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The Avengers: "Phase One" (Updated 6/7)
The New York Comic-Con has come and gone and one of the biggest attractions was that of The Avengers. Producer Kevin Feige, stars Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo were all in attendance at the event and Feige talked in detail about the state of the Avenger film and going forward. Even more so, at the event they screened footage that showed off how Bruce Banner refuses to transform into the Hulk and hasn't done so in close to two years. He is brought into S.H.I.E.L.D. as Nick Fury wants his intellect to help him figure out the Cosmic Cube. The Cosmic Cube is seen to be in Fury's possession at the end of the credits during Thor.
The film is shaping up to be something along the lines of a major sporting event. It's incredibly ambitious of the studios, but it will rake in a boat load of cash for them. You'd think that after this Avengers film that they would call it quits seeing how much money they have put into getting to this point but everything will be easier for them now. They have the casting of the major parts done and signed on for multiple films, and even more important they have the technology and props done for the major special effects. That includes Captain America's shield, Thor's hammer Mjolnir, Iron Man's suits and Loki's trickery. Feige mentions at the convention that he views from Iron Man 1 to the first Avengers film as "Phase One" of the entire process and that from Iron Man 3 in the summer of 2013 to the second Avengers film would then be "Phase Two". It is definetly impressive how the writers are thinking and planning out that far along with this massive project and with decades of stories at their disposal they have plenty to make into an engaging set of films.
Just a warning that from here on out the rest of the article is mostly my own speculation on the upcoming films. A good portion of it comes from what I have heard about the upcoming films and statements by the stars, producers, and director and not to mention my knowledge on Marvel Comics.
The first Phase of the Avengers films is almost done, and we have seen a majority of them already. Surprisingly, all of the films have been at least moderately good. They have benefited from great performances from all of the lead characters which will help them going forward. The first Avengers film will likely deal with the problems that will rise when these characters come together to face off against an evil that is much bigger than themselves. Loki has been revealed to be the villain of the film, but I'm still not sold that he is the lone evil threat for the film. I have a hard time seeing Thor, Captain America and Iron Man banning together just to help Thor take down his adopted brother. I have a hard time seeing that after Loki has been through hell and back, that he hasn't met a couple new friends that are into a little bit of mischief just as much as he is. Wherever Loki was transported to at the end of the first film, who is to say he didn't meet Red Skull seeing how he seemed to be teleported somewhere after using the Cosmic Cube at the end of the Captain America film.Even more so, Loki could have met the biggest threat that the Avengers ever faced in the comics such as Thanos.
Director Joss Whedon revealed over the summer that Thanos would be a part of the Avengers films and even mentioned that he would be a villain in the first. That leads me to believe he is the overarching villain for the assumed trilogy of the Avengers films. The first film he is likely acting as the big bad who presumably ordered Loki to conjure up some kind of mischief on Earth so that he could benefit from it. If that is the case, it would probably lead to Thanos acquiring his Infinity Gauntlet that gives the wearer incredible and unimaginable power.
Knowing that Thanos is the overarching villain, the big bad if you will, than if he is investing in Loki then he is sending Loki to Earth with an army. At the end of the footage that Feige showed at the New York Comic Con convention showed an imprisoned Loki explaining to Tony Stark that he came with an army and that a great evil is rising. Stark presses for the great evil to come out of hiding to which Loki simply laughs. The army that Loki has at his disposal is likely to be either the Skrulls, or even the Kree. Both are alien races and both are quiet the threat more than capable of forcing S.H.I.E.L.D's hand to assemble such a powerful team of superheroes.
The Skrulls are green skinned humanoids that resemble reptiles with large pointed ears and piercing red or green eyes that have the ability to hypnotize humans. The Skrulls also have the ability to shape shift and due to their advanced technology, they have been able to augment their abilities in combat to create a race aptly named Super Skrulls. Super Skrulls were able to emulate the powers and likeness of their opponents.
