Monday, July 23, 2018

Marvel News

Back in December, when Disney's acquisition of Fox was announced, pundits immediately began cautioning that it might not happen, something I found immensely puzzling and as time has gone on it's seemed more and more like an unnecessarily timid approach. Years of planning goes into these agreements and the only viable block was Comcast (I'll talk about the Justice Department below). I haven't talked about the ebbs and flows of the news here much for two reasons:
  • The Murdochs have complete control of Fox's board, so they will always approve the move (which they have already, although we have another vote ahead--the lawsuit brought by a member of the board will, I think, be dismissed in short order)
  • Neither company (Disney/Fox) would have proceeded unless they were sure the Justice Department would rule in their favour (which it has thus far); given the department approved the much more massive AT&T purchase of TimeWarner there's clearly not much backbone from Justice against these kinds of corporate moves (particularly given the pro-corporate courts and the current president)
Comcast has finally given up their pursuit of Fox after making two bids (in December and then in May). There was never any doubt that Disney would simply outbid their competitor. In short, the only question for me has always been time--how long will it take for the acquisition to occur? When it was announced the parameters were 12-18 months and that seems to be right on track.

Phase Four

While the MCU won't necessarily call it Phase Four I think it serves as a useful term for what comes after Avengers 4. We've had a release date change for one of the unspecified announced films from March: July, 2021 moves to February, 2021. The speculation, and I agree, is that this is the Black Panther sequel (prior to the change it seemed to be the February, 2022 release, which would be a very long time after the first film). How does this change my speculation for what these films might be? Here are the adjusted guesses (none of which include the Fox assets, for reasons I give below):

  • May, 2020 - Guardians 3*
  • August, 2020 - Black Widow
  • November, 2020 - Doctor Strange 2**/Eternals
  • February, 2021 - Black Panther 2
  • May, 2021 - Captain Marvel 2/Thor 4
  • November, 2021 - Doctor Strange 2/Eternals
  • February, 2022 - Captain Marvel 2/Thor 4
  • May, 2022 - Avengers 5
  • July, 2022 - New IP (Moon Knight, etc)

*How James Gunn's departure, see below, impacts this I'm not sure
**Confirmed, see below

The Fox properties, I believe, will get new dates rather than replacing these. I think the MCU can easily manage releasing four or five films a year. Other notes: I removed Ant-Man 3 because I don't think the sequel is going to do well enough for it to get another independent film (having it immediately after Infinity War but nothing to do with it clearly did not help)--the characters will continue to appear, but not in their own vehicle. I also removed a Captain America film because while I think the character could survive and another film would be successful, at least for the moment there's no obvious space for that movie (granting that Eternals could easily be cancelled and something put in its place--indeed, it might just be a placeholder for other properties). The Captain Marvel sequel's placement will depend on box office I believe--if it's a massive hit then we'll see it in May, 2021, but if it struggles February, 2022 (likely shifted to March) is more likely, with the fourth Thor movie taking the other slot. Doctor Strange's sequel's placement is related to Benedict Cumberbatch's availability--if he can do 2020 then I think we see him then. The fifth Avengers film might be a version of New Avengers, or it could be the first time the Fox characters and traditional MCU heavies work together. The legacy characters who survive Avengers 4 and don't have their own films I'm expecting to appear in various other movies.

A full review of Luke Cage season two is forthcoming, but in brief: it's better than Jessica Jones season two (which I thought was derivative despite having good moments). Overall LC2 is on par with Luke Cage season one (I don't think it hits the highs, but it misses the lows--another viewing will settle my opinion). The show has some issues (I have no idea why Claire was unceremoniously dumped from the series--I don't think she's necessary for the show, but it could have been handled better; I also think Misty Knight's characterization continues to suffer from inconsistency--perhaps Iron Fist can fix that--see below). Mustafa Shakir was fantastic as Bushmaster and I'm glad he was left alive to carry on as a character. We also saw the continuing reclamation of Danny Rand (referenced by me months ago, but you can see it from the reaction to his appearance, eg here). In essence, the season goes into the mixed pile that includes its predecessor, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Daredevil season two--it's not nearly as good as Jessica Jones season one, Daredevil season one, or The Punisher, but not as disappointing as Jessica Jones season two (the quick turnaround for JJ3, see below, makes me extremely worried, as there's very little time for the writing team to react to how poorly the sequel was received).

