The Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 2: The New Heroes

It’s Thursday April 26, and The Avengers has been released to the world. (Except America, which is a little puzzling considering The Avengers is an American movie.) You might have seen it already. With The Avengers, Marvel Studios rounded off the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and left Iron Man 3 to kick the second phase off. It seems apt to talk about the new Avengers that’ll be joining the roster in the sequel. So, for part two of my look at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ll be covering all the potential movies for the 2014/2015 slots in the MCU. I’ll be taking a look at Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhumans, to name a few. I’ll also be looking at some potential solo adventures for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and a sequel featuring every comic book fan’s favorite green rage monster. So, onto the movies. There’s a lot of characters that Marvel could make a movie out of – it’s just a question of what’s going to be made in time for the 2014/2015 slots. I’ve tried to fit as many in as possible, but some characters have been left out, like Luke Cage. They’ll be held over for part 3.  There’s one definite release date for 2014, and that’s May 16, for an unspecified movie. So, without further ado, here’s  what movies could fit the slots:


WHO IS ANT-MAN? Ant-Man is an identity assumed by three people in the comics: Hank Pym, Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady. The second and third Ant-Men just sort of assumed the identity, so we’ll talk about Pym instead. Dr. Hank Pym decides to become a superhero after discovering a chemical substance that can alter the user’s size. He kits himself out with a helmet that allows him to control ants, and shrinks to the size of an insect, and fights enemies as Ant-Man. His partner is Wasp, his girlfriend, and his main enemy is his own creation, Ultron.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Since it’s the only Marvel project with a new character that’s regularly been talked about, with a director/writer attached, it’s most likely heading for a May 16, 2014 release. We’ll know if this is the case by Comic-Con this July. We’ll also know who is playing Ant-Man by then, too.

IS THERE A DIRECTOR AND/OR WRITER IN PLACE? Yep, and it’s the same guy, Edgar Wright. Wright has directed the brilliant Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, as well as co-writing last year’s The Adventures of Tintin, so he has credentials as a director and writer. And not just regular credentials, but GEEK credentials! So he’s a perfect fit to direct Ant-Man. He’s been slogging away at it for eight years now, and is in regular contact with Kevin Feige. Feige has hinted that Wright might film something in the coming months, so that could be one of two things: a post-credits scene for Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and Captain America 2 teasing Ant-Man, or the start of production on the movie itself. Both are equally likely.

WHAT COULD AN ANT-MAN MOVIE LOOK LIKE? Edgar Wright is planning Ant-Man to be a full-on action-adventure with plenty of humor, e.g. Iron Man levels of humor. It’ll probably tell the origin story of Hank Pym, how he became Ant-Man, and his scientific experiments. Ultron, a robot of Ant-Man’s creation, or secret service agents, as in the comics, will probably be the enemy. Ant-Man will shift identities like his comic book self, becoming people like Goliath and Giant-Man. Ant-Man, if it’s released in 2014, will become an Avenger in The Avengers 2.

THE BOTTOM LINE: With a script completed and a director in place, this should move like lightning, will start shooting this year and be ready for a May 2014 release.


WHO IS THE HULK? You know this one: Dr. Bruce Banner is mutated in an experiment, and he turns into a giant green rage monster every time he gets angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Well, this potential movie is different to every movie in this feature, save one, in that it’s a sequel (to The Incredible Hulk, which was released in June 2008. Since the Hulk has been extremely well received in The Avengers, everyone’s asking about a potential sequel to the 2008 movie, starring Mark Ruffalo. Annoyingly, Kevin Feige has said that there are no plans to release a Hulk sequel now, but there’s an outside chance of the sequel hitting cinemas in 2015.

IS THERE A DIRECTOR/WRITER IN PLACE? Nope, but Marvel will probably follow their tradition of picking almost-unknown directors if Hulk 2 goes ahead. As for writers, co-writer of the first movie, Zak Penn, will probably return. And as for the other writer, Edward Norton… well, you know what happened there.

WHAT COULD AN INCREDIBLE HULK SEQUEL LOOK LIKE? Well, it’ll star the MCU’s new Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo, if it goes ahead. Ruffalo is contracted for multiple movies and he’s expressed interest in doing a solo movie. The villain will almost definitely be the Leader – the mutated Samuel Sterns. Sterns made an appearance in the first movie (played by Tim Blake Nelson), and we even saw him begin to mutate into the Leader, so the sequel, Leader-wise, will hit the ground running. UTF commenter Aaron also wants to see some more Leader action: ”They really need to explore “The Leader” stuff they teased in the first Incredible Hulk movie… 1 vote for Incredible Hulk 2 with The Leader as the villain.”. But alongside the Leader, the Abomination (Tim Roth) is still alive and kicking in SHIELD captivity and could return for the sequel as a villain But face it, when has prison ever stopped supervillains?

