include ‘flight, enhanced strength, durability, and the ability to shoot concussive energy bursts from her hands.’ Heck, you don’t get a name like ‘Captain Marvel’ without being a tremendous force of nature.
The movie will be released in July 2018, although details of the plot have not been revealed. Comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnic, however, has bluntly spoke about reclaiming Danver’s historic feminism.
‘This is a woman with a military background, a feminist background. The idea that she would be flying around with her ass hanging out is ridiculous,’ said DeConnick to Vanity Fair.
No actress has been yet cast for the role of Captain Marvel, though Brie Larson is touted to lead the pack of contenders, which also include Sienna Miller, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Katheryn Winnick.
We saw Black Panther/T’Challa, the descendant of warrior royalty in Wakanda, a fictional African nation, played by Chadwick Boseman play a significant role in Captain America: Civil War and in July 2018, we will be looking at a standalone movie for one of the most complicated characters in the MCU. Acclaimed director Ryan Coogler (of Creed and Fruitvale Station fame) will be at the helm of Black Panther, which will have 90% of its cast as African or Afro-American.
Chadwick Boseman will reprise his role as T’Challa while the movie will also star Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o (as Black Panther’s love interest, according to reports), and Andy Serkis.
The standalone Black Panther movie is being touted as the most exciting movie being made by the studio and it is also likely to have far-reaching consequences for black superheroes being displayed on screen, settle the question of diversity for once and all in superhero movies (more often than not, we see mostly Caucasian stars in the lead roles. According to me, the studio cannot take the entire blame since they are going by the comic book origins of most superheroes).
Anyway, this will be the first movie since Blade (in which Wesley Snipes plays a vampire hunter) in which we will see a black superhero in the lead role. Who knows, it may spawn an entire series of more comic book characters and superheroes attuned more to the tastes and cultures of the current audience, which eagerly awaits new and fresh content infused in their favorite superhero blockbusters.