Speaking of Danny Rand, I mentioned back in October that I thought we'd get four Netflix Marvel series' this year and with Iron Fist's date announced (September 7th, matching my guess of September earlier) that's absolutely the case--we've already been told Daredevil season three will air this year (probably December). I think this three-month pattern will be maintained, such that The Punisher season two (filming since March) will drop in March, JJ3 in July (filming began in June), LC3 in September (as yet unannounced--I'm curious if Netflix will aim for Heroes for Hire instead), and so on.

The details that came out at SDCC about the show included the expected (Misty Knight playing a major role, something Jeph Loeb teased at SDCC in the lead-up to The Defenders last year), and the unexpected (Alice Eve's character being Typhoid Mary). This latter decision is an excellent one (it's not clear if this role is the same one dubbed "Tanya Parker" that we heard about back in December--at the time I mentioned that the villain list for Iron Fist is very threadbare and the only one from his own catalogue that seemed to fit was Ninotchka). I like the idea because she's a major villain with a core fanbase. While she might seem more suitable to Daredevil (she's his antagonist in the comics after all), but with Bullseye and Kingpin already in that season there isn't room for her there as she deserves to be featured--Iron Fist is a solid place to introduce her assuming it's done well (for more about her see below)--she would provide a good reason for Daredevil and Iron Fist to cross over in each other's series' (I was very happy to see the IF characters pop up in Luke Cage and think this cross-pollination should be a recurring element).

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Back in July I briefly discussed the character because That Hashtag Show was speculating she was going to appear in Jessica Jones season two (which would have been much more interesting than the route they choose--that character, incidentally, turned out to be part of Hogarth's C-plot which I enjoyed). She was created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. in the 1980s and while she has some similarities to Elektra because the Netflix version was so poorly done they won't be apparent. There's no chance her origin is retained (a prostitute defending her pimp that Daredevil knocks out a window causing her disfiguration and motivating her to take on her antagonistic persona), so I'm not sure how she'll be introduced (some event like that in her past is possible). In the comics she has dissociative identity disorder--I'm not sure if IF will do that or not (it's an interesting angle to explore, but carries the risk of offending people suffering from it and their advocates). Early reading for her: Daredevil #254-#257, #259-#263, Power Pack #53, Captain America #373-#377, Daredevil #284, #292, #294-#295, #297, Marvel Presents #110-#115, Marvel Presents #123-#130, Daredevil: Man Without Fear #2, Marvel Presents #150-#151, Spectacular Spider-Man #213-#214, Astonishing Spider-Man #1, and Typhoid #1-#4

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News is dribbling out about the Spider-Man sequel, which we now know will be called Spider-Man: Far From Home and takes place during summer vacation. I've been thinking about which A-list MCU character will appear in the film (the agreement between Sony and Marvel is that such a character will appear in each Sony movie) and, with Mysterio as the villain, thematically I thought Doctor Strange could be that link (a stage magician versus a real one), but he doesn't fit the bill in terms of an A-lister and the idea has already been debunked. That said, someone like Captain America fits better in terms of both recognition and relative power level (assuming he survives Avengers 4), although the current rumour is that Nick Fury will appear (the substance of which, an Instagram picture posted by Samuel Jackson, is very weak). As yet we've still heard nothing that invalidates the 4Chan theory I covered back in May (which only references Pepper Potts, who I think doesn't count in the A-list category).

