Welcome to the debut of my new weekly column ‘The Marvelous Da7e!’
Real quick mission statement: this column is for discussion of superhero movie news and superhero movies. Titular allegiance aside, this sphere includes non-Marvel properties.
This week: new superhero movies are announced (and expected) for the coming half-decade and they show evidence of growing story-worlds. Who’s getting full universes and who is joining the one active cinematic universe we already have?
TWO NEW PHASE III RELEASE DATES
Disney and Marvel put their chips on the release date roulette wheel for two mystery projects last week. The new dates are after 2015′s Avengers 2, which puts them and Ant-Man squarely in Phase III: May 6th 2016 and May 5th 2017. The first week of May has been a Marvel sweet spot ever since Iron Man made that weekend Marvel’s week to launch huge movies or to culminate huge projects (both Avengers movies have/will land in that spot).
So, now the question becomes: who takes these spots and what does that say about Phase III?
Time for wild speculation: One of the spots will end up going to Dr. Strange or one of Marvel’s black superheroes. I’d say it’s an even toss up between the Black Panther, who has been hinted at on-screen since Iron Man 2 and Luke Cage, who seems like a more grounded hero to lead the charge into non-white movie leads. My initial thought is that Phase III is going to deal even more with where the mystical meets super-science, but with Tony Stark’s future murky, Ant Man will take over as the techno-lead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and elements like Dr. Strange and T’Challa (who is King of the Dead) will bring the mystical to the table.
The second spot is really the mystery spot, because it seems a smidge too early for Avengers 3, but there isn’t another core Avenger who needs a movie to plug into this spot…besides The Hulk.
Say what you will, Marvel, but you have an open contract with Mark Ruffalo and even when he’s burning off movies in that contract with post-credits scenes, a Hulk-centric movie has to be coming. Hulk didn’t end up the best thing about the second most successful movie of all time without getting a shot at his own solo film.
BUT, Marvel could also use the power of the first week of May to launch a new property, namely, The Runaways. The teenage superhero group’s first few arcs have Lost/Y The Last Man scribe Brian K Vaughn as writer and the group slowly blends into the Marvel’s 616 comic universe. It could be a great grab for the new generation that were too young to jump on the Marvel bandwagon back at Iron Man.
SCOOP ALERT: I can’t tell you what’s up yet, but check back next week for El Mayimbe to drop some Marvel scoopage that may have informed one of my above musings (smiley-face-emoticon). It’s juicy!
SPIDER-MAN SCHEDULES 3 & 4
It’s a big day of looking forward as Sony seemed to internalize Disney’s announcement and also wanted a piece of May. Sony plopped Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10th 2016 and Amazing Spider-Man 4 on Cinco De Cuatro in 2018.
There are a few ways to process this news. First, the boring kind: It looks like Marc Webb’s rebooted Spider-Man universe (which he keeps hinting is a full universe, not a trilogy) is going to outlive the Raimi one and – says this Spidey Fan – finally restore the status quo of Gwen Stacy, one of the character’s most pivotal love interests that involves his most famous moment. And we’ll see that moment, guaranteed, though it’s starting to look like Emma Stone’s Gwen might bite it at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the hands of Chris Cooper’s Norman Osborn. Some rogue set reports have Cooper on set as Goblin already, which is a bit early if we’re treating this as a sequel…
…but what if we’re not? What if this IS a more traditional trilogy story, but since Sony mucked around with Webb’s “secret origin” of Peter, the first Amazing will end up being a blanket origin for the following trilogy, which is probably The Sinister Six.
Rumors are flying around the Amazing Spider-Man 2 set, but if you believe the rumor that Colm Feore will be playing Adrian Toomes (AKA The Vulture) in Amazing 2, then we’re on our way. When I talked to the producers of Amazing Spider-Man, they said we were certainly going down a “pandora’s box” hole where the more Peter learns about his family, the more he’ll accidentally see villains created due to his parent’s work. We seem to be animal-centric thus far with The Lizard, The Rhino and The Vulture stacking up. Add Chris Cooper’s Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx’s Electro and we’re just one villain short of the 6.
Unless they go the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon route and give Harry Osborn the Venom symbiote. If that’s going to happen (with Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man 2), the ending of a Sinister Six movie could spin-off into a Venom stand-alone soon after.
Oh: and just because someone named Felicity is cast in a Spider-Man movie does not mean that she’s Black Cat and even if she is Black Cat, that does not mean she’ll be Black Cat in this movie. There are two more Spider-Man movies that aren’t even in production yet.
It’s all falling together, though, and I’m pleased as Thwip!
DC/WB FANTASY FOOTBALL
Start your engines, everyone, Man of Steel is easily going to leap the $250 million international gross in a single bound by the end of this week, which not only means that we’ll be steadily be getting a superhero movie every few months for another decade, but it’s time for Warner Bros and DC Comics to get their movie universe together if they’re going to play in the Marvel world.
Or will they?
If you look at the pieces as they are arranged on the table, it’s much more likely that the DC Cinematic Universe (the DCCU? Deku?) will start folding in on itself in an effort to capitalize on all the characters being at a single studio. We, as a mass audience, pretty much know how solo superhero movies are supposed to go down, so some speedy introductions could be in place.
Take, as an example, Black Widow in Iron Man 2: there’s no reason for that specific character to be in the movie. Even the connection that there’s a Russian villain in the film feels strained because Iron Man 2‘s great sin was caring more about setting up The Avengers than what was happening in it’s own plot. But Black Widow’s presence could have been any strong female character revealed to be a government agent, Marvel just slotted in someone from canon and hired Scarlet Johansson so they knew we’d be paying attention. This is the benefit of owning all your characters and WB/DC has one up on Marvel because now there’s a Hulk-forged road map telling them mass audiences will turn out for team-up movies.
In short: CHARACTER/MOVIE OVERLAP. Pile as many people into a world and treat all these characters as residents of that world, so we can return to the idea of the world itself, not have to be lured by the newest CGI super-someone. I’d never see an Aquaman movie, but I’d see a Justice League movie with Aquaman. Single-character movies are going to be a thing of the past for DC right-quick, methinks.
You know how Christina Wren says Superman is “cute” at the end of Man of Steel? And her character’s name is Carrie Ferris? And we get to wonder if maybe Green Lantern got rebooted during Man of Steel like Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy did? THAT. That’s going to happen all over the place. DC and WB know how these characters do in their solo franchises, now what’s left to explore is the team aspect. I’d expect the DC Universe to start overlapping sooner than we all expect. Like Amazing Spider-Man, I think each movie also establishes a bit of the world to push onto the next story for this bunch of characters. This means great things if you want to see Batman and Superman team-up before you see, say, Brainac as a villain. Hell, they showed great restraint not putting Batman at the end of Man of Steel.
Right now the Goyer/Nolan brain trust seems to be the calm center of the DCCU like Whedon is holding down the Mouse-House counterpart (and Mark Millar at Fox, I guess, but I’ll save X-Men Days Of Future Past discussion for another week), and it’s up to those guys as to which direction they take. It’s obviously a mad-dash to the Justice League, but what’s the minimum number of lead-in movies to introduce DCCU’s world of heroes and – besides World’s Finest, which looks to be the best bet – which of those movies involve multiple heroes?
And how are they gonna make Aquaman cool?