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What to expect from MARVEL’s PHASE 4

The last film of the Infinity Saga, Spider-Man: Far From Home, is in cinemas now, but Marvel clearly has no intention of slowing down their blockbuster movie output. Last night, in the prestigious Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, Kevin Feige took to the stage to reveal a slew of new products hitting screens, both big and small, over the next couple of years.

Many of the announcements had already been rumoured, but now that they’re all confirmed, it’s time to dive in and see what we’re dealing with.

Release Date: May 1st 2020

First up is the long-awaited Black Widow solo film. Due to the events of Avengers: Endgame, this film is a prequel. The film will, in part, take us to the oft-mentioned Budapest, where something crazy supposedly went down in both Black Widow and Hawkeye’s past. The film is directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome) and joining her are Black Widow actress Scarlet Johansson, David Harbour (Stranger Things), Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family), O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

According to the trailer (which is, unfortunately, yet to be released to the public) the film will see Black Widow taking on the famed skull-masked mercenary known as the Taskmaster, who, in the comics, can mimic the fighting style of anyone he observes. This power has allowed him to stand up to a variety of heroes from Captain America to Spider-Man, and it’ll be interesting to see how his abilities are depicted on the big screen.

Being a Black Widow movie, it’s also highly likely we’ll see the Red Room where Natasha was trained, and from the sounds of things, we’ll be seeing other graduates, as played by Florence Pugh (who plays Yelena Belova, another Black Widow in the comics) and Rachel Weisz, who has described her character as having been through the Red Room program ‘five times’, which leads me to speculate she may be the real villain of the piece, as I feel like a lot of Black Widow’s rivals are just fellow Red Room graduates who she’s shown up. Plus ‘Melina’ – Weisz’ character’s name, is the name of an obscure supervillain who has that exact origin, so…

Release Date: Fall 2020

The first of the Disney+ series’ is the one I’m personally most excited about, and was even before the developments of Endgame. Starring Anthony Mackie as the Falcon and Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will presumably explore the pairs relationship after the retirement of Steve Rogers as Captain America, and the growth of Samuel Wilson as he strives to take up the role himself after being gifted the shield.

Other returning castmembers include Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter and Daniel Brühl as Zemo, both of whom played a big part in the last Captain America movie, Civil War. With so many big Captain America characters crammed in, it’s clear that this is another Captain America story in all but name, and it will interesting to see this new Cap/Bucky pairing grow into bigger stars in the Marvel Universe before they’re called back to the movie side of things.

Even more interesting is the fact that footage not shown outside the con apparently involved Zemo donning a purple mask, teasing his transformation into the full on supervillain we see in the comics. If Marvel are hoping to turn the characters from a rogue soldier to a full-on villain, it gives me hope that the character may show up again further down the line as a member of Marvel’s Suicide Squad-esque team, the Thunderbolts.

Release Date: November 6th 2020

Another long rumoured film, Eternals will be the second and final Marvel film of 2020. Based on what are essentially a group of space-gods, Eternals, according to director Chloé Zhao, will explore what it means to be human through the lens of a group of immortal beings.

Bringing that race to life will be Salma Hayek (Frida), Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), Dong-seok Ma (Train to Busan), Lia McHugh (The Lodge) and Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead). In the comics, the Eternals are created by the Celestials (briefly seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise) and boast an array of godlike powers including super-strength, flight and energy manipulation. A part of their group lived on the moon Titan, and gave way to Thanos himself.

While conventionally depicted as a group of predominantly white male deities (Thanos being an obvious exception), the characters in the film have been diversified to include more women and people-of-colour. For instance, Lauren Ridloff is playing the usually male speedster Makaris, who in this version will be a black, female, hearing-impaired character, while Dong-seok Ma’s Gilgamesh was often confused, in-universe, with the Greek demi-God Hercules.

So in a way, Marvel’s Hercules is finally hitting the big screen, and is being played by an Asian man. I imagine all those who found Idris Elba’s casting as an Asgardian God to be infuriating will probably be having a fit right about now. I love it.

