The release date of Marvel’s latest slice of superheroics, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is fast approaching, with the sequel picking up positive buzz rapidly – but after Winter Soldier, what’s next for Marvel Studios? In this three-part feature, I’ll be looking at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – both known and unknown, and on both the silver and big screens in a hopefully humorous and hopefully entertaining peek into the future of the biggest goddamn studio out there.

In part one, I’ll be crossing the Phases and looking at Marvel’s next three confirmed movies – Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man.




WHEN’S IT OUT? August 1.

WHO’S DIRECTING? James Gunn, director of Super.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? As befitting of the MCU’s next movie after Winter Soldier, we know a fair bit about Guardians. Essentially, it’s about five misfit runaways – cocky pilot Star Lord, green-skinned assassin Gamora, brooding beefcake Drax, sweet tree-man Groot and gun-toting badass Rocket Raccoon, who find themselves in possession of a very powerful object and come under fire from some of Thanos’ top soldiers. The first trailer, which launched last month, showed a shedload of humour aside the usual generous helping of action, and shows that Guardians might just be heading down the action-comedy route. Also, Ooga-Chaka.

WHO’S STARRING? Chris Pratt, hot off his great vocal turn in The LEGO Movie, is main character and retro-music lover Star Lord, Avatar actress Zoe Saldana steps into the green skin of Gamora, wrestling man-of-muscle Dave Bautista is Drax – and vocally, Vin Diesel will be lending his gravelly voice to Groot’s only line (‘I am Groot’, a true shining example of Marvel creativity), and Oscar hoover Bradley Cooper will be voicing Rocket Raccoon. Michael Rooker (Merle off The Walking Dead) is blue-skinned hunter and original-team (i.e. the 60s version rather than the re-invention that these movies are following) Yondu, John C Reilly is Rhomann Dey of Nova Corps, and Benecio del Toro returns from his strangely trippy cameo in Thor: The Dark World as the Collector.

WHO’S THE BAD GUYS? The Hobbit‘s Lee Pace is main bad guy – hammer-toting admiral of Thanos, Ronan the Accuser, Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan is psychotic baldie Nebula and Djimon Hounsou is Korath the Pursuer (and though this may be controversial, my bet’s on Korath being really good at pursuing). There’s a healthy chance of an appearance by evil overlord and general douchebag Thanos, who popped up at the end of The Avengers but seems to be hibernating for a while, since Gamora is Thanos’ adopted daughter in this canon, but nothing’s confirmed yet.

ANYTHING ELSE? Guardians of the Galaxy is very much a standalone movie, set on the other side of the galaxy to any of Marvel’s output (save the Thor movies, as clearly it’s close enough for the Warriors Three to beam across to the Collector’s menagerie), so it’s pretty unlikely anyone from the MCU will show up outside a post-credits cameo. Speaking of post-credits, it’s pretty likely we’ll see the continuation of the Thanos storyline, so keep an eye out for our purple-headed friend.



WHEN’S IT OUT? May 1, 2015.

WHO’S DIRECTING? Good ol’Joss Whedon, returning for a second Avengers movie.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Details are fairly thin on the ground at the moment, but we know it involves Ultron, a robot created for good, going slightly berserk on the Avengers – and elsewhere, Baron von Stucker and HYDRA are preparing for some serious stuff. Also, there’s two new Avengers in the form of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and the first MCU appearance of the Vision.

WHO’S STARRING? All the Avengers from the first movie return – that’s Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. And there’s some new blood too, in the form of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as twins Quicksilver (and no, not the weird version with terrible hair that’ll be showing up in X-Men: Days of Future Past), and Paul Bettany, previous voice of Iron Man AI JARVIS, steps up to play the Vision.

WHO’S THE BAD GUYS? Robot Ultron, played by Jamespader, will be going up against the Avengers, as shown in the title – but there’s also Baron von Strucker of HYDRA, who will be played by German actor Thomas Kretschmann. We don’t know if these villains will ally, or whether they have anything to do with each other at all, but it’s certain they’re going to be a right pain in the backside for the Avengers.

ANYTHING ELSE? Age of Ultron is set to be a more ‘personal’ story, with beefed up roles for slightly short-changed last time Black Widow, and massively shortchanged last time Hawkeye. Filming in South Africa has seen Hulk going berserk against a bunch of police in the middle of Johannesburg, but we don’t quite know why Hulky was so angry.

WHAT ABOUT TRAILERS? Expect the first trailer to show up this October, and the second next March.



WHEN’S IT OUT? July 17, 2015.

WHO’S DIRECTING? Edgar Wright, director of the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End).

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? We know very little about Ant-Man, other than the pretty important fact that two of the Ant-Men from the comics are showing up, and that it’s going to be a heist movie (considering Ant-Man can shrink himself to the size of er… an ant, heists would probably be quite easy for him). It’s Marvel’s first proper superhero origin story since Captain America: The First Avenger, so this one could be very interesting indeed.

WHO’S STARRING? Unusually, as said in the column above, the first two men to take on the Ant-Man identity will both be appearing here – veteran actor Michael Douglas as original Ant-Man and inventor Hank Pym, and slightly younger Paul Rudd (Anchorman‘s Champ) as Scott Lang, petty thief who nicks Pym’s stuff and decides to take on the Ant-Man persona. Lang will be the main Ant-Man, so that leaves Pym as a possible mentor to Lang – or the unlucky Ant-Man who was killed in action. In addition to Douglas and Rudd, Michael Pena and Patrick Wilson have also signed up.

WHO’S THE BAD GUYS? Before last year’s Comic Con, most people would have said Ultron, who was created by Pym in the comics (but won’t be here, for fairly obvious reasons). Names chucked around have included Egghead, evil scientist with a really unfortunate head, Whirlwind, speedy guy who is neither Quicksilver nor the Flash – and even slightly more out there suggestions like the Scarlet Beetle, a homicidal beetle (incredibly common of course) who happens to be huge, and even Hank Pym himself.

ANYTHING ELSE? With Wright on board, expect plenty of humour alongside the requisite actio set-pieces. Considering this is Phase Three’s opener, there could be plenty of hints and suggestions towards Avengers 3‘s plot – be it Civil War or Thanos-related – but it’s more likely Ant-Man’s origins will be a nicely standalone story.

WHAT ABOUT TRAILERS? The first trailer will probably land around Christmas, with a second trailer almost certainly tagged onto Age of Ultron.

WHAT ABOUT PETER? Not everyone has a happy ending*.

Next Sunday: Now that I’ve gone through Marvel’s confirmed slate, it’s time for some good ol’theorizing as I take a look at Captain America, Thor and Avengers threequels – and potential new kids on the block, Doctor Strange and Black Panther.