If you read The Monolith regularly you’ll know that we’re staunch fans of comic books and how they relate to movies. While we’d love to provide coverage for everything that’s going on as it happens, there’s just so much in the world of comic book movies that we decided to make a weekly column that groups together all the latest news and rumours surrounding the various comic book adaptations in production. Marvel is the most active in this area, which is why they have the namesake. Be sure to sound off in the comments and tell us about the stories that interest you and we’ll do our best to tailor future articles to your interests!
Warning!: The nature of comic book movie news is that there may be some spoilers! If you want to go into your movies blind and not geek out beforehand then this is not the column for you!
* The first film of Phase Two, Iron Man 3 was met with some controversy due to certain deviations taken from the source material. This was a calculated risk taken by Marvel and their Head Of Production Kevin Feige swears that they will continue to take more risks throughout Phase Two. While that’s definitely great to hear and admirable, it remains to be seen just how adventurous these risks are going to be and whether they may further alienate more fans from the beloved franchise. It should be noted that this doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to continually seek to alter comic book source material, in fairness, films like Guardians Of The Galaxy featuring a taking space pirate racoon and Ant Man are incredibly risky properties in themselves, as it’s not certain whether audiences will buy into them. Time will tell.
* After the release of Iron Man 3 there was a lot of dubious speculation about the future of Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in the Marvel universe. Reportedly tired of the role and seeking to move back into independent cinema, Downey Jr. was using the audience as a ploy to try and squeeze even more money out of Marvel, despite his already insanely ludicrous paycheque. It seems to have paid off however as the actor has signed on to appear in The Avengers 2 & 3 (seemingly dispelling the rumours that he may perish in The Avengers 2) although there is no mention of a larger contract or if there will ever be an Iron Man 4 or 5. Fans will be relieved by this news as for a while it really looked like Downey Jr. was going to be recast. While someone else could most certainly play the role they would have enormous shoes to fill as Downey Jr. has made an indelible impression on audiences.
* Marvel are continuing with their goal of releasing two films a year, and have subsequently pencilled in dates for unannounced Marvel films in 2016 and 17. The opening week of May is an important date and they have snagged it for both years so it’s unlikely that they will choose to debut a new property then, instead focusing on adding instalments to already existing properties.
As of now, Phase Two/Three is likely to go something like this:
November 8th 2013 – Thor: The Dark World
April 4th 2014 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
1st August 2014 – Guardians Of The Galaxy
1st May 2015 – The Avengers 2
6th November 2015 – Ant Man
6th May 2016 – Thor 3 (unannounced)
8th July 2016 – Dr. Strange (unannounced)
5th May 2017 – Captain America 3
As for other movies that could feature in Phase Three there are rumblings of Black Panther, a new Hulk movie and The Inhumans, amongst others.
Thor: The Dark World
* Carter Burwell, the film’s composer and long time collaborator with The Coen Brothers was dismissed from the production due to creative differences with Marvel producers. At the time it was rumoured that director Alan Taylor was also fired, although it seems that they just went on an extended break before returning to work.
* The film’s new composer is none other than Brian Tyler who also handled the score for Iron Man 3. He had this to say about Thor: The Dark World and his approach to it:
“That’s very recent. It’s a great film in the Marvel franchise, it’s coming out in November. And the great thing about Thor and Iron Man and all this is that it relates to The Avengers. I think it’s just fantastic how they’ve kept that universe a contained universe. Of course, these characters, they all have the rights to them. But I think it’s really clever how they do it. And yet they all have a different feel. The feel of Thor is a very different than Iron Man. Yet they live in the same universe. For me, it’s like somehow Indiana Jones showed up on the Enterprise; or something. It’s just awesome! But it’s great because, for me, I get to do something completely different and I’m really excited about that project.”
* While doing interviews for the release of Pacific Rim, Idris Elba has been talking about his role as Helmdall in the Thor franchise and how the sequel will look to expand upon the Nine realms and visit each one. He also has said that Helmdall has a little more to do with this film, but he is personally aching to play a more prominent superhero. A man of his astonishing talents could easily anchor a Luke Cage or a Black Panther movie, but the main question would be whether Marvel would re-use an actor across the meticulous universe they have created. It’s unlikely, which is a real shame as Elba deserves to carry his own franchise.
