Marvel’s Marketing is Out of Control

Marvel’s Marketing is Out of Control
Posted by on Apr 24, 2015

So if you haven’t heard, Avengers: Age of Ultron is coming out May 1st. If this is news to you I would first like to welcome you to the internet. To put this simply, at the time of this writing there are 11 clips, 11 TV spots, 3 full length trailers, and frankly I’m not entirely sure if I got them all. The amount of footage currently out is staggering. I’m not even counting the associated branded materials. Basically, there is a lot of information out there. Now, I have never had to market a film so I understand that my knowledge of the industry comes secondhand. However, I have been working in marketing for 3 years and I hope to one day work within the film industry. So if you’re from a film studio and reading this just, send me an email. All this to say I have some insight based on my feelings as one of the consumers of this marketing barrage.

As a Marvel fanatic, this amount of marketing material is both exciting and terrifying. I am divided between wanting to know as much as I can and keeping some of the mystery. Here is where I’ll begin. There is such a thing as over marketing. I’m sure you’ve had it happen. Sitting there watching TV and you see the same commercial at least twice while your watching one show. It gets pretty irritating. Imagine that but with each commercial it spoils the current show just a little more. How frustrating would that be?

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So frustrating

When the first Avengers came out, it had about 3 trailers and a couple of TV spots. Each one shared similar footage and still kept the mystery with any new footage they added. That movie, which had much less marketing involved, made just over $1.5 billion dollars. So far, Age of Ultron is set to beat that and it’s not because Marvel has been marketing out the wazoo. It’s going to be successful because for 3 years, Marvel has been building up to this movie. That is their biggest marketing ploy. It’s the whole benefit of having a cinematic universe, your movies become your marketing. The best representation is to look at the first trailer for each. At the time of this writing, the first Avengers trailer has just over 23 million views after 3 years. In comparison, the first Age of Ultron trailer has just over 72 million views in just about 7 months. Are you starting to understand the level of hype attached to this movie?

This is the point I’m getting at. Since each movie builds towards one big pay off, you don’t need to assault your potential audience. Just carry on as usual. In fact, in many ways it would be better to leave them clamoring for more. Giving them just the tiniest details that would encourage them to find out more. This barrage of marketing materials, which we have only covered the video for, is unnecessary for such a well-known property. This supported by the fact that the two major follow up trailers for Age of Ultron didn’t even crack half of the views the first one did. Now for a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy it was understandable. That group had to be introduced. The Avengers don’t. What would be better is to rely more heavily on niche marketing.

These are essentially their fans

These are essentially their fans

Since Marvel has such an outspoken fan base, or niche, I’m surprised they don’t leverage that more. You see, Marvel keeps a very tight lid on their goings on. The only thing’s that are ever really given that aren’t leaks are vague mentions of goings on. Instead, Marvel needs to embrace the leaks. For now lets call it espionage marketing. Strategically leaking information that will stoke the fire of their niche market. When ever there is a leak, geeks and geek sites everywhere dissect the information till there is nothing left. Figuratively building mountains out of mole hills to come to wild speculative junctures. What I would do is take some concept art or set photos and leak them along the way fairly early on. Making it look as if there is some kind of ‘mole’ within Marvel. You could even go as far as posting under a fake username on Reddit or other social sites with strong fandoms.

The best part, the materials you leak could be absolutely fake. When Age of Ultron was first announced, the majority of geeks assumed Ant-man, as the original creator of Ultron, would appear in the movie. Debates raged on since Ant-man was set to release after Age of Ultron. So what would it take to add fuel to this fire? Two thoughts come to mind, have some fake concept art drawn up of Ant-man meeting with the other Avengers or having Paul Rudd show up on set. With the concept art, take a photo with someones phone as if they were trying to hide the fact that they were taking the photo. Post it on Reddit or have them anonymously send it to some geek site. Then just sit back and watch. Redditors and readers will undoubtedly pick up on it to begin building their mountains. I would bet that this gives you at least a month of free buzz as people start to argue back and forth. Plus, it gives material to build upon or reference down the road.

Imagine a photo like this but with Paul Rudd

Imagine a photo like this but with Paul Rudd

With the set visit, you would follow a very similar process. The difference is hoping that someone scouting out the shooting location would spot Paul Rudd and spread the information themselves. Otherwise, take the photos yourself and spread them. For the cost of a plane ticket you could get a substantial amount of buzz. Hell, if you want to step out of the cloak and dagger of it all just tell Paul Rudd he’s going to visit the set. Then let him take some photos hanging out with the cast and have him post them. Much like Mark Ruffalo did a year ago. Those tweets Mark sent out were then picked up by geeks and news sites and then talked about. A very cheap way to create buzz.

I know that Marvel has all the money they want to throw at marketing. Just because they do, doesn’t mean they should. In case you didn’t read this and just skipped to the bottom. Let me summarize it for you. Sometimes you need Hulk marketing where you just throw everything you have and hope it sticks. Other times it’s better to take a Black Widow approach, precise, coordinated, and calculated for maximum impact. Especially when your franchise is already an unstoppable Hulk.

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My Marvel Super-Cut

My Marvel Super-Cut
Posted by on Mar 20, 2015

Back around Christmas, Marvel fans were given the greatest gift of all. One fan compiled the necessary information to create a Marvel Super-Cut. This all came about when people realized that the phase one films (Iron Man through The Avengers) were all happening around each other and at the same time. Enter the folks over at The Comic Archive who posted two videos to showcase the actual time stamps in each film and how they fit together.

Of course, being the Marvel fan that I am I set out to make one. Luckily I had started my own phase 1 cut at about the same time this came out so I really just had to double check my own cuts. This last weekend, I finished the phase 2 super-cut (Iron Man 3 through Guardians of the Galaxy). After finishing both I realized something, Marvel has created a cohesive universe beyond just sharing characters.

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When I was splicing these films together, my main worry was that the scene transitions wouldn’t work out. They were all made by different directors after all and could easily have their own distinct visual style. However, the only one that had any odd or difficult scene transitions was Iron Man 3. Even then, it was just a few slide transitions.

Basically, if you watch any Marvel movie it will have the same distinct style. Scene transitions, camera angles, shots, the whole shebang. Consciously, it doesn’t really mean much. However, on a subconscious level it makes a much bigger difference.

Let me put it this way. If you showed someone all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, who didn’t know who he was, what do think they would say? They would probably pick out all of the classic tropes in a Tarantino film. Long tracking shots, almost theater-like monologues, explosive violence, and Samuel L. Jackson. When you watch a Tarantino film, you recognize that it is a Tarantino film.

