Comics on Film: Everything You Need to Know About Marvel’s Big Phase 3

Marvel’s massive announcement detailing all of its offerings for Phase Three of its cinematic universe likely left a lot of comic book fans absolutely speechless. In addition to new adventures for Thor, Captain America and the previously announced Guardians of the Galaxy, we now have confirmation for films the Internet has been speculating about for months. These include the Inhumans, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and Black Panther.

All of this will culminate into not one, but two crossover Avengers films that will finally exploit Josh Brolin’s Thanos as the primary villain. This is a lot of news to take in, so maybe the best thing to do is go through each project one at a time (in the order of its release) to break this into something a bit more manageable.

Not only will Captain America: Civil War be one of the most anticipated Marvel Studios movies by the mere virtue of being the sequel to this year’s acclaimed Winter Soldier, but it now comes with the added expectation — and pressure — of partially adapting one of the most popular Marvel Comics crossover events of the last 15 years. There are a number of factors that will have to be different from the main story (heroes don’t really have secret identities in this version of the universe and no announcement was made about Spider-Man showing up), but with the same creative team in place plus Robert Downey Jr. appearing as Tony Stark/Iron Man, this will likely be a main-event Marvel film that might as well be called Avengers 2.5 for how ambitious it is in the scheme of the whole universe. (This is also the film that will reportedly introduce us to Black Panther for the first time.)

Although no official casting was made, the fact that Marvel is pushing ahead with a concerted effort exploring magical realms should put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys diversity of storytelling. Marvel Studios is now a proven formula, and with that it can stretch into genres that you may not normally think a comic book film would go into, but the inclusion of a well-regarded character like Doctor Strange — along with the infrastructure of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe at its back —  should help make for a fantastic addition to the universe.

While the character’s comics stories are still generally earthbound, a film like this has the same kind of expansive potential that the first Guardians of the Galaxy brought to the cinematic universe this past August, but of course we’ll have to wait and see which actor will embody the eponymous Doctor (ahem, Benedict Cumberbatch) before the hype machine kicks into gear.

Who’s going to complain about getting a sequel to the highly acclaimed first Guardians film a couple months early? When this film was first announced, it was slated for July 2, 2017, but the Marvel event in Los Angeles has confirmed that’s changed to May 5. Writer-director James Gunn has already spoken of his excitement for the sequel and how he’s started writing it, and since most audiences and critics alike have lauded his starting effort in launching an outwardly quirky, spacebound, alien-filled franchise, its pretty safe to say that the evening of May 4, 2017 will see more than a few sold out midnight screenings for the new adventures of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.

Although the second Thor installment wasn’t the most critically well-received Marvel Studios film, most can agree that it certainly set up some major stakes for a follow-up in its closing minutes, and that’s certainly promised with the confirmed title of the third film. “Ragnarok” has the virtue of being both an element of the Norse mythology on which the Thor character is based, while also being the name of a fundamentally status-altering Thor-centric event in the Marvel Comics universe. This film will also be a big step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, with Kevin Feige adding, “This is a very important movie for us in Phase Three. We plan on taking Thor to another level. It picks up where we leave Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron and impacts everything that comes after.”

Sounds like they’re positioning this one to be a can’t-miss event, so let’s hope it lives up to the scale and overall grandeur of its title.

An oft-requested character and entry into the film universe, Black Panther has the potential to create mainstream interest around one of the most regal and interesting superheroes in Marvel history, in addition to being a character of social importance due to his status as the first major black superhero in American comics history. Black Panther predates the likes of Falcon, Luke Cage, Storm, Green Lantern’s John Stewart and Black Lightning, and his position as king of a nation that enjoys the wealth of an extremely rare element that Captain America’s shield is composed of has helped to make him an important player in the affairs of the Marvel Universe.

Black Panther also has generally close ties with the Avengers, which may help to flesh out the team’s changing lineup by the time we get to Marvel Studios’ known slate of feature films. Actor Chadwick Boseman has already signed on for the part, and will first debut as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War.

Although normally the name of a male character, recent years have seen Marvel Comics successfully relaunch the Captain Marvel ongoing title by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick with character Carol Danvers, an Avenger previously known as Ms. Marvel. It’s this iteration of the Captain that will lead the 2018 film, and from this fan’s perspective it’s an awesome choice. Not only does the Carol Danvers character have great character ties to other Marvel heroes going back to the late 1960s, but most people can likely agree that superhero cinema is missing a great deal of female characters to lead prospective franchises. Both Captain Marvel and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman may help to turn that trend around, which can only open up an entirely new dimension of heroism that movie audiences have yet to be exposed to.

Another recently rumored film to enter development, Inhumans can build on the solid success of Guardians of the Galaxy along with the proven themes of characters like the X-Men to form something that has the potential to be truly unique. The Inhumans are certainly otherwordly and maybe even outwardly weird to the average moviegoer, but the thematic potential concerning an offshoot of humanity that is willfully exiled has limitless potential, in addition to the visual spectacle that awaits the cinematic unveiling of characters like Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak and Gorgon. People also fell in love with Groot, and I’m calling it now: Lockjaw is going to get similar adoration.

All hands on deck! Marvel Studios has been building to the promise of these two films since the end of the first Avengers entry, and it all seems to be leading to this. While it could be anyone’s guess at what the actual lineup of Avengers will be at the start of Infinity War Part I, this two parter is absolutely loaded with possibility for a multitude of characters to get involved, including the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans. While its still pretty early to make any major predictions of how these films will go down, the promise of Infinity War should have every Marvel Universe fan excited, will likely see sales of The Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel skyrocket, and could leave everything on the field as far as the Marvel CInematic Universe as we know it.

There’s a lot of change potential inherent in such a far-reaching cosmic event, and this announcement is the proverbial cherry on top as we get ready to leave Phase Two behind with Age of Ultron.

Which project are you most excited about? Do you like where Marvel Studios seems to be headed with all of its announcements and promises? Be sure to leave a comment below, and we’ll see you next week for another edition of Comics on Film!


Chris Clow is a geek. He is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, the Junior Editor at GeekNation.com, and a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and Batman-On-Film.com. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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