There’s still a long road to go until The Avengers 2 hits theaters in 2015 – but as always, loyal fans have been filling the gap with titillating (and often raucous) speculation about what Phase Two of Marvel’s Movie Universe will bring. The second phase kicked off this summer with Iron Man 3; it continues this fall with Thor: The Dark World; then in spring/summer 2014 we’ll see Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the already controversial Guardians of the Galaxy before Avengers 2 is up to bat.

Given Marvel Studios’ history, fans (including us here on the Screen Rant staff) have long assumed that the Phase Two lineup was intentional – the natural progression of an overarching storyline (starting at the end of Avengers) that would culminate in Avengers 2. However, today we have news from Avengers 2 director (and MCU shepherd) Joss Whedon that is changing our entire perception of what Marvel Phase Two might bring. Get your geek hats on for this one.

Bleeding Cool spoke to Whedon – whose Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing is now in theaters – and when the subject of Marvel Movie Universe came up, Whedon had the following to say:

We’re following Guardians at Shepperton [Studios, with Avengers 2] but we won’t be swapping cast members. Every movie is its own thing and has to be. Unless I take a lot of peyote and write a very different draft… and I’m not ruling that out.

Upon scrutiny, that comment is somewhat revealing in the sense that it has long been an assumption amongst fans that Thor: The Dark World would further a cosmic-based storyline that ran through Guardians of the Galaxy – which would in turn be the springboard for a cosmic threat at the center of Avengers 2. What Whedon said about “Every movie is its own thing…” somewhat upsets that entire design.

Avengers 2 – Will It Be Earth-Based?

The end of Avengers set the classic Marvel villain Thanos up as the “big baddie” for Phase Two, and Whedon himself previously confirmed Thanos would appear in both Guardians and Avengers 2though later on, the company line did change a bit, so as to suggest that a character like Thanos could be saved for Phase Three. In my own feature article, I asked the question “Where Should ‘Avengers 2′ Take Place?”, weighing the pros and cons of an Earth-based story (featuring, say, a rival team of villains) vs. a space-set story (featuring a villain like Thanos).

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Artwork

My opinion was (and still is) that a sequel featuring a rival team of villains like The Masters of Evil would definitely be a compelling scenario (very Dark Knight in its own way – yeah I said it!); not to mention, one that could easily be born out of the terrestrial storyline of Captain America: The Winter SoldierGuardiansmeanwhile, would be left free to establish itself on more independent terms, while setting up a story arc not for Avengers 2, but rather the storyline to come in Phase Three. Based on what Whedon said, that could certainly be the case.

NEXT PAGE: Villains and Storyline for Marvel Phase Two….

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The Master of Evil (featuring Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch)?

The next thing to consider also comes from the mouth of Whedon himself. In the last month, fanboys’ brains have all been bent over the news (from Whedon) that the characters of Quicksilver and his sister Scarlett Witch would be appearing in Avengers 2. It just so happens that Quicksilver is also being featured in Bryan Singer’s currently-in-production movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past. There was much confusion over which studio (Marvel – or Fox, which has the rights to the X-Men franchise) would be entitled to the characters – but apparently both are.

However, as anyone who has picked up a comic knows, Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch didn’t start on the right side of the law.

In the comics, the pair are the children of Magneto, and fought alongside his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Clearly Magneto isn’t paying a visit to The Avengers; Whedon’s version of the characters won’t be mutants, will be British, but could still be the reluctant villains they originally were in the comics.

In other words: they could be introduced via a bad guy team like the Masters of Evil, rather than the Brotherhood of Mutants. Such a development would fall in with what Whedon meant when he previously said the pair wouldn’t “make things easier for the Avengers team; furthermore, a scenario like The Masters of Evil dividing and conquering the Avengers would also fit with the more personal and painful team story Whedon has been hinting at for the last year.

Finally: Avengers vs. The Masters of Evil is a succinct (but epic enough) storyline to contain in one film.

No Grand Saga?

With Whedon now creating distance between Guardians and Avengers 2, and Iron Man 3 already throwing fans for a bit of loop in terms of its changed tone and isolated position within the Marvel Movieverse, suffice to say that people may want to start re-examining their expectations of what Marvel Phase Two is going to deliver.

Most of us expected a big interwoven saga, slowly unfolding a chapter at a time – but in reality, what we could be getting is something more akin to what Phase One was: isolated stories with just the loosest threads of connection, and an Avengers 2 culmination that only kinda requires you to have seen the other films (because, you know, Thor can just show up out of the blue! No explanation needed!).

That’s not to say a more standalone approach is inherently a bad thing. In fact, given the continued behind-the-scenes troubles plaguing Marvel Studios (contract negotiations) and the risk that Guardians of the Galaxy could be the next Green Lantern (read: a disappointing misstep), cushioning Avengers 2 – a guaranteed cash-cow – from the fate of other Marvel projects is probably the SMARTEST move. I mean, if people end up hating Rocket Raccoon in GotG, it would be pretty awkward for Marvel to discover that fact as Robert Downey Jr. is jumping back and forth in front of a green screen, pretending to be standing next to him on the set of Avengers 2...

What’s your take on Whedon’s quote? Think Avengers 2 will still “go cosmic”? Or is an Earth-based standalone story (possibly featuring villains like The Masters of Evil) seeming more likely now?

Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters. Thor: The Dark World will be in theaters on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.

Source: Bleeding Cool

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