Welcome to the first installment of Marvel Studios Countdown! Since Marvel is working toward a shared on-screen Marvel Universe, what was formerly known as The Avengers Countdown will now become your one-stop shop for all Marvel Studios happenings, including new projects as well as what’s next for the individual members of the Avengers.
In fact, news has already started rolling in concerning Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, so for our inaugural edition, I figured it was a good time to catch us up to speed with what we can expect from Marvel over the course of the next few years. Yes, Avengers 2 will probably happen, but it’s still a long way off. So, what’s next?
Iron Man 3
Projected Release Date: May 3, 2013
What’s New: Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is taking over from departing director Jon Favreau (who says he’ll still show up in the film as Happy Hogan). This was expected to be Robert Downey Jr’s final go as the character as well, but in the wake of Avengers the actor has expressed he’s open to playing Iron Man for the foreseeable future.
Do We Know What It’s About: If it is loosely based on the recent ‘Extremis’ storyline from the comics, as rumored, it would find Tony Stark’s life and his Iron Man alter-ego drastically changed by the infusion of experimental nanotechnology into his bloodstream. The announcements of the villains (James Badge Dale as Coldblood and Ashley Hamilton as Firepower, as well as Ben Kingsley as the lead “mystery” villain) reveal that if they are doing ‘Extremis,’ they’re probably changing it up quite a bit. Black has said that his sequel will be more of a “technological thriller” with Iron Man’s superheroics set against a plausible real world crisis.
Projected Release Date: November 15, 2013 (Marvel’s first Holiday season release!)
What’s New: Game of Thrones’ Alan Taylor will be picking up where director Kenneth Branagh left off. There have been some recent concerns that scheduling for Red 2 might affect Anthony Hopkins returning as Odin, but that news is still up in the air as of this writing.
Do We Know What It’s About: Early word had the Enchantress and the Executioner as Thor’s main foes and the casting of Mads Mikkelson might be one-half of that equation. He’s probably NOT playing the Enchantress. Fans (and Thor star Chris Hemsworth) have expressed their desire to see intergalactic hero Beta Ray Bill thrown into the mix, but there has been no confirmation that it’s happening. Now that Marvel has gone a little more cosmic in their approach, however, it’s totally feasible. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who sat out Avengers, will return for Thor 2.
Captain America 2
Projected Release Date: April 4, 2014
What’s New: Joe Johnston is not likely to return as director, with Marvel eyeing a handful of unusual choices including F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen) and Community’s Anthony and Joseph Russo.
Do We Know What It’s About: Collider reports that the sequel will pick up immediately after the events in The Avengers, placing Cap squarely in the modern day. Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige even makes it sound like the Captain America sequel will bridge the gap directly between Avengers and Avengers 2. Makes sense, seeing as how Cap’s arch-enemy the Red Skull is still trapped within the tesseract, which we all know plays an important role in the Avengers films. One of Cap 2’s screenwriters (Christopher Malkus) has expressed a desire to incorporate the villain MODOK, with Peter Dinklage as the mutated leader of the high-tech terrorists known as AIM (sort of the opposite of SHIELD). Fans have speculated, based on the fate of Bucky Barnes in the first film, that the sequel might find some inspiration from Ed Brubaker’s ‘Winter Soldier’ storyline from the comics, which finds Barnes alive and well as a deadly Soviet special agent.
Projected Release Date: Unannounced, maybe 2014
What’s New: Nothing much. Edgar Wright is still attached and tells everyone to just be patient. He’ll be shooting his apocalyptic comedy The World’s End in September, so Ant-Man is still a film away.
Do We Know What It’s About: Joe Cornish, the writer-director of Attack the Block, worked on the script with Edgar Wright, which Wright confirmed features both Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and his successor Scott Lang, who stole Pym’s Ant-Man persona in a fit of personal desperation.
The Avengers 2
Projected Release Date: Unannounced, maybe Summer 2015
What’s New: Not a thing. It will happen, but nothing has been announced other than that.
Do We Know What It’s About: Fans are rightfully expecting a cinematic version of The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series. Could this mean that Avengers 2 will feature ALL of Marvel Studios’ heroes up to this point - including folks like War Machine and Sif - in one huge intergalactic battle? Possibly. It’s just too far off to tell yet.
Marvel Studios is also chasing projects based on Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Inhumans, and a Summer 2014 “mystery” project (which may or may not be the long-rumored Ant-Man), but none of those projects have moved forward with any significant news. Informally, they’ve even talked about films based on Luke Cage, SHIELD, or another Hulk film. I’d imagine every single property Marvel is sitting on is being considered for big-screen treatment.
I’ll leave you with this tidbit, though -- Dr. Who’s Stephen Moffat and actor Benedict Cumberbatch visited the Marvel offices recently. Could Marvel be pursuing them for Dr. Strange? Both are definitely interesting choices for that property. More as it develops ...
John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. He’ll also buy any comic with Hawkeye on the cover. You can read his Marvel Studios Countdown here at Movies.com, alternating with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Countdown.