Marvel Cinematic Universe shows signs of life in Phase Three

By Eli Fine


Editor’s Note: The following article is the part two of a two-part feature on the phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This article contains spoilers for the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In late Oct 2014, Marvel Cinematic Universe announced the titles and release dates of all the movies in its upcoming Phase Three. They have scheduled nine movies between now and 2019, and that’s not including Phase Two movies “Avengers: Age of Ultron” or “Ant Man,” both of which have yet to be released. For the most part, it seems like the MCU will be sticking to its brand, not straying much from the content that it has become comfortable with. On the other hand, they have made a few choices that allow for the possibility that they might be stepping ever so slightly out of their comfort zone.

The first Phase Three movie on the docket is the Captain America follow-up, “Captain America: Civil War,” scheduled for May 6, 2016. The concept of the civil war, an internal struggle within the Avengers, is compelling, all the more so because Marvel has revealed that Robert Downey Jr., always a welcome presence, will be appearing as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Anthony Mackie will be returning as Falcon, an intriguing character introduced in the second Captain America movie, and Chadwick Boseman will make his debut as Black Panther. What is most exciting for this movie, however, is the recently announced casting of Daniel Brühl as the movie’s alleged primary villain. Brühl, who may be recognizable from “Inglorious Basterds,” is a terrific actor with great, intimidating screen presence, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table in “Civil War.”

“Doctor Strange,” is scheduled for Nov. 4, 2016. There have been many rumors circulating the Internet regarding who will portray Doctor Strange. Some of the names Marvel allegedly considered are interesting actors whom you might not expect to see in a Marvel movie, like Joaquin Phoenix and Jared Leto. Unfortunately though, the most recent rumor is not very confidence-inspiring. Apparently, the studio is considering Benedict Cumberbatch for the part. While admittedly an interesting actor, Cumberbatch is exactly the sort of person I would expect Marvel to cast here. He’s done the whole mysterious-and-brilliant thing many times, and he doesn’t seem to have very much range. His work in “Sherlock” is only slightly different than his work in “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” for example. Regardless of how good he is at what he does, there’s very little chance he would bring anything new to the MCU.

July 28, 2017 will see the release of “Thor: Ragnarok.” During the big Phase Three announcement, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that this movie will “take Thor to another level of his own franchise,” and that it will “impact everything to come afterwards.” The first two movies in this series were so dreadful that the third installment doesn’t really matter. The world that Marvel has built around Thor, especially Thor’s home planet of Asgard, is a boring CGI landscape. They’ve filled the Thor movies with boring, generic characters on the sides of both good and evil. I couldn’t be looking forward to “Thor: Ragnarok” any less.

Over the years, Marvel has faced a substantial amount of deserved criticism regarding their lack of diversity. They hope to remedy this with two upcoming Phase Three movies. “Black Panther” will be released on Nov 3, 2017, with Chadwick Boseman starring as the MCU’s first African-American superhero. Boseman, who has recently shown his range in movies like “42” and “Get On Up,” could be a solid addition to the MCU’s roster.

“Captain Marvel,” the MCU’s first female-led film, is scheduled for July 6, 2018. Since the announcement, there has been much speculation over Marvel’s casting of Captain Marvel. The one name that I’ve seen mentioned and think is a great idea is Natalie Dormer (“Game of Thrones”). Her unique energy sets her apart from the actresses I would expect Marvel to be considering for the role.

Following the recent studio trend of arbitrarily breaking tent pole movies into two parts, “Avengers: Infinity War” has been split in two. Part One will be released on May 4, 2018, and Part Two on May 3, 2019. Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of “Captain America: Winter Soldier” are rumored to be directing. The Russos are veteran sitcom director and producers, and they helped to make the second “Captain America” film a marked improvement over its predecessor. They didn’t, however, demonstrate any particular style of direction that would indicate them to be the right people to take on a massive project like this. Hopefully Marvel will go in a different direction here.

It will be interesting to see if Marvel movies will still be doing so extraordinarily well at the box office come 2019. With all of these movies, plus the myriad of other superhero movies scheduled by Warner Brothers and Fox, the general public might have hit a superhero overload by then. Regardless, this is an interesting batch of films. While some, like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Doctor Strange” might fall into the same traps of their Marvel predecessors, many of the others are promising, or intriguing at the very least.

Eli Fine is Collegain can be reached at [email protected]