While promoting the release of Riddick, star Vin Diesel couldn't avoid talking about another major film franchise he's about to enlist in. For two months, Diesel's been teasing and then unofficially confirming that he's joining Marvel's (currently shooting) Guardians of the Galaxy but that wasn't the original plan, nor is it the only one going forward.
Diesel went on record over a week ago, confirming that he's going to not only voice, but also will perform the motion capture for the one remaining uncast member of the Guardians roster, the alien tree named Groot. He also explained that Marvel's original intention was to cast him in a different role down the road.
"What we were initially talking about was a fresh IP and that was the focus of our conversation, which was a fresh IP that would come out in 2016 or 2017, and potentially launch the third phase. And when we went to Comic-Con we realized that people wanted something a little more immediate…"
In an in-depth interview this week (watch it here), the star told the entire story about how the Groot offer came about and what it took for Marvel to convince him to take it. Diesel also explained that he and Marvel are still going to focus on that 2016-17 movie, a film that he teases will lead to a "merging of brands." Yes, Diesel may end up playing two different characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"I had heard over the last year people on the social media page saying ‘what’s up Vin? Why aren’t you going to Marvel? Why aren’t you doing anything with Marvel? It would be a crime of cinematic history for you not to be.’ So I’m thinking this Marvel thing is becoming really, really important to these people. Okay, what can I do? What should I think?
I get the call, I go down to meet with Marvel – a great meeting. I mean it was just… it was even talking about something so big I can’t even talk about because it’s like a merging of brands in a way which I won’t get into, but that was way, way, way, way down the road."
Any analysis of Diesel's words comes down to what he means by "brands." We can say for sure that two franchises, whether from the same studio or not, are coming together and a big stepping stone towards that path potentially begins in 2016 - after Ant-Man and The Avengers: Age of Ultron - with a new IP. That last part is key.
Before jumping to speculation that he's teasing a potential agreement between Disney's Marvel Studios and either Twentieth Century Fox (Fantastic Four, X-Men) or Sony Pictures (The Amazing Spider-Man) for some mindblowing crossover, that's almost certainly not a possibility. Any hopes of a Fox-Marvel team-up were dashed recently with both Joss Whedon and Bryan Singer writing their own versions of the Quicksilver character into their respective next projects, The Avengers 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
That leaves us with two possibilities of a "new IP" that will "merge brands," one far more realistic than the other:
- The Unrealistic - Marvel Studios has a deal with Universal Pictures (who produced and distributed The Incredible Hulk) to co-produce (or co-distribute with Disney) an adaptation of Namor - a character that was recently revealed to still be owned by Universal. That news came from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige a week ago where he also said, "next spring is when we really sit down and start to decide what we announce for 2016 and 2017."
- The Realistic - One of two unannounced Marvel films with 2016 release dates (or the third unannounced film with a May 2017 date) is a story that can serve as a bridge between the Earthly portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (i.e. The Avengers) and the cosmic side (Guardians of the Galaxy) and that "new IP" (Vin Diesel's words) would be none other than The Inhumans, a project Feige said he's "confident" in.
Fans can move on past speculation that Marvel may be greenlighting a feature based on recently re-acquired licenses of Blade, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, etc. or adapting a Heroes for Hire or a more adult property like Moonknight as a Vin Diesel vehicle. Those characters are simply not part of the plan in the immediate future, nor are they pertaining to a new IP that wold "merge" brands. They aren't big enough, or as Kevin Feige would say, not "different" enough.
As for Thanos, the character will appear in Guardians of the Galaxy and Diesel would have referenced such a possibility of voicing/playing two characters in the project - unless Marvel is saving the full reveal of the character until later. Diesel is unlikely in talks for a role in Doctor Strange either since that does meet his description of "merging" anything outside of bringing in magic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With Marvel Studios planning two films for 2016 and another two in 2017 (only has a release date so far), leading to what we can expect to be The Avengers 3 in May 2018, it's a safe bet that two of the four will be three-quels to Captain America and Thor with the remaining two slots left open for one or two new IPs. At this point, based on namedrops alone from Marvel execs, Doctor Strange and The Inhumans are the most likely candidates, the latter of which can even serve as a quasi-sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy due to its cosmic origins.
The Inhumans are a group of superpowered individuals, born from genetic manipulation on early humans by one of Marvel's biggest alien races. They're led by Blackbolt (images above), a character we think is a possibility for Vin Diesel, and they have ties to characters who will be introduced in Guardians. It's a new IP, one that can be "different" for Marvel and one that can launch a new franchise for Marvel and help bring the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers together by the end of Phase Three where all of Marvel's heroes can come together to battle Thanos.
As an added bonus, the origins of The Inhumans and their special abilities could be used by Joss Whedon to explain how and why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have powers in The Avengers: Age of Ultron since they reportedly are unable to reference "mutants" due to Fox owning all things mutant and X-Men related when it comes to film.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Diesel as Blackbolt, Thanos or someone else?
Guardians of the Galaxy is directed by James Gunn off of his script co-written by Nicole Perlman. Cooper joins a cast led by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly and Glenn Close.
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: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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