The world got seriously excited again this week when Marvel announced three new movie dates. They also announced an earlier release for Black Panther and a delay for Captain Marvel.
Some were disappointed to hear that the female led hero was the one being put back, but in my previous article, I may have given you the reason. Marvel WANT Emily Blunt for the role, Disney WANT her for Mary Poppins. Technically they are the same company so this smells a lot like a compromise, allowing her to take BOTH roles.
The main excitement however has been that all the new dates appear to be from 2020, and this can only mean... PHASE FOUR.
Assuming their current pattern holds, then Marvel will have reached a serious number of milestones by that time - and also potentially painted themselves into a bit of a corner. Even now, Robert Downey Jr. is commanding exorbitant sums for each movie he does and is aging rapidly. Even a cameo is likely to cost an unsustainable amount. Once he's retired, it means Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt and the others will all want more or the same. It was good news that Ant-Man did well enough to get a sequel, not just because it was their riskiest film to date, but because it proved that Paul Rudd could handle the 'step up' to leading man.
Phase Four is where Marvel needs to almost reset. Not recasting existing characters but to bring some new heroes that will excite the fans into buying more tickets, yet not command the exorbitant money. That means they need to do some deals.
Here are the three films Phase Four MUST include if they are to continue their success into a 3rd decade.
If there is a property that is "worth less" right now I'd be very surprised. Fox have again taken a bath on Reed, Sue, Johnny & Ben and seemingly through their own desperation to keep the rights. They have literally nothing to lose at this stage by doing a deal with Marvel for the return of the Fantastic Four. Marvel would be the ones assuming the risk of a THIRD reboot in 15 years, yet Fox could still get a cut of distribution if it goes well.
Guardians Of The Galaxy proved there is room in the MCU for more family friendly, comedic fare and Agent Carter has proven that there is room for period pieces. Marvel's Four should not be in the same world as Cap, Tony Stark right away. It should be a 60's set piece, filling in some of those gaps of history. There IS room for a cameo or two in the modern MCU or a second movie, perhaps Future Foundation or Reed Richards being part of the Illuminati. But this first film should be the Fantastic Four in the "Golden Age". When Reed & Sue marry, The Beatles should be in attendance via CG or lookalikes... Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, Hank & Janet... all those should be there.
By setting in in that time period, it means some of the more outlandish aspects, like the Fantasticar can be there (remember Howard's flying car? What if Reed was the one to get it to work...) and it can be explained that the Four were wrongly denounced as frauds by HYDRA or trapped somewhere like The Negative Zone due to HYDRA's treachery and all but erased from history. Indeed where WAS Simmons on Agents Of SHIELD? Could THAT be the Negative Zone?
We're a few years off, but going on current actors I would be casting Patrick Wilson as Reed Richards. There would be some fun in transplanting 60's Fantastic Four into the modern world... some jokes with Cap, but why not have an ageing Four, perhaps their aging is slowed but they're still in their 50's to everyone else?
Fantastic Four would be a relatively easy 'get' for Marvel but most importantly, with it comes VILLAINS... Phase Four needs to up that ante considerably, and Doctor Doom is a hell of a place to start, perhaps Kang The Conqueror and we could always see a decent version of the Silver Surfer.
As much a everyone wants to see Planet Hulk, that movie in itself is a BIG risk for Marvel. What people want from the Hulk is him throwing down with other heroes/villains, not John Carter.
The Hulk Vs concept would allow a massive "event style" movie and some intrigue of who he would actually throw down with. We've seen the Hulkbuster, we've seen the "fun" with Thor, they could use Spiderman., Doctor Strange, Giant Man/Goliath. If Black Widow dies in Civil War and doesn't get brought back at the end of Infinity Wars for example, Hulk is going to be VERY pissed off by the time Phase Four rolls around.
Hulk Vs would be a great way to kick off Four - pure action with the rest of the Phase affected by it's ramifications. It might also explain why some of the big hitters are not around as much.
Again, this requires some major deal cutting - but it is by no means impossible.
Fox have made clear they see the future of the X-Men franchise as being in TV, something they don't own the rights to at present. They know they are quickly going to struggle to retain their actors, as Jackman leaves, Lawrence and Fassbender become more expensive or move to other franchises and Fox couldn't get away with a 3rd reboot. There is a real sense that Apocalypse is the end for mutants on the big screen with Fox.
Marvel can use this to their advantage by allowing Fox the TV rights they crave, in return for those movie rights - with the caveat they cannot release until 2020/2021. This would allow Fox 4 full years of time with their show.
As tempting as it is for Marvel to try and get Hugh back, they shouldn't. The lead of Marvel's X-Men can't be Wolverine or Mystique. This is the movie they can get Dwayne Johnson for - as either Bishop or radically, Xavier. Imagine the "muscle man" turning perception on its head as the crippled psychic/genius, facing off against his old friend Magneto - played by someone like Mads Mikkelsen.
Imagine Cyclops done RIGHT!
At the end of the first movie, THEN they can bring in the stinger of Wolverine for the sequel.
Of course there are likely to be at least one sequel in there, but these three movies are what Marvel should be looking for. They would sustain the MCU into that third decade and allow even more impressive team-up movies. X-Men vs Avengers? Would be possible then... Fantastic Four team with Spiderman?
Most importantly, getting the remaining "tentpole" characters under their belt gives enough "new" material to interest fans without diminishing returns. Marvel's catalog is deep, but inevitably the lower down the ladder the heroes are, the less the movies will make. These 3 movies guarantee Phase 4 will make major box office, for cheaper per movie sums than their current A-characters are costing.