THE BOTTOM LINE: There will be a Hulk 2, but it’s a long way off and only a miracle could set Hulk 2 up for a 2014/2015 release.


WHO ARE THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY? The Guardians of the Galaxy… obviously. Joking aside, the Guardians of the  Galaxy are a team of 31st century intergalactic peacekeepers. The team members include Vance Astro, a 20th century Earth astronaut, Martinex T’Naga, a crystalline guy from Pluto, Captain Charlie-27, a soldier from Jupiter, and Yondu Udonta, a blue-skinned (don’t make Smurf jokes yet) savage from Beta Centauri. They keep the peace, and stuff.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Guardians of the Galaxy is racing along, and it could hit a summer 2014 release date, if the crew are quick.

IS THERE A WRITER/DIRECTOR IN PLACE? Nope, no-one whatsoever.

WHAT COULD A GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY MOVIE LOOK LIKE? Marvel Studios tapped into the cosmic side of the MCU with Thor, and expanded on it in Captain America: The First Avenger and most recently, The Avengers, but this is their chance to make the cosmic side of the MCU just as interesting and movie-worthy as the more realistic side. Expect some Nine Realms hopping, and for the Cosmic Cube to make an appearance. Also, it’s Marvel’s chance to make a great stand-alone movie, mostly freed from the constraints of MCU arc-plot. However, the BIG BAD of The Avengers could pop up. And maybe, just maybe, we might see a cameo from Thor and/or Loki.


WHO IS BLACK PANTHER? The chief of the Panther Tribe in the fictional African country, Wakanda. He, as a tribe leader, eats a special herb, which acts a bit like the super soldier serum in that it enchances T’Challa’s (the real name of the Black Panther) senses, strength, speed, stamina and ability to the peak of human performance. He is skilled at hunting, tracking, stratagies, science, and is a politician and inventor.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Either summer 2014 or 2015. It’ll certainly be released in the next five years, but it might have to wait until after The Avengers 2.


WHAT COULD A BLACK PANTHER MOVIE LOOK LIKE? Well, it’ll be the first Marvel movie to star an African guy in the lead role. It’ll also contain some jungle action as the comic is… set in the jungle. Expect plenty of Avatar-style jungle action, and a move to New York halfway through. And once we get to New York, there will probably be a lot of S.H.I.E.L.D action, with appearances from Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Although Marvel might choose to wait until The Avengers 2 to move Black Panther to America, and set the entirety of Black Panther in Wakanda.


WHO IS DOCTOR STRANGE? Doctor Strange was a egotistical, cocky, and rich doctor (think Tony Stark, but as a doctor), who lost his mother at an early age. Strange was destined to become the Sorcerer Supreme, but he was cursed by a resentful sorcerer, Karl Mordo. Strange grew up, and became a famous and wealthy doctor. His father also died a couple of years after his mother did. Later, Doctor Strange was involved in a car accident that severely damaged the nerves in his hands, and bankrupted himself finding treatment for them, then starting selling all his possessions. He then encountered the Ancient One, who taught him sorcery.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Almost certainly in 2014 – possibly in the summer, but just as likely for the May 16, 2014 release date. Doctor Strange, along with Ant-Man, will probably be the next two movies after Captain America 2.

IS THERE A DIRECTOR/WRITER IN PLACE? Guillermo del Toro is rumoured to be directing Doctor Strange, and it seems the perfect movie for del Toro. Zak Penn is likely to be on scripting duties.

WHAT COULD A DOCTOR STRANGE MOVIE LOOK LIKE? I’d imagine that it would look rather similar to Iron Man. Y’know… rich, successful guy, has an accident which changes him, and then learns a new power of some sort. They’re probably going to do the full backstory in the movie, so why not emphasize Strange’s fall from grace as he sells all his possessions and bankrupts himself? Then go fully ‘magical’ for the rest of the movie. The ‘magical’ side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is waiting to be explored, and Doctor Strange is the best opportunity to explore it.


WHAT IS S.H.I.E.L.D? SHIELD is an organization dedicated to stopping unusual threats around the world. They’ve been in every Marvel Studios movie so far – whether it’s helping Pepper Potts in Iron Man, sending in the ‘Consultant’ in The Incredible Hulk, placing Tony Stark under house arrest in Iron Man 2, guarding Thor’s hammer in Thor or easing Captain America into the present day in Captain America: The First Avenger, they’ve always been there, lurking in the shadows or aiding (or even hindering – see Thor) the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Probably 2015, but maybe 2014. We should be seeing SHIELD before The Avengers 2, and it’s a project loads of cast and crew are interested in.

IS THERE A DIRECTOR/WRITER IN PLACE? No, but I could imagine JJ. Abrams doing a very good job with this movie. He has experience in spy/action movies (Mission: Impossible 3) and slightly less realistic sci-fi (but brilliant sci-fi nonetheless – Super 8 and Star Trek) and lens-flare (see every movie ever made by JJ Abrams ever).

