In our proud tradition of speculating on the future of comic book movies, we'd like to present this latest string of rumors about Marvel's "Phase Two" movie initiative - a second chapter of films that will culminate with The Avengers 2 in 2015.
There is mounting evidence (see below) pointing to The Avengers 2 taking place at least partly in space, as the team battles a threat to the universe (as opposed to just their planet). The question for fans is: does that sound good to you?
If you're the opinionated type, feel free to vote in our poll and jump down to the comment section to share your thoughts.
Read on if you want a breakdown of the situation as we currently see it, and why "Avengers 2 In Space" may (or may not) be a good thing.
We already know that Marvel is launching a sci-fi space film (Guardians of the Galaxy) as part of their Phase Two initiative; we also have it through side-channels that Thanos (the villain glimpsed in the mid-credits sequence of The Avengers) will be featured in both GotG and Avengers 2. There has been mounting evidence of Thor 2 exploring different realms, while possibly containing a plot point about objects in Odin's vault that would pose a cosmic-level threat. We're even hearing that Tony Stark could be headed into the stars by the end of Iron Man 3.
All of this evidence points to Avengers 2 piggy-backing off of Guardians of the Galaxy and continuing the interstellar story that director James Gunn's film will introduce. While to many fans this may seem like a natural evolution of what was started by the Chitauri invasion seen in The Avengers, there are just as many fans who say that going cosmic (and even more sci-fi) in Avengers 2 is too much, too soon, and that there are perfectly good villains planetside that could challenge Earth's (keyword) Mightiest Heroes.
The Earth Option
Sure, Loki pissed off Thanos by failing to deliver the Tesseract (Cosmic Cube) and Earth proved it was ready for battle on a much bigger (read: cosmic) stage. But that doesn't mean that battle has to take place in Phase Two.
Marvel Studios Production President Kevin Feige has already hinted at what's to come in "Phase Three" - including those now-confirmed Doctor Strange and Ant-Man movies. He suggested that elements of the "Phase Two" storyline don't need to be rushed, and could even carry over into Phase Three - which means that while Thanos could be a presence in films like GotG and Avengers 2, he doesn't have to be the main antagonist. There is arguably room for a smaller story before the grand cosmic showdown.
We know Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have something to do with the resurgence of Cap's presumed-dead parter Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan); it will involve Cap going on missions alongside S.H.I.E.L.D., and will feature heroes like Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Agent Sharon Carter and villains like Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) and Crossbones (Frank Grillo).
It's long been presumed that Winter Soldier's storyline could also introduce any number of elements that could present a terrestrial threat the Avengers sequel could utilize - one of the most popular being the introduction of Cap nemesis Baron Zemo in Winter Soldier, and the formation of his team, The Masters of Evil, in Avengers 2. A game of divide and conquer culminating in a battle between two super teams? Not too shabby! It could make for a smart and exciting plotline, with the right amount of darkness, humor, and good old-fashioned hero villain fights.
Lest we forget, Iron Man 3 will also introduce organizations like tech-terrorists A.I.M., and a Machiavellian villain in the form of Ben Kingsley's Mandarin. (We would add Ultron to that list, but with the Ant-Man movie not coming 'til Phase Three, our favorite evil robot seems to be without means for a proper origin story.)
That's all to say: there are plenty of worldly threats to draw from that would be a natural progression of The Avengers revealing themselves to the world. Space is doesn't necessarily have to be part of the equation.