Release Date: February 12th 2021

The idea of a Shang-Chi movie sounded cool to me, but I was curious how a man who’s powers are basically ‘I’m really good at Kung-Fu’ would slot into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I theorised with a co-worker the other week that perhaps, due to the comic book characters links to the outdated racial sterotype villain Fu Manchu, that the movie version could instead adopt the Iron Man villain Mandarin as his new cinematic arch-nemesis, and apparently, that’s exactly what’s going down.

The film will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and stars Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) as Shang-Chi, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (In the Mood for Love) as the Mandarin, and rapper Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) in a supporting role.

The Legend of the Ten Rings will presumably follow the hero known as Shang-Chi (dubbed ‘the Master of the Kung-Fu’) and his interactions with the terrorist group known as the Ten Rings, who have previously appeared in Iron Man, Ant-Man as well as Marvel shorts. Unlike the Ben Kingsley/Guy Pearce variant of the villain seen in Iron Man Three, this new Mandarin will probably lean closer to the classic Iron Man villain from the comics, who boasted a set of ten magical rings (they were really alien tech, but whatever – they’re basically magic) and used them to become a warlord. As Shang-Chi’s comics often leaned into the fact that he was the son of the evil Fu Manchu, I imagine we’ll see the movie variant discover that his father is actually the Mandarin, and feel responsible for putting an end to his Dad’s terrorist plots.

Side-note: that title is awesome.

Release Date: Spring 2021

After Shang-Chi, we’re heading back to Disney+, this time to see the ongoing adventures of the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her supposedly deceased beau, the Vision (Paul Bettany). This one is a bit harder to predict, due to the fact the Vision died in Infinity War, and I can’t imagine this series will see Wanda going on a globe-trotting adventure to Wakanda to rebuild him. However, an angle I could foresee is the series exploring Wanda’s ever-growing powers, which somehow bring the Vision back to life.

While Wanda is plenty powerful in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she pales in comparison to her comic-book counterpart, who can tap into magic energies to manipulate reality itself. Seeing as this series has been described as ‘very weird’ and Wanda will also be starring in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel that we’ll get into shortly, I imagine that we will be seeing a growth in Wanda’s powers, and be exploring her link to a chaotic magical force.

Release Date: May 7th 2021

Once again, Marvel has made me very excited for 2021 by dumping a super weird and lengthy title on us, this time with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Fans have been clamouring to see more of the multiverse ever since Endgame introduced alternate timelines and Far From Home teased that Mysterio had arrived from another dimension. But really Doctor Strange is the place that makes the most sense to explore the multiverse, due to it being established in his first solo outing.

Returning director Scott Derrickson promises that this movie will be the first ‘scary’ Marvel movie, and the film has been described online as having tinges of ‘Gothic Horror’. Such claims lead me to believe that we’ll be seeing the likes of Nightmare (a rather obviously named demon lord of nightmares) and hopefully, Shuma-Gorath, an extra-dimensional tentacled being who looks like he’s been pulled right out of a H.P. Lovecraft story. If Strange is set to be transversing the multiverse with Wanda at his side, then I find it highly likely that we’ll at least get glimpses of the two monsters who are big parts of his rogues gallery, as well as potentially a load of other nasties.

Personally I’m just excited for a trippy Doctor Strange movie where he gets to do actual magic rather than just glowy martial arts – he is one of my favourite comic book characters after all, and I need to see his true potential realised in a solo outing.

Release Date: Spring 2021

Some characters just wont die, and despite Thanos’ claim that there will be ‘no resurrections this time’, before snapping the trickster God’s neck, that seemingly includes Loki.

Returning Tom Hiddleston to the MCU after his third supposed on-screen death, this time we’ll see Hiddleston as the star of the show, following on from his escape from the Avengers during the time heist portion of Endgame. Presumably, that means this Loki and the series as a whole will be showing his adventures in an alternate timeline, but seeing as Marvel themselves seem kind of confused about how time travel works in their universe (what’s the deal with old man Steve Rogers? I have my headcannon, but both the writers and the directors have said contradictory things), so I wont speculate too much.

