The Black Widow costume designer posted an image from Budapest (echoed, subsequently, by actress Florence Pugh) where they are currently filming. This suggests we are going to get an explanation for the banter between she and Hawkeye from the Avengers (or, at least, revisiting the location for some reason). This suggests the film contains at least some scenes that are pre-Avengers (it's not clear when Budapest took place in the MCU; the seemingly debunked 2006 theory holds up better than Conrad's of Y2K, for whatever that's worth). Kevin Feige reinforced the idea that it's fully a prequel by comparing the film to Better Call Saul (the Breaking Bad prequel series). I remain concerned about the movie lacking stakes--bogged down in the trivia of answering questions that don't need answering--but judgement is reserved until we hear more. I do think Marvel is going to have to work harder to sell this movie than it did for Captain Marvel (whose obvious tie-in to Endgame with a brand new character gave it stakes). I get the feeling Feige was a bit unprepared for the indifference people have towards prequels like this (given how hard he's pushing for its relevance right now), although if they give it enough ties into the MCU-present that will overcome some of the objections.
Variety reports Ray Winstone has been added to the cast, although they couldn't confirm what his role is (if the leaked cast list is correct, I'd guess he's the 50-60 year old male Caucasian, which doesn't tell us much).
While on the press junket for Far From Home, Feige was asked about plans for the Fantastic Four and X-Men and said:
"Yeah, maybe. You know, oftentimes it just comes down to a specific character in a specific story and a specific way to introduce them. So sometimes, like with Spider-Man and Black Panther, that made sense. Then, other times, with characters like Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man... it's fun to introduce them in their own movies first. So it just depends on the story we're trying to tell. It's still early days, but it's been a fun exercise, and it's one, by the way, that we've been doing for years. Every development meeting starts with cool ideas and fun ideas, and our wheels are always turning in terms of what if... to use a Marvel publishing term. What if we did this? What if we did that? What if we had access to such and such characters? That's how Spider-Man: Homecoming came together in the first place, and it's fun to now be in this position with the Fox characters, too, because if we come up with a great "What If" we can actually do it. It's great to [finally] have what most companies that hold a lot of intellectual property have, and it's access to all those characters. We were one of the few companies that has a lot of characters but didn't have access to a whole bunch of them, and now that we do, it's wonderful. They're back in the sandbox, in the toy chest, and now as ideas come up and as opportunities come up, we can utilize them, which feels really nice."
This confirms what we heard around the time of the Sony deal for Spider-Man: that Marvel has plans for returning IP--discussing them and preparing spec scripts.
During the press junket Feige confirmed they continue to talk to Keanu Reeves--that casting him is about finding the right fit for him (this suggests the 4chan leak from early/mid-May is at least correct in spirit--we know he was up for Jude Law's role in Captain Marvel, which, given how ephemeral it was, I think would have been a waste). Feige also said it would be fun to see Donnie Yen and Millie Bobby Brown in the MCU, but that nothing specific was on the table for them. Unlike most people, I'm not sold on Brown as an actress (I don't think she's been asked to do much in Stranger Things; I'd be more excited by It actress Sophia Lillis), but I understand the excitement.
One of the other things to come out of Feige's comments were some clickbait headlines proclaiming that he wants or had confirmed an MCU-Venom crossover. Here's what he actually said:
[Q: will Venom ever crossover with Spider-Man] "I think probably it's up to Sony. Sony has both those characters and, has Venom in their world. I don't know what their plans are for another Venom [movie] or if they’re doing that. But it seems likely at some point."This could not be more innocuous--Feige simply confirming that both characters are owned by Sony, so it's their decision for a crossover and that he doesn't know if they are making another Venom film. That's it. He clearly says Venom is in their (ie, Sony's) world, so such a crossover would be in the Sony-verse, not the MCU (Conrad shares this opinion).
The untested (for me) source Lords of the Long Box (LotLB) put up a video and I want to comb through their speculation (both to assess it and to track their accuracy going forward); let's note that their insider source is dubbed "The Black Knight" (for whatever that's worth):
- FF and X-Men will be announced at SDCC, but without dates attached (I find this an odd prediction--"Remember how we said it would happen sometime? Well we're proud to confirm that it's going to happen sometime!")