There was additional casting news as Numan Acar was cast as "Dimitri," whom most are speculating is Dimitri Smerdyakov, aka the Chameleon. He's a an old school villain and the half-brother of Kraven the Hunter. If the speculation is correct about who he is then the two films will have introduced four members of the Sinister Six (Vulture, Scorpion, Mysterio, and Chameleon). This wouldn't match the members envisioned for Sony's version that made Drew Goddard abandon Daredevil season one (there's debate about who the members would have been, but Green Goblin, Rhino, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Mysterio, and Kraven the Hunter were teased in Amazing Spider-Man 2). Marvel has avoided brand confusion when they've used a property that's been done before, which is why I think we're seeing villains who either haven't appeared at all or haven't been featured much (or, where they have, it's been a very different version--ala Tom Holland's Spider-Man).

Incidentally, unlike Homecoming (which has six credited screen writers and two story credits), this film features just the writing team of Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers--in theory that should make for a tighter story (not that the first film showed many signs of all that variation).

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Kevin Feige confirmed we'll get a Doctor Strange 2--this was never in doubt in my mind, but it removes any ambiguity. My guess (above) is that we'll see it in late 2020 or 2021 (matching the release window of the original film in 2016, with the variability depending on Cumberbatch's very busy schedule).

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I was shocked that James Gunn was fired by Disney over his old Tweets--prospective Marvel directors must now be ruthlessly scrubbing their accounts. Disney's concern about its image is clearly paramount (along with the presumed tacit assumption that an MCU movie makes money no matter who directs it). The other oddity about this is Gunn apologized for offensive Tweets back in 2012, suggesting either Disney had no problem with them so long as they weren't well-known or simply didn't do their due-diligence in vetting him (the former is most plausible). It makes me wonder if at some level there was a desire to let Gunn go and this served as an excuse (Ike Perlmutter, who still has his hands on Marvel Entertainment and is a Trump adviser, can't be a fan)--but I'm just speculating.

As for how it impacts Guardians of the Galaxy 3, I don't think it does much. Gunn's script is unlikely to be scrapped so close to production, but it will likely be given a thorough scrubbing. The plan for the film is also presumably locked in place, so the struggle for Kevin Feige will be finding a director who wants to fit into that box--otherwise the film will have to be delayed (something that's possible, but I think is unlikely). I think Gunn's strength was his humour, so that's where his absence will be felt the most (the emotional notes in both films were, for me, a mixed bag--the Russo's did a better job with the Starlord-Gamora romance in a few scenes than Gunn did in two entire movies, for example).

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One of the stranger stories that has emerged is that MCU producer Nate Moore keeps trying to put Union Jack into the movies, specifically the Joseph Chapman version. I have no idea why Moore is so interested, as the character seems like a watered-down version of both Captain America and Captain Britain, but given Moore's position at Marvel it wouldn't surprise me to see him down the line. I'll be honest and say I forgot he was even a character in Marvel until this story came out (I don't think he appeared in any of the comics I read back in the day).

Speaking of things I was unfamiliar with back in my active comic buying days, Jeremy Conrad thinks the MCU is leaning more towards the Kirby version of the Eternals rather than the later Gaiman version, at least in terms of their origin (this is based on comments by Kevin Feige that are suggestive of the fact). He also believes one of the Eternals, likely Kronos, will have a small cameo in Avengers 4. I'm curious if, after Gunn's firing and Ant-Man and the Wasp's performance at the box office, Feige will feel a bit gun shy on the property (without knowing the plan for it, however, it's difficult to say anything meaningful about it--it might feature Nova, Quasar, and/or other non-Eternal characters to give it more cache--perhaps even Thor).

As expected Cate Shortland has landed the director gig. I have no idea what this will mean for the film, other than continuing to hope it's not a prequel. Clearly Feige dodged a bullet when he decided against having Ava DuVernay direct Captain Marvel, so until proven otherwise we'll trust his judgement (Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World, being the notable exception thus far).

