Thoughts on Marvel's Phase 3

Am I making all the right moves?

By Matthew Gohn

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer released last week (early, thanks Obama) and with the film releasing in 2015, it was only a short matter of time before we got the announcement of Marvel's Phase 3 lineup. And here they are.

Captain America: Civil War, May 6th, 2016
Doctor Strange, November 4th, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2, May 5th 2017
Thor: Ragnarok, July 28th, 2017
Black Panther, November 3rd, 2017
The Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1, May 4th, 2018
Captain Marvel, July 6th 2018
Inhumans, November 2nd, 2018
The Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 May 3rd, 2019

Well this is pretty damn cool. There's a lot to digest. My initial impressions are that nothing here strikes me as risky, the way Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy were risky when they were first announced. (Can we take a step back and reflect that The Avengers is only a little over two years old?) If anything, the risk of Phase 2 seems to have become giving the audience what they want in Phase 3. 

DC I think is still woefully behind with their cinematic universe, in fact I think they're jumping the gun horribly, but you have to give them credit. They were first to make a female led superhero film with their announced Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot (Fast Five), and Cyborg is led by black actor Ray Fisher. Both Marvel and DC have a plethora of ethnic and female superheroes, but in their shared cinematic universe adaptations both demographics were still underrepresented.

Hence my favorite bit of news is the Captain Marvel movie, for a few reasons. Firstly, I'm glad we're finally getting a female superhero. Originally I'd have assumed we'd give established Avenger Black Widow her own film, but I think this is the better option. We don't need one great female saving the world with the guys, we deserve several. Black Widow isn't going anywhere, but she's getting some company in the form of Captain Marvel. 

The second fun fact about Captain Marvel is that "Captain Marvel" is also a name for Shazam, the DC Comics character which is also getting a film treatment soon. Right now it's unknown who will play Shazam, but in a curious move they've announced that Dwayne Johnson will play his villain, Black Adam. I wonder about the Shazam and Captain Marvel confusion, if there will be any. I also wonder why they announced their villain casting first. It seems your hero should be the star of your film, otherwise you have Arnold Schwarzenegger getting first billing all over again, but I digress.

But it's Black Panther right now which appears to have had the most headway so far. In addition to announcing the film, it was also revealed that Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) will star. Marvel even was kind enough to provide us some pretty badass concept art.

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I like it. A lot. Many will draw comparisons to Batman, and rightfully so, but I still think this holds up on it's own. We'll of course need to wait and see how the final product looks, but for now, it's got my attention.

As for Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, I like that as well. I've never actually seen him in anything, so I can't say for certain. 42 and Get On Up were movies that looked pretty paint by numbers so I ignored them. My understanding was though he was good even if the rest of the movies were lackluster. So he's got my attention. 

Marvel has however had black actors in its films before, but obviously not enough. Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Mackie were all great additions to their respective casts, but while they held their own, it was always in another's shadow. The only shadow cast in Black Panther will be Boseman's. It's about time. 

I'm also hopeful because the concept art implies dark. Not necessarily gritty, but thrilling. It might even be a bit scary. Black Panther looks badass and mean and like he'll break some rules to get the job done. I don't know if that's true at all but those are my impressions.  

Black Panther and Captain Marvel are the most interesting of the announced films to me personally. But there are other things to read into as well.

For example, we've got a glimpse into Marvel's intended release schedule. The pattern appears to be May, July, and November. Nothing too impressive there, it makes sense. However James Bond films typically release early November as well, so eventually Bond will go up against Earth's Mightiest Heroes in what is sure to be an interesting box office weekend. 

It also makes me happy that The Avengers: Infinity War will be split into two films. The roster is getting too big and now we are in real danger of rushing storylines.

If I had to make a bet for the overall arc of the next slate of movies it would be as follows. Captain America: Civil War will truly set a new tone for the films. The heroes will split. Perhaps this will be compounded by fallout from the war against Ultron. 

Civil War will cause a divide and scattering amongst our heroes, while other fresh faces come into play. At the same time, we'll see Thanos begin his campaign for universal domination. Infinity War - Part 1 will see the end of the Civil War storyline, and lead into Infinity War - Part 2 which will be the final outing for several of our heroes, as well as the last call for them to unite against a power that will destroy them all.

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I think this makes sense for a few reasons. It's also smart for Marvel to ease off their current film formula, which involves a Infinity Gemstone of the week and a plot to destroy the world. While Guardians of the Galaxy was a breath of fresh air in many ways, it began to show the repetitiveness of the film plots. If my theory is correct, it looks like these stories will become more human, allowing us to get more personal, before rallying the troops to assemble and save the world one last time. 

These are the brief thoughts of mine, I'll have more later, and I'm sure some of what I think will evolve. Right now we've got very little to go on, but it still says a lot.

Bottom line though, we should applaud Marvel for finally giving us a female and black superhero movie. It's taken a while, but it's finally happened, and I'm ready, much like many others are. This is by no means a nail in the coffin for the problem of minority and female representation in our television and film, but it's a great step forward. So yes, for now, Marvel is making all the right moves. 

Oh yeah, it should go without mentioning, but I'm excited. It's an incredibly interesting experiment we're watching play out, and I keep getting evidence to suggest that Marvel still knows what they're doing. 

Do you think it's taken too long for Marvel to diversify? Is my theory for the upcoming character arc bogus? Let me know in the comments.

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