More female characters! That's something superhero films genuinely need more of. While Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow stole a few scenes in The Avengers, she did so as the team's only non-white-male combatant. Her screen time even helped push out the only other female teammate Wasp, a founding member of the team in Marvel Comics, who was in earlier drafts of The Avengers screenplay.
For next year's sequel, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Elizabeth Olsen suits up as Scarlet Witch and will join the team as one of its new members, alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson who will play her brother Quicksilver. We found out today that Vision will enlist in Earth's Mightiest in the fight against Ultron as well, to be played by Paul Bettany. Still, with the growing Avengers roster and new characters being introduced before and after with Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, respectively, there's a significant gender imbalance, and a female character has yet to headline a Marvel Studios feature film.
Captain America: The First Avenger fan-fave Hayley Atwell, one half of Marvel Studios' best love story to date, got a chance to shine in the Marvel One-Shot Agent Carter and the positive response helped Marvel greenlight a TV series based on it on ABC. Also on TV, Jessica Jones will be one of four characters getting their own series on Netflix, so it's clear the studio is taking strides to bring more powerful female characters to life. In theaters however, this has yet to translate.
Thor and Thor: The Dark World star Natalie Portman hinted months ago that Marvel is planning a female superhero movie and the most talked about candidate for who could lead their own feature one day is Ms. Marvel. With Vision joining The Avengers sequel, there's another long-running rumor we're revisiting that Ms. Marvel could also be introduced. She's been namedropped by Marvel co-president Louis D'Esposito as a character of interest for a Marvel One-Shot and Hollywood talent ranging from Yvonne Strahovski and Katee Sackhoff to Emily Blunt and Ruth Wilson have all at one point talked about or been rumored for the role. There's even been rumors of Black Panther showing up in The Avengers sequel in some small way - all of these things potentially laying the foundation for larger roles for them in the future.
Add to this the report that Marvel Studios may be planning a quick release for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel with it taking the tentative May 6, 2016 slot claimed by Disney last summer and that leaves either a third Captain America/Thor movie for May 2017, and two unannounced titles we're told will likely be new franchises coming later in each of those two years. Doctor Strange is the unofficially confirmed title potentially taking one of the two and the other has remained quite a mystery. For a while it seemed The Inhumans might be the obvious choice, but as we learn more and more about properties and characters the studio is interested in, Hulk, Black Panther and Ms. Marvel are all candidates too, albeit less likely ones.
If Ms. Marvel gets her introduction in The Avengers 2 next year - and we don't know how her origin story will fit with so much focus being placed on Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and new villain Ultron (James Spader) - it could be a late addition by writer and director Joss Whedon to quickly setup her own solo film. At the same time, Marvel could also be attempting to beat competitor Warner Bros and DC Entertainment to the punch in getting a female-led feature greenlit (i.e. Ms. Marvel before Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman). Coincidentally, Warner Bros. turned down Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman script years ago - a good motivator to launch Ms. Marvel first.
What could also lend credence to the idea of Ms. Marvel getting a big screen debut is in how the character is getting a big push in the comics. Marvel uses all of their entertainment mediums to help promote the films - just look at how Guardians of the Galaxy exploded in the comics front and how it's getting an animated series (reportedly airing next fall). Carol Danvers has traditionally taken up the Ms. Marvel alias in the comics but new character Kamala Khan, Marvel's first Muslim character to headline a book, has taken up the mantel for the third volume of the Ms. Marvel series which debuted to critical acclaim this week. Danvers meanwhile, lives on as Captain Marvel.
If Marvel Studios wants to boost the diversity of The Avengers, bringing in not only a super-powered female, but a Muslim character (i.e. Khan instead of Danvers) would be a very smart way to go. Could even have them both in a Ms. Marvel film. And yes, we all want Black Panther to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon too! Did I mention that Khan is an Inhuman? Let the obvious speculative connections to an Inhumans movie and the source of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's powers begin!
For comparison sake, Carol Danvers is a little overpowered for the film universe. She can fly, move super fast, has super strength and can absorb and fire energy blasts. Kamala Khan on the other hand, is a little more grounded and can almost be compared to Mr. Fantastic in that she can stretch her limbs and change her shape.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!
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