- David Harbour's character in Black Widow is Ben Grimm (The Thing) before his transformation--given the rights situation with Fox when the script was written that seems unlikely, although I suppose the character could have had a pseudonym until the rights were reacquired (March 20th; Harbour was reported to have signed two weeks later). Is this even possible? Maybe, but it seems like a stretch
- A Nova film is coming (the Richard Ryder version)--this echoes longstanding rumours (the most recent from 4chan in May, which said it was in active development)
- An A-Force film is coming (ABC's cancellation of a series of the same name, link above, could be seen as a hint of that); I'm not entirely sure how this would work (the male characters are all on vacation?), but it's possible
- Modok is the villain for Captain Marvel 2 (something that seems impossible given that he's getting an animated series on Hulu)
- Avengers 5 is Avengers vs X-Men (this is very difficult to imagine with a no date for an introductory X-Men film)--the idea in general, in the future, would be fun (shades of Civil War)
- Speculation from them: Norman Osborn won't be the MCU main antagonist because Marvel doesn't own him--this seems likely, despite the 4chan/GWW rumours to the contrary
- Speculation: the acquisition of the Fox IP has pushed Marvel away from making a Thunderbolts or Dark Avengers film (they imply that Feige isn't a fan of villain teams, but without a source for that it's difficult to accept)
- Dwayne Johnson is negotiating to play Namor (in solo films)--this would require Universal's cooperation, so I doubt that, although given that Johnson is the one talking about his potential MCU-involvement (via an Instagram post) he may well be up for something; the idea of the role being attached to him ultimately comes from Movie Hole, who say Marvel has floated the idea to him; for trivia fans there's a 2011 fan trailer of him as Namor; incidentally, Marvel doesn't let their actors perform in DC-movies, so if we ever do get Johnson, that's presumably the end of his Black Adam deal
- Venom will be in Spider-Man 3 (for the problems with this see above)--I think this only happens if Sony doesn't renew their deal with Marvel
- Angela is going to be Thor 4, which seems like an odd decision because the sister part of her character was folded into Hela, but given the multiverse she could still be related to him in some sense; the franchise logic here, if there is any, would be to address the failure to have Natalie Portman become female-Thor (along with the lack of traction for Sif and Valkyrie to do the same)--Angela could be the character that let's them do the unworthy Thor storyline; I don't think she'd echo her iconic design, however (the skimpy outfit)
Speaking of sources, I've always wondered about the eclectic way Armin (ComicBookCast2) puts out his videos. The guy's fecundity on the platform is legendary, but so often he'll comment on rumours long after they original crop up and I wondered why that was. He was recently talking about the Inhumans, about whom the last time there was news was December (that's when Adam McKay admitted he'd pitched a film idea to Kevin Feige)--so why on earth was Armin talking about them now? I went through his archive and he'd discussed it at the time, so why again? Turns out We Got This Covered (usually a terrible source for news) floated a story about internal talks about the franchise and this was picked up by Screen Geek. I have no idea which source Armin used (probably the later), but I've always had the feeling he searches Google for anything Marvel and rolls with it. As for the Inhumans-idea itself: I'd be shocked if a film was seriously being considered.
One thing that my deep dive on Armin did was expose me to another purported scoopmeister, a Redditor known as TheMarvelScoopMaster (I actually discussed one of his threads not long ago without realizing he's a supposed major leaker). He has a comment about Jeremy Conrad that fits my experience with him:
I've dealt with Jeremy in the past. He's wrong most times and my impression is that he's a guy that rarely thinks things through before he just sends out a tweet.Let's go through some other comments he's made on Reddit so that we can keep them in mind going forward:
- Guardians 3 will begin filming in February, 2020 (the THR story that said it was filming in 2020 did not specify when)
- He claims Thor 4 won't come until 2023, but that Thor will pop up in other films before then to keep him 'present' in the universe (this is the only speculation I've seen on a date)
- Nova is further along than Thor 4, but both are at a fairly nebulous stage; Nova will appear in Guardians 3 (the only speculation I've seen is from 4chan saying that Nova is in active development)
- The Ant-Man characters will be used as supporting elements in other films (so no Ant-Man 3, which matches what we're hearing and what I've been speculating since Ant-Man and the Wasp hit theaters)
- Disney is releasing New Mutants because even if it bombs whatever it makes is pure profit for them (this reasoning would match why they put out Dark Phoenix)
- Black Widow takes place before Iron Man 2 in 2005ish and that the intention is to pass the torch to the Florence Pugh version of the character (my problem with this idea is Pugh's age--although they could use the Winter Soldier freezing technology to maintain it); he also claims the film is about Natasha joining SHIELD, which doesn't interest me at all (but it does fit rumours)
- The idea is for Black Widow to begin a trilogy that will star Pugh in the sequels (something I haven't heard before, but Marvel does like its character trilogies)
- David Callaham's initial script for Shang-Chi lacked humour and the usual MCU-references (he describes it as "dull"), so another writer was brought in to spruce it up (news I haven't heard elsewhere, but would fit what happened to Jac Schaeffer's initial Black Widow script)
- Claims that Avi Arad owns the rights to Namor (and Amy Pascal to Spider-Man), and that Marvel wants Namor in Black Panther 2 (if this is correct I believe these rights are separate from distribution deals; I've heard neither of these tidbits about the rights previously (which I discuss here), although I (and others) have speculated he might appear in BP2); if true I'm puzzled that Pascal's various Spidey spinoff films haven't happened--her Silver & Black was cancelled and Silk hasn't had any movement whatsoever
- No Venom/Spider-Man crossover
- No X-Men/FF for at least five years (his assumption is based on 3 films a year vs their backlog of projects); separately he said "Marvel operates on a hard 3-4 year plan" (which sounds like a much more realistic timeframe and echoes what we've heard from Feige and 4chan)
- Captain Marvel 2 will take place about 3 years after the first film (so 1998); the script he claims to have seen also includes Korvacs as the villain, whom the Kree are working for (he is, it seems, the primary source for the Korvacs rumour)
- The plan is to have Norman Osborn be the earthly major antagonist (again, matching prior rumours)
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)