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Tarantino would fall under the category of Auteur directors. Directors who have such a distinct style that they are seen as the chief author of a film. That the film itself is a direct representation of their creative vision. Other directors that would be included in this category are Akira Kurasawa, Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, and many more.

What Marvel has done has made themselves the Auteur director. By making sure each film is in line with their vision, they can differentiate themselves more distinctly from other super hero films. Plus, since they have a recognizable style I postulate that the audience can more easily be sucked into the film. The audience isn’t having to adjust to a new style.

This really just goes to show just how far Marvel is willing to go to keep and control their brand. It also may shed some light onto why Edgar Wright left Ant-man, a film he had been working on for at least a decade. As the article states, many directors have expressed criticisms on the way that Marvel deals with scripts. However, if they are keeping such a tight hold on the look of their films, it makes sense they would also hold onto the scripts just as fiercely.

As a fan of both of these groups, I was extremely bummed out to find out that Edgar Wright had dropped out. Particularly because his particular style would I believe be aptly suited for an Ant-man movie. Now that I have done these super-cuts however, I think I would side with Marvel. Edgar Wright’s style is very distinct. Utilizing lots of jump shots and other techniques to make full comedic use of the camera. Not just in a script but how he shoots the film.

Edgar Wright – How to Do Visual Comedy from Tony Zhou on Vimeo

That video above does a great job explaining it. Basically, Wright’s style allows him to inject visual comedy in any genre of film regardless of the script. Using these techniques, he could have brought the perfect platform for a comedian like Paul Rudd in a more serious setting like Marvel. However, his style would clash with the rest of Marvel. Now if from the beginning Marvel just gave directors a script and allowed them to express their style, I would side with Wright. Since Marvel hasn’t done this, it makes more sense to go with a director who can help shape the story while adopting Marvel’s style.

There is no right or wrong in this. There is just a difference of opinions. While a part of me still wants to see Edgar Wright’s Ant-man, after these super-cuts I would rather have a film that fits in the large universe. Only time will tell and July 17th is fast approaching.

Final Age Of Ultron Trailer

Final Age Of Ultron Trailer
Posted by on Mar 5, 2015

Alright, in case you missed it yesterday Marvel dropped their final trailer for Age Of Ultron. It was kind of big deal. Now to be honest, the majority of the new footage was, while different, a lot more of the same. We saw Hulk and Iron Man going at it. Everybody looking very disconcerted about things. Generally, more of the same. However, there were a few things that were new and kind of a big deal.

The highlight of this trailer was definitely Ultron’s speech throughout. The more we see and hear James Spader as Ultron the more awesome it gets. It seems pretty obvious that his performance is going to be the highlight of Age Of Ultron. What was also confirmed is that it is indeed Tony Stark who creates Ultron. Until now, it had been only rumored that this would be the case. There was a leak a few months back that revealed this little tidbit. Now it has been confirmed.

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The second highlight is at the very end. We finally get our first look at Vision. In the comics, he was created by Ultron to show that by creating life, he now surpassed humanity. That same leak from earlier also shed some light on Vision. It seems, he will be a creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Frankly this doesn’t change a whole lot. However, I do hope there is still a connection between Ultron and his original comic creator Hank Pym.

Literally, just a passing mention would be enough. Something along the lines of him being a consultant. Like how Dr. Strange was mentioned in Captain America: Winter Soldier. This also wouldn’t be just to make the fans happy. It would help to give Ant-Man, coming out in July, a little more relevancy.

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What I also found interesting in the new trailer is a scene where Tony Stark picks up Loki’s staff which contains the Mind Infinity Stone. Now, it has been said numerous times that Age of Ultron will lay the ground work for Civil War. A quick refresh, the basic conflict of Civil War in the comics is a push to get the superhuman community in check by registering everyone. The movie version will most likely be a little different. Now, this is pure speculation based off just a few seconds of film. What if when playing around with Loki’s Staff, Tony sees Thanos. He sees it and recognizes the threat which ultimately pushes him towards trying to unify the worlds heroes.

Again, pure speculation but maybe because of this intense fear of what’s coming he pushes to hard. Captain America will not like this and he will, well, push back. It would make the whole situation much more complex. Not only that but it also supports another theory that popped in the wake of this trailer. The yellow spot on Vision’s forehead is another Infinity stone, the soul stone. This isn’t how it is in the comics and is again a theory based on just a few seconds of footage. However, if Tony gets some insight from the Mind stone, he could get a glimpse at the Soul stone. He then uses the stone to create Vision as an AI with more of a conscience. The yellow spot could also just be his solar charging spot like in the comics. It being a Infinity stone is unlikely but makes for a pretty interesting theory nonetheless.

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Now let’s take a second and gossip about Bruce and Natasha. Their budding romance has been rumored/hinted at throughout the build up of the film. The actual nature of it was largely up in the air. It does seem pretty clear at this point. Something is going on and it makes me feel the feels. It also feels very natural when you think about it. Going back to The Avengers, these two do share more than a few very intense moments. I could see how this could work. What we are seeing could also be just a mind trick by Scarlet Witch. Which brings me to my next point.

We finally see the twins actually doing things. Quicksilver punches Captain America right in the face and I’m sure we can expect many, many more punches to the face. We also saw Scarlet Witch using her mind tricks on Natasha. The budding romance we see between Bruce and Natasha could be a result of this. After all, Ultron says that they can tear them apart from the inside out. Messing not only with their minds but feelings as well is a pretty powerful combination.

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Now the last thing that I want to talk about is death. Since the first few details have emerged, Joss Whedon has teased death. Age of Ultron is continually paraded as a dark film. The Avengers brought us to an unprecedented high, Age of Ultron will take us to an unprecedented low. My guess for who is going to die, is Captain America. Now I know what you’re thinking, what about Civil War? Well, you see in the comics Tony Stark and Reed Richards cloned Thor at one point. This was a huge turning point which showcased their hubris. What if the film sees the death of Captain America and in Civil War we see Tony Stark clone Cap for his own cause.

This seems like a pretty far flung theory but if you take into account Tony getting a glimpse from the Mind stone, it could make sense. Cap dies and seeing an opportunity, Tony tries cloning him. It results in some messed up version of Cap. We would see Natasha, Coulson, Winter Soldier, and Falcon leading the charge against this injustice. Tony could also openly admit that it is a clone but sells it as his new idea for a unified earth force. After all, a lot of problems can be solved with an army of super soldiers.

Beyond Cap dying, I would have to place my money on Bruce Banner/Hulk. Yes very hard to kill, but he is a fan favorite. Killing him off would have a powerful affect on the audience. It could also be used as a sign of just how powerful Ultron is. I still like Cap for the death but its still really anyone’s guess if anybody is going to die.

