Marvel’s Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet

Marvel’s Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet

It’s seemed like there’s been a perpetual tsunami of hype ever since the first Iron Man movie hit theatres years ago. But the announcements that Marvel made today about its upcoming slate of superhero movies included the names that some fans have been been waiting a long time to hear: Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

At an event in Hollywood today, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige announced a slate of films that extends all the way to 2019. Some of the movies were productions that folks already knew about, like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or Captain America: Civil War. But it’s the revelation that movies based the Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans characters that took most folks by surprise.

Over the last few years, every time Marvel let a little bit of news out about the future of their film-making efforts, you’d hear grumblings that they needed to diversify their on-screen universe. Getting all those super-powerful white dudes into great movies fulfilled a lot of fans’ longtime desires. But some black and female Marvel true believers kept asking when characters that looked like them would be getting the spotlight and stepping out from sidekick roles. Marvel answered those questions today and, in doing so, took a big step to pulling in even more fans into Cineplex seats.

I can’t pretend to not be excited about the Black Panther announcement. He’s been my favourite superhero for a long, long time. The Black Panther is widely regarded as the first black superhero. A creation of chief Marvel Universe architects Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Black Panther is T’Challa, the ruler of fictional African country Wakanda. He’s the latest in a long line of warrior kings and controls the lion’s share of the world’s supply of Vibranium, a rare metal that makes up part of Captain America’s unbreakable shield. Controlling Vibranium had made Wakanda wealthy and technologically advanced and political intrigue has long been a part of the best Black Panther storylines. T’Challa’s been a favourite of mine, not just because he’s black but also because he’s a man who stands at the crossroads of long-held tradition and cutting-edge modernity, of altruism and ruthlessness.

Marvel's Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet

What I’d love to see Marvel do with the Black Panther movie is position T’Challa as the morally opaque strategist seen in Christopher J. Priest’s run of the comics. This was a guy who joined the Avengers to spy on them, had to thwart a coup d’etat while in exile and took on Iron Man and shut down his armour, nearly killing him. Show Wakanda as a glittery Afropolitan wonderland at first and then reveal the factional tensions underneath all the perfection. Those tensions will be a nice reflection of the in-fighting scheduled to happen in Captain America: Civil War, where the character will be making his on-screen debut. It’d be the perfect way to present him as, like I wrote a while back, a character who does the right thing in the wrong ways.

Speaking of tying things together — with two Infinity Wars movies also on the way, presumably based in part on space-faring crossovers of the same name — it’s a safe bet that Captain Marvel will be involved somehow. There’ve been a few different people to use the name Captain Marvel in Marvel’s comics universe. The movie announced today will almost certainly focus on the current one, an Air-Force-pilot-turned-cosmically-powered-protector named Carol Danvers. Under a long-running tenure by acclaimed Kelly Sue DeConnick, Captain Marvel’s a character who’s amassed tons of depth. With the ability to absorb and redirect energy and fly unassisted through outer space, she’s been the key to repelling several alien invasions and has been on the front lines of major galactic battles. Along the way, she’s fought against a near-fatal brain tumour and built up a great, grounded supporting cast back on Earth. Since her superhero origins and adventures involve a lot of dealings with an alien race names the Kree, it’s easy to see where her film might allow Marvel’s movie continuity to connect events on Earth to developments happening in outer space.

Marvel's Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet

The Inhumans also has its roots in the cosmic side of Marvel’s publishing history. They’re a genetic offshoot of humanity that resulted from having their DNA altered eons ago, with each individual gaining unique powers and appearance after being ritually exposed to a mutative agent. They lived in the Himalayas and then on the moon for a long while before recent storylines brought them back to Earth. The Inhumans live in a monarchal society ruled by a king named Black Bolt, who’s got a voice so powerful that his whisper can cause massive destruction. What’s most interesting about The Inhumans, though, isn’t just their published continuity. Rumours have been floating that an Inhumans movie would be Marvel Studios’ attempt to channel the hated-and-feared, freaky-looking-superheroes concept at the heart of the X-Men into a franchise that they would control wholesale.