The Kree being the other option as the army that Loki has at his command look exactly like humans but have blue skin. Kree have a high level of strength that exceeds that of humans, but their downfall is they breath nitrogen instead of oxygen. Under Earth's lesser gravity their strength and speed increase. On their homeland, they had a higher gravity and higher concentration of nitrogen in their atmosphere. To make up for their inability to breathe on Earth they created a formula to help them survive on Earth's surface. The Kree would give the Avengers a tougher opponent in terms of hand to hand combat while the Skrulls could be any body due to their ability to shape shift. There have been some rumors that even Agent Caulson could very well be one of the Skrulls in hiding from the very first Iron Man. It is a feasible thought when you consider that Feige mentions that the villains in the Avengers have been around from the start of Phase One.
In House Fighting
It has also been revealed through trailers and through the actors that there will also be some in house fighting, most notable between some of the biggest characters such as Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America). Chris Evans has mentioned that the first Avengers film will dive into the dichotomy between his character and Tony Stark. The two have conflicting personalities, one Steve Rogers is out of his element in a time he does not belong in while Tony Stark is a bit of a diva. It is even shown in the first trailer as Tony says to Steve that he doesn't play well with others to which Steve responds "a big man with a suit of armor, take that away what are you?"
There have also been rumors that in the beginning that Thor and Iron Man fight to find out who the strongest of the group is. Which would go along the lines of the comics really well, and also in the trailer you see Thor with his hammer in hand lunging at Captain America. So it seems that the main three heroes will be facing off against each other as they work out their issues in the beginning of the film.
Kevin Feige explained that Phase 2 of the Avengers films will begin with Iron Man in 2013. Writer/Director Shane Black has mentioned that the villain of the third and final Iron Man will be his biggest enemy, Mandarin. Mandarin was alluded to a few times in the first Iron Man film as he was the leader of the terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. Some of Tony's captors mentioned the Ten Rings multiple times throughout the film. Mandarin is a very powerful villain in the canon of Marvel Comics as he is a skilled hand to hand fighter, he is a scientific genius and the ten rings he wears grants him great power as each ring has its own separate power. Introducing a villain on the level of Mandarin also gives the writers the ability to bring him into the fold of the Avengers films. Mandarin's power could give the Earth's mightiest heroes a good fight, even more so if he was in support of Thanos.
Feige mentions that phase two includes more than just Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and the presumed Captain America 2 but also adding new characters in to the fold such as Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Doctor Strange has been one that has gained the most traction as their have been reports of actors they are seeking out to play the part. Some actors that have been rumored include Tom Welling (Smallville), and Robert Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy. My personal opinion is that Clive Owen would make a great choice for the role. Ant-Man has had a hard time getting off the ground, but it does have Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim) attached to direct. Guardians of the Galaxy has just been talked about, so not much is known about who is to direct, or star in the film.
Doctor Strange is a different hero then what we are used to seeing in cinematic form due to his power and how he can be hard for an audience to buy into as a character. Doctor Strange is a master magician and labeled as the "Sorcerer Supreme" while also being viewed as more powerful than any human being. Strange can use magic to virtually any effect he desires such as telepathy, energy blasts, teleportation, astral projection, creating shields and and the ability to heal. The sorcerer may just be the most difficult hero to do well in cinematic form due to his powers in fact when he first came along in comic book form people who read the comic began to question if the writers were drug users because of just how strange the character was.
Introducing Doctor Strange into the canon of the Marvel Universe films makes sense seeing how the films are branching out into different realms since Thor. Thor introduced the idea of other realms such as Asgard and Jotunheim. Strange's origin story would be easier to buy after being introduced to all of these realms and whatever alien life form Loki comes to destroy Earth with.
Hank Pym is the alter ego of the Ant-Man as he is a biophysicist and nanotechnology expert. Pym took it upon himself to become a superhero when he discovered a chemical substance that would allow the user to alter their size. He then armed himself with a helmet that would allow himself to control ants. With all of that being said, it is incredible hard not to chuckle at it. It is even more difficult for a viewing audience to get behind a superhero that shrinks to the size of an ant and control ants. Who is to say that Ant-Man would not be killed by a villain just by a simple step, and that's why he is also another hero to make a film center on. He is better off in a sidekick type of role even though he is incredibly important to the Avengers. In the comics he and his girlfriend the Wasp, were the some of the founding members of the Avengers. Even more so one of his greatest enemies and even of the Avengers was one of Pym's own creations, none other than Ultron.
