The Future of Marvel Studios: New Heroes and Big Plans!

Following the massive news of a fresh-faced Spider-Man to debut in the acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe next year, I felt it was time to discuss just what may happen with the future of Marvel Studios. The studio that has dominated the silver screen since 2008, with their blockbuster Cinematic Universe bringing characters from Iron Man to Groot to the screen with great success, Marvel definitely doesn't show any signs of stopping. Now, with a Spider-Man reboot (third time's the charm) in place for summer 2017, along with a plethora of standalone and team-up films on the horizon, there's plenty of speculation as to just what may happen in the coming years. Here's a breakdown of what to expect in Marvel Studios' Phase 2 and 3:

(Caution: May contain spoilers for a film you've probably seen fifty times already...I don't know why I even bother putting this.)

Ant-Man- Closing out the second phase of the MCU, we have our first new hero to headline a film this year. Continuing a phase full of decent sequels for the big guys, from Thor battling lackluster elves to Captain America going toe-to-toe with old friend Bucky Barnes, as well as an valiant introduction to the second best team in the MCU (this time with more aliens), it's pretty surprising that this phase would end with such a small (pun intended) character. As most thought this phase would end with the climactic Avengers: Age of Ultron, which left the perfect present to be opened in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War, this stand-alone flick for the miniature superhero may hold some significance before we get to the big war. Telling of thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who inherits the Ant-Man persona from an aging Hank Pym (Micheal Douglas) while on a crusade to save his daughter, Ant-Man may be its own story, but it definitely ties into the whole MCU. Starting off, we have Hank Pym, a founding member of the Avengers in the comics and the developer of the Pym Particles. Having Pym show up, even if it's only to pass on the Ant-Man mantle, may lead to the character appearing in other MCU films, possibly aiding the Avengers in some other way than suiting up. Also, we know Paul Rudd's Scott Lang is set to appear in 2016's Civil War, so he may very much be a prominent player in the battle between Iron Man and Captain America. Being a closer to this phase of Civil War build-up and numerous teases of the Avengers' ultimate enemy Thanos, Ant-Man could very well see its protagonist majorly affect what occurs next year.     

This film may not be hot on the radar, but it may hold
some big clues about the future of the MCU

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D-  With Season 3 of ABC series set to debut in September of this year, there's been many burning questions as to how the show will tie into future Marvel releases. As the Season 2 finale showed us (for those who have been watching), the peacekeeping organization of S.H.I.E.L.D is still in pieces, with its top members going their separate ways. What it also showed us, a key element of the second season, was that the mysterious new "Inhuman" society is still very much a threat to the world. These "Inhumans", which revolved mainly around Daisy "Skye" Johnson (Chloe Bennet) in the show, might end up bringing some changes to the layout of the MCU, as an Inhumans film is set for 2019. Speaking on the Inhumans more later on, the end of Season 2 also hinted at where we might find our agents and their foes this Fall. Coulson (Clark Gregg), the director of the peacekeeping team, may have lost more than his hand in the finale, but he's definitely cooking up something for the future. As for the team, Daisy/Skye returns to her S.H.I.E.L.D roots, as Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) leave the team for now. Along with the Inhumans, whose ultimate fate may not be explored until the 2019 film, we also have Hydra, that also has its own plans set in motion as Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) takes up the leadership. With the series continuing to name-drop big MCU characters, as well as tease more about Civil War and Inhumans, the future of the show will no doubt play into how S.H.I.E.L.D will play into the overall conflict that's on the horizon.

What secrets lie beneath the surface? S.H.I.E.L.D's finale hinted at more than
a few things that will surely heat up the next season
Captain America: Civil War- Kicking off the third (and biggest) phase in Marvel Studios' massive line-up, we have the film many are torn about, while at the same time, super excited for. Why would they be torn about it, you ask? Well, for one, it may not follow directly with the source material, as the MCU already has a new storyline cooked up for it. While in the comics, this grand war of wit and will involved Tony Stark's Iron Man and Steve Rogers' Captain America divided on the stance of the government ruling over how superpowered heroes do their job, the film version, bowing out in May 2016, may go a new direction. Already promising a star-studded cast, with cast members from every Phase 2 film popping up, as well as the debuts of new heroes Black Panther and Spider-Man, this Captain America sequel plans to have everyone they can get their hands on to join the film. While this massive get-together of heroes may be similar to the comic event, it's a whole new ballpark as many of the things that happened in the comics can't/won't happen in the films. Still very much a politically-fueled division between our leading men, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark and Chris Evans' Cap, Civil War is promising a lot for the future of the MCU, including where we find the Avengers in the third team-up film in 2018. 