Well there you have it. With a little under two months, all our questions will be replaced by new ones and we will see just where Kevin Feige is taking us on this wild ride.

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What Marvel Could Do With Spider-Man

What Marvel Could Do With Spider-Man
Posted by on Feb 5, 2015

UPDATE: Late last night Marvel released a press release stating that they had come to an agreement with Sony. Spider-man will be joining the MCU in an upcoming film with his own franchise starting July 28, 2017. It seems the arrangement allows for Marvel to handle the brunt of planning and production. However, Sony will retain the distribution, financial, ownership, and final creative rights. Basically they have the power to say yes or no to story ideas. With Spider-man taking Thor: Ragnarok’s release date, there has been a slight shift in release dates. Thor: Ragnarok will release November 3rd, 2017. Black Panther has moved to July 6th, 2018. Captain Marvel is now November 2nd 2018. Rounding it out, Inhumans will now release July 12th, 2019.

What is most interesting is that Infinity War has not changed release dates for part 1 or part 2. Part 1 will release May 4, 2018 and Part 2 will release May 3rd, 2019. The only thing that I can glean from this, is that Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Inhumans might not be as important to Infinity War as originally thought. My guess, they will be used to start setting up Phase 4. I still believe the Spider-Man franchise should wait till Phase 4, but you can read on to learn more.

 

Ever since the Sony Hack last year, the rumors concerning Spider-Man have been many and varied. To this day there still hasn’t been any official announcement. Even after a supposed Spidey summit in January that involved Sony’s Japan headquarters, no new news. Absolutely nothing. What we do have is a report from Latino-Review that seems to shed some light on not only the fate of Spidey but Marvel Phase 3 in general. You can read a shorter summary over at Comicbook.com that has fewer potential spoilers. Basically, Sony and Marvel came to a compromise that would allow Spidey to appear in Infinity War.

Marvel Studios Fan Event

To clarify, these are mostly unfounded claims and the credibility these claims have is the Latino-Review’s supposed inside source. They haven’t been too far off in the past but I would file these reports under speculation. However, this got me thinking. If Spidey wasn’t going to appear before Infinity War what do you do with him in the mean time? Spidey has to be reintroduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This would probably mean a new actor and a new take on the character. However, I personally feel that if we get another Spidey origin story I might just explode. So I came up with my own way to reintroduce the character.

It involves a slow reintroduction. Without any particular order of importance, I’ll outline how Spidey could be introduced into the MCU. First, he would need a Marvel One-Shot. Marvel One-Shots if you are unaware are short-films that were based on characters or events in the MCU. These were usually attached to the home release of Marvel films. Their focus ranged from Agent Coulson to Trevor’s (The Mandarin) adventures in prison to essentially an Agent Carter pilot. While not very long, these films did a great job of filling in the gaps of what happened after our favorite films.

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For Spidey, I imagine two ways for this to go down. First, we would get a glimpse from Spidey’s life as an established hero. Where he stands in the grand scheme of things and even where he was when New York was under attack. I imagine Spidey being a little older. He has been around working at the Daily Bugle and hanging out with MJ. Most of his heroics would be pretty minor. Muggers, robbers, and general thugs would be his main villains. He was mostly an urban myth until the battle of New York where he is seen actively helping people and fighting off the aliens.

Then we would see where he is at now. With most heroes untouchable by the press. I mean how are you going to paint a guy who wears the American flag as a menace. Since Spidey is an “unofficial” hero, J. Jonah Jameson targets him for his rants. We then see how Spidey has been struggling to fight the press and his regular villains, something we have seen before. We would then at the very end see Tony Stark, or somebody representing him, approach Spidey. Not only to join the Avengers but to start working at Stark Industries.

The only two things that need to happen in this one-shot is Spidey’s recruitment and J. Jonah Jameson. This is mostly so that we can see J. K. Simmons become JJJ once again so that all is right with the world.

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Beyond the one-shot we would also need Spidey to do some crossovers. Particularly, I think Spidey should crossover in the upcoming Marvel Netflix series. Since these series will focus around street level heroes, it’s not hard to imagine these heroes crossing paths. Spidey is first and foremost a street hero. Stopping muggings and what not since isn’t quite cut out for the big cosmic stuff.

Spidey wouldn’t even have to physically appear. They could just dot references here and there about him. Ideally, we would actually see Spidey but I wouldn’t be heart broken. If he was a regular on the series he could act as a branch between the street level heroes and the rest of the MCU.

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The last thing that I think would need to happen is for an appearance in a major MCU film. Ideally this would have been Civil War. However, it has been confirmed that isn’t an option anymore. What could still work is to have Spidey appear in Black Panther. At this stage, Spidey would have to be an established hero who was either working at Stark Industries or has founded Parker Industries from the comics. What I imagine, is Spidey is invited by T’Challa to Wakanda to consult on something. Depending on how the events of Civil War leave the state of the Avengers, Spidey could be representing Tony Stark in some way. Or after Spidey is invited to Wakanda, whoever is acting as the current spymaster could approach Spidey to observe the state of the country. Whatever happens largely depends on what the state of the MCU is in at the time.

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Now one other decision that would need to be made is who would actually play Spidey. I have two things to say about this. First, if they stick with Peter Parker they should keep Andrew Garfield on. I would rather them pretend the first two Amazing Spider-Man films didn’t happen but they could still fit them in. We know that other than Tony Stark and Bruce Banner the other Avengers went to do their own thing away from New York. Spidey’s two films could potentially fit into Phase 2 of the MCU. Cap was dealing with Hydra, Tony was dealing with the Mandarin, and Thor was dealing with Malekith. All of these distractions would have pulled them away from New York. This isn’t a perfect solution but if they had to, this is the only way I see them adding them to the continuity.

Now if they were to recast Spidey, I think they should go with the Miles Morales Ultimate version. Miles would bring some much needed diversity to the MCU and you could distance yourself from the Amazing Spider-Man films. You have two options with Miles. Either you establish Miles as the only Spider-Man that has ever happened. It would totally work and would mainly be simple substitution. Or you could still retain a connection with Peter Parker. In the Ultimate comics, an alternate updated version of the Marvel Universe, Miles received his powers from another spider from Oscorp. He gained similar abilities to Spider-Man but kept them secret because there was already one Spider-Man and Miles just wanted a normal life. However, Peter dies and Miles picks up the mantle soon after.

