Monday, November 25, 2013

Brain Splatter: Marvel's Phase 3 May Be The Studio's Biggest

Part of the beauty of owning your own nerd website is that you can post stuff like this whenever you want, especially when it's been a pretty dead couple of weeks for big time movie news. This is the kind of stuff that goes through my head all the time, especially at night when I'm supposed to be sleeping.  Last night, I got to thinking...follow the jump to see where my thoughts drifted. As you read, realize it's a work in progress. Feel free to comment and let's see if we can't get a nice dialogue going that helps us see the bigger picture!




May 2, 2008: Iron Man
June 13, 2008: The Incredible Hulk
April 26, 2010: Iron Man 2
May 6, 2011: Thor
July 22, 2011: Captain America
May 4, 2012: The Avengers

We were treated to a Phase all about meeting our heroes and then watching them come together to save the Earth.  At the time it was happening, most of us were so happy to see things like this unfolding that we didn't do much thinking ahead at first. Personally, it was not until I saw the Tesseract appear in Captain America, that I started wondering how far Marvel was going to take things.  Once I saw The Avengers, I knew that I was in for something spectacular and just hoped that I'd be able to live another 10 years to enjoy it.


May 3: 2013: Iron Man 3
September 24, 2013: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV series)
November 8, 2013: Thor: The Dark World
April 4, 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
August 1, 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy
May 1, 2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron

We are in the midst of a Phase that is all about changing the game, but not, perhaps, in the traditional sense. While a lot of super-sequels like to follow the Donner Superman II route and depower the hero, Marvel's Phase 2 seems to be putting a little spin on that while adding its own thing.  Iron Man 3 saw Stark become an actual hero without his suit. Thor: The Dark World took much from Thor and, in the end, he abandoned Asgard to protect the one thing left dear to him. Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks set to shatter Cap's perception of reality by taking away the one thing he thinks he can count on (S.H.I.E.L.D) and giving back one he was sure he'd lost (Bucky). Then, there's Guardians of the Galaxy, the big game-changer in the fact that it will take the focus completely away from Earth's Mightiest Heroes and introduce an entirely new team composed of selfish, don't-play-well-with-others types. Finally, we'll get  Avengers: Age of Ultron in which we will say hello to a couple of new Avengers and likely say goodbye to another (Hawkeye has 5-1 odds against the field, any takers?)...once again, changing the game.


Phase 3 is a little different at the moment because we don't have all the information we need; therefore, we have a problem to solve so let's use some really simple problem solving strategies and identify the knowns and unknowns.

Knowns:


Fall 2014 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2
January 2015 Agent Carter
July 31, 2015 Ant-Man
Unknown 2015 Date: Daredevil (series)
Unknown 2015-2017 Dates: Jessica Jones (series), Luke Cage (series), Iron Fist (series) and The Defenders (mini-series)
May 6 2016:  Captain America 3
July 8 2016:  Doctor Strange
May 5 2017: Untitled Phase 3 Film

Marvel Studios have ordered some custom work to be done for 2015, making it likely the work will show up in a 2016 production, the nature of which suggests a film that spans a large amount of time.  Whether that work is for a film or a TV series is undetermined but when I have more information, you can bet your butts I'll share it.

Unknowns:


* The second 2017 release date. We know that Marvel plans to release, at this point, 2 films a year so, at some point, there will be another 2017 release date announced.

Literally almost everything else is unknown at this point. Maybe this is another way at which to view the unknowns:

What's on the table:


The Black Panthe
The Indestructible Hulkr
Inhumans
Thor 3 (almost certain to be Ragnarok)
Potential for unknown unknown

What's off the table:


Iron Man 4
Runaways

Robert Downey, Jr. is contracted for two more Avengers films, as of now.  While Kevin Feige has often talked about Marvel's desire to make future Iron Man films, it seems that, as of now, they are going to focus on other characters before returning to Iron Man.  At that point, it's no certainty that RDJ will be returning as Tony Stark. Feige has often referenced Batman and James Bond while talking about future Iron Man films, forcing many to speculate that a recast will be in order.