WHAT COULD A S.H.I.E.L.D MOVIE LOOK LIKE? Well, recent interviews have suggested that SHIELD might end up being a James Bond-type spy movie. Hell, SHIELD is a secret service of sorts. Expect Samuel L Jackson to take the lead, with Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Cobie Smulders in supporting roles. Because if you’re going to do a SHIELD movie, you’re going to do it properly, with all the big stars from The Avengers. And with a cast mostly set in stone, SHIELD could move like lightning once a director is in place.


WHO IS BLACK WIDOW? You know this one. Catsuit-wearing, badass SHIELD agent who first appeared in Iron Man 2, and graduated to a lead role of sorts in The Avengers. She doesn’t have any super-powers, only the powers of arse-kicking and hotness.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? God knows. Maybe 2014 or 2015, but perhaps it might never materialize.


WHAT COULD A BLACK WIDOW SOLO MOVIE LOOK LIKE? Like a prequel, probably. Black Widow’s not really going to go off on her own to solve a threat to Earth now she’s an agent of SHIELD, so the logical option for Black Widow would be to set it before she joined SHIELD… in the ’90s or the early Noughties, and end with Black Widow joining up with SHIELD. We’ll probably see Nick Fury and Hawkeye, too. The question is: who’s an ideal foe for Black Widow? Does anyone have an answer for that? (Sound off in the comments below.)


WHO IS NICK FURY? Come on… why are you even reading this if you don’t know who Nick Fury is? Go Google him. Now.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Probably 2015, or 2016. We’ll definitely see this by the time that The Avengers 3 comes out.


WHAT COULD A NICK FURY MOVIE LOOK LIKE? It’ll probably also be a prequel, but set in the ’70s or ’80s. A good idea might to be to set it in the Vietnam War in the early ’70s, and feature Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson, with X-Men: The Last Stand-type de-aging effects) as a soldier, taking on an… unusual threat. Captain America: The First Avenger used a war background to great effect, so why not utilize the ‘Nam War? A war movie starring Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury? I would definitely watch that.


WHO IS HAWKEYE? Like Black Widow, just a SHIELD agent with a high skill set. In Hawkeye’s, (or Barton, as he’s referred to in The Avengers) case, he’s a whiz with a bow and arrow. I used to not know who Hawkeye was… but then I took an arrow to the knee. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Maybe 2015… certainly not before then. There’s not been much movement on this, to be honest.

IS THERE A DIRECTOR/WRITER IN… No, before you ask.

WHAT COULD A HAWKEYE MOVIE LOOK LIKE? I’d imagine that it’d be a bit like a modern day Robin Hood… without the stealing to the rich and giving to the poor. I mean the bow and arrow bit. Hawkeye would probably be a prequel, set a few years before Hawkeye joined SHIELD. Hawkeye’s bow and arrow skills would be pushed to the fore here, since Hawkeye’s fairly unique in his choice of weapon in this genre. Aside from Katniss Everdeen, there’s not many bow-and-arrow-users in sci-fi/fantasy, and with Hawkeye, Marvel could move into less-trodden territory.


WHO ARE THE AVENGERS? Well, they’re Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, that’s who they are. See the picture above to find out the roster for the first movie.

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? Almost certainly summer 2015, but there’s a chance that Marvel could hold it off until 2016 in order to make more solo movies beforehand. For the purposes of this article, it’ll be released in 2015.

IS THERE A WRITER/DIRECTOR ATTACHED? Yes and no. Joss Whedon has an option to direct The Avengers 2, and he’s very interested in doing a follow-up, but nothing’s confirmed yet. Expect Whedon to return, though.

WHAT COULD AN AVENGERS SEQUEL LOOK LIKE? Joss Whedon, director of the first movie, wants the sequel to top the first movie by being ”more personal… more painful”, so expect plenty of character moments And of course, action, but that’s a given. The villain of the sequel will definitely be none other than *CENSORED*, so expect to see the Avengers go up against *CENSORED* and maybe… just maybe… the *CENSORED*.   The roster of Avengers will be expanded, probably to include Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. So when the Avengers assemble again, there’ll be even more ego clashes with the new characters. It’ll be interesting to see which characters get on with each other. And of course, which don’t.

COMING UP IN PART 3: Part 3, the concluding part, ”And Beyond…”, will see the possible slate for 2016 onwards come under my virtual microscope. We’re talking about movies like Thor 3, Captain America 3, Iron Man 4, Ant-Man 2, Doctor Strange 2, The Inhumans, Luke Cage, Namor and The Avengers: Civil War, as well as my prediction as to how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will end. Sound off about what movies you’d like to see in 2016 and onwards in the comments, and your comments will be included in part 3. ”And Beyond…” will be posted on Friday May 4, handily coinciding with the US release date of The Avengers.