Following reports that the Marvel Phase 2 films will be standalone stories that do not directly interweave with The Avengers 2 storyline, fans began to question whether or not they'd get to see any of the core characters sharing screen time prior to the next team-up in 2015.
Early, and now debunked, rumors had suggested that Phase 2 would be kicked-off with Iron Man in space, teasing Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, while others suggested that Captain America could even make a brief appearance in Thor: The Dark World. However, as the pre-Avengers 2 projects have begun to take shape, we're receiving a clearer picture of how Marvel intends to position each one in the larger shared universe - with a new report suggesting that while Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have the biggest role in setting up The Avengers 2, Guardians of the Galaxy will be entirely standalone without a single previously-established Avenger included.
Neither of these reports suggest entirely new information for anyone who has been following every Phase 2 story that we've posted on the site. That said, they do add further credibility to earlier rumors as well as present a few new details for fans to chew on - including who the Guardians of the Galaxy might face in the film as well as asserting that Black Widow's backstory is a major focus in Captain America 2.
The updates come courtesy of JoBlo who offered the following with regard to Guardians of the Galaxy:
- Ronan The Accuser will be the film’s lead villain.
- Thanos plays a large role in the overall scheme of things.
- The Guardians will operate out of their base of operations, called Knowhere, a space station with the ability to teleport throughout the universe.
- No members of The Avengers featured in the film, but that it does take place in the same time/universe as the current phase of films.
If the report is to be believed, it certainly adds further credence to Joss Whedon's claims that the Guardians would not appear in Avengers 2 either. News that Guardians of the Galaxy won't feature any Avengers characters may be disappointing to certain fans but, considering the amount of heroes and villains that Marvel will have to introduce in the film, it's understandable that an appearance by Tony Stark could distract from properly establishing the cosmic superhero team. Iron Man 3 certainly proved that the studio was not afraid to tell an entirely separate storyline - so there's no reason to think they'd balk at the same idea for Guardians of the Galaxy.
The source also suggests that Ronan the Accuser will serve as the primary antagonist - a character that could be played by Lee Pace (instead of the rumored Controller). Some fans might assume that recently signed Benicio Del Toro will play Ronan the Accuser but unless Marvel intends to keep their villain alive for future installments, Pace is the more likely bet - since Del Toro will appear in the film as part of a multi-picture deal. As a result, we're still expecting Del Toro to have a larger role in the overarching shared universe storyline - as The Collector or even Thanos.
Still, the most interesting piece from the post suggests that the film will take place in the same time and universe as the other Phase 2 films - complicating rumors that Guardians of the Galaxy will actually occur in an alternate future. Maybe the source meant that certain portions of the film will take place in the Phase 2 time and universe - with room for the film to explore alien worlds and a future-setting after Chris Pratt's Star Lord is brought into the fold? That or the futuristic elements that were previously rumored aren't Earth-borne and simply represent present day tech on an advanced extraterrestrial planet - a planet that the team could easily visit (given Knowhere's teleportation capabilities).
Unfortunately, JoBlo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier details aren't quite as revealing but still offers some interesting details:
- Pretty much a sequel to The Avengers and plays the biggest role in leading into The Avengers 2.
- Will go more in-depth on Black Widow’s backstory and gadgetry.
As stated, without official confirmation, it's worth taking these reports with a grain of salt for now. Still, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that we'll be seeing some Black Widow backstory - especially since Captain America 2 has regularly been called a S.H.I.E.L.D. film. Digging into her backstory a bit should also be a welcome element of the storyline and, considering the character has been a fan-favorite supporting player in three Marvel Universe films, it'll be fun to see how the filmmakers intend to use her "gadgetry" to up-the-ante - especially after the "Widow's Bite" tease in The Avengers.
Yet, the biggest question is certainly how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will both continue The Avengers story and serve as the most significant lead-in to The Avengers 2. For months, insiders were asserting that Guardians of the Galaxy would be the major lead-in to a cosmic Avengers 2 battle, so hearing that the, comparatively, more straightforward "political thriller" depicted in Captain America 2 will actually set-up the next mega team-up is slightly surprising - and certainly lend more credit to our recent speculation that Avengers 2 could be an Earth-based storyline (with, say, a rival team as villains), rather than the cosmic storyline many fans initially expected.
That said, coupled with the news that Guardians of the Galaxy will be entirely standalone, screenwriter Christopher Markus' comments that Captain America 2 will determine "where loyalties lie" going into The Avengers 2 makes more sense - given that it'll be the last standalone Phase 2 film with connections to Joss Whedon's next installment. Also, since a certain actor suggested there could be conflicting goals within S.H.I.E.L.D., it's certainly possible that even if the heroes win in Captain America 2, any resulting fallout would once again set the stage for bigger problems down the line - i.e. acquiring The Tesseract/Cosmic Cube in Captain America: The First Avenger paved the way for Loki to use it for nefarious purposes in The Avengers.
Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, with Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and unannounced films scheduled for May 6, 2016 and May 5, 2017.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Marvel Phase 2 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.