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That right there does two things for the MCU. Gives us a new Spider-Man with the potential to still acknowledge the original incarnation of the character and establishes an important precedent. The precedent of passing on the mantle. Eventually, the actors playing our favorite characters have to retire from the MCU. Heck even Robert Downey Jr. came close after Iron Man 3 from leaving the studio. By introducing Miles Morales, you can show that these heroes are interested in establishing legacies. Recognizing folks that come their way that could carry-on what they started. Very important if Marvel wants to continue their brand.

All of this to say that nothing can really happen until we know the fate of Spider-Man. I do not think we need a new Spider-Man film yet. I would rather see the first Phase 4 film be a new Spider-Man film and set him up as the new driving force of the MCU. However, as long as we don’t get another origin story I’m pretty much happy.

Kang the Conqueror and the Realm of Kings

Kang the Conqueror and the Realm of Kings
Posted by on Jan 29, 2015

20th Century Fox has finally given us our first look at Fantastic Four. In the wake of the first trailer release, there have been many breakdowns that pull the trailer apart. While normally this is my first step, I decided to take a different route. I had this idea while watching the trailer that would bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Fox’s Universe (FU, yep that’s what I’m gonna call it) together. It dives pretty deep into comic lore so grab that red pill and lets see how far the rabbit hole goes.

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It all starts with the new Fantastic Four (FF) movie. The reboot will draw more of its inspiration from the Ultimate Universe. The cliff notes, the Ultimate Universe is a modern retelling of the Marvel Universe. Most heroes are younger and the whole superhero phenomenon started in the 2000’s. Origins largely stayed the same with a few tweaks here and there. For instance, the original FF gained their powers after being exposed to radiation in space. The Ultimate FF gained their powers after exposure to the N-Zone or Negative Zone. The N-Zone is another dimension where physics are fundamentally different. This is the route that the new FF movie will take. This is the tipping point so you better hold on.

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Ultimate Fantastic Four

 

The N-Zone is parallel to the normal universe. It is often used as a bridge for cosmic villains to try and conquer the Earth or as a base of operations. Heck, even Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, leader of the FF) and Tony Stark built a prison their to hold super powered humans during Civil War. This is where my whole idea/plan/theory/geek delusion begins. What if Fox and Marvel used the N-Zone as a bridge between their universes. This discovery would eventually lead to a massive crossover. From the FU, the FF would make the discovery of other dimensions. On the MCU side of things, we would have Dr. Strange. Kevin Feige has already gone on record that Dr. Strange will deal with alternate dimensions. A little reference to the FU universe would be all that it would take to get the ball rolling.

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Dr. Strange

 

While we need a bridge to physically connect the universes, we also need a villain. In comes Kang the Conqueror, a time traveler who seems perfectly poised to interact with both. You see, Kang is from the 30th century where he is obsessed with history. In this pursuit he discovers the time travel technology created by Dr. Doom, we’ll come back to him in a sec. Kang then travels back in time in a Sphinx shaped ship to ancient Egypt. His goal is to claim En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse. If Apocalypse sounds familiar, that’s because he will be the next villain that the X-Men face in their next movie. After he travels back in time he is confronted by the FF and eventually defeated.

Kang the Conqueror

Kang the Conqueror

Now back to Dr. Doom. Doom is the arch nemesis of the FF and more intimately Reed Richards. In the comics, Doom is practically an unparalleled genius and is a larger villain for the entire Marvel Universe. He is the ruler of the fictional Eastern European country Latveria. The new movie is changing up his origin by turning him into a hacker whose handle is Doom. This has caused some major backlash from the geek community since it seemed to turn Doom into an anti-social hacker with very little bravado. This interpretation is very different from the Doom we know and love. His manner can best be compared to a combination of Khan (Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Loki. Some might disagree but Doom has literally stood up to gods and declared his sovereignty which he then actually enforces. Awesome, right?

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Dr. Doom

 

Why he is important to us is for his time travel tech and his connection to Kang. You see at one point, it was thought that Kang was a descendant of Doom. The comics have since made this unclear but it is still there nonetheless. So here we have a villain who is pretty intimately tied to both franchises owned by Fox. What about the MCU’s heroes? I’m so glad you asked!

Fairly recently, back in a 2010 there was a Marvel comics event called Realm of Kings. Essentially you had the Inhumans locked in galactic combat with another empire. They detonated a bomb that created a tear in space-time and gave entry to another universe. A universe where “Life has won, Death has lost” and is subsequently infested with creatures that have infested the universe. Labeled the Cancerverse, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who had been dealing with similar tears, along with other cosmic heroes set out to close the tear. Welcome to comics ladies and gentleman. At one the Guardians of the Galaxy are sent spiraling through time where they meet Kang. This is a future version of the character is interested in helping the Guardians. We’ll come back to this, just know that Kang has very recently been involved with some of movie heroes.

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So what would this look like in film? Well since Fox’s plans for X-men and FF are a little less known, let’s start on their side. What I would like to see is to have their universe first take on Annihilus. To put it simply, Annihilus is the big bad ruler of the N-Zone. Incredibly powerful, he would be a very good threat for the FF to take on for their first story arc. There could even be a little crossover with X-men. Some of the X-men could help the FF in battling Annihilus.  During however many films this arc would encompass, we would get little tidbits of Doom. Think of it this way, Doom would be gathering power and tech for his time travel machine. Through his conquests he naturally comes into conflict with the FF. He wouldn’t be the main villain and he would often manipulate the FF to aid in his conquests. Whether this was directly or indirectly doesn’t really matter.

The second story arc would place Doom front and center. Using his power and tech that he has been gathering to essentially wage war against the world. The FF would lead the charge and things could crossover with the X-men. For instance, Doom could team up with someone like the High Evolutionary or some other baddie of the X-Men. What would be a cool twist on a character is to have Doom team up with Forge. Forge is a mutant whose power is literally to invent. In the Ultimate universe, Forge is described as being able to create whatever he can think of. In either universe, Forge has always been a little less than a hero. Having Forge be villain wouldn’t be too far of a stretch in my opinion.

Forge

Forge

While the FF are doing their thing, we would get a host of X-men movies while set in the same universe, aren’t explicitly connected. Instead we would get films that explore more and more X-men. In a perfect world, we would see Forge as a manipulator of the X-men. Then in the final film we would see a crossover where the FF and X-men would fight both Doom and Forge. At this point it is also revealed that they have developed a time machine. At the end of the final film we would get a little teaser of Kang in the future discovering the tech.

