The Long Con1 of 12Although Marvel’s cinematic plans for the near future are already well spelled out, there are still plenty of lingering questions about the various films already on the horizon. And while new information surfaces every day, we still don’t know what some of the most important characters of Phase 3 will look like, or who will direct their films.
Many of these films are years off – 2016 will only see Captain America: Civil War advance the MCU’s meta-story, and Doctor Strange introduce one of the potential new major players. But we’re still clamoring for more details. This week, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn spilled some new details about what we won’t likely see in that film, while simultaneously staying mum on what is in store.
So here are the most pressing questions about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where is it all headed? What does it all mean? And who will still be there when we arrive?
WHO WILL BE THE VILLAIN IN THOR: RAGNAROK?2 of 12
There's no denying Loki's popularity, and given the state in which Thor: The Dark World left him, it's hard to imagine that Thor: Ragnarok won't incorporate Loki's villainous plot.
But "Ragnarok" is a loaded term. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok refers to the "twilight of the Gods," an apocalyptic scenario in which Asgard and its residents are destroyed, paving the way for a new age to begin.
While Loki has threatened whole worlds before, destroying Asgard hardly seems to fit into his plans to rule. On top of that, there are several major Thor villains, like Enchantress, Executioner, and the fire giant Surtur - all of whom have played a role in the comic book version of Ragnarok - that have yet to appear on film.
WILL VIN DIESEL LAND A SECOND MARVEL ROLE?3 of 12
Vin Diesel has been teasing a possible second Marvel role for some time now, with Kevin Feige even expressing that they'd love to find another platform to work with the actor, who lent his voice to the fan-favorite Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy.
And, if Diesel's Twitter teases have any relevance - he's heavily hinted at wanting the role of Black Bolt - we might just be finding out a little bit about our next question as well.
WHO ARE THE INHUMANS?4 of 12
Inhumans is the last of the currently confirmed Marvel films on the schedule. So, it's not surprising that with such a late release planned, we haven't heard much about the film.
Still, Marvel is making big strides to establish the Inhumans in their cinematic universe, tying them into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and populating the MCU with dozens of Inhumans (and Inhumans in waiting).
Will Skye or others from the TV side graduate to the big screen or could the Inhumans be shifted down into a Marvel/ABC TV Special of the Week?
WHO IS DIRECTING THESE PHASE 3 FILMS?5 of 12
As of right now, there are three Phase 3 movies that have no director attached: Inhumans, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel.
It's not entirely surprising that no directors have been attached yet, as many of those films are as much as three years out. But given the recent confirmation of a Thor: Ragnarok director and the ongoing search for a someone to help Black Panther - currently focused on Creed director Ryan Coogler - now is the time to lock down these other films.
Which brings us to our next question...
WHAT IS JAMES GUNN'S FUTURE?6 of 12After Joss Whedon’s notorious battle with Marvel Studios to make Avengers: Age of Ultron, the question now is, who will be the next to fly the coop? While many of the directors who kicked off the studio’s big franchises only hung around for one movie, there are a few auteurs looking to build a brand.
Take Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. His vision was a big part of what made GotG such a successful film, and he’s stuck around for the sequel. But he’s singing a tune that’s beginning to sound more than a little familiar, saying that he prefers to focus on the Guardians and their universe rather than use Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a vehicle for the rest of the MCU.
And while it seems like Marvel is ready to let him do that, what’s the breaking point? There’s a year and a half to go before that film hits theaters, and a lot can happen in that time. Assuming there’s a GotG 3, will Gunn stick around for that? Or will he move on to other pastures?
WHO IS CAPTAIN MARVEL?7 of 12
Just like with Inhumans, there are more questions than there are answers regarding Captain Marvel at the moment. It's no wonder, given that the film is set to debut after Avengers: Infinity War.
We know that Captain Marvel will be Carol Danvers... and that's really all we know. We can piece together tidbits - she'll potentially connect Marvel's cosmic wing to the larger universe, and the Kree will likely be involved given her comics origin, but there's very little concrete information to go on.
We're unlikely to get a casting announcement before a director or other crew are hired, but you can bet those announcements are just on the horizon.
WHO WILL BE THE VILLAIN OF GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2?8 of 12
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 may have a release date - May 5, 2017, to be precise - but what it does not yet have are a subtitle or villain.
Speculation about the blockbuster sequel's big bad has ranged from everyone from Kang, to Korvac, to Thanos himself - mostly ideas which director James Gunn has debunked.
While speculation is all we have to answer that question, one thing is certain; Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 will almost certainly lead in some form or fashion into Avengers: Infinity War, which will likely see the cosmic arm of the MCU colliding with its earthbound counterpart.
HOW BIG OF A BLOW-OUT WILL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR BE?9 of 12
Is there any reason the two-part Avengers: Infinity War won't be the ultimate Marvel Universe knockdown, drag out fight with cameos from all its major stars?
With two films to play with, the Russos could have some fun bringing in Dr. Strange, the Inhumans, or even the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. along with presumed new Avengers Captain Marvel and Black Panther.
Avengers: Infinity War looks to be the capstone to a generation of films that began almost ten years prior with Iron Man, so why not pull out all the stops and make it the ultimate MCU experience?
In fact, the Russo's upcoming Captain America: Civil War could be a perfect proof of concept for a movie that mixes that many characters.
WILL THERE BE AN IRON MAN 4?10 of 12
Marvel seems to have a pretty firm handle on where its franchises are headed for the next five years or so, but there are still some lingering questions about existing properties, or those that are coming soon.
First of all, will there be an Iron Man 4? Marvel and Robert Downey, Jr. have been dancing around that question for some time. While it makes sense to continue cashing in on the MCU's biggest solo character, by the time Avengers: Infinity War rolls around, RDJ will be well into his 50's, and will have played Iron Man at least 8 times already.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE STARS RETIRE?11 of 12And here it is. The elephant in the room. None of us want to think about what will happen when - not if - one of Marvel's big names decides they're tired of slapping on the spandex. Aunt May may be getting younger, but the core original MCU stars aren't.
But that possibility is inevitable. The oldest cast members, Robert Downey, Jr. (50) and Samuel L. Jackson (66) are both in great shape, but their retirement is, on some level, inevitable.
On top of that, even some of the younger stars like Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth have been cagey about renewing their contracts, leaving a big window for negotiations to fall through, or to simply grow weary of their roles. Would Marvel recast? Or find a way to move on to all new characters in their absence?
With no answers immediately available, all we can do is sit back, enjoy the ride, and wonder exactly what the Marvel Cinematic Universe will look like when Phase 4 rolls around.
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