Marvel dominated the news last week, dropping new bombshells on a seemingly daily basis. Even the rumor mill got into the act, with people suggesting Doctor Strange casting (Johnny Depp? Jon Hamm?) for a movie Marvel has yet to even officially put on its Phase Three slate. Batman and Superman ran for cover to the Summer of 2016, while Marvel fans loudly debate the creative direction of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It is Marvel’s world, and we’re just living in it. Let’s try to sort all of this news out.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’ve been hesitant to proclaim the directors of You, Me and Dupree and TV’s Community as the right choices for an espionage-focused Captain America sequel, but writer Ed Brubaker has raised my one skeptical eyebrow into two fully raised. “It’s the best Marvel movie ever made,” says the guy who created the "Winter Soldier” comic storyline in the first place. “The stuff I've seen from it -- it also has two of the best fight scenes that I've ever seen on film. It's going to be amazing.”
It’s important to note from his IGN interview that Brubaker hasn’t seen the actual, completed film, but who can blame him for gushing when he’s seeing his own work brought to life. Seriously, Brubaker has never struck me as a shill, and I have no doubt that he is honestly blown away by what he’s seen. I would love to eat crow about the Russos on this film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a Joe and Anthony Russo film, stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Redford. There are 73 days until release.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Let’s put money on the first full Guardians trailer accompanying The Winter Soldier (there may be an ad for it at the Super Bowl). Until then, all we have to tide us over is the lonely piece of promotional art seen above.
Guardians of the Galaxy, a James Gunn film, stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista. There are 192 days until release.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Here’s about all we know so far concerning the plot of the Avengers sequel -- it’s darker. Black Widow and the Hulk said so in two separate interviews. Johansson described the script as “dark and dry” in an interview with Parade, while Ruffalo told MTV it was “a little bit darker, but also really had Joss Whedon’s incredibly witty and sly sense of humor.” Their responses are eerily similar. Could these be coached talking points from Marvel execs?
“Dark” still feels like the number one buzzword when comic books are seeking validation, and, as a lifelong fan, I’ve grown numb to it as a selling point. I’m not really expecting tragedy and tears in Avengers 2, so for now we’ll assume “dark” just means “higher emotional stakes.” Or maybe they mean it all takes place at night.
The other bit of news from last week concerned the casting of Thomas Kretschmann as HYDRA bastard Baron Von Strucker. In the comics, he’s probably most closely associated with Nick Fury, but in Age of Ultron, we’ll be seeing him in an opening action sequence and not as a primary villain (according to BadAssDigest, which has reportedly seen the script).
The Avengers: Age of Ultron, a Joss Whedon film, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. There are 465 days until release.
Michael Douglas as Ant-Man alter-ego Hank Pym is the biggest left-field casting since Marvel first announced Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. His Pym will be playing second fiddle to Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, a down-on-his-luck single dad who appropriates Pym’s Ant-Man tech. Douglas told the BBC, “I’ve been dying to do a Marvel production for so long.”
There’s increased interest in Ant-Man comics, and I’ve been pointing folks to a few major storylines. Essential Ant-Man Vol. 1 will give you more than enough Ant-Man if you’re craving classics from the original Marvel Bullpen, but if your tastes run more modern, I suggest the one-shot Avengers Origins: Ant-Man and Wasp. I haven’t read the graphic novel Ant-Man: Season One, though it’s also intended to be an accessible origin tale. If you have the patience to track down single issues, you should snag Marvel Premiere #47 and #48 (the first appearance of Scott Lang as Ant-Man) while those issues are still cheap.
Check out our piece here for more on Pym and why he’s important to Ultron. And if you’re still confused about why there are two Ant-Men, we wrote about that in the Countdown as well.
Ant-Man, an Edgar Wright film, stars Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. There are 556 days until release.
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