This series will be penned by Rick and Morty scribe Michael Waldron, so expect some wild and wacky hi-jinks as Loki messes with some unsuspecting Earthlings.

Release Date: Summer 2021

As we get closer to the end of the list of announcements, we move onto Marvel Studios first big-time animated venture, What If..?

What If..? was a long running comic book series that explored alternative timelines and ‘What if’ scenarios. It was narrated by an enigmatic being known as the Watcher – an alien with a massive head who sees all, and is tasked with overseeing all the major events that befall the Earth, before reporting back to his own race of similarly massive headed beings who are doing the same across the Galaxy. The species was briefly seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where it was revealed that Stan Lee’s cameos throughout the Infinity Saga were him playing their Earth-based informant.

With Stan now sadly departed, the new Watcher of Earth will be played by Jeffrey Wright (WestWorld), as he introduces alternate takes on Marvel movies in animated form. A wealth of actors from across the Infinity Saga will return to voice their characters, and a rumoured story-line involves Peggy Carter getting given the Super-Soldier Serum and becoming Captain America (or would that be Captain Britain?).

Release Date: Fall 2021

With Black Widow being the first movie of Phase Four, that leaves us with only one original Avenger who hasn’t had his chance to have his story told. Luckily, that will be remedied in 2021 as Jeremy Renner stars in the Hawkeye Disney+ series. The series will be based in part on Matt Fraction’s popular comic book run, and see Clint Barton tutoring a new hero called Kate Bishop to be the next Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner expressed enthusiasm for the projects focus on non-powered heroes, and the fact that it means anyone can be a superhero if they want to.

Feige added that Hawkeye will see more of Barton’s Ronin persona, so perhaps this means that we will see more of Clint coming to terms with what he did during ‘the Blip’, and deciding to finally retire for good – but not before making sure there’s still a Hawkeye about to keep the Avengers in line.

Speaking of the Avengers, while many knew this would be the focus of the Hawkeye TV series, its official announcement does add credence to the rumours that Marvel are hoping to do a Young Avengers adaptation. The Young Avengers was the comic book series that introduced Bishop as Hawkeye, before she went on to co-star in Fraction’s Hawkeye run, and featured her and a group of teens taking on aliases of their own to emulate the formation of the classic Avengers.

Release Date: November 5th 2021

There was a lot to be excited about in Feige’s Hall H presentation, with my personal highlights being The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but a film I’ve long been anticipating ever since it was just a mere rumour was Thor 4.

And this week, it was officially announced that Taika Watiti, one of my favourite directors, was returning to Marvel Studios to write and direct the film.

The Thor segment of the Hall H presentation gave us even more juicy details, such as Tessa Thompson suggesting the film may see her character, Valkyrie, trying to find herself a Queen as she becomes the new King of Asgard, as well as the surprising return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, who famously dipped out of the Marvel films due to her dislike of the way things happened behind-the-scenes. That appears to have been remedied however, as Portman is back, and seemingly in a much bigger role, as Waititi suggested that this new film, Love and Thunder, will take cues from the Jason Aaron run of the Mighty Thor comics, in which original Thor is deemed unworthy of lifting Mjolnir, so Foster steps up to become the new female Thor.

With Mjolnir destroyed, things obviously wont go down like that, but I could see a rom-com in which Thor tries to win back the love of Jane Foster by giving her her own hammer and a portion of his powers.

When it comes to Waititi, anything is possible, but with yet another colourful title card and jazzy title, we can only assume it’s going to be a hilarious treat for the eyes.

While those were the only dated announcements, that wasn’t all that was revealed, as Kevin Feige ended the presentation by confirming sequels to Black Panther and Captain Marvel are in the works, and that the Fantastic Four and X-Men will of course eventually join their fellow Marvel heroes in the MCU. Finally, he revealed that Mahershala Ali will be the new Blade, after Ali called Feige and asked to be cast in the roll.