Marvel's Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet

It goes without saying that Marvel Studios is a huge money-making machine that’s supposed to turn a profit for its investors. But today’s announcement feels like it heralds a shift informed by the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie based off a comics property that’s never been considered part of Marvel’s A-list. With the exception of the sequels to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s big tentpole pillars, these next films will also be mining lesser-known characters. It’s been well-documented how pre-existing business deals keep first-tier characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four with other Hollywood studios and out of Marvel’s hands. So now is the moment that Marvel is explicitly doubling down on their B-list stable. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, each of these films will need careful shepherding.

Though there are probably legions of black and female fans who’ve been aching to get Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies on the silver screen, Marvel needs to be careful about how they execute on any themes of racial or gendered difference. Leave those out altogether and they will seem to be out of touch or taking those fan cohorts for granted. Deal with them in heavy-handed fashion and the characters’ worlds and possibilities might wind up feeling smaller and more exclusionary. Special focus is going to come down on these projects. Nevertheless, Marvel’s taking the risk of changing up their heroic faces a little bit and, as tentative as those moves are, it’s a big reason to be excited for the next five years of Marvel movie machinations.


  • I’ve enjoyed most of the Marvel movies so this is good news. Hoping the next Iron Man is a return to form.

  • cant wait for Dr Strange been a fav of mine for a while now
    i’m reading the whole civil war series and the thunderbolts would be a very cool movie.

  • It’s so great that all these other heroes are getting their due. Looking forward to Civil war and Captain Marvel most!

  • Having read Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War in the 90s, it completely blows my mind that there is going to be a serious, live-action version brought to movie screens. There’s not a lot to the stories aside from getting a huge team-up of heroes together to duke it out with a big-bad (or evil versions of themselves), but they sure were fun. There’ll obviously be more depth to the movie adaptation.

    I don’t care what DC announced before this, they’re still way behind. Marvel just hit them with a huge shot to the undercarriage that they may not recover from.

    In the words of Ash Campbell, ‘Hail to the king, baby!’

    • People condemned DC before knowing if they would copy Marvels template or not.

      Then DC DIDN’T copy Marvels template and people now condemn them for some reason.

      Marvel had to start somewhere too and DC needed a tiny bit of time to distance itself from shittacular features such as The Green Lantern.

      Cinematically, yeah they have to get going. But that took time, they had to get into position to do so and they now are. With Goyer gone, Affleck and his scribe from Argo helping re-align and redo BVS, word from people who have seen anything being very positive and the comicon teaser looking *outstanding*, they’re finally in that better position to get themselves off the ground.

      • This makes a lot of sense, especially if it turns out to be the case. If BvS ends up being the starting point for DC to re-launch/align all of their cinematic efforts, then we’re in for a hell of a ride!

      • DC just don’t seem to know what the hell they are doing when it comes to the screen. I’m not at all confident in this seemingly ham-fisted way of introducing the Justice League, but I’d be happy to be wrong. They could even fuck up BvS and it’d be ok. But they can’t fuck up Wonder Woman. That has to work or they are screwed for another ten years.

        Marvel either had very good planners, or very good luck. Probably both. Having Pixar/Disney behind the scenes giving them the money, industry clout and facilities to make it all happen sure didn’t hurt.

        • So, justify the way in which it equates to ‘ham fisted’ exactly? Noone knows exactly what’s going on in BvS. There’s been actual zero information released regarding the movie in terms of *exact* plot and we don’t know any solid information on villains besides Lex Luthor. Brainiac is *rumored* but that’s it.