I'm 100% convinced that Drew Pearce's Runaways script will eventually be made into a film.  The studio, including Feige, love the script; however, with the current focus on the Infinity Stones and the Avengers, it'll be at least Phase 4 before we see the Runaways.

There, that helped.

So, assuming Marvel follows suit and releases the 3rd Avengers film in May of 2018, Phase 3 would consist of 6 total films: 5 solo films and the team-up. Release dates of future films are ALWAYS in flux, especially for films 3.5 years away; however, one film of note appears right on the date you would have pegged for Avengers 3: The Amazing Spider-Man 4 May 4 2018.

By no means does this mean that Marvel won't eventually have an Avengers film on May 4, 2018, but there are a couple of things to consider. First, Marvel and Sony have a very sound working relationship. It's unlikely that Sony claimed the spot to spite Marvel, a studio with whom they want to continue to work closely while they expand their Spidey-verse. Let's pretend, just for the sake of speculation, that Marvel and Sony have had a conversation about their future plans and, during said conversation, Marvel said, "Nah, take May 4th...we're releasing a solo film on 'blah blah blah' (April is wide open and has been used by Marvel before) and pushing Avengers to 'blah blah blah'.

With The Amazing Spider-Man 4 holding down that May spot, will Marvel push their 3rd Avengers film later into 2018  and use up an earlier 2018 slot to put one more film into the Phase 3 mix?  If so, Marvel's Phase 3 would consist of a total of 7 films, Marvel's biggest and most ambitious Phase of their Cinematic Universe, especially considering they'll be adding the additional heroes to the mix through the programming agreement with Netflix. Given that, here's one of many possible schedules Marvel may follow for Phase 3:

Fall 2014: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 (series)
January 2015: Agent Carter (series)
July 31, 2015: Ant-Man
Unknown 2015 Date: Daredevil (series)
Unknown 2015-2017 Dates: Jessica Jones (series), Luke Cage (series), Iron Fist (series) and The Defenders (mini-series)
Unknown May 6 2016: Captain America 3
Unknown July 8 2016:  Doctor Strange
Unknown May 5 2017: Thor 3
Unknown 2017 Date:   Unknown film
Unknown 2018 Date: Avengers: Infinity 

Does the above actually represent what Phase 3 will be? I'd say there's a 5% chance I got the movies right and a less than 1% chance I got the movies and the order right; however, it gives me a template and a foundation upon which I can base my speculation so, for now, it's my working model.  At this point we are all expecting Phase 3 to continue adding Infinity Stones (we have 3-4 more to locate) to the mix with the Avengers film finally being a showdown between The Avengers and Thanos. It's been all but confirmed that we will see another Infinity Stone (the Power Stone) in Guardians of the Galaxy and given the comments Elizabeth Olsen has made on the character, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the Scarlet Witch is in possession or under the influence of the Time Stone (turns out that won't be the case). That leaves us with two more Infinity Stones and Doctor Strange and the Inhumans seem like really nice places to introduce them. Of course there is absolutely no certainty that'll be the case.  For all we know Marvel may well continue to tease Thanos until 2021 and a 4th team-up film.

The Black Panther and Doctor Strange are both certainties...at some point.  That point may be now or it may be down the road, but, for now, they seem to be 2 very solid choices. The studio really loves Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and may be using the current Marvel NOW! title, The Indestructible Hulk, as a template for another solo Hulk film.  Feige has often said that the studio would like to continue to follow the pattern of pairing a sequel and a solo film (Cap 2/GotG) as often as possible, though they are not beholden to it.  For that reason alone, I've tried to split up the 2016-2018 films that way, putting Inhumans, another film I am certain will get made eventually, nearest to the 3rd Avengers film as its cosmic nature might lead most directly into the team-up.

I fully expect this to be a work in progress and something that I revisit occasionally for now and more frequently as we get closer to Phase 3.  Kevin Feige has repeatedly said we will have to wait until 2014 for any further Phase 3 announcements so, for now, all we can do is hypothesize and be open to adjusting our hypothesis when we find out our model is inaccurate.  It's science!