Civil War won't just be a battle between the top-tier heroes. Expect to see
some villains as well, like Baron Zemo and Crossbones

Agent Carter- Spawning a second season from the decent 8-episode ABC series, Agent Carter's fate was very much unknown after the first season offered a great story, but didn't get as much viewership as its ABC counterpart Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Now, with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) getting another chance to bring post-World War II adventures to the small screen, there's plenty of places Carter's next season can take us. From the origins of our protagonist (as well as her time with Captain America) to more evil plots involving the likes of Armin Zola (Toby Jones), Agent Carter may not connect entirely with the current MCU films, but it could very much give us more depth on Cap's most popular love interest and her further adventures with Tony Stark's father. 

The girl-talk is fun and all, but I want some more Agent Carter kicking ass

Doctor Strange- Following whatever may occur in Civil War, whether the Avengers divide for good or someone bites the dust, supposedly the world won't be too shaken up for another new hero to emerge. An odd (but not that surprising) character to debut now, Doctor Strange tells the tale of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon who must discover his true role as the Sorcerer Supreme after a tragic accident. With the MCU shooting for the stars with Guardians of the Galaxy, while also diving into magical themes with their Thor films, it seems right that a character like this would make his way into the film universe, as he is the master of all things magical. Obviously a film that works as both an origin story for Strange (who was name-dropped back in The Winter Soldier), but also a set-up for inter-dimensional travel and more on the mysterious Infinity Stones in the MCU, Doctor Strange will usher in another new element to the Marvel films that we've only had a taste of. Starring Cumberbatch as Strange (a casting that swooned millions of fan-girls), as well as a rumored Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Strange's mentor The Ancient One and villain Baron Mordo, this mysterious film may still be masked in smoke, but may end up being a big step towards what happens in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1.     

No stranger to movies of horror and science fiction, director Scott Derrickson
may bring some spooks to this mystical character

Guardians of the Galaxy 2- While things go to hell down on Earth, and Doctor Strange is busy discovering other dimensions, things up in space are getting handled by the unlikely team we met last year in James Gunn's quirky space romb, Guardians of the Galaxy. Following the adventures of half-human scavenger Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), violent green mercenaries Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista), as well as the explosive duo of tree-man Groot (Vin Diesel) and alien raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper), the Guardians return in 2017 with new stories and new characters. Pretty much the closest tie-in we've had to the Mad Titan Thanos (he himself appearing in the first film) in the MCU, the anticipated return of the odd team strikes many questions, from who will join the team next to where the hell Thanos is headed. Promising to dive into the origins of the Guardians this time, from Drax's family being murdered to Quill's mysterious alien father, as well as toss a new villain against the team, Guardians 2 will very much be on its own, separate from what's going on with the Avengers. However, with Civil War possibly leading to a global conflict, there may be a chance that the Guardians might pick up on that in time for the next Avengers.   

If Star-Lord's father is played by Kevin Bacon, I think I'll die of happiness

Untitled Spider-Man Film- Well, doesn't this one seem a bit wedged in here? Spawning from years of negotiating, months of rumors and fan-castings, and one Sony-Marvel deal that set its fate, Spider-Man finally crawled his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a few years of mediocre origin films, with the likes of geeky Tobey Maguire and hipster Andrew Garfield tackling the role of Peter Parker, we now have a brand-spanking new kid to put on the suit. While he may the white, nerdy, brown-haired teen we've always gotten, newcomer Tom Holland may end up surprising us, offering what could be the best Spider-Man we've seen on-screen, at least in the hands of Marvel. While little is known about this new reboot, other than its star and director (horror/thriller director Jon Watts), we can expect a whole new spin on the character as he enters into a world already full of men in flying suits and hulking brutes. Set to debut in next year's Civil War, most likely being only a cameo to get ready for his solo outing, we can only speculate as to what may happen with our new Spidey this time.   

Yay, Spidey's finally a kid! Now how well can this guy act?

