From observing even the smallest portion of photos, trailers and marketing materials for The Avengers, it's clear that Marvel Studios' flagship film offers and out-of-this-world experience. And that's every bit intentional.
Moviegoers worldwide have not only familiarized themselves with the likes of Iron Man and Thor over the last few years, but the heroes are now welcomed with open arms. The Marvel cinematic universe has successfully established itself and going forward, their storytellers can explore the furthest depths of science fiction and supernatural elements the Marvel Comics has to offer.
While reflecting on his initial grand vision for the Marvel cinematic universe - to a point in time before Iron Man even released in theaters - Kevin Feige explained to Movieline that he was admittedly, naively confident that Marvel would not only make one or two blockbusters based on Marvel Comics that hadn't yet received the feature film treatment, but that they'd make them all and actually bring something as ambitious as The Avengers to life.
When asked if Marvel Studios has now made all the movies he originally wanted, Feige responded that they have, but added that there are certainly more he wants put on his resume.
"We have! I mean, there are certainly others like Guardians [of the Galaxy], like Inhumans, like Doctor Strange that we haven’t yet, but I am confident that we will. So there’s a lot of satisfaction now, on the eve of Avengers, that this thing that was deemed impossible has actually occurred."
It was back in the summer of 2010, after Iron Man 2 hit theaters (like The Avengers, it was the only Marvel Studios production to release that summer), when Feige first name-dropped Guardians of the Galaxy as a property they were interested in exploring. A year later, more insider "reports" claimed that Marvel was deadly serious about developing Guardians and the timing worked well with the Thor and Captain America movies debuting and both featuring elements of the greater cosmic universe (check out the contents of Odin's Vault).
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We discussed the idea of Marvel going cosmic post-Avengers in depth here on Screen Rant, but its potential was entirely dependent on the success of The Avengers due to it bringing extreme sci-fi elements to the forefront. As it turns out, people are loving The Avengers and its international box office openings have been breaking records, while at the same time earning positive critical acclaim. So, don't be surprised to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange or Inhumans show up when Marvel unveils their next slate of unannounced films.
Guardians of the Galaxy (the revamped version from the comics that Feige specifically referred to in the past) features a group of aliens banning together to protect the Earth from other aliens and includes key characters such as Adam Warlock and Quasar, two characters both previously rumored to appear in The Avengers.
Doctor Strange, another movie Marvel execs frequently express interest in (and is reportedly in early development), tells the story of Stephen Strange, a surgeon who stopped practicing after damaging his hands in an accident, but who becomes an incredibly powerful master magician/sorcerer. In the books, Strange joins the New Avengers and there are several differing variations of the character in the different Marvel universes, giving the film a lot of room to play with in terms of the character's origins.
Last and perhaps least likely is the Inhumans, superpowered people who live on the moon and differ from humans thanks to ancient experimentation by their creators, the Kree. The character of Black Bolt would play a crucial role in such a film, and its story - if realized on film - could have major implications (and offer huge plot twists) for other Marvel films - including the ones already released.
Before jumping out to the other, unexplored areas of the Marvel galaxy, for the next two-three years, most of the films will remain grounded with familiar characters. Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 are on track for releases next year with Iron Man 3 beginning shooting this month and Captain America 2 will release in 2014. With rumors not hinting at Mark Ruffalo getting a chance a solo Hulk movie in 2015, and The Avengers 2 likely coming out that year as well, we only have one, perhaps two unknown slots in the next three years and the likeliest of candidates at this point are a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie and Edgar Wright's Ant-Man.
What Marvel Studios projects would you like to see become a reality and are you open to Marvel running full steam (warp?) ahead into the cosmic universe?
If you've seen The Avengers, please refrain from talking spoilers - we have a spoilers discussion thread for that.
The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgard. It is of course written and directed by Joss Whedon, opening in North American theaters on May 4, 2012.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes if you’re a Marvel fan.