Speaking during a Q&A session at Wizard World Comic-Con New Orleans this weekend, Captain America: Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo teased the next two Avengers movies which they’re already developing. After their work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Russos landed the job of not only handling the studio’s biggest ensemble piece to date in Civil War, but also Marvel’s two largest, cosmic-heavy Avengers projects as well.
During their talk, the brothers and co-directors mentioned that at the moment there’s a board with 67 Marvel characters on it set to have a role to play during Avengers: Infinity War, and now we have a little more insight on how that’s going to work in terms of screen time.
With an event this big, a culmination of three phases of Marvel Cinematic Universe conflicts, events, and origin stories, it’s just not possible in the running length of one or two movies to give dozens of characters meaty story arcs. This event only works because most, if not all of these characters are established icons who TV viewers and moviegoers will have met before. Many of these heroes and villains will have had multiple appearances in TV series and other films, so it works on another level. Where traditional war movies see an ensemble of soldiers who each get their own moments and personality traits, in Infinity War, these soldiers will be substituted for recognizable superheroes who’ve already been seen fighting the good fight… and seen on toy shelves.
But things will change. Team rosters will evolve, and some characters may see their stories come to an end. Speaking during that same Q&A, Joe Russo hinted at that different future and how Avengers: Infinity War will place more focus on the heroes we’ve yet to see headline their own projects.
“Everything is finite, right? Nothing can last forever. It’s cyclical. Some New Avengers in phase 4 are going to become prominent and then maybe some Avengers might not be around anymore. So, we’ll see how all this plays out but you have to treat every character with respect. I think it’s interesting that if you’ve seen four or five movies with the lead character having an arc, I want to see some story telling from some of the secondary characters. We’re focusing on that right now with Infinity War while we’re breaking into those movies, is which characters can we pull to the forefront who potentially haven’t had their own ‘A’ story arc to this point. I think you’ll see that the supporting Avengers are going to become primary Avengers.”
A year ago, it was easy to tell who was likely going to be out of the picture after Avengers: Infinity War based on the contract lengths of Marvel’s top actors. Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., etc. were all done with Avengers 3. But everything changed with RDJ signing on for additional movies, including Captain America: Civil War and if rumors prove true, the Spider-Man reboot. We suspect he may be around in the long haul serving as a supporting player for the bigger picture stories.
As for the others, Marvel Entertainment always battled the reputation of being cheap when it comes to paying its talent and directors, an issue Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige frequently butted heads about with Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. That all changed last year when Ike was pushed out of Marvel Studios, left to focus on the TV and comics divisions while Feige solidified his position as top dog on the film front, reporting directly to Disney studio boss Alan Horn.
That means Feige can spend and keep talent happy, building on his close relationships with the actors who already have direct lines of communication with him on all the projects. That means after Avengers: Infinity War, many of the stars we thought were on their way out, could be around for more solo movies and team-ups, or supporting roles that could see them return in a big way when needed.
Given the box office bombing and critical pannings of some of the non-Marvel roles some of these actors had in the last years (looking at you, Mr. Hemsworth, with Blackhat and In the Heart of the Sea), we have a feeling these stars may realize the importance to their careers to keep a successful, fan-heavy franchise on their resume.
It’s the best of both worlds, keeping familiar, marketable faces around without forcing actors through lengthy productions and press tours. It gives the studio more options for Phase 4 and beyond.
As for which secondary characters the Russos are referring to? We assume that means heroes who don’t have their own solo franchises, meaning more Hawkeye, Black Widow, War Machine, Wasp, Vision, Scarlet Witch, etc., pending who’s still alive and able after the Infinity War conflict. That could even include Marvel TV heroes from the Secret Warriors (see: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC) and The Defenders (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Punisher, Elektra, etc.).
Joe Russo’s words also match early rumors about Avengers: Infinity War where some reports indicated that the first part of the two-movie saga wouldn’t really include any of the original Avengers outside of Iron Man instead focusing on the likes of secondary characters and newcomers (Spider-Man!) joining the MCU in Phase 3. Part 2 would then see everyone return for the grand finale.
This still fits what we know about Phase 3 in that Thor and Hulk will be on an off-world adventure exploring the cosmic Nine Realms side of the MCU in Thor: Ragnarok, and several original Avengers may be out of the picture after Captain America: Civil War, leaving the door open for characters in Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel to take the spotlight, forming the “New Avengers” just in time to battle Thanos in Infinity War.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.