Now that we have tackled Fox’s side of things, lets look at the MCU. Obviously, the Kang stuff would have to start after Infinity War in 2019 or 2020. My thought is that after this war, we see these tears appear. The earth heroes would go home and they would face their own villains, possibly the Masters of Evil. Basically, the Masters of Evil are the anti-Avengers. Put together by Baron Zemo, set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, to fight the Avengers. On the cosmic side of things, we would see the Guardians of the Galaxy taking care of these tears in space-time. We would also get introduced to Adam Warlock. Regardless of all this speculation, I think we will see Adam on the big screen. To put it simply, he is space Gandalf who has historically been tied to the Infinity Gauntlet and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Most recently, Adam was helping the Guardians of the Galaxy seal these tears in the comics. This all happened during the Realm of Kings arc which I mentioned earlier. Things are about to get real confusing so hold on. In an attempt to seal the last tear, Adam becomes his evil alter ego, the Magus. Magus is an evil version of Adam who rules a religious empire known as the Universal Church of Truth. In all this madness some of the Guardians are sent sailing through various timelines, until they meet Kang. Now this is a future Kang who wishes to stop The Magus. Kang’s motivation is to stop The Magus from becoming the evil in all timelines. He helps the Guardians by giving them a weapon to help defeat Magus and stop the current future from happening.

For the movie side of things, I hope they have The Magus as the big baddie for the second story arc regardless of what I say here. He could have a hand in forming the Masters of Evil and could be the next big cosmic threat. In my plan, the final confrontation with The Magus would be after our heroes run-in with Kang. He first gives them the power to fight Magus and also gives them a warning. A warning that his younger self is coming and to prepare. To make sure that this wouldn’t be completely unexpected, we would have him be a villain for a solo film. I would make it Dr. Strange. While Kang is a time traveler, he is also a dimension hopper. He could masquerade as a sorcerer until the end of the film when Dr. Strange discovers Kang’s “magic” is simply future tech.

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Kang the Conqueror

 

All through both universes we would get little hints that there are other dimensions out there. Whether they be similar or vastly different. It wouldn’t take much across all these films. The key being subtle enough where it doesn’t overtake each movies plot. These hints and easter eggs would culminate in a final button scene. Here we see the FF finally crossover into the MCU. Or Dr. Strange appears to the FF. Either way doesn’t matter much to me. We would then get a trilogy of films called the Kang Dynasty. First film we see the Fox’s heroes take on Kang. The second would have Marvel heroes battling Kang. The third and final film would give us a massive crossover that would be on a completely different scale then we have ever seen.

Two final notes. First, superhero films will eventually hit critical mass. It’s the inherent problem with sequels and franchises. You always have to up the ante from the previous film. My plan would lead to that escalation. Plus, with all the time travel hijinks you could feasibly reset everything and start over. Not only that, but this whole thing would take awhile and studio cooperation unseen in this genre of films. I do fully expect that my dreams will not be realized but oh well. I do hope, that we will at least see some of my ideas on the big screen.

Second, there is still Sony to consider. They have Spider-Man who in comics just went through a dimension hopping extravaganza himself. Spidey’s fate is still up in the air, but what if he were to come back to Marvel? That’s a conversation for another time. Maybe next week.

 

Why Captain America Needs to Die

Why Captain America Needs to Die
Posted by on Dec 4, 2014

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A few weeks ago, Marvel blew up the internet to the squealing cries of joy from Marvel fans everywhere by revealing their movie plans until 2019. Easily one of the highlights of this little shindig was the announcement of Captain America: Civil War, the third Captain America film. Civil War was a massive crossover event that pitted Iron Man against Captain America on the issues of security vs. liberty. Basically, Iron Man wanted to register all superheroes as public government agents while Captain America believed that this was a step too far.

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Without getting too much into the actual comic plot, let me give you a brief rundown of the important bits. Both Iron Man and Captain America assembled their own teams to fight the good fight against each other. While the story itself was a truly unique and game changing event, it was rendered nearly inconsequential by the subsequent retconning to reestablish the status quo. Most importantly, this event ended with the arrest and death of Captain America.

If you are at all familiar with comics, death is less of a permanent sentence and more of vacation to Tahiti. When looking at comics the list of major characters that have actually stayed dead is small and is mostly occupied by Uncle Ben. So far, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has followed suit. Take a moment and figure out how many main characters in the Marvel Avenger’s movies have actually stayed dead. I count about four or five, all of whom are villains and some of whose deaths are still up to debate. While this can work in the comic world, Hollywood is a little less forgiving.

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When these heroes don’t die and continually return from the dead, the stakes are exponentially lowered with each return. This can only be sustained for so long in a narrative sense and even less when you take into account that these actors are on contracts which must end eventually. This leaves Marvel with really three choices: shell out more money to renew contracts, recast their now iconic characters, or kill them off. Marvel has already showed that renewing contracts is not their favorite thing, just look at the RDJ negotiations. Recasting these characters is extremely dangerous. Imagine someone else playing Tony Stark other than RDJ, you can’t can you. That’s because his portrayal defined that character for both comic and non-comic fans everywhere. With these two options less than optimal, Marvel has one option left.

Now, I’m not saying that they should just kill everybody off. Some, such as Thor, could simply go somewhere else or is somehow pushed out of the way to reappear at a later date or as a cameo. However, even that isn’t permanent solution since if they’re still alive, fans will want to see them again. Thus killing characters is really the only choice they have left. Marvel has a huge roster to choose from which they could have already started expanding to change up the team. Instead of just adding characters on top of old ones, they need to rotate out characters. This is where Captain America’s death comes in.

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As I said, Captain America’s death is a direct result from Civil War. It allows for the perfect setup and the perfect window to give us the first permanent Marvel death. This death will have more than a few impacts. Cap is first and foremost a symbol. That is where his strength lies when he is fighting alongside gods and monsters. He represents hope, freedom, and well America in general. His death would have a very deep emotional impact on just about everyone. Keeping him dead would raise the stakes for our other heroes.79617-148996-captain-america

He also acts as the Jiminy Cricket of the Avengers. Since he is this symbol of goodness, his death would be the death of that as well. This then has ramifications for the rest of our heroes who A. are angry and hurt at the fact that one of their friends is now dead and B. they now have no one to really stop them. This isn’t to say that without Captain America the Avengers become villains. Simply that they are missing a key part of their moral compass.

Lastly, it completes the idea that Captain America is a symbol. Again, this is a guy who was super in WWII fighting alongside regular soldiers. When compared to his teammates who consist of gods and monsters Captain America and his fellow “regular” heroes, quickly lose their effectiveness in this world. If Captain America dies, he becomes greater than all of his other teammates. He becomes a perfect symbol through his death, no longer judged by his human qualities but remembered for his near perfect ideals.