          I disagree that it’s ham fisted, for the first time it feels like DC actually has their shit together. They have a solid vision for Aquaman, they have ditched the idea of an origin story for Batman thank christ and have him already established, it’s set in a comic book setting rather than the real world. Wonderwoman looked, despite Gadot being undersized slightly in the pic, like she should in the comics. However recent photos show a more bulked up version of her. Afflecks casting, well he’s a bloody good actor and the first Batman to have ‘the chin’ 😉

          It’s, to use a word I’ve used too much lately because: internet, hyperbole. We know nearly nothing, we assume it’s going to be bad because we know nothing so we condemn it.

          Marvels fortune changed when they got bought by Disney, prior to that they started strong but were headed into unsure waters. Disney has done nothing but great things for them. But, I won’t fall victim to false ideas and crap, we know nothing about BvS yet asides a few shots, so calling it ‘ham fisted’ is as credible as calling it ‘omg the best movie ever omgwtfbbq!’

          We just have to wait and see.

          • I find everyone’s thoughts valid on this, but I guess my original point was more about how far ahead Marvel is in developing a connected cinematic universe, as well as taking chances (that so far have panned out) on their less marketable characters.

            I agree with your call about DC just being on a different timeline (most of the time, creatively, you’re following someone else) or using a different development style for their universe, but I guess the [valid] criticism is that they can’t get their shit together on their franchise characters, while Marvel went balls out on Guardians and it paid off. Now we get Inhumans, Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

            But again, your points are valid.

          • I think yours are too (holy shit the internet is gonna explode lol) DC is like one of students I have had. He’s naughty in term 1, term 2 and term 3, then term 4 when his cousin, in the same class, has been excelling all year despite the same home issues, he gets his shit together. You can’t help but think ‘You’ve not had your shit together for so long, so I’m super skeptical’. People SHOULD be massively skeptical of course and DC should understand they’re now being held to a higher expectation than Marvel is, due to Marvel not burning people time and time and time again. So hopefully they do pull it together.

            Personally, I also think it was a bit silly for DC to go and announce 10+ movies. How about just announcing BvS, Justice League and Aquaman instead? Would’ve been far less ambitious and more sensible.

          • What I mean by ham-fisted is exactly what the word means: lacking in subtlety. They had some Batman movies that did well, so they got the entire reason why they did well wrong and applied it to Superman. Unsurprisingly, “dark and gritty” didn’t make Superman a better movie.

            So now you have a huge company who have made a real success out of one valuable franchise, and moderate success out of another and they are smooshing them together with an ugly, overlong title that VERY LOUDLY tells you that the whole thing is simply a vehicle to set up a Justice League franchise. It’s lacking in any form of subtlety. I’m all for Affleck as Batman and I’m all for a comic style universe. I’m reserving my opinion on the content of the movie until I see it, but DC’s track record coupled with the obvious die-hard fan appeasement that was the marketing pitch for this movie just doesn’t bode well for subtlety and nuance.

            There’s no hypebole here. We may not have seen a lot of footage, but if you keep up on the way the film industry rolls, we know a lot. From the terrible name, to the fan boy grabbing pitch, to the ‘dark and gritty’ sinkhole it’s all been falling into lately, the whole thing has a lot to prove. It might not be “attack of the Clones” bad, but it isn’t looking pretty so far.

            Besides, Batman vs Superman isn’t all that interesting. It’s been done several times and every time it’s made out to be this huge thing but in the end, Superman just isn’t that interesting when he’s paired against pretty much anyone. Superman is sometimes interesting because he’s essentially a god. What does a god do when he lives with us mortals? Why should he help us? Why would he hide? How does his mental and emotional state reflect his life and actions in our world? Instead he’s just weak to magic so Shazam can beat him up, or everyone in the world accidentally gets hold of a million kilos of kryptonite.

            I would like to be wrong. Wonder Woman is looking like it might be ok. Aquaman is so utterly uninteresting to me, I’d rather see a movie about the mechanic who works on the invisible jet, so that does nothing to sway me. I want these to be good, but where Marvel has earned the benefit of the doubt, DC have not. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • “Marvel’s Phase 3 Movies Will Be Its Riskiest, Most Important Ones Yet”

    I kinda feel like it’s phase 1 movies were the most important, if they had’ve flopped we probably wouldn’t be talking about phase 3.