I'm surprised that Sony is going ahead with their Morbius film, locking in Jared Leto to star and Daniel Espinosa to direct (joining script writers Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama)--albeit, the Gambit movie has been at this stage several times and nothing has happened. What isn't attached to the project is a date, which is interesting (it's too late for it to take the slot left open by Silver and Black's removal). My speculation that Sony was following in DC's footsteps of darker-toned movies seems to be true (the plot sounds a lot like Dexter thematically). One of the reasons I think this movie is being pushed ahead of others is that the MCU hasn't rebooted Blade so it's (relatively) fresh comicbook territory. I think Silver and Black was pushed back because with Black Widow coming soon differentiating it from that, especially in a disconnected Sonyverse, is far more difficult to do.

It's amazing to me that DC is making a Joker movie that's completely disconnected from the Joker in Suicide Squad, even though that version of the Joker is still (apparently) canon for the DCEU. While I think audience savvy is often underestimated, I have no idea why exec's at WB approved the idea of two concurrent version of the same character--"elseworld" stories work for DC in the comics, but I see no positive outcome for doing it here--either fans prefer the new Joker, in which case there would be demand for him to appear elsewhere which can't be fulfilled, or else he flops just as badly as Jared Leto's version and then you have two underwhelming takes on one of the most iconic villains. It's bizarre. If I were in the WB's shows I'd say Leto's version isn't canon (he'd be some gangster imitator of the real deal), cancel this "elseworld" idea, and let Mat Reeves create his own version of the character whenever that seemed appropriate.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

MCU and Marvel TV News

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I think the final trailer for Luke Cage season two has been the best thus far. Putting villains in direct conflict (Bushmaster and Mariah) with Luke caught in the middle is clever and avoids the jarring pitfalls we've seen in some of the attempts Netflix has made in having two main villains in a show (Daredevil season two (The Hand), Luke Cage season one (Diamondback), and Iron Fist (Bakuto) in particular). The viral ad explaining Misty's bionic arm with references to both the Rand Corporation and Danny Rand is clever (the quality of the video itself is just average, but what it does in terms of story building is excellent--not everyone who watched Luke Cage also saw The Defenders or Iron Fist).

I was not expecting The Daughters of the Dragon to appear in Luke Cage (the team-up between Misty and Colleen Wing), because while it makes perfect sense when Jeph Loeb teased them at SDCC last summer the context appeared to be Iron Fist season two (intended to help give that show a boost). Now it seems like Cheo Hodari Coker (see below) is working hard to fully push into Heroes for Hire territory as part of the journey in Luke Cage--something that makes a lot of sense given that he and Danny Rand have enjoyed most of their success as a team in the comics.

Cheo Hodari Coker is promoting Luke Cage season two and amidst that answered some questions about Iron Fist which are worth looking at:
I think—I’m hoping—that you’ll feel that your prayers have been answered the way that Iron Fist fits into [Season 2 of Luke Cage], and his interactions with Luke. It doesn’t bother me that people have criticized Iron Fist on his series and on The Defenders. I’m arrogant enough to think that Iron Fist appearing on our show has a different sensibility. And so, it’s like—that’s the thing—I’m not dissuaded by that, because Iron Fist I think is a dope character. And I think when you see Iron Fist within the realm of Luke Cage, and the way that we do things, I think—hopefully—that people are going to come to appreciate the character differently, and hopefully that swagger that he’ll get from appearing in the Luke Cage universe will carry over into [Iron Fist Season 2].
He also heaped praise on new IF showrunner Raven Metzner who he said is “passionate about the character” and has the right sensibilities for Iron Fist. The comment that his appearance will "carry over" continues to bolster my belief that Iron Fist season two will appear before season three of Daredevil (something I began to suspect in February; it's now confirmed to appear in 2018 at least). Can the antipathy critics have towards Iron Fist be overcome? The word "swagger" suggests that Danny's self-doubting, uncertain phase is over and we'll get the fun-loving jokster from the comics. Changing critical minds is hard to imagine at this point, but it is possible with fans--I think this is the best venue for it since Luke Cage is largely critic-proof.