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So far, something big is going to happen to Captain America in the upcoming Avengers films. Joss Whedon has already teased that death will be a part of Age of Ultron. Kevin Feige has also stated that the Avengers roster will be changed by the end of Age of Ultron. Not to mention that Chris Evans is contracted for 6 major film appearances, this includes The First Avenger, Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and Civil War. This leaves one more film. While Infinity War Pt. 1 is the likely candidate, I would hope they could still work in his death before this film. For instance, since we know Black Panther will be a major player in Civil War, what if Cap has a major role in Panthers solo feature which results in his death. In the comics Captain America’s shield is made of vibranium which comes from Wakanda, the country Black Panther rules over. If Cap’s shield is truly broken he may journey to Wakanda to get it repaired. Not to mention that we might be introduced to Wakanda as early as Age Of Ultron if that is Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis) in the trailer.

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My whole point here is that Captain America doesn’t quite fit with all of these other super-powered beings. Sure he is super to us but compared to his team mates he doesn’t quite hold up. He is an effective leader and all that but his true power lies in his inherent symbolism. For me, the natural progression to fully utilize this is to kill him off so he becomes a pure symbol to inspire and bond his team. Much like the affect Phil Coulson’s death had but on a larger scale due to Cap’s greater significance.

The only other plausible option is to have Cap take Widow and Hawkeye and have team based more on espionage than fighting aliens. As we saw in The Winter Soldier this idea actually works really well. This again though has the problem that if they are still alive, they will be pulled back in.

However this all plays out, I have faith Marvel will come up with an appropriate solution. They so far have shaken up the formula either by approving sequels far before their first films were even released or by bringing obscure characters/actors to the big screen. I believe that whatever happens will make sense and be true to the fans.

Age of Ultron: What to Expect

Age of Ultron: What to Expect
Posted by on Oct 30, 2014

This post will deal largely with Age of Ultron and how it will setup future Marvel films and what will happen to our heroes. Expect another post in the coming weeks about the phase 3 films recently confirmed and their possible focus. Most of my analysis is conjecture based on rumors, the recent trailer, and in some cases the confirmed phase 3 films. Regardless, a lot of this is based on the comics and are POTENTIAL SPOILERS so consider yourself warned!

In order to address the numerous rumors and recent confirmations, I will focus on each of the original Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye) and the two newest “heroes” Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch

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Iron Man/Tony Stark:

It only seems right to start off with the golden boy. Tony Stark, and more importantly Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal, is the centerpiece of the MCU. He was the start of this whole crazy ride and his role is only supposed to grow bigger. After recent negotiations, we now know that we will at least see Tony Stark in major roles in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1.

We have fairly recent confirmation that the Avengers line up will be altered in some way after Age of Ultron (AoU). Even before the official title for AoU was revealed, Director Joss Whedon openly stated that he was toying with the idea of death in AoU. So, it is very possible that we could get the first permanent death of the MCU.

Hopping back to Tony Stark and his placement in the MCU. His role in AoU will basically be as the new face of global security. With S.H.I.E.L.D. gone who better than Stark Industries to pick up the bill. His main idea, is to resurrect a dormant peace keeping program, which eventually becomes Ultron. By combining this program with his own AI Jarvis, Ultron gains a new level of sentience and comes down with a bad case of the crazies. Ultron’s first appearance in the trailer shows that his first incarnation will be pieced together from other robots. I would guess this would be from the opening battle with Baron Von Strucker, the Hydra commander at the end of Winter Soldier. This seems to be confirmed by the Eastern European setting, castle, and forces seen in glimpses in the trailer. These were the snow covered scenes in the trailer in case you were wondering.

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This doesn’t appear to go so well as we see The Avengers in a rather somber mood on their flight back. This could be because Tony Stark is missing in action since he doesn’t seem to be present in the Quinjet with his fellow Avengers. His sudden reappearance would give the team a worthy cause for celebration as we see in the trailer.

The majority of glimpses we see of Tony Stark are those of guilt. It seems he is just oozing with it and is eager to some how rectify his mistakes. His choices also don’t seem too popular with the god of thunder who we see hoisting him by the throat.

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What these confrontations and the guilt he is feeling means for the rest of the MCU is a call to organize the superheroes of Earth. In the Civil War event, Tony Stark is among the most vocal advocates for the superhuman registration act. An act that would turn all the superheroes into S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and make them public figures with very little to no secret identities. This splits the superhero community down the middle with Captain America on the other side of the confrontation. We’ll get to him a little later. It looks like Civil War will focus on this confrontation, most likely with a different focus since secret identities aren’t really a thing. The struggle will most likely be over how strict the regulation of superheroes should be. Civil War will leave Earth’s heroes weak and defenseless, ripe for an attack from Thanos in Infinity War Pt. 1.

Infinity Pt. 1 will be the defeat of Earth’s heroes leaving us with a pretty grim situation. Pt. 2 will be all about the rallying of forces and the defeat of Thanos. More immediately, it seems AoU could perfectly setup the Ant-man film. In the comics, Hank Pym (Ant-man) is the original creator of Ultron. Since we know that Tony Stark is resurrecting a dormant program, it could be that Hank Pym is responsible for the original program. We would then see at the very least a nod in AoU towards this and at the very least a subplot regarding Ultron’s creation in Ant-man. This would help to bring Ant-man to the fore front of the MCU and showcase his importance.

Captain America/Steve Rogers:

At first glance in the trailer, it seems pretty obvious that Steve is going to have a hard time in AoU. He is metaphorically homeless now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, still adjusting to his new surroundings, and it even appears his shield is broken at some point in the film. His recent adventures and those yet to come in AoU could very easily drive him towards a pessimistic attitude toward the current state of the superhero world. This could lead him to form his own team, which we could see teased in AoU or see realized in Civil War.

In regards to AoU, not much can be seen of Steve in the trailer. He definitely seems focused and determined when they are in the castle/fortress setting. This also lends credence to the idea that it is a base for Baron Von Strucker. Then there is also the scene where he appears to be playing piano for some ballerinas. This particular scene could be caused by Scarlet With (Wanda Maximoff) and the nature of her on screen powers. I think it has more to do with Black widow but we’ll come back to this a little later.

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During AoU, I think we can expect Steve to conflict with the signature style of Tony Stark like they did in the first Avengers. Especially if Tony’s actions with either creating Ultron or trying to destroy him cause a terribly destructive event. Tony’s reaction will be the on-screen version of the Superhuman Registration Act while Steve’s will be something of the opposite. Not that heroes need to be controlled to become some private army for Tony but instead should be trained and trusted to help save the world. With the newest additions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, I think that this option is pretty likely and that they could be Steve’s first recruits.