Thor: Ragnarok- With the end of Thor: The Dark World leaving Thor on Earth and brother Loki ruling over Asgard disguised as Odin, much was left unresolved as to what happened to the realm when we left it. Now, with Avengers: Age of Ultron detailing some crucial hints as to what may occur for the thunder god post-Avengers, we know that Thor may be handling things up in Asgard while Civil War is going on. And what's there to handle? Well, how about the Apocalypse? As the film's title hints at, Ragnarok could refer to a number of things, from the Norse Apocalypse to a certain cyborg Thor clone as seen in the comics. While the cyborg clone aspect seems unlikely, as the MCU's Tony Stark has no real reason (other than his own delusions) to create another sentient robot, it seems more likely that Thor will face the end of Asgard when he returns. Foreshadowing this "great end to all things" in the second Avengers film, it appears that Thor's fellow comrades, chiefly Heimdall (Idris Elba), will be in some sort of great danger. One of the things that I expect (and hope for) in this sequel, is more development of the leading brothers, Thor and Loki. While Thor got some well-deserved screen-time in Age of Ultron, we haven't seen him at his very worst. I want to see a broken Thor, a god beaten down by gods stronger than him, something that Age of Ultron surely hinted at. As for Loki, he needs to decide what side he's truly on, rather than continually faking out his brother with false compassion. Loki's a great character, one that could have a great impact on the Thor films if he were to sacrifice himself (for real, this time) to save the place he has made his home (and his throne). Whatever may happen to Thor this time around, we can be certain that it'll somehow impact the next Avengers film, possibly even foreshadowing the mass destruction that'll hit Earth's Mightiest Heroes by the hands of Thanos.   

It's rumored that this Thor film may pit our hero against Surtur, a creature who,
by the looks of it, doesn't play very nice 

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1- Well, you could say it's all been leading up to this. Part 1 of the two-part Avengers sequel, Infinity War, is when all the blocks fall into place (or at least half of them). Kicking off the summer of 2018, Infinity War, while there is only numerous speculations now, will most likely find our heroes (whoever they may be at that point) pitted against the big bad in the shadows, Thanos. With events like Civil War and whatever may occur on the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Daredevil ultimately deciding who we may see in this film, there's been little to determine just what Infinity War will be. Knowing that characters like Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man will be introduced pre-Infinity War, we can almost guarantee that we'll see them in the film, along with whichever Avengers make it out of Civil War. Very much the event that will bring everyone together, from the skies above to the streets below, it may also be certain that either Part 1 or Part 2 will see that the Guardians of the Galaxy also join the party, as Thanos is a key player in their stories up in space. However, with this massive finale being split into two parts (a strategy that almost every film franchise does these days), the first part of Infinity War may very well be the Earth-bound heroes tackling the aftermath of Civil War and the preliminary attack by Thanos on the world. The second part, which may be a film that starts off in a not-so-good position for the Avengers, will be everyone, including the likes of Captain Marvel and the Defenders, in for the fight.    

Black Panther- Unclear as to when exactly this film will set place, either post-Infinity War Part 1 or even before Civil War, the pushed-back Black Panther film is in quite the odd position. Set for a July 2018 release, following the character appearing in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, the film, while a long ways away, doesn't seem to be offering much as to what it may involve. All we know for sure is that 42 and Get on Up star Chadwick Boseman is set to play T'Challa aka Black Panther, the prince of the African nation of Wakanda. As we've seen in the MCU, most specifically in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wakanda plays a key role in the universe, and is also where Cap's famous shield was created. Hinting slightly at this mysterious location, through the obvious inclusion of Black Panther villain Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis) in Age of Ultron and some Civil War set photos showing Captain America visiting a location in Africa, we can pretty much assume that Wakanda and T'Challa will be somewhat important in the 2016 film. As for the solo outing for the character, while little is known now, it could be possible that the film will be set before the events of Civil War or even before the first Iron Man, as it could show the rise of Boseman's T'Challa and his trials as a young Black Panther, before we see him embark to America.  

Do you think the Black Panther film will be an origin tale, or will it be
set after Civil War?

Captain Marvel- Another new hero to emerge into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2018 is Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel. Dubbed Captain Marvel in this film, an identity that has been used by many in the comics, Danvers is the subject of a fusion of Kree and human genes that gives her certain abilities like flight, superhuman strength, and endurance. As we've seen in the MCU, most recently in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, people with certain "powers" aren't that welcome to the people of Earth. How this might play out in the films, with Captain Marvel being very much a earthbound origin tale, will most likely tie in somewhere with the MCU's version of the Inhumans. While the premise of the film remains in the shadows, and the character's origins being subject to change, we can only guess that, as it will introduce further ideas of the cosmic realm, Captain Marvel will be heavily influenced by what happens leading into the 2019 Inhumans film.    