Audition tapes have leaked for two roles in Jessica Jones season three. The male character ("Elliott") appears to be a friend of Jessica's (That Hashtag Show optimistically believes it's d-list hero D-Man, but I doubt that, despite being very appropriate). The female character ("Zelda") is much more vague and THS has no guesses and neither do I (she's probably created for the show). I can't emphasize enough just how little buzz the second season generated and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg must be frantically trying to right the ship.

Jeph Loeb confirmed what Krysten Ritter said back in March: that there are no current plans for another season of The Defenders (in Loebian fashion he said "you never know", but given how much planning is required for these things it's clearly far off in the future if it ever happens). This is a puzzling decision by Netflix, because even though the first Defenders was not a huge hit, the idea behind it is excellent. The primary impediment, I suppose, is that all the other shows have to lead-up to it and there's no creative head to manage that coherence (ala Kevin Feige for the MCU).

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Rosario Dawson (Claire) says she might be finished with the Marvel Netflix shows after Luke Cage season two. It's difficult to know if she's just playing hardball for a new contract or if she is genuinely unsure if Luke Cage will get a third season (or perhaps the upcoming season ends with Claire no longer part of his life). I wonder if Netflix would decide to bring Luke and Jessica back together (ala the comics), as it's difficult to imagine there not being a Luke Cage season three.

About a month ago Simon Pegg mentioned he'd love to be involved in a Captain Britain movie, but with nothing like it currently on the slate (other than Kevin Feige vaguely musing about it a year ago and TV rumours (same link) the year before that) I didn't mention it at the time. It is interesting that Orlando Bloom is now lobbying for the role and Tom Hiddleson (tongue-in-cheek) mentioned it as well. I don't think this specifically puts any pressure on the MCU to make it happen, but it could indicate at least some level of interest. Captain Britain is an odd sort of character given his very strong association with mutants (despite not being one himself) and magic. I'd be happy to see him portrayed, although I'd expect if we see him it will be after the acquisition of the Fox properties.

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Avengers 4 is going through its planned reshoots this summer (while Captain Marvel is wrapping up filming and the Spider-Man sequel is starting shooting). This isn't particularly exciting other than some fresh news may come out hinting about its plot sooner than later.

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Jeremy Conrad is suggesting that a few years down the line the MCU is going to explore the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye. His theory is based on comments from Kevin Feige implying things like the Amadeus Cho version of Hulk and other successor characters might appear (something I've suggested before).

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A now deleted Reddit thread has been picked up all over the place (eg) as it purports to be from someone who saw a test screening of Dark Phoenix back in February (whose summary is supported by Jason Inman who heard the same from another test-screener) and, motivated by irritation at Jeremy Conrad's claims about the movie decided to set the record straight (the two Conrad claims that bothered him were that the Skrulls were involved and the general description of the third act). The film itself sounds like what you'd expect from Fox--a muddled mess--albeit the viewer saw a rough cut and with re-shoots it can be improved (Wonder Woman was considered a mess in early test screenings, for example). Regardless, I don't think we're going to see something good from Fox before they lose the X-Men.

I mentioned back in March that one of Sony's many Marvel projects was a Morbius movie. THS has dug up the logline for the film (which I doubt will ever see the light of day):
Horror action story of a scientist who, in trying to find a cure for a rare blood disease, accidentally transformed himself into a living vampire who, though disgusted by his own bloodlust, chooses to prey upon criminals he deems unworthy of life.
This sounds more like a gritty Netflix series than a movie, but Venom is also adopting a darker tone (copying DC perhaps?), so that could be the territory Sony wants to inhabit. If Venom is successful it might pressure Marvel to put Blade back on screen, but that seems like a long shot (given their tendencies with reacquired minor properties he's much more likely to wind up on TV).

Speaking of Sony, Silver and Black (slated for a February, 2019 release) has been officially shifted to "undated". Given what we were told in February--that production was delayed "indefinitely"--this is not surprising (filming was meant to begin in March). I mentioned at that time that I thought Sony would wait and see how Venom performed before actually putting any other superhero films into production.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Marvel News

There's a ton of news to cover (SPOILERS for all MCU films & Netflix properties): news for Daredevil, Captain Marvel, the Spider-Man sequel, The Eternals, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones.

