Co-writer/director Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 has ruffled some feathers amongst the comic book crowd – just listen to the Screen Rant Underground Podcast for proof of that – but the overall reception has been respectable. Now that it’s accumulated some $1 billion in the bank already, the film is paving the way for the rest of Phase Two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which will culminate with The Avengers 2 in Summer 2015) to be even more financially-rewarding than Phase One.
Such continued box office success for the upcoming Phase Two sequels – combined with director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy setting the stage for other C-list or D-list comic book superheroes to make the jump to the big screen - would mean that Marvel, and President of Production Kevin Feige, have no excuse to make Phase Three any less ambitious or pioneering in spirit than Phase Two.
Feige sat down with EW, to discuss the possible films that will be arriving in Phase Three. Filmmaker Edgar Wright’s long-gestating Ant-Man - which is currently undergoing rewrites to better maintain continuity in the MCU – is the first on the docket, with a set release date six months after Avengers 2 opens in theaters. Certain projects have been floated about as likely candidates to follow thereafter, chief among them being a Doctor Strange movie.
On the topic of Doctor Strange, Feige said:
“I would love Strange to be a part of that only because he’s a great character. He’s a great standalone character,” Feige emphasizes. “He’s got a great origin story, for the most part. And that world of pure magic, we haven’t done yet. There’s a whole supernatural/magic alternate dimension going on in the Marvel comics that we haven’t ever touched on. So I think that’s exciting.”
Surgeon-turned sorcerer Stephen Strange was rumored to be portrayed by Justin Theroux – costar of Your Highness and screenwriter on Iron Man 2 – with Evil Dead (2013) director Fede Alvarez being in charge of realizing the magic-powered character in live-action movie form. The latter has denied any involvement with the superhero flick at this point, and the only thing that’s confirmed right now is that Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (the writing duo on Conan the Barbarian (2011)) penned a Doctor Strange script a couple years back.
Feige told Screen Rant‘s Amy Nicholson that “we’re not absolutely sure” about Doctor Strange joining the MCU during Phase Three yet; the same holds true for another heavily-rumored non-sequel comic book superhero installment, Black Panther:
Marvel just says everything is speculation at this point. Right now, those rumblings you hear are just evidence of the passion for this character — internally as much as from outside
That speculation includes rumors about Chadwick Boseman (42) being shortlisted to play T’Challa, Prince of the (fictional) African nation of Wakanda, in the Black Panther movie. Comic book fans (us included) have been chomping at the bit, in hopes that T’Challa will be introduced in Phase Three alongside the aforementioned superheroes; for the time being, though, it’s not guaranteed to happen (though, no doubt, a Black Panther movie should be made somewhere down the line).
NEXT PAGE: New Hulk solo movie, Inhumans movie and More!
However, Phase Three isn’t expected to just introduce new characters into the fold of the MCU, given that both Iron Man 4 (whether or not you feel it’s necessary) or another solo Hulk movie have been raised as possibilities. The latter, in particular, is a project that Feige’s spoken about recently; though, like Avengers director Joss Whedon, he denies it will take the form of a Planet Hulk movie.
Here is what Feige told EW (part of which we’ve reported in the past):
“What we’re excited about exploring and expanding is Mark [Ruffalo as Bruce Banner] — and Banner’s not in Planet Hulk at all,” Feige says. “The fun of the Hulk is his interaction with humans. Mark could stand in his own movie. … We’re talking about it. We’re excited to sit down and go, ‘What is a stand-alone Hulk movie?’”
Ruffalo’s battle-weary take on the Banner character is generally regarded to be one of the highlights in The Avengers, but the mixed critical and box office track record for past standalone Hulk movies makes another one a risk (and explains why Guillermo del Toro’s proposed Incredible Hulk TV show is currently stuck spinning its wheels). Nonetheless, a Ruffalo-headlined Hulk flick could – emphasis on could – be included in Phase Three.
On the subject of which Marvel superheroes will not be returning to the big screen anytime soon:
“So Punisher, Ghost Rider, … Blade, all those characters are back,” Feige told EW. “They all have potential, but I think we need to find the right time. We’re not going to say, we got it back — make it.”
Marvel has regained the screen rights to the above characters (in addition to Daredevil), but – as our Rob Keyes discussed on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast (and our Hannah Shaw-Williams explained in her breakdown of the situation) – the studio can only produce so many films a year.
So, those of you hoping that Marvel will do right by them, after the previous lackluster movie adaptations (or third film, in the case of Blade), well… don’t hold you breath for that to happen in Phase Three (or Phase Four, for that matter).
Lastly, there’s one comic book property that Feige has remained confident (nay, excited) about – where it concerns its Phase Three prospects – and that is Inhumans. That superhero series is something that’s been discussed for a while, going back to pre-Avengers speculation about how Marvel will continue to branch out into the cosmic realms of the MCU in both Phase Two and Three.
We now know that to be true, since both this fall’s Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy will open up the possibilities for niche sci-fi/fantasy properties; that includes, an onscreen appearance by the alien protagonists from Inhumans.
Here is what Feige told EW, about that potential Phase Three addition:
“Inhumans is cool, they’re really great characters,” he said in a recent interview, getting more animated about this title than almost any other he discussed. “The most powerful guy is the king who doesn’t say a word and if he does — lookout. That’s awesome. And the notion of the Terrigen Mists, this notion that you go through and don’t know what you’re going to be on the other side, is incredibly compelling dramatically.”
“In other words, all the craziness that comes with Inhumans, we’ve done in the other movies already,” Feige says. “But this would have some of the social drama that we haven’t really done yet. [Fox’s] X-Men, obviously, has been touching on that stuff for a while.”
Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, Thor: The Dark World arrives on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015, and Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015.
What movies do YOU want to see in Marvel’s Phase Three? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.