Keeping Up with Marvel’s Phase 3 – Part 2

Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU Black Panther T'Challa DIsney

So there’s still quite a bit to discuss still in terms of what we know, or can at least reasonably guess, about Marvel’s upcoming Phase 3 line of movies.  We already covered everything through Thor: Ragnarok (aka, everything through 2017) and it’s high time that we rounded off the rest.

Black Panther – It’s still kind of surprising that the Disney-owned Marvel was allowed to go all out with the movie’s title.  Its racialized roots in history make it a touchy subject at even the best of times, and it almost seems easier to just call it “Panther” instead.  But they went with it – Black Panther – and I have nothing but respect for them for running with it to preserve fidelity with the comic the movie’s based off of.

Black Panther is, oddly enough, one of the most exciting projects in the latter half of Phase 3.  Not only will it star Marvel’s first black solo hero (sorry Falcon / War Machine), but it does so in a fully African context.  It’s not just some guy with laser vision who just so happens to be black.  He’s African royalty – sovereign of a mighty, if under-the-radar, kingdom that is the Earth’s sole source of Vibranium (the metal from Cap’s shield or Ultron’s flying death machine).

Chadwick Boseman – best known for his excellent portrayal of Jackie Robinson in 42 – is set to take on the title role of T’Challa, the African Prince-cum-King who adopts the guise of the Black Panther to protect his people.  Andy Serkis is set to reprise his role of Ulysses Klaue first seen in Age of Ultron.

Most excitingly, however, is that Ava DuVernay – the critically acclaimed director of last year’s Selma – is presumed to direct this film.  She is an exceptionally talented woman who will doubtless do just as exceptional a job with this franchise.  And rather than DC’s awkward Wonder Woman snafu, in which they didn’t even consider a female director until the hate mail started pouring in, Marvel gunned for a racially congruous director from the start.

Captain Marvel Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU Carol Danvers Disney

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Captain Marvel – There’s not much known about this particular movie at this time.  We don’t have a short list of directors.  We don’t have a short list of actresses.  We don’t really have anything.

We can assume that the captain of the title isn’t the original character to assume that mantle – the alien soldier named Mar-Vell – but Carol Danvers, formerly Ms. Marvel and the current Captain.  Mar-Vell will most likely appear to impart his powers onto Danvers (which is par for the course for her appearances in other media), but I doubt he’ll stick around for any signifigant length of time (also par for the course).

A lot of women’s names have been thrown out as potential Danvers, but my favorite has to be Charlize Theron.  She is an astoundingly good actress, on caliber with current Avengers actors Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.  Her work in both North Country and Monster have cemented her in my mind as the premiere actress working today.  She’s of an age with the character and already looks the part.

For a director, it’s probable that Marvel will elect for a woman in the same way that they’re likely to choose DuVernay for Black Panther.  If I had my druthers, though, I would go with Joss Whedon.  The man has made a career out of writing and directing strong female characters in sci-fi and fantasy projects.  His recent departure fro The Avengers franchise has opened him up in this exact moment in time to work on this project and he’s been extremely vocal about Marvel’s treatment of their female characters.  I know that it’s only a pipe dream, but it’s too perfect not to wish for.

Inhumans Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU Disney Reina Skye Agents of SHIELD

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The Inhumans – If Marvel can’t make X-Men movies, then this is the next best thing.  They’re as ecclectic as the X-Men, as obscure as the Guardians of the Galaxy and as inherently awesome as anything Marvel has ever put out.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of The Inhumans before.  Outside of the rare cameo in, say, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., nobody else has either.  They’re a legally distinct off-shoot of the X-Men: something that comes with the same “anything goes” collection of superpowers, but doesn’t have its film rights tied up with Fox.

Like Captain Marvel, we know virtually nothing about the movie at this time.  We have a screenwriter with a single script to his name which I’m reasonably sure nobody reading this has seen before.  We have no director.  No cast.  Nothing.

That being said, however, this will invariably be the first movie to substantively cross over with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The big reveal – spoiler alert, by the way – in the show’s second season was that Skye, whose parentage has been a high-profile mystery since season 1, is actually an Inhuman – the MCU’s equivalent of Daisy Johnson (aka Quake).  Longstanding series antagonist Reina (aka the Girl in the Flower Dress) was also revealed to be one.

This invariably will play directly into the movie: with Skye being as likely a candidate for its chiefmost protagonist as anybody.  It may very well mark the cinematic return of Director Coulson, as well as the cinematic debut of his SHIELD team.  Exactly what shape that takes remains to be seen, however.

Thanos Infinity Gauntlet Infinity Stones Avengers Infinity War Part 1 Part 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU Disney

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Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2 – And then, of course, we come to the big one.  The grand finale of Phase 3.  Infinity War.

This is the movie that everything is building towards, and it’s going to be one Hell of a send-off for the phase.  Divided into two movies, to be released a year apart, it is unquestionably Marvel’s most ambitious project to date.  The fact that two-time Avengers director Joss Whedon won’t be helming this one only makes is that much more interesting to watch take shape.

The directorial mantle of the film has fallen to the incomparable Russo brothers: the men who directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is easily my favorite Marvel movie to date.  They are exceptionally talented individuals who are without a doubt the best men to step up to the task.  Hell, The Winter Soldier was already more like Avengers 1.5 than anything, between Cap, Widow, Falcon, Fury and the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I have every confidence that they’ll be able to fit a few more Avengers into the mix.

For everybody adding up all of the potential characters that could find their way on screen, it isn’t nearly as bad as it seems.  Although obviously subject to change, it’s been revealed in interviews that the Guardians of the Galaxy will not be appearing in the movie.  And given that The Inhumans has been pushed back to after Infinity Wars Part 2 (thanks Spider-Man), none of them are likely to show up either.  That still makes for a tall order of characters, to be sure, but far less than it could have been.

The villain, obviously, will be Thanos, come to collect the last Infinity Stone from the Vision’s head.  This means that he will have already gotten the Tesseract from Asgard, the AEther from the Collector and the Power Stone (aka, the Orb) from Xandar, so expect to see all of those happen at some point in Phase 3 (most likely in Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 respectively).  Beyond that, what happens is anybody’s guess.

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