We've learned potentially big news for Daredevil season three, as That Hashtag Show is reporting Wilson Bethel will be playing iconic villain Bullseye (something a now-deleted Instagram photo from a member of the crew seems to confirm). News of Bethel's casting came out months ago, but at that time THS thought his role was that of Sin-Eater--an idea I thought was preposterous (he's a Spider-Man villain, ergo Sony property, and he's very much like the Punisher). Instead we are getting Bullseye, one of Daredevil's most iconic villains.--it will be interesting to see how he is handled--will he be as well-developed as the Kingpin or Punisher? Or will he suffer the fate of Elektra and The Hand? His more grounded nature as an antagonist helps quite a bit--if it's done as well as Jigsaw in the first season of The Punisher it will be fantastic. Vincent D'Onofrio says the season is "really something."

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Bullseye was created by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown back in 1976, but what he's most known for is Frank Miller using him to kill Elektra in her original (and superior) storyline in 1981. That seminal event is what made him the character he is. While they could use Elektra in season three, I highly doubt they will given how poorly she's been received. I do think, however, that the general plotline (Bullseye/Kingpin from Miller's run) can work just fine without her inclusion (Karen Page could take her place for the emotional note from the story, for example).

News continues to come out for Captain Marvel. Marvel Producer Nate Moore was giving an interview and said the following about the movie:
I think there is a structure to origin films that audiences sometimes can get ahead of very quickly. So, if we do origin films, internally, we talk about how we can subvert that structure. For instance, Captain Marvel is an origin movie in that you haven't seen her before, but we think we've stumbled upon a structure there that isn't the traditional structure of what origin movies typically are, which is you meet the character, they have a problem, they get powers at the end of the first act, and the end of the second act they learn about the powers, the third act they probably fight a villain who has a function of the same powers. That's a lot of times what a typical origin movie is structured like, but as we introduce new characters moving forward, we want to find ways to subvert that structure, so at least the experience of the film feels new to audiences. We're very conscious of making sure that audiences don't get things that feel like they've seen them before.
It will be interesting to see how that expected formula is subverted. One direction they could take it is that instead of accidentally gaining her powers, Carol Danvers volunteers to get them.

McKenna Grace, who was announced as part of the Captain Marvel cast back in March, is confirmed to be playing a young Carol Danvers (sometime in the 1980s, with Kenneth Mitchell playing her father). Actress Ana Ayora has also been cast in an undisclosed role.

Physicist Dr. Spiros Michalakis was a consultant for the Quantum Realm for both Ant-Man movies and last year said this in reference to Captain Marvel:
There are different ways that some of these ideas appear on-screen in a few years. Not just for Ant-Man, but also for Captain Marvel and all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Does this imply Danvers is in the Quantum Realm? Or that she'll being using it? It's hard to say, but the quote adds fuel to the belief that it is an element in Avengers 4.

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There's some very loose speculation that Monica Rambeau will appear in the Captain Marvel film. The character has a history with Carol Danvers (and was once known as Captain Marvel herself), but the rumour is born of two very thin slices of evidence: 1) the movie filming in the Baton Rouge area of Louisana where the character is from (something I see as irrelevant), 2) the casting of DeWanda Wise and then Lashana Lynch in the role of a "contemporary" of Danvers (the belief being they are playing Rambeau). While it's possible she could appear, it's a film already cluttered with characters and as evidence this is pretty weak (you'd also have to ask what's the point of introducing Monica in the 1990s unless she's also time-travelling with Carol--or whatever it is that prevents Captain Marvel from aging).

Not surprisingly, Michael Keaton is returning as the Vulture for the Spider-Man sequel (link below; how much he'll appear is unknown--it might just be a cameo). It appears as though Mysterio is the antagonist, with Jake Gyllenhaal in talks for the role