Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A fan's predictions for Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Since Comic-Con everyone now has a better idea of the direction Marvel is planning for their film universe and their plan for the next few years. However we don’t know the exact details of each film, so using my powers of deduction (which aren’t great), I’m going to try to piece together what’s coming up in each film and how they’ll link together. Before we start, I'm guessing each film will feature Maria Hill (or as I like to call her 'Robin Scherbatzky') and Thanos.

Iron Man 3                                     

Iron Man 3, the first film in Marvel’s second phase and the third in the Iron Man franchise. This is probably the easiest film to make predictions about as we know the most about it. We know it’s going to be a more personal story for Tony and after the footage screened at Comic-Con we know The Mandarin will appear. So which story are they focusing on? My guess would be ‘Extremis’. It’s been rumoured for a long time now and it’s pretty much been confirmed this film will feature nanotechnology. We’ll likely see Tony manipulate the virus allowing him to mentally activate his armour.

With the reveal of the Mandarin it’s also likely that they will be adapting a story in which the Mandarin, a long-time villain of Iron Man who possesses ten rings each granting him a power, releases the virus into the general population, though that's just one of thousands of Mandarin stories. I'm hoping Mandarin will be the only major villain. He can easily carry a film, and everyone knows what happens when a superhero film tries too many antagonists (Spider-Man 3?). We may have the government continue to try to take control of Tony's armour designs, but it won't be a major storyline, just setting the scene a little more for the eventual Civil War film.

My guess as to how this will link to ‘Avengers 2’will be that one of the Mandarin rings will have an Infinity Gem which Thanos will arrive to steal. We may also see a link to Ant-Man such as Janet Van Dyne (The Wasp) as the daughter of one of Tony’s business partners. I don't think this film will link into the next Thor film, though we might see a post credit sequence setting up for Captain America.

Thor: The Dark World

This films a little trickier to make predictions about. All we know is the title and that it will focus less on Earth, but on Asgard and the other nine realms. From ‘The Dark World’ I’m betting that one of three storylines will be adapted. Firstly, The Dark Elves. If they appear, will be led by ‘Malekith the Accursed’ and will use the ‘Casket of Ancient Winters’ (seen briefly in Thor) to attempt to conquer Asgard. On the other hand Hela, the Asgardian goddess of Death, will likely be trying to expand her power outside of Hel and Niffelheim. Thirdly they may be adapting a story about 'The Dark Gods' a group of Asgardians who were banished by Odin, but escape and attempt to take over Asgard, but this is a really obscure plot to choose this early into the series. I'm hoping 'The Dark Eleves' will appear just so we can see more of the nine realms and their population. However these are really just guesses and anything could happen in this film.

However I'm pretty certain that at some point in the film Loki will escape from prison and steal the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ or gem for Thanos tying into Avengers 2. If Hela is introduced she may be used as a substitute for the personification of Death which Thanos is in love with.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This will be a pretty faithful adaption of Ed Brubaker’s ‘Winter Soldier’ story-arc. We’ll see flashbacks to ‘Captain America’ but after Bucky supposedly died he’ll be saved by a group of Russian scientists. He’ll then be ‘re-programmed’ and given biological enhancements and act as a super-soldier for Russia. In the present day Captain America and Black Widow will find out about this and attempt to free Bucky and remind him of his past life. How it links to the other films is a bit harder to work out. My guess is that Bucky is being controlled using the Mind Gem (one of the Infinity Gem’s Thanos is collecting) and we’ll be introduced to several more S.H.I.E.L.D agents who will play a role in future films. At some point in the film Cap’s shield will break and an after credits scene will show S.H.I.E.L.D agents travelling to Wakanda to get Vibranium to fix it. We’ll then see the Black Panther who will be introduced in ‘Avengers 2’.

Ant-Man 

To start with Ant-Man may not even appear in Phase 2 but, with filming slated to start next year, hopefully he’ll be ready to join the team for ‘Avengers 2’. This film probably won’t have many strong ties to the ongoing storylines in the other films, apart from the odd S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Edgar Wright’s already said that the film is going to focus on both Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and Scott Lang, his successor. I’d expect flashbacks to Pym in the 60s discovering Pym particles and inventing the Ant-Man suit and helmet. This will probably be a faithful adaption of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s ‘The Man in the Ant-Hill’. If Scott Lang is involved, they will likely be adapting a story where Lang steals the Ant-Man suit and uses it to steal money to save his dying daughter. As a long time 'Young Avengers' fan (I'm planning a Wiccan costume for Kapow Comic-Con next year) this excites me. Even though Cassie won't be old enough or in a position to take on the role of Stature, she'll still be the first Young Avenger introduced to the MCU setting the stage for the others.

As I've already said there won't be much to tie this into the other films. We will hopefully see Janet, but I don't know if she'll ever make it to The Avengers and maybe an after-credits scene will show Nick Fury inviting Lang to join the Avengers. I think it's weird that Pym isn't being introduced into the modern MCU. It sort of puts a barrier against loads of great storylines and characters (Janet, Ultron and Vision).

Guardians of the Galaxy

This film will probably be used as an introduction for Thanos, as well as the Guardians. I’d predict that Thanos will manipulate the Guardians into helping him but will ultimately betray them to steal an infinity Gem. The Guardians will attempt to fight him whilst one travels to Earth to warn them. We know the team features Starlord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Racoon and Groot; but I'm guessing either Ms Marvel or Nova will be introduced as S.H.I.E.L.D or S.W.O.R.D (basically space S.H.I.E.L.D) agents, either in this film or before (maybe in Captain America 2) and will gain their powers at some point in the film. This gives the film a human basis and someone who can act as the eyes of the viewer. 

An after-credits scene will show Fury watching footage of one of the guardians (Ms Marvel or Nova if they're in the film) crashing towards Earth, before ordering Maria Hill to assemble the team. The camera will pan out and show Fury in possession of the last Infinity Gem. Cue heavy rock music as a teaser for Avengers 2 plays featuring the team looking distraught and scared interlaced with shots of explosion and fights before ending with Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and the films logo.

Avengers 2

There's not much to say about Avengers 2. We pretty much know that Thanos will be the main antagonist and any comic book fan knows that this means the Infinity Gauntlet. The only major variables are who will make up the team? My guess:
  • Iron Man
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Black Widow
  • Hawkeye
  • Hulk
  • Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and maybe The Wasp
  • Black Panther
  • Ms Marvel or Nova.

Obviously that's a huge team with potentially nine members (unless Marvel surprises us all and kills off one of their major heroes), plus all of the supporting characters. I'd hope some of these characters would leave the team at the end. The obvious member to leave is Tony Stark as Robert Downey Jr. contract doesn't last much longer, but anyone could leave in this film. Nick Fury could even assemble a team without some members because they're not needed to face Thanos. As long as Janet Van Dyne and Thor are there I'm happy (Janet probably won't be so I'm not getting my hopes up). 

These are just a few ideas of where Marvel Studios could be heading in the next few years. I might be right or I might be completely wrong (probably the latter). All I know is the Phase 2 is set to be pretty incredible.

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