A couple of weeks ago, Warner Bros. sent shockwaves through the Internet by revealing their long in-development DC Shared Movie Universe, and today, it was Marvel Studios' turn to take the spotlight. Kevin Feige officially announced the much-rumored Phase 3 projects that will hit theaters between 2016 and 2019, which include Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel.
Of course, the next wave of Marvel movies will also see the return of the God of Thunder. One of the films confirmed was Thor: Ragnarok, which will see Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as the titular Avenger. But we learned that he won't be the only franchise veteran returning during Marvel's major event. After announcing the film's title, Feige stated that Tom Hiddleston will once again portray fan-favorite villain Loki.
The news shouldn't come as a big surprise to seasoned followers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since his debut in 2011's Thor, the God of Mischief has emerged as one of the most popular characters in the series; serving as the primary antagonist in The Avengers and forming an unlikely alliance with his brother during last year's Thor: The Dark World. Hiddleston obviously enjoys playing the character (as evidenced by his appearance in-costume at Comic-Con 2013) and Marvel enjoys putting him in the spotlight.
For a while, we've been hearing rumblings that the Ragnarok will be showcased in the third Thor vehicle, but other details have been few and far between up to this point. Because of this, it's difficult to say exactly how Loki will fit in to the story. Hemsworth has mentioned in the past that he wants Thor to do battle with the Fire Demons this time around, and Loki did have a partnership with those beings in the comics. His freeing of Surtur (among other enemies of Asgard) is what brings about the event on which Thor 3 will be based, so it stands reason to believe the movie will follow a similar storyline.
One thing we do know is that Ragnarok is being positioned by Marvel as the Winter Soldier of Thor movies; in that the threequel's narrative will have major implications on the MCU and look to take the Thor character to the "next level." Having a subtitle that translates to "the end of all things" would seemingly be enough to get that point across, but Feige isn't stopping there. During the Avengers: Infinity War teaser that was shown at the event, it was also confirmed that Loki's scepter is one of the Infinity Gems Thanos (Josh Brolin) will have in his Gauntlet.
Shortly after Guardians of the Galaxy hit theaters, we theorized that Loki's weapon could very well be the mind stone, and while we can't say for sure if it is or not, we now know that it is one of the six sources of power the Mad Titan will posses when he wrecks havoc on Earth's Mightiest. This means that four out of the six gems have been showcased in the MCU so far (Tesseract, scepter, aether, and the orb from Guardians), so we'll only have a couple left to uncover as we make our way through Phase 3.
As is the case with these productions, we have no idea when the final stones will make their first appearance in the films, but from what we know so far, the Soul and Time stones are still out there. In the comics, Doctor Strange was at one point deemed protector of the Soul gem, so that could very well be a major plot point for Scott Derrickson's entry into the MCU. Feige mentioned that Doctor Strange will be used to open new corners of the films' world, and having the power to steal someone's soul would certainly be a way of doing that.
Nevertheless, the doors are about to be blown off the MCU in a major way. With an Asgardian apocalypse seemingly imminent and Thanos inching closer and closer to achieving his goals, Iron Man and Captain America's impending Civil War may seem small in comparison.
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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Source: Marvel Studios