I must confess that I’ve yet to actually watch the Wesley Snipes films, but I enjoy the character in the comics, and I dig Magershala Ali in everything I see him in, so I will definitely be down to watch this new take on the daywalking vampire slayer.

Maybe he can start by killing Sony’s Morbius spin-off?

(Just kidding)

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Posted by on July 21, 2019 in What's Going On?

 

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AVENGERS: ENDGAME | Spoiler Review

I got up this morning to go and watch Avengers: Endgame a second time. After working the midnight release, and checking the screens, I continued to notice little things that I wanted to experience again – so with today being my day off, I went back to the cinema for a rewatch.

With that in mind, I’m going to discuss the film in full. However, it will be exceptionally spoiler heavy, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do not read this review. Don’t click ‘read more’. Don’t even look at the tags. Go watch this movie. But if you’re needing something to read, my original review can be found here.

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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in MARVEL, Marvel Studios

 

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR | Film Review

I haven’t quite finished reviewing all the older Marvel films yet, although I did finish watching them, so that’s half a victory. But having seen Infinity War, I’m not sure I can hold back my thoughts and feelings, so it’s review time! [Spoiler-free]

RELEASED: April 26th 2017
DIRECTED BY: The Russo Brothers
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Benecio del Toro, Tom Hiddleston, Karen Gillen, Idris Elba, Benedict Wong, Sebastian Stan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Letitia Wainwright, William Hurt & Josh Brolin

Wow, just wow.

Back in 2012, the world watched in awe as Joss Whedon assembled the six Avengers. In 2016, the Russo Brothers brought together twelve heroes to throw down over the Sokovia Accords, and it was even more exciting. Two years on, and the Russo Brothers now have nineteen heroes under their command (and that’s not even including the various other side-characters like Wong, Okoye and so on) and would you believe, they’ve somehow managed to pull it off again. But this time, it’s even better.

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After his various lackeys fail to claim the Infinity Stones in Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos leads his children on a cosmic rampage towards Earth to finally complete his spiritual journey to gain ultimate power. With the Avengers shattered after the events of Captain America: Civil War, what hope do the remaining heroes have against this threat of unspeakable proportions, even with the help of Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy?

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THOR: RAGNAROK | Film Review

This post was originally published on 26/10/2017, but has been moved back to fit in with my MCU review series.

This is it. The end of the line. With one week left to go before Avengers: Infinity War hits, I’ve made it to the last Marvel Movie of the series (chronologically). Well, sort of; I already wrote this review a while ago, but the overall watching experience has been fun. Anyway, here we go; it’s Thor: Ragnarok!

RELEASED: October 27th 2017
DIRECTED BY: Taika Waititi
WRITTEN BY: Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson & Christopher Yost
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Mark Mothersbaugh
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Karl Urban & Anthony Hopkins

When I first heard that Taika Waititi had been brought on to lighten the tone of what was, at the time, a very dark script, I was worried. Not because I didn’t have faith in Waititi; What We Do In The Shadows is hilarious, and Hunt For The Wilderpeople has since become one of my favourite films. The problem was that with a title like ‘Ragnarok’, the usual, light-hearted, quippy Marvel style didn’t seem appropriate.

And when you start watching the film, you may think that Waititi has indeed sacrificed the true themes of the story in favour of directing yet another bubbly Marvel movie. The majority of elements from Thor‘s mythology are quickly sidelined and supporting characters are killed off with abandon, so that Thor and Loki can be carted off to Sakaar, where they can have a colourful Guardians of the Galaxy-esque adventure.

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My fears started to subside when it came to humour. While Thor: Ragnarok definitely has it’s fair share of jokes, the humour is done in a way that it actually fits the moment. The jokes are more sporadic than other Marvel movies, but when they come about, they’re better crafted than, say, hammering down the fact that ‘Taserface’ is stupid name over and over (looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2).

But that’s just one piece of the puzzle, and serves as one of many factors that make you realise that by the time you reach the film’s climax, Waititi was definitely the right man for the job.

