Phase Two of Marvel Studios' cinematic universe is off to a flying start - commercially-speaking - with Iron Man 3, which has already made $1.15 billion at the worldwide box office. This bodes well for the second Marvel movie of 2013, Thor: The Dark World, which will be out later this year, and for next year's sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Both movies, like Iron Man 3, are set in the aftermath of the events that took place in last year's summer blockbuster team-up, The Avengers, which made $1.5 billion and was the highest-grossing film of 2012 at both the domestic and worldwide box offices. Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor both had more modest successes, but given how popular the Marvel brand is right now, there's a good chance that their respective sequels will improve upon their predecessors' performance.
A batch of new images from Thor: The Dark World have been released by Marvel, providing a high resolution look at Christopher Eccleston in the role of new villain Malekith the Accursed, as well as the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim who serve under him. They also show Chris Hemsworth as Thor in battle alongside Jaime Alexander's Lady Sif, and there are also a couple of extra photos of Hemsworth between takes.
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The Dark Elves look like an amalgamation of several different Doctor Who villains - something along the lines of Cybermen in the middle of through transforming into the Heavenly Host, with a little of the Weeping Angels thrown in. Mostly, though, they look like something that you definitely wouldn't want to be invaded by, so we'd better hope that Thor, Jane and Loki can devise a plan to fight off Malekith and his brood.
These new images from Captain America: The Winter Soldier are a little less official, and were snapped candidly as the cast and crew shot exterior scenes in downtown Cleveland today.
They include an impressive action shot of a black SUV being blown up, some rather tragic photos of crew members holding up "No pictures, please!" signs, and Sebastian Stan in costume as the Winter Soldier himself, A.K.A. Bucky Barnes.
Winter Soldier's outfit looks pretty basic, as far as supervillain costumes go, and actually recalls the Green Goblin II's costume - as worn by James Franco - from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3. Keen observers will also note that Bucky's right hand is gloved, seemingly to hide his cybernetic arm. If you zoom in, his fingers even appear to be silver.
Of course, in the comics, Bucky had a cybernetic arm because he "died" in an explosion. In The First Avenger, he sort of just fell off a mountain. Perhaps he landed on his arm wrong?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier also stars Robert Redford as Agent Alexander Pierce, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Anthony Mackie as the flying, crime-fighting hero The Falcon (A.K.A. Sam T. Wilson). Unlike Thor: The Dark World, which looks like it will take place predominantly in Asgard, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is tied more closely to Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. and earthbound troubles.
Let us know which of these movies you're most excited for - and what your hopes are for Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe - in the comments.
Thor: The Dark World hits U.S. theaters on November 8th, 2013, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014.