After the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel studios will officially be entering the third stage of their ambitious multi-picture story arc. The films to be produced in this phase will consist of Ant-Man, Captain America 3, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and the untitled Avengers 3. There are still available release dates that Marvel has previously announced, so it has been a media scavenger hunt finding out what Marvel has up their sleeves. With characters in the pipeline, such as Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, and The Inhumans, fans are drooling in anticipation waiting to see how this cinematic game of musical chairs will play out. However, the rumor is that Marvel has bigger plans than most are anticipating for the conclusion of their third phase of movies.
Over the past few weeks there has been word brewing that Avengers 3, would be split into two installments due to it having an expansive plot and cast. The opportunity to drag the saga out over the course of two films has precedent, in the case of Harry Potter and even to a larger degree, The Hobbit. Surely Disney would jump at the chance to sell twice the amount of tickets. However as Devin Faraci of BadAssDigest astutely points out, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans' contracts expire after the next installment of The Avengers. Principal filming for both actors has wrapped on [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035). Captain America 3 will begin shooting in the spring and Evans owes Marvel only one more film after the trilogy is complete. Marvel has a frugal business model which has proven to wield profitable results. They have replaced directors and stars of their franchises and up until this point, it hasn't negatively affected the quality of their product.
Marvel has already begun the process of diversifying their cinematic landscape. This summer Guardians of the Galaxy not only became one of the biggest box office hits of the year, but also proved that audiences trust the stories and characters the company introduces. This proliferation of lesser known properties will continue with Ant-Man and with the in-development Black Panther, Inhumans, and Ms. Marvel films. So regardless, the face of the Avengers will be changing due to the growing number of superheroes within the Marvel cinematic universe.
This Is Where It Gets Exciting
As the Marvel universe continues to expand, the studio seems to have a big-picture plan to make it all fit together cohesively. Devin Faraci explains:
Marvel isn't splitting Avengers 3 into two movies, but they are planning Avengers 3 as the springboard to... something else. And they're going to use their biggest characters in that something else, keeping them out of Avengers 3.
Imagine an Avengers 3 without Thor or Captain America, maybe without Black Widow. It's a movie where the secondary characters from the MCU get to stand up and prove their worth, possibly even setting up their own spin-offs. With Guardians Marvel has shown that their brand is the star, and by the time we get to A3 clearly people will be on board with the entire universe.
It is doubtful that it will end up playing so cut and dry, with none of the principal Avengers appearing in Avengers 3. What is more likely, is that the roster will begin to revolve. So it could be just as plausible that Tony Stark's story arc concludes in the third installment, with the following film featuring more Guardians in his place. Or for example, if Steve Rogers does end up passing on the mantle to someone else (or gets assassinated) in [Captain America 3](movie:994409), it would pave the way for a glorious return in the final movie. There are a ton of ways it could play out.
Something big is brewing however. Vincent D'Onofrio (Marvel's Daredevil) and Adrianne Palicki ([Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469)), who will be playing the Kingpin and Mockingbird respectively on TV, have both independently mentioned that there has indeed been talks of their characters having appearances on the big-screen. So it's clear that Marvel is planning on taking their innovative film crossover initiative to the next level, by including their TV worlds. However there has to be a story big enough to allow for that many characters. Faraci speculates that following the Avengers 3 there could be an Infinity Gauntlet or Secret Wars adaptation. Others such as Alisha Grauso of Moviepilot have laid out reasoning for a Civil War adaptation as well. Any combination of those scenarios would necessitate all of the corners of the Marvel Universe to unite.
What Does This Mean For Fans?
It is easy to look at this story and to focus on the third Avengers film and whatever epic team-up is to follow. Even if the movies aren't released in this fashion, it is clear that Marvel has intentions to raise the bar for crossovers across the big and small screen. DC and Warner Bros. are playing coy in regards to revealing plans for their cinematic universe. However, multiple TV producers and [Arrow](series:720988)'s Stephen Amell have already confirmed that they have no intentions of crossing over. Their TV and film worlds will remain separate entities. So Marvel will truly be pioneers at creating layered multi-media storytelling.
Entertainment Weekly has done some digging and have discovered that Marvel is most definitely thinking big. Apparently there have been early talks between Marvel and Sony over Marvel Comic's crown jewel, Spider-Man. The past two Amazing Spider-Man films have under-performed in both critic's and fan's eyes. The property is devaluing with each release and Sony has been scrambling to figure out how to resuscitate the franchise. Sony's recent attempts have been to build its own Spider-man universe, using the character's supporting and ancillary characters in team-up and spin-off films. Every three months it seems their plan changes and it is clear that the studio is antsy to make a move.
Sony is under contract to make a Spider-Man connected film every three years or the rights will revert back to Marvel Studios. According to EW, Sony is not ready to give or sell the rights back to Marvel currently. However, if the upcoming 2016 Sinister Six film fails, Sony will be willing to either give up the property or allow Marvel to use the character in their films! While Marvel probably wouldn't relaunch Peter Parker in another solo film, he would be showing up and teaming with other characters. Imagine Spider-Man joining Captain America, Iron-Man, or even the Hulk in a team-up film... and don't forget about The Avengers 3 and what ever that mystery film is.
When Will We Get Answers?
Surely Marvel will be revealing more of their plans soon. Robert Downey Jr. has been making the publicity rounds and has said that there are negotiations going on between him and Marvel. Many have speculated that this means Iron Man 4 is on the way. However Downey denied this days ago, dropping some interesting info on Late Night with David Letterman:
Just between us, no, but I’m going do other stuff with Marvel. I’m still going to be involved with Marvel and there’s going to be plenty of fun stuff to happen.
Clearly his negotiations are for more films, however, Marvel is changing. Earlier we mentioned that the sheer number of heroes and characters within the MCU are growing. An excellent solution that Marvel will begin using soon is the team-up. It will be happening...
Is it possible that Stark is so distraught over the destruction his creation Ultron causes, in Age of Ultron, that it makes him build a suit to leave the planet and team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy? Yes, it is possible. It's hard to imagine why Marvel wouldn't want to see Stark throw witty banter at Drax that...goes over his head. Or to see Stark flirt with the steely Gamora. What about Stark and Star-Lord captured without weapons and having to talk their way out of a situation? Stark and Bruce Banner are best friends...what about a Thelma & Louise style road movie? Or they could retain Stark in reduced roles in both The Avengers 3 and the follow up in the role of a commander. It is all possible. Marvel have been trendsetters in the film industry for the past ten years. Expect their innovation and forward thinking to continue.
We will be getting some announcements and leading clues over the course of the next few months. Now that you know Marvel's options...let's watch how it all plays out...
How do you think RDJ will be used in the MCU? Are you ready for Spider-Man in about 5 years? How do you see things playing out? Let’s figure it out on the comment boards!
Source: Point of Geeks, EW, BadassDigest, Andrewmjbaker.deviantart.com