The result is the best Thor movie so far, the best Hulk movie so far, and probably one of the best Marvel movies in the seventeen-film strong series.

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The film follows Thor as he seeks to hold off Ragnarok, the ‘end of all things’. During this quest, a string of encounters with Surtur, Doctor Strange, his brother Loki and his long-lost sister Hela sends the God of Thunder on a journey of self-discovery that leads him to the planet Sakaar. There, Thor is forced to become a gladiator, but finds unlikely allies in the form of a forgotten Valkyrie and the incredible Hulk.

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THOR, Vol. 1 | ‘New to Comics’ Review

This post was originally published on my now defunct site, New to Comics.

New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic-books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is an reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.


As we continue to look at the mythological figures that proliferate comic-books, this week, we’re back to Marvel for, what is essentially Thor: Rebirth. That’s right, it’s the return to form of everyone’s favourite God of Thunder (Sorry Zeus, you’ve had your time to shine) written by a writer whose run on The Amazing Spider-Man was one of my favourite early reads; J. Michael Straczynski!

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Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Art by: Olivier Coipel
Pages: 160

SPOTLIGHT CHARACTER:

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Real Name: Thor Odinson
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery #83 (August 1962)

Before Captain AmericaSpider-Man, or the Fantastic Four – the world had a different type of hero, the mighty Thor! Son of the almighty All-Father Odin and sworn enemy of his own half-brother, Loki, Thor – the Norse ‘God of Thunder’ – hailed from the Golden City of Asgard, and would often come to Earth seeking adventure and glorious combat. But when his arrogance proved too much, Thor was stripped of his power and his enchanted Uru hammer Mjölnir, and cast down to Earth under the mortal guise of the handicapped doctor, Donald Blake. There, he was forced to learn humility, which he did so with the help of his love Jane Foster, and in turn, reclaimed his Godhood and thunder-casting weapon, becoming one of the greatest and most powerful heroes in the universe.

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THOR: THE DARK WORLD | DVD Review

I seem to have misplaced my copy of Iron Man 3, presumably when I moved house, so for now, we’re just going to skip straight ahead to the second film in the Thor franchise, The Dark World.

RELEASED: November 8th 2013
DIRECTED BY: Alan Taylor
WRITTEN BY: Don Payne, Robert Rodat, Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Zachary Levi, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje & Christopher Eccleston

After his adventure with the Avengers, Thor Odinson returns to Earth, when his love, Jane Foster, is endangered by a primordial force known as the Aether. Bringing her to Asgard, Jane finds herself confronted with the pantheon of Gods Thor calls family. However, Jane’s discovery has also awakened a threat long thought dead; that of the Dark Elves and their leader, Malekith. With the whole of reality at stake, Thor and Jane must seek the aid of Loki, the villain responsible for endangering planet Earth.

After Kenneth Branagh did a magnificent job with Thor, the reigns of the franchise were passed over to Game of Thrones‘ Alan Taylor, and as you can imagine, the series took a more dark and violent turn. In that turn, a lot of the heart and comic-book-y tone was lost, and as a result, the film seems not only directionless but also as if it’s made by people who don’t really understand the characters.

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AVENGERS ASSEMBLE | DVD Review

We’ve reached the end of ‘Phase One’ in our Marvel Movie marathon, with the film that changed the game forever in terms of superhero movies, and finally saw, as the title will tell you, the Avengers Assemble.

RELEASED: 4th May 2012
DIRECTED BY: Joss Whedon
WRITTEN BY: Zak Penn & Joss Whedon
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg & Samuel L. Jackson

While we all look back on Avengers Assemble (or just The Avengers if you’re outside of Britain) fondly, the truth is, the film does have some flaws. It’s got a bit of awkward pacing at times, especially during the central act, and sometimes certain characters, dialogue or props seem to be there just to force the plot along, rather than naturally fitting in to the story.

However, much of that can be forgiven due to the extraordinary feat the film pulled off in, well, assembling the Avengers.

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