Marvel wasn't going to let the recent announcement of 10 forthcoming DC Comics movies go unanswered: On Tuesday at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Marvel laid out its own slate of films in its so-called "Phase 3," going into 2019.
Marvel announced the full titles of nine new films (in addition to the already announced "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Ant-Man"). Here's a complete rundown of the new films and what they mean:
Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
Civil War was one of the most iconic storylines in modern comics, pitting Captain America against Iron Man in a battle over civil liberties as the government called for heroes to register their secret identities with the government. Iron Man sided with the government while the American icon Cap stood for his freedom-centric ideals.
At the Marvel event, they teased fans by initially announcing Cap 3 as "Serpent Society" — a lesser known supervillain organization — but it turned out to be a misdirect before Civil War was announced. While the original story tried to set the competing philosophies on equal ground, Iron Man ultimately came out to be more of the bad guy, so this could give Robert Downey Jr. a chance to take his character in a more villainous direction.
It also offers the chance for Marvel to bring together Cap, who was in the top movie of the year other than a certain other Marvel movie, and Iron Man, who himself has been in some of the biggest movies of all time, to see if they can make box-office magic together.
In addition, there have been rumors about Marvel arranging a deal to use Spider-Man — he played a major role in the comic book Civil War, and appears in promotional art Marvel used for a new version of the event — despite Spider-Man's film rights currently being tied up at Sony. Marvel's Kevin Feige, who oversees the Marvel Studios films, is leaving that rumor to percolate, as he would neither confirm nor deny said rumors at the Marvel event.
The original storyline ended with a major change for Captain America, and with Chris Evans speaking publicly about how he doesn't want to continue acting after his contract ends, we'll see if that plays into anything.
Black Panther was also announced as making his debut in this film. (More on him below.)
Doctor Strange (Nov. 4, 2016)
Doctor Strange has long been considered a top-level Marvel character, but hasn't made much impact in the comics, with attempts to launch him in solo comics being canceled repeatedly. That isn't deterring Marvel from stepping up with the help of director Scott Derrickson, who's made his mark in the horror genre with movies like "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "Sinister" and "Deliver Us From Evil." He also directed the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," so taking Sorcerer Supreme Stephen Strange to film may let him combine those talents.
At the Marvel event, Feige said, "In the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the supernatural, that involves everything from quantum mechanics to string theory. The idea of this film is to open up a whole new corner of the cinematic universe. We want to enter, through Strange, the world of parallel dimensions."
In the comics, Strange was an arrogant surgeon whose hands are seriously damaged in a car accident, leading him to turn to magic amid his quest for a cure. Who will play the humbled arrogant surgeon remains to be seen, as while reports have been circulating, Marvel's Feige told reporters at the event, "If it was confirmed, we would have announced it today."
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
"Guardians of the Galaxy" turned into the surprise hit of the year, with audiences responding in huge numbers and making a movie starring a talking raccoon and a talking tree the number one movie of the year. No storyline was announced; director James Gunn made an appearance at the Marvel event via video, but is currently in Japan, and Marvel execs deferred questions about what characters will be seen in the sequel at least until he gets back to the States.
Can Chris Pratt and company's magic in a bottle be captured once again in another sci-fi epic? Marvel's betting yes. They also believe in it strongly enough that this one got bumped up — originally set for July 2017, it's now heading to theaters in May of that year.
Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017)
Little is known about the next Thor movie, beyond the idea of Ragnarok being the end for the Norse gods. The name has been used in the Thor comics for a storyline that saw the destruction of Asgard and the death (albeit temporary, as comic book death often is) of Thor, but the name is vague enough that it may be repurposed for a far different story in film.
Marvel's already proven they're happy to take a good name and go in a different direction — it's been noted that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" bears little resemblance to the comic story of the same name.
Black Panther (Nov. 3, 2017)
This marks the first major solo superhero film for a black lead since "Blade," though Marvel has used characters like Falcon and Nick Fury in prominent roles in films already. It was also the one new film to get a big casting announcement, with actor Chadwick Boseman playing Black Panther (aka African king T'Challa). Boseman, best known for playing historical figures including Jackie Robinson in "42" and James Brown in "Get On Up," appeared at the event in person.
This movie also gives Marvel a comfortable lead ahead of DC's solo black superhero film, "Cyborg," which isn't set for release until 2020. Black Panther is the king of the African nation of Wakanda, the home of the strongest substance in the Marvel world, vibranium — which was also traditionally used to help build Captain America's shield.
Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)
No, this isn't the kid who turns into an adult when he says the magic word "Shazam." This name has been used by several different characters at Marvel, as due to a complicated rights issue, DC had the ability to use the character name, but couldn't name things like comics — or movies — "Captain Marvel," to the point that DC eventually gave up and changed the name of their character to "Shazam."
The most successful of the Marvel Captain Marvel characters, who's inspired a devoted fanbase that calls themselves the "Carol Corps," is Carol Danvers, a spacefaring character who fans speculate may end up tied in to the "Guardians of the Galaxy" world that's being built by Marvel — though executives noted that she's an Earth-based superhero.
Actress Katee Sackhoff, aka Starbuck from the modern "Battlestar Galactica," has lobbied for the role, and fans have noted her similarity to the character, but they'll have to wait to see if she gets a shot at it.
The character, around since the 1960s, has a military background and eventually gains powers when a device created by the Kree alien race explodes. However, while originally known as Ms. Marvel, she just recently took on the Captain Marvel name.
Inhumans (Nov. 2, 2018)
The Inhumans are a superpowered group created through experimentation by the alien Kree (there's that word again) who formed their own society on Earth away from the rest of humanity.
They've sparked a lot of speculation amongst fans, as while Marvel Studios doesn't have the rights to make movies with Marvel's own X-Men — those film rights are held by Fox, which precludes Marvel from even using the word "mutants" — Marvel has begun increasing the focus on the Inhumans in the comics and having more people discover they have Inhuman genes that had remain inactivated.
That's a long way of saying that they may be a backdoor way to create their own version of mutants that they can use in movies and TV shows — there's already speculation that elements of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." TV series on ABC is setting up the introduction of the Inhuman gene.
This film could also be one that would help bridge the worlds of the Guardians of the Galaxy with the rest of the Marvel universe. Marvel's Feige also teased that the Inhumans could spin off into their own franchise, or even a series of franchises.
Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1: May 4, 2018; Part 2: May 3, 2019)
This has been a long time coming, as the introduction of Thanos in the first "Avengers" helped set this up. The story focuses on a war over the Infinity Gauntlet, an all-powerful weapon that contains six gems with powers over things like time, space and reality — which Thanos looks to be acquiring in the Marvel films up to this point.
In a lot of ways, these two movies would be the culmination of what Marvel Studios has been building, and their most epic undertaking could bring together the disparate pieces of what they've been working on.
With the story split between two movies, they're following in the footsteps of DC, who announced their Justice League film would be split as well. The original comic is one of Marvel's biggest crossovers of all time, so now it's time to see if they can translate that to film.