Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SDCC Marvel Wrap-up

More news than most of us can handle poured out of San Diego over the past few days. I have no ability to quantify just what the biggest or most exciting news was, just an ability to say that there were so many great bits of info that I don't know where to start...but ya gotta start somewhere.

The announcement at the end of Marvel's Hall H presentation that the 2015 sequel to The Avengers will pit Earth's Mightiest Heroes against Ultron got my fanboy mind spinning and buzzing the most. I instantly attempted to process how much the inclusion of Ultron would change the world of the Avengers and who else they would have to add to the MCU to make it happen. Had they gone the straight Ultron origin from the comics we would have to see Hank Pym and likely Janet VanDyne included in the Avengers sequel. Given that we are already going to be introduced to the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, that seemed a bit much and, today, Joss Whedon confirmed that we WILL NOT see Pym in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Who will be Ultron's creator? Stark? Banner?

What exactly this will mean for the rest of the MCU remains to be seen. Will we see Ultron create Vision as he did in the comics? Will we see Simon Williams, the man whose brain patterns provided the personality for the Vision's were based? Joss Whedon seemed to not be a huge fan of Wonder Man a while back. It seems that the Ultron backstory we know won't be the one we get, but that doesn't mean we won't get the same Ultron.

We do know, however, that Captain America: The Winter Soldier, will be THE bridge film from Avengers to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whether we see a direct, explicit connection to the origins of Ultron in the film obviously remains to be seen, but it certainly makes us see that Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World are truly films focused on their titular characters rather than focusing so much on the larger universe, something for which Marvel's Phase One films were oft-criticized.

The Cap sequel footage that was shown in Hall H certainly seems to indicate that we will see a lot of that shared world we saw built via SHIELD will come tumbling down in a major way...something that may set up the Avengers in opposition to the government, a theme explored many times in the pages of the comics.

Some very impressive sounding footage from the above mentioned Thor follow up was also shown in Hall H and, to thecrowd's extreme delight, introduced by Tom Hiddleston in full Loki garb. The footage reportedly shows Thor lose his hand at the hand of his brother...and I instantly was taken to the pages of the Thor: God of Thunder comic in which we meet an old Thor whose arm was taken in battle and replaced with the arm of...THE DESTROYER. This would be an outstanding thing to see on-screen and, now, I'm not sure we won't see it happen. We have heard in recent weeks that the MCU is going to be taking some cues from the pages of Marvel Now and this may be one example.

All the footage from those elements of the MCU which have already been introduced seemed to fall short of the footage from the one new entry into the MCU for Phase 2: Guardians of the Galaxy. All reports coming out of Hall H had the crowd absolutely loving what they saw in the footage and, as of now, it appears that Marvel once again struck casting gold when they decided to hand Chris Pratt the role of Peter Quill/Star-Lord. A lot of doubt and uncertainty has shadowed the Guardians film since it was announced but all indications are that James Gunn's entry into the MCU, while quite a bit different than what's come before, may just be a hit in the making.

We still don't have a voice for either Rocket or Groot but the whole crew looks great in the concept art and there is now a little more buzz and a higher level of anticipation for a film that a lot of folks were down right dubious about just two days ago. Today we got a glimpse of some Nova Corps fellas and some of the team's gear, including the iconic Star-Lord mask which looks absolutely fantastic.

This movie is really shaping up to be an eye-opener and a wonderful introduction to the cosmic side of the Marvel universe...it may be the first step in an entirely different direction for Marvel, one in which they build outward from the Avengers being the only focal point and possibly build up other franchises and team-ups (Annihilation?) before eventually bringing them altogether to face a common threat to the universe, who could just Thanos, who is confirmed to at least make another appearance in GotG and whom Kevin Feige said is in their plans for, to paraphrase, way down the road.

While yesterday was a day full of great footage and some interesting info there are still a lot of questions out there, as will always be the case. Kevin Feige really downplayed the Vin Diesel talk that seemed to get really hot as of late. Of course, denial and misdirection are powerful allies of movie folks and Vin himself did just tell us he would reveal his role soon...something just ain't right with this one just yet.

We also heard recently that Aaron Johnson was likely a lock for the role of Quicksilver and there was even some speculation that we might just meet the entire cast of the Avengers sequel in Hall H, which, obviously, we did not. So there are still some roles uncast...perhaps they will be announced in early August at D23, Disney's version of a Comic-Con. Since they own Marvel it's logical to think they would like to make some buzz at their own shindig as well.

Finally no mention was made of Marvel's other 2015 release, Ant-Man, nor of any future movies. So, again, those in Hall H were treated to some wonderful footage and we were teased with the title of the Avengers sequel and even the face of Ultron, we can't make fill in all the blanks just yet and we can't make 2015 get here any faster than it wants to.