There have been plenty of fan castings for this blonde-haired heroine,
but nothing's been confirmed

Avengers: Infinity War Part 2- Whatever chaos occurs in the films leading up to this, Part 2 of the highly-anticipated Avengers finale will surely be one to watch. With Civil War possibly breaking the Avengers and their allies into many factions, and Infinity War Part 1 managing to somewhat bring them together again, the final showdown between Thanos, the team of heroes, and whoever else shows up plans to be the ultimate team-up film fans have been waiting for. Predicted to be the biggest challenge the heroes have faced, I don't expect Part 2 to be very bright and happy, as the complete rage of Thanos is released onto the world. While the premises of these two films may be highly unknown, the time for a certain character, Death, to make an entrance may be coming. By Death, I of course mean the female entity in the comics that pulls at the heart strings of our Mad Titan. As little is known about the finale, besides the fact that Thanos will be wielding his most-priced weapon, the Infinity Gauntlet, it's very important that not only do we explore the tragedies of our heroes, but also the soul of our villain. One of the biggest aspects of this unknown plot should be a peek at the mindset of Thanos, a villain who has evaded us since his first appearance in the first Avengers film. While this may be a tale of a team reuniting to take down a big threat, it should also be a tale of a man (or whatever he is) trying to please the woman (Death) he loves. A sappy, but profound message, this could really be the key to what makes the Avengers finale so ground-breaking, not only the big battle between the heroes we love and the villain we hate to love and love to hate.      

Death has been a prominent member of stories involving both Thanos and Deadpool (among others).
Do you think she'll make her debut in the MCU, or in the Deadpool film perhaps?

Inhumans- The final film to grace our presence in Marvel Studios' grand line-up is Inhumans, a film very much reliant on the events of the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While most people try to ignore the show, as it fails in comparison to the films and the much more entertaining Netflix shows, Agents is a key piece of the grand puzzle that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While in the past, the show has played off films like Thor: The Dark World and more elegantly Captain America: The Winter Soldier (you know, the whole fall of S.H.I.E.L.D and all that good stuff), it most recently revealed many key components of the Inhumans origin. From its discovery of the mysterious Terrigen Mist (as well as the crystals that harbor it) to the formation of its own team of "Inhumans", Agents planted a pretty successful seed for the film, which will most likely feature victims exposed to the Mist, and who quickly discover what they're capable of. Very much an Avengers-type film, most likely without the costumes and the help of S.H.I.E.L.D on their side, Inhumans may or may not feature the so-called Inhuman Royal Family, but rather a new team that spawns from the events of the Agents season finale. However, there may still be a chance that long-time comic fans will get to see the likes of top Inhumans Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon, Triton, Crystal, Maximus the Mad, and the canine Lockjaw join the MCU one day. 

If you saw the end of Agents, it's more than likely that we could
see this bunch in the MCU

Daredevil and The Defenders- While the acclaimed Daredevil series may be hitting Netflix with its second season as soon as 2016, I thought it'd be easier just to leave it out of the date order, as many of the other Marvel-Netflix shows don't have confirmed release dates yet. Nonetheless, these shows, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, are very much part of the MCU's timeline. While their futures may be unknown as of now, with Daredevil being to only character to be introduced, there's still enough going on in his show to keep us guessing. Specifically dealing with Daredevil, that recently swung into our TV screens in his gritty Netflix series, the first season left many dying questions as to what may occur in the show's future. Along with that, it also brought about questions of just when exactly we'd be seeing Matt Murdock aka Daredevil chatting it up with the Avengers on the big screen. Now, with Civil War hitting theaters in 2016, and Daredevil Season 2 also hitting Netflix then, we're left to assume that Murdock might play into the big finale of the Avengers in 2018 and 2019. With Infinity War being more of a global catastrophe than Civil War may be, it's likely that we'll have to wait till then to see Charlie Cox's Daredevil move from his dark streets in Hell's Kitchen and take on the rest of the world.

Daredevil has a whole lot on its plate for Season 2, as it tackles characters like Electra
and also introduces a whole new Punisher 

Then we have The Defenders, the heroes for hire down on the hard streets full of gangs, thugs, and kingpins. While Daredevil is handling things over in Hell's Kitchen, from battling bigger threats than Wilson Fisk (like the Punisher, for one) to combating the unjust law and order of New York, we also have other street-level heroes to worry about. With private detective/ex-super-heroine Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) tackling cases of the superpowered in the Jessica Jones series (set to release sometime in 2015/2016), as well as strong-man Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and martial arts expert Iron Fist debuting in solo shows sometime in the future, the MCU is expanding not only on the silver screen. While not much is known as to how these small-time characters play into the films, we can expect that the shows will take a lot of influence from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, at least in its ability to be separate from the films, but also make an worthy impact. 

We have met our Matt Murdock, we've seen our Jessica Jones, and we know what
Luke Cage looks like...But where's Iron Fist?

Well, while I may have a ton of other thoughts on the subject of Marvel and its many superheroes, I limited myself to only talking about the ever-growing Marvel Studios here (for obvious reasons...just look at this post's length). Now that it's over, and all my speculation is out, what are your thoughts on the future of this massive franchise? And your thoughts on the other studios at Marvel, like the X-Men films? Leave a comment below if you agree, disagree, or want to add your own opinion about a certain character or film.   

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