After adding a series of additional release dates for unannounced films in the coming five years just before and during San Diego Comic-Con last month, many including us believed we'd finally see Marvel Studios lay out their plans for the next chapter (dubbed "Phase 3") of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That didn't happen and so we still sit looking at clues and speculating on what comes next and what new characters could enter the fold after The Avengers: Age of Ultron and before The Avengers 3.
You can go through the growing list of fan-requested properties and characters but top among them are heroes that would add some much clamored for diversity to The Avengers roster, namely Black Panther and Ms. Marvel. Black Panther has been a subject of many headlines for long time, even before Mark Bailey was tapped to write a Black Panther script four years ago, and the original Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel in the comics) has been rumored for a cameo appearance in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
There are no official announcements however, regarding appearances or casting for either, let alone news for their own potential movies. IGN asked Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige, the face of Marvel Studios, about the Black Panther and Captain Marvel at Comic-Con and after jokingly teasing an announcement regarding the pair, Feige continued, addressing the demand for them.
"They're both characters that we like, that development work has been done on and continues to be done on and certainly the public... it's a question I get asked more than anything else. More than Iron Man 4. More than The Avengers 3. And that's sort of the fist time that's really happened to us so I think that makes a difference. I think that's something we have to pay attention to."
Don't take that to mean fans are helping sway Feige and the other decision-makers at Marvel though. They've stuck to their own plan all along and will continue to.
"I've always said we have our plan and it served us very well and there hasn't been anything that has made us deviate or change from that based on opinion because opinions online change and they alter, and they're based on sort of limited information they have towards what's going on behind-the-scenes. But in this particular case I think it is a groundswell. I think it does. I think it means something substantial."
There's no doubt Disney-owned Marvel sees the feedback and criticisms for a lack of female lead characters. Even after 10 Marvel Studios releases, we've yet to see a non-white male actor as the lead. Of course, to be fair, that's how it was in the early comics that the films are based on and it will absolutely change in the coming movies. Black Panther for instance has already been teased in the MCU, with the character's homeland of Wakanda popping up as an Easter Egg in Iron Man 2, and the fictional metal alloy known as Vibranium being used in the construction of Captain America's shield. Even the Quinjets introduced in The Avengers are - in the comics, anyway - were designed by Black Panther. There were scenes of The Avengers 2 shot in South Africa which raised some suspicion as to whether director Joss Whedon could introduce Wakanda in the sequel.
With rumors of Captain Marvel being in early drafts of the script for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, could we see the film introduce both her and Black Panther? Is that why we've yet to hear what movies are coming from Marvel in 2016-18 as to not spoil the surprise? Months ago Feige said Marvel had mapped out films all the way to 2028 and it's very likely these key characters are a part of the plan - it's just a matter of timing. Given that Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment could be launching a Wonder Woman solo film after Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and recent news of Sony planning a female Spider-Man film, the race is on!
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28 2017, November 3 2017, May 4 2018, July 6 2018, November 2 2018 and May 3 2019.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!
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