On October 28th 2014, at an event held it the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige took to the stage to reveal the complete list of Marvel movies for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Amongst the films announced were several headed by established fan favourites such as Captain America, as well as a number of new characters never before seen on screen, such as the Black Panther. With the news from other movie studios such as 20th Century Fox, who are creating more movies based on Marvel comic characters (including the long-awaited Deadpool movie) it has been a good year for comic book fans everywhere.
Comic and movie fans alike have been treated well in 2014 with the release of several Marvel comic movies; from the awesome Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, to X-men: Days of Future Past, and the enjoyable Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite the joy these releases have brought, there’s also no doubt that there’s some room for improvement in terms of diversity. One of the movies announced for 2018 release is Captain Marvel, which will be the first Marvel movie with a female lead – Carol Danvers. Despite awe-inspiring special effects and thrilling plots, Marvel movies haven’t been fantastic in terms of representations of main characters who aren’t white men. As Comic Alliance’s Andrew Wheeler described, “If Marvel makes Thor 3 before it makes Black Panther, it will have made ten movies headlined by blonde white men named Chris before it makes one movie headlined by someone who isn’t even white.”
Thankfully, with the announcement of Black Panther for 2017 with Chadwick Boseman in the title role, this won’t be an entirely true prediction. And whilst I may be bitter for the rest of my life about the lack of a Black Widow movie with Scarlett Johansson in the lead, at least we have Captain Marvel for 2018. It’s not a huge amount of representation for people who aren’t white, or male, but it’s better than nothing.
Along with the excitement about the announcements, a substantial amount of speculation has come regarding the future movies, particularly regarding copyright of several characters. With X-men owned by 20th Century Fox, and Avengers by Marvel Studios, there has been considerable angst over copyright issues, with Marvel Studios unable to use the word “mutant” as it is owned in its superhero context by Fox, despite the fact that Avengers 2 contains characters that most definitely would be described as mutants, such as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Whilst the 2014 release X-men: Days of Future Past had scenes with the entertaining character of Quicksilver – a smart-mouthed, silver-haired youth blessed with supersonic speed and a somewhat curious fashion sense – the 2015 release Avengers 2: Age of Ultron will also have Quicksilver in, only here played by an entirely different actor performing a completely unrelated storyline to the Quicksilver in X-men (and also, to my personal disappointment, visibly lacking his shiny silver jacket and cyberpunk goggles.) The character of Spiderman will not be appearing in any Marvel Studio releases because his character is owned by Sony, despite the fact that in comic canon he is considered an Avenger along with the familiar line up depicted in the 2012 Avengers production.
Speculation has also been heavy as to the direction the future movies will go in regarding plotline. With Captain America 3 confirmed as being subtitled Civil War, it’s fair to say some storylines will appear for definite. For people who don’t know what the Civil War storyline, it refers to a storyline in which the U.S. government passes a Superhero Registration Act designed to keep superheroes working in line with official orders from the government, which causes conflict between various characters with different opinions on the act – mainly Captain America versus Iron Man. With Chris Evans’ six movie contract with Marvel ominously coming to an end soon, it’s also up for debate as to whether Captain America will appear in Marvel movies post-Avengers 3, or even whether Chris Evans’ Captain America will be replaced by Sebastian Stan (present actor of Bucky Barnes, Cap’s best friend) and thus follow comic canon where Bucky Barnes becomes Captain America after Cap’s death. Sebastian Stan has certainly experienced a meteoric rise in popularity after his second appearance beside Chris Evans in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, so it’s fair to say that his taking up of the iconic red, white and blue shield wouldn’t be an unpopular decision with fans.
Regardless of what eventually happens, it’s undoubtable that comic book fans and movie lovers alike are in for an extraordinary time at the cinema over the next few years.
[Morgaine Das Varma]