It is inevitable that at some point Ant-Man will be seen on screen and ultimately he will need to be portrayed by someone. A year ago there were rumors that he would be played by Nathan Fillion, or David Boreanaz. Both actors could pull the part off and have an advantage on the role as both actors have worked with Avengers director Joss Whedon. Fillion was the lead actor in Whedon's television series Firefly and Fillion guest starred as a villain in Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was another one of Whedon's successful shows. Boreanaz starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as Buffy's Edward if you will. Boreanaz played the vampire with a soul over two television series that Whedon created, Buffy and Angel. The actors may not be able to be involved in the Avengers project as they both are attached to popular television shows.
Considering how the first Avengers film will explore the strained relationship between Captain America and Iron Man it has led to some questioning whether or not the Avengers films will go into the Civil War where heroes are forced to register to the government. It leads to a rebellion in which Captain America leads as he feels it is not the American way, while Iron Man is the leader of the registration. It would be too difficult to do for a film, as it would branch over multiple films and seeing how Thanos is the overarching villain of the Avengers it seems even more unlikely for them to go to the Civil War storyline no matter how good it is.
Another character that they could eventually bring into the fold would be that of the Black Panther. In Iron Man 2 there is an Easter Egg that points to him, and even Captain America's shield is made of vibranium which is a type of metal only found in the Black Panther's home of Wakanda.
Again, this is all speculation as to where I think the films could go, and when I know more about the films I will post them here. Here is to waiting until the summer.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Now that I have seen the Avengers (and reviewed it, yes it is fantastic) it is clear to me what Phase Two of the Marvel Studios-verse will focus on. From Iron Man 3 to Avengers 2 will become a more personal battle for Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and the rest of the gang seeing the new bad that is in town. I will not say who considering it would be spoiling something at the end of the Avengers. The other interesting aspect of Phase 2 regards Robert Downey's contract. His contract with Marvel is up after Iron Man 3, my betting money says he comes back, but a lot of people thought Edward Norton would come back to. It is impossible to know these things ahead of time. However, Downey's career has been on an upswing since Iron Man 1 due to how well he fits the character. With the amount of money his solo movies and the Avengers will make, I'd imagine it would be tough for anyone to walk away from. Producer Kevin Feige has stated he has contingencies in place in case Downey decides to leave (god please don't kill Tony Stark). He has also stated that he wants to add to the roster, he did so already by buying the licenses to the Marvel characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. My money is on the two appearing in Hawkeye's rumored solo film. That way we can understand his character better, and he can flesh out his relationship with Natasha. When she turned down his advances in the comics, he turned his eye to Scarlet Witch but she also didn't love him and ended up marrying her fellow Avenger teammate Vision. By going that route in a Hawkeye movie they could potentially add three good characters to the Marvel Universe for future films. The other planned future films include the Inhumans, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Another possible movie that could add another character into the Marvel-verse of films is Black Panther. His character has been alluded to a few times in the previous films such as Iron Man 2, when Tony is looking at a S.H.I.E.L.D. screen that had been focused on Wakanda the place that the Panther could be found. The Marvel-verse has followed the Ultimate version of the Avengers storyline and after banding together to take down an alien threat they did meet up with the Black Panther in Wakanda. If they don't give him his own movie, they could add him to the team in Captain America's next film as the two had respect for each other. Panther was essentially his people's version of Captain America, as he was a symbol of hope in Wakanda. Many fans have clamored for the character to hit the big screens, but it can be hard to market a film titled Black Panther as it could potentially rub some people the wrong way. Either way it is intriguing to see where Marvel Studios could go from here.
Well never mind to the idea that Marvel Studios may have been unsure about making a Black Panther as it seems to have gotten a green light. By all accounts it sounds as if we will be seeing T'Challa, the Black Panther, on the big screen for his own film sometime after Captain America 2. It sets it up so that he can be present in the second Avengers film as well. It is a far ways off as Captain America 2 is set to release in April 2014. The script has already been penned by Mark Bailey, which by all sources, is a really good script. Now it will come down to getting a director, and someone to play the part of T'Challa. Marvel previously eyed Idris Elba for the part, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards anymore as he is playing Heimdall. An actor that they could reach out to would be Shemar Moore of Criminal Minds to play the part. Granted, there are no reports of them signing an actor or director for the film as of now, but I am certain after the filming of Iron Man 3 that Black Panther will get some more attention.