Civil War (0r possibly the end of AoU) will see Steve’s team fully assembled and dealing with their first major threat, with Tony Stark acting as an additional antagonist trying to control them. *MAJOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Civil War will see the confrontation between the two Avenger teams and more importantly the death of Captain America. This is a likely event since Chris Evans’s contract ends with Avengers 3. With the introduction of the Winter Soldier, we also have the solution for his death. In the comics for a time, Bucky Barnes picks up the shield and carries on. With a 9 picture contract with Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) this seems pretty likely. While the comics brought Steve back to life, the MCU could keep him dead. We have already seen many characters come back to life including Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Bucky Barnes, Loki (twice), and Groot. With such a major figure in the MCU, keeping his death permanent could raise the stakes in a way to help shake up the MCU in a big way. *END OF SPOILERS*

For Civil War, you can expect to see an epic throw down between Steve and Tony’s Avengers which will lead in some way to the death of Steve either at the end of Civil War or in Infinity War Pt. 1.

Thor/Thor:

The biggest thing to note from the AoU trailer is the distressed appearance of our resident god of thunder. We see multiple shots of him dropping Mjolnir, screaming to the high heavens, hoisting Tony Stark by the throat, and what appears to be his arm next to Steve’s broken shield. From the leaked scene of Steve and Tony discussing each Avengers reaction to Scarlet Witch’s powers, we know they were shown something akin to their worst fear. I imagine this will tie into Thor: Ragnarok which spurns him to take a quick trip back to Asgard to make sure everything is okay. Combine all of this with each Avenger’s Mjolnir test and Steve’s near success, you start to see Thor possibly doubting his worthiness before he is even shown the possible end of Asgard.

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In regards to Civil War his involvement is pretty minor. In the comics at this point he is really absent from Earth, which spurns Tony Stark to attempt to clone Thor. This goes extremely poorly and when Thor does show up again, he condemns Tony’s actions essentially stating that you don’t turn your back on your friends. Since his absence could easily be explained by him dealing with the threat to Asgard, you can begin to see why he may be absent from Civil War. If the end of Asgard is in the near future, you can see the power vacuum they would leave that leaves earth very vulnerable. After all Earth, or Midgard, is a part of their empire in the comics and under their “protection”. My bet, the end of Asgard will lead to an opening for Thanos to attack Earth, which was previously at the very least in the space owned by Asgard.

This attack on Earth will come in Infinity Part 1 and finished in Part 2. However it plays out, I have the utmost confidence that it will be on an epic scale the likes we have not seen before.

Bruce Banner/Hulk:

Much like Thor, Bruce Banner seems to be having a tough time. From stumbling around in the woods to fighting his fellow science bro Tony stark. The first scene we see is him stumbling around in some wintry woods, possibly after a confrontation with Baron Von Strucker. He is obviously distraught for some reason following the battle which is further cemented by the fact that we see him holding himself in some sort of blanket or sweater on the Quinjet. What appears to be another important scene in this winter setting is what appears to be a touching scene between Hulk and Black Widow. We know that these have some form of a special relationship in the film. I would guess it will be based off of their interactions from the first Avengers film. It could also take a romantic note but I think this is less likely. Essentially, I think since they share this bond from the first film, Black Widow is going to act as a calming agent for the Hulk.

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What is sure to be one of the most epic throw downs in the history of the genre is the fight between Iron Man and Hulk. Based on the fact that Scarlet Witch show’s the Avengers something upsetting/terrifying to them individually, I can easily see how this could set Bruce Banner on a rampage as the Hulk. I hope that we see Hulk just utterly smash Iron Man and when all hopes seems lost we see Black Widow lay down a little smack down. It could be possible with creative use of acrobatics and remaining quick on her feet. Even better if she just stands up to the Hulk without even flinching and stares him down.

While we don’t get a Hulk solo film, there are rumors that Hulk will be more present in Phase 3. Possibly being sent into space as he is in the comics or even having a cameo in Civil War as prisoner of sorts after Age of Ultron.

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Natasha Romanov/Black Widow:

Black Widow doesn’t get much screen time in the first trailer for Age of Ultron, but she is nonetheless going to have a big part. Putting aside her relationship with the Hulk, she could be leaving the Avengers to help Nick Fury. Her one line of dialogue “all things come to an end” seems to signal this. She is a super spy who has survived by hopping around and not remaining tied down. With Civil War coming up, I would put my money on her joining Steve and his team of Avengers. Whether it is because she believes in his cause or simply because of loyalty, she will be opposing Tony in some way.

Another interesting little tidbit in the trailer is the fact that we might get a little more back story of the enigmatic Black Widow. The ballerina scene could be a flashback of hers, whether it is a glimpse of her early years or not I would bank on that much more then a Steve Rogers flashback which is the other major rumor. Her solitary scene of her in a spacious warehouse alone is also intriguing. Is it part of the Scarlet Witch’s mind game? Is she on some mission? Who knows but I look forward to this character gaining more depth.

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Clint Barton/Hawkeye:

What we know for sure is that Jeremy Renner has stated that he has yet to play the Hawkeye he signed up for. He spent most of the Avengers being a puppet and didn’t get a chance to strut his stuff. Age of Ultron is supposed to change that. Everything that has been said about this character is that he is going to have a much bigger role other than a shorter more high tech Legolas.

My prediction is that just like Black Widow, Hawkeye will side with Steve instead of Tony. Especially since he and Black Widow have a close relationship.

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Quicksilver (Peter Maximoff)/Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff):

I put these two together since they will have the same purpose in this film, messing with the Avengers. They are seen first in the trailer at the front of an angry mob most likely protesting the Avengers most recent handling of their conflict with Baron Von Strucker. This gives them plenty of motive to side with Ultron. We also see Quicksilver tackling Ultron to save Steve so we know that they will eventually switch sides, which also happened in the comics, multiple times. I would guess that after they experience Ultron’s particular brand of crazy turned to 11 is when they decide to make their switch.

With Civil War coming up, their loyalties are going to be a little fresher than the other heroes. They will most likely stick together and really they could go either way. Without more information I am merely giving you my wishful thinking, which would be for them to side with Tony.

With all of these heroes, it is unclear who exactly will appear in Civil War. All of these actors have multiple picture contracts and little else has been confirmed outside of Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Panther.

 

5 Marvel Questions Answered

5 Marvel Questions Answered
Posted by on Oct 16, 2014

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If you haven’t heard this week, Marvel pretty much blew the minds of fans everywhere.  They announced that Captain America 3 as well as possibly Avengers 3 will adapt the massively popular Civil War story line.  This is huge for a couple of reasons.