  • Black Panther and Inhumans…. OMG can’t wait to see who plays Blackbolt and T’Challa 0,0

  • Casting benedict cumberbach as dr strange has me angry. Other than that all i can comment on is the fact that I’m burnt out and exhausted by how many movies DC and Marvel are looking to pump out. Especially when they are all popcorn films with no ambition or intent on being more than an enjoyable couple of hours watching our favourite comic characters and some CGI explosions.

    • Between 35 – 40 movies coming out over the next 4 years time. That’s spanning Xmen, Marvels core universe, Spiderman and now DC.

      Comic book movie fatigue is going to set in eventually, they’ve been tentpole yearly movies at this point but when the year starts flooding with them, we’ll start caring less and less and Box Office will decline unfortunately :\

    • I agree in theory but also consider that the world still has room for a good popcorn flick, I love a great psych thriller or carefully crafted animation but sometimes I just want to sit back and watch something go boom.
      The 90’s had their action heroes, the 00’s had their book adaptations (LotR, HP). The 10’s looks to be the decade of the comic book movie. As long as the movies are good then I personally am fine to keep ponying up the cash to watch them. Guardians did well to break the mould a little so we weren’t sitting there going “sigh, these guys again” and the addition of some new entries into the cinematic universe should hopefully keep things fresh for the next few years too whilst still giving existing movies their twilight hour to wind down the story.

      • I suppose you are right. So far I’ve seen all the marvel movies with the exception of guardians (which I will see soon) and I enjoy them but find they are forgettable. When you look at the dates it’s not so bad it’s just my immediate reaction to all this news at once is “too many movies” especially combined with DC’s long list. Marvel haven’t released a bad movie yet though which is a positive.

  • Look at how well Disney are handling the Marvel franchise.
    This is why I’m so glad Disney are now handling the Star Wars franchise.

    • Ha! Here I was thinking it wouldn’t be possible to cast him in a roll with fewer lines of dialogue than Guardians 😉

  • What I’d love to see Marvel do with the Black Panther movie is position T’Challa as the morally opaque strategist seen in Christopher J. Priest’s run of the comics


    • Yup. It’ll be a stripped back version, but the Ultron trailers look like they are finding a way to get the Hulk out of the picture and Thor Ragnarok is looking to do the same. Can’t have anyone too powerful, or they’d just win and there’d be no story.

      In the comics they spent two years finding ways to get all the really powerful players off-world or otherwise occupied so all the lesser powered characters could duke it out.

  • Captain America “Civil War”? Will that be THE Civil War? That’d be really risky indeed, though the absence of Spiderman would diminish much of the impact. Damned be fragmentation of the Marvel universe in movies. Same for no Storm in a Black panther movie.

    Movie studios should collaborate instead trying to compete. “Hey can we have Hale Berry for Civil War and Black Panther?” “Sure thing, just let us have the guys playing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2 for an upcoming X-Men movie!”

    • This sort of thing would probably happen if they didn’t have to deal with 1000 pages of legal documents to do it. Such a shame.

    • Who said Spider-Man would be out of the picture?
      Rumour has it that Sony and Marvel are in discussions.

    • Yup, it’s THE Civil War. I imagine the idea is to fragment the Avengers before Thanos stops by to stomp house, but there’s also the interesting predicament of Chris Evans stating previously that he’s only really interested in fulfilling his currently contracted Marvel films before giving up acting to try his hand at directing, of which Civil War is his (currently) last contracted film. Bit of a spoiler here for those who never read Civil War, but Cap was killed at the end of the event (although he got better, as comic book characters tend to do) which would tie in perfectly for killing off Steve Rogers at the end of Chris Evan’s contracted run. And with Falcon now running around as Cap in the comics, it’d be a great branching off point to see Falcon replace Steve as Captain America from the Infinity War films and onwards.

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