As disappointing as it was that Marvel Studios didn't announce more of its untitled films with release dates at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, it made business sense. Leading up to and during the world's biggest pop culture gathering, Marvel had set a large number of release dates up to and including 2019, and during their presentation only announced one. The studio wanted all focus placed on Guardians of the Galaxy since it was coming out just a week later, so its confidently announced the film's sequel before it even hit theaters.
The panel was really about the immediate future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that meant 2015's The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. We did however, have a chance to chat with executive producer and Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige to see what we could learn about what's next. Of the upcoming movies yet to be titled, we know one of them - and perhaps the biggest of them - is The Avengers 3. Feige would only tell us at the time that it'll release at a similar three-year time interval, which meant The Avengers 3 is coming in 2018.
That's practically a given, and a 2018 date for the next big team-up is even more of a certainty since Marvel scheduled three movies for 2018. Rumors and speculation point towards The Avengers 3 taking Earth's Mightiest and letting them team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a major confrontation against Thanos (Josh Brolin) - the big bad villain who's only been teased so far in Guardians and the first Avengers (in the credits).
There's nothing official and practically everything outside of hopeful mentions of such a crossover and teases by directors James Gunn (GOTG) and Joss Whedon (Avengers 1 & 2) is pure (and all too easy) guesswork, but the latest rumors add an interesting spin to what Marvel might be planning for 2018 and beyond. Nothing will be as simple as it seems and there's little chance Marvel will follow an overly obvious and predictable path. Where's the fun in that?
Badass Digest claims from sources close to some of the actors that the latest (unjustified) rumors of The Avengers 3 being split into two films - an idea every fan has had at one point or another - may have a tad bit of truth to them. And they may make even more sense when combined with the other rumors that 2016's Captain America 3 may feature an Avengers-esque team we may first meet in Age of Ultron next summer. That's another Badass Digest rumor which claims Steve Rogers may recruit a few new faces from Marvel Comics at the end of The Avengers sequel.
It's becoming increasingly probable that there may be a few surprise introductions of key characters next summer in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and in the year following we'll be meeting Ant-Man and Doctor Strange, and perhaps a few other characters before we get to The Avengers 3. That doesn't mean all of these new heroes will be meeting up with the existing franchise stars and the space-faring Guardians, but...
What if The Avengers 3 primarily focuses on the newer characters only? What if Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America (the Chris Evans version, anyway) aren't the stars of it because their stories have taken them elsewhere? What if The Avengers 3 is setup for another movie, maybe even another movie later that same year which will bring everything together? That's what this latest rumor is hinting at and it sounds intriguing, especially since it opens up even bigger possibilities to what major events from Marvel Comics could be adapted.
In addition to the obvious story potential, cross-marketing and 'event' status of having The Avengers 3 become a launchpad to an even bigger Avengers-universe style film, another business savvy reason for throwing a spin on the core roster is to make the best use of the current talent contracts Marvel Studios has with its stars. It's been widely publicized for years how Marvel has had frequent issues with signing their talent and how many pictures each signed on for. At the time of this writing, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. are all contractually finished after The Avengers 3, so saving them for some sort of super-event and perhaps getting them to agree to small appearances somewhere before will help boost the marketability of the features based on newer characters.
It's possible though that some of them (if not, all of them) will re-sign for additional appearances. Robert Downey Jr. continues to hint that he could return for Iron Man 4 if he gets the right offer from Disney-Marvel, the right people involved and the right story for his character.
We're still years away from a third Avengers, and so much of these latest reports could be hearsay, fabricated or based on ideas and plans that can change and evolve. The creatives at Marvel Studios however, are working away on developing stories for Captain America 3 and Thor 3 which may serve as final chapters for the Captain America and Thor we know. There are two other characters who can takeover the shield from Steve Rogers (Evans) and Thor can simple stay up in Asgard (an easy way to write him out of other stories), and as of this month in Marvel Comics, a new female character has become Thor. So there's always that.
What major stories and events from Marvel Comics would you like to see Captain America 3, The Avengers 3 and other future films to take inspiration from? Let us know in the comments!
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.
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