1.  I thought Robert Downey Jr.’s contract ended with Age Of Ultron?

The two central characters in this story line are Captain America and Iron Man.  If you didn’t know, Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel was supposed to end with Avengers 3.  Last week it seemed RDJ had decided to troll fans everywhere by first confirming Iron Man 4, then stating only if Mel Gibson would direct, then stating he was in talks about other Marvel projects, until finally the news broke about the latest deal.  This is huge since RDJ has received a massive pay out from films in the past making Marvel hesitant about renegotiating.  This led to rumors about recasting Iron Man or even ending the character altogether.  Thankfully, for the sake of fans everywhere it seems they were able to reach some form of agreement.

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2.  Why won’t all the Marvel heroes appear in this film?

The original story line in the comics was a massive crossover event involving every superhero in the Marvel Universe.  It brought about the question of whether or not superheroes should forego their secret identities and be public agents or if their personal rights were more important.  The issue that the original story holds  is the fact that other pivotal characters involved are not able to appear in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU).  These characters include Spider-man (Owned by Sony), The X-men (Fox), and The Fantastic Four (Fox).  While studios are somewhat open to the idea of sharing characters it would be a miracle for this to actually happen.  It appears that true to the original story, Captain America and Iron Man will represent the two sides.  Captain America is anti-public registration and Iron Man is pro-registration.  They will each form their own teams and face off.  Captain America 3 will establish Captain America’s team with the two teams facing off in Avengers 3.  Avengers 4 would be most likely where Thanos takes advantage of a weakened and vulnerable Earth to strike.

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3.  What’s going to happen between Captain America 3 and Avengers 4?

The films from Captain America 3 through Avengers 4 would deal with the fall out of having such divided heroes.  Not to mention that (spoiler warning!) in the comics Captain America is killed directly after Civil War and that their is a secret invasion from an alien force due to the weakened state of the worlds superhero force (end spoiler).  This whole arc would be kick started in Avengers: Age Of Ultron where we know that the Avengers are going to be facing their most deadly villain in more ways than one.

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4.  Doesn’t Civil War deal with secret identities?

Another deviation is that for now in the MCU, there are no secret identities.  Everyone know’s the Avengers secrets except for possibly who the Hulk is under the green skin.  So, what would the central conflict be about?  Most likely something very similar to the conflict in the Winter Soldier.  There you saw how Captain America was so against the new project Insight and how sacrificing freedom for protection was not the way to go.  This will probably rehashed with Iron Man filling in for Nick Fury.

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5.  Can Marvel really pull this off?

What this means overall is that Avengers 4 will simply be massive.  Having both Cap’s and Iron Man’s teams as well as possibly the Guardians of the Galaxy facing off against Thanos.  All of this just proves that Marvel is willing to think outside of the box.  Where most studios would be stingy about offering RDJ more money, they stepped up to the plate.  Where certain other 2 letter comic studios are looking for the instant pay off, Marvel is taking the time to build the characters.  From my humble vantage point, I see Marvel Studios as a company that was created by fans because they wanted to see their favorite characters be brought to the screen as faithfully as possible.  Some might say that they’re are too many superhero movies, even RDJ said something similar.  They might be right, however that is not Marvel’s fault.  Out of all the studios, Marvel is doing it right where money may be the motivator but it is not the bottom line.

With all this, be sure to expect Marvel to drop even more major news in the following weeks.

 

How Marvel Changed Hollywood

How Marvel Changed Hollywood
Posted by on Sep 18, 2014

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If you haven’t noticed, Marvel Studios has been taking the world by storm.  Every one of their films has been a financial success and for the most part a critical success as well.  Before this new age of superhero movies, these films were seen as fairly low-brow entertainment.  Simply actions movies whose stars had a few fantastic powers.  That is until Marvel Studios burst onto the screen with Iron Man, a superhero film done well which was also the movie that launched an entire universe.

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What Marvel has done in the most simplest of terms is bring the comic format to the world of cinema.  They created a shared universe where their multiple franchise heroes reside and even interact on occasion.  This has huge ramifications, which I will get after we dive into the comic format in a cinematic world.

The comic book format of delivery that I refer to is the idea of having heroes with their own series which then crossover during big events or in team based series.  Using the Marvel films, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Guardians of the Galaxy, are all those singular series.  While they all still exist in the same universe, the film themselves focus on the individual heroes.  The Avengers is the big crossover event, where all these heroes meet on the screen and it focuses on their interactions as a team against a bigger threat.

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By bringing this format to Hollywood, it allows for these films to tell more complete stories.  If this had been done like a more regular franchise, we would probably only have The Avengers and direct Avengers sequels.  By giving each hero their own franchise you are able to expand and grow the characters outside of the team while focusing on the characters growth as a team during the crossover films.  This creates a much bigger pay off as we saw in The Avengers.  In fact, the majority of complaints about The Avengers centered around the fact these heroes never had a struggle.  It didn’t seem at any point you thought they were going to lose.  How one of my friends liked to put it, it was all win and not enough struggle.

What this critique or point of view isn’t taking into account is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) needs to be taken as one film rather than in pieces.  Especially when you take into account the actual timeline of the films, you find that they often happen at the same time.  You can see below an example of this timeline and you can click here for a larger version.

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What this means is that The Avengers is not simply a 2.5 hour film about the band getting together, it is a 2.5 hour climax of a series of events leading up to the big final conflict.  This ultimately is what sets the MCU apart from the rest of Hollywood.  Marvel plays the long game and while individual films may suffer from the need to establish other aspects of the MCU, such as Iron Man 2, ultimately they are minor setbacks when compared to the big picture.

We as an audience see each character with a completed arc, instead of seeing all the other bits that happen elsewhere in the world during Iron Man we instead see that entire story.  Honestly, in my opinion this entire film franchise should be seen and presented as a mini series instead of a film franchise.  That way they would have more freedom to blend the characters and plots together instead of what we have now.  Hopefully this what Marvel’s Netflix shows will look like with a focus of individual characters while still having others in the background.

So, how has this changed Hollywood?  It shows how you can get a better payout for your films while still telling great stories filled with compelling characters.  Disney is following suit with Star Wars VII by launching their own shared universe.  Even Universal is launching a cinematic universe based on classic monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Werewolf, The Mummy, and any classic black and white monster you can think of.

This idea of a shared universe I believe is the new face of franchises and good provide much better film experiences all around.  Ultimately, what I hope is to see a blend between the format of a film franchise and the format of a mini-series.  Having the big budget muscle of Hollywood applied to a format that historically has told more complete and fulfilling stories than normal television series does.  All we can do is wait and see.

Marvel Crossover image