* Loki is not set to return in The Avengers 2, which has provoked conversation as to whether he will survive the events of The Dark World. In the first trailer, Thor turns to his treacherous brother for help with the caveat that when Loki betrays him, Thor will kill him. While it’s unlikely that Thor is the one to kill his brother, it has been said that The Dark World is a redemptive tale for the character of Loki and if you know your literature you’ll know that most stories of that nature don’t tend to end well for the character seeking redemption. Could Loki make the ultimate sacrifice for his family? Only time will tell.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
* This instalment of Captain America is meant to be the most important film in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) due to its strong connection to the overall narrative. Winter Soldier is supposedly the bridge that unites the two Avengers movies, and is just as much a SHIELD movie as it is a personal tale about Captain America facing his demons, both in the form of the titular Winter Soldier and the love of his life (a now incredibly old Peggy Carter).
* The Winter Soldier is being billed as a political thriller, more than an epic comic book action movie.
* The movie is meant to provide a more in depth exploration of the power plays and political intrigue that transpire behind closed doors at SHIELD, determining where everyone’s loyalties lie and setting in motion new character conflicts that could create tension or even a completely fractured team in The Avengers 2.
* Villains include The Winter Soldier (although he will likely convert to Cap’s companion by the end of the film), a return of Amin Zola (Toby Jones), though most likely in his present day cyborg form and French kickboxing master mercenary Batroc The Leaper played by French Canadian UFC fighter Georges St Pierre. There is no word on whether The Red Skull will make an appearance. Though it would be preferred by fans, Hugo Weaving‘s public disapproval of the project and role makes this unlikely.
* Black Widow’s backstory will likely be an important part of The Winter Soldier and it will supposedly contain a lot more of her gadgetry.
* Anthony Mackie joins the cast as Falcon, another hero/military soldier that has wings and can fly. The film iteration will drop the garish multi-coloured costume of old and go with a more straight forward, militaristic look.
* Robert Redford has been cast as a character high-up in SHIELD. It has been speculated that he may also be a villain, such as Baron Zemo, in disguise.
* An extra piece of concept art has been unveiled (shown above) depicting a new, seemingly large scale battle with Captain America and The Winter Soldier duking it out while a large number of others fight, including Falcon who can be seen flying around in the background. This is the first image we’ve seen of Winter Soldier with the mask off as well, which is technically a plot point/spoiler (but not really). This is looking really impressive.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
* Completely separate from the rest of the Marvel movies so far, Guardians Of The Galaxy will serve to open up the MCU in a strong universe spanning way and introduce the prominent influence of evil alien warlord Thanos, but the Guardians will not be present in The Avengers 2, and right now, no previously established character will be interacting with them on their outing.
* Ronan The Accuser will be the film’s lead villain most likely played by Lee Pace, who originally auditioned for the main role of Star Lord. Ronan The Accuser in his original incarnation was the third most powerful member of the militaristic race of aliens known as the Kree. They are humanoid, but with increased speed and strength and some have more dangerous abilities such as being able to drain the lifeforce from another. Ronan is an incredible warrior and fearsome foe. In the Ultimate version of the character however, he is actually Thanos’ son. This could well be the route that Marvel decide to take.
* The Guardians will operate out of their base of operations, called Knowhere, a space station with the ability to teleport throughout the universe.
* Chris Pratt has been cast as the charismatic lead of Peter Quill/Star Lord, a test pilot that finds himself transported into space and thrown into a conflict.
* Dave Bautista has been cast as Drax The Destroyer, a big orc looking motherfucker who used to be a human insurance salesman before he was brutally killed and harvested to become an ultimate weapon.
* Zoe Saldana is all but confirmed to play green warrior alien woman Gomorra. Lots of sword play.
* The final two character of The Guardians are Groot (a giant talking tree) and Rocket Racoon (a foul mouthed, cockney accented racoon space pirate). These roles will likely all be CGI with some motion capture and voicework. Fans have been demanding that Jason Statham should fill the role of Rocket Racoon and I can’t say I disagree.
* Benicio Del Toro has signed a multi-picture deal with Marvel to play an undisclosed character in multiple entries to the ever expanding MCU. The first film he’s appearing in will be Guardians so it’s likely that he will be playing The Controller (an intergalactic immortal being that collects lots of rare artifacts and people).
* Guardians Of The Galaxy is being directed by James Gunn and is Marvel’s most ambitious film/biggest financial risk yet. Gunn is an interesting choice for director, as he’s more renowned (or notorious) for his dark and twisted sense of humour and mature sensibilities. Marvel have made strong choices with their directors thus far, so it’s clear that Gunn’s dark style is probably going to lend a lot of credence to proceedings for Guardians. Go big or go home, as it were.
* Glenn Close and John C. Reilly will be playing leadership roles in the two main law enforcement agencies; galactic police force Nova Corps and SHIELD’s liason with Nova respectively. Close does well in roles of authority and is a highly respected actress, and Reilly is a versatile actor.
* Doctor Who alumni Karen Gillian has been cast as the evil space pirate Nebula, who will play one of the main villains of the film. She has had plenty of run-ins with The Avengers and The Guardians in the comics, utilizing her impressive pirate fleet to conquer small worlds. She plays a major part in the Infinity Gauntlet/Thanos arc, so it’s likely we”ll see her play a major part in the MCU moving forward.
* Michael Rooker (a firm friend of Gunn) is playing Yondu, a blue archer alien that was one of the original founding members of The Guardians in their first comic book iteration.
* Ophelia Lovlibond has been cast as an “aide of The Collector” most likely, Carina Walters, his daughter. This creates a number of interesting possibilities for the future of the MCU, including (quoted from another source):
So, if Ophelia Lovibond is to play someone who “aides” The Collector, she’s likely playing his daughter, Carina Walters. This is where it gets very geeky and slightly confusing. Carina’s mom (The Collector’s wife) died eons ago – despite being immortal – because she lost the will to live. This is what led to The Collector becoming who he is with a new sense of purpose (collecting). The potential for The Collector and Carina being in the film would have even greater implications, since it opens the door to another villainous possibility for the future of the film franchise: Korvac.
Where Thanos was the first threat The Collector foresaw, Michael Korvac was the second. Korvac was born a thousand years into the future, around the time when the original Guardians of the Galaxy formed around the events of the Badoon aliens conquering the galaxy. Essentially, Korvac is angry and rather evil, so he betrayed humanity to help the Badoon. Through events we won’t get into, Korvac travels back in time to present day to fight Doctor Strange (movie incoming!) and others. There’s a big fight, Korvac tries to blow up our solar system, Thor and the Guardians are involved, etc. Korvac loses and escapes to another dimension and timeline (ours).
The heroes of the universe managed to defeat Thanos the first time around without The Collector getting involved, but for the battle against Korvac, The Collector sent his daughter Carina to earth to directly intervene. That’s another complicated story that involves Carina and Korvac falling in love, but for the sake of talking about the film universe, let’s just say Carina may have lot to do with The Avengers and specifically, the Wasp character, and if young actress Lovibond is playing Carina, then it’s very possible that Korvac could be an eventual villain, whether that be in an Avengers film, a Thor film or a Guardians of the Galaxy film.
* Joss Whedon has admitted that when he first came on board he was not “sold” on the potential of Guardians Of The Galaxy. He has said that it’s the steady hands of James Gunn and his warped take on it that has assuaged his fears.
”You know, it seemed out there to me too. I think it came from Kevin and I sort of went ‘I don’t know about this,’ and then they brought on James [Gunn] and he really turned it around… As soon as they said James the movie started to make sense to me in a way the movie hadn’t. ‘Oh, this isn’t a guy who’s going to chase Star Wars, he’s going to make a James Gunn movie, and for James the first thing was ‘I love Rocket. It’s all the raccoon’ and a lot of people were like “really, a raccoon?’ and he’s like ‘nah, the racoon is the heart and knowing that I felt very safe. And then casting Chris Pratt… I was just there before they started production, and seeing all the designs, I got really jealous. I was like ‘why can’t I make this movie?’ I really turned a 180 on that one.”
* Stephen Wacker is the senior editor of the relaunched Marvel NOW! Guardians Of The Galaxy series and he has been suggesting that an animated series for Guardians Of The Galaxy may be headed our way. It certainly would make sense for Marvel to help promote their riskiest property to date across multiple platforms, so if it happens, it’ll likely occur early next year, to lead into the film’s release.
* Details have emerged surrounding on location shooting in farmland in Bramley, Guildford, Surrey. While Kevin Feige has said that 95% of Guardians Of The Galaxy will take place in space, that means that 5% will happen on Earth. It seems that one of the major sequences (likely at the start of the story) will see an alien crash land in farmland, before sending new hero Peter Quill on his journey to become Star Lord. A rendering design has leaked displaying that this scene will be “Yondu’s Crash” which is the blue ancient archer alien that Michael Rooker is playing. The astute amongst you may recognize a certain parallel with Warner Brothers’ flop Green Lantern, but I’m sure the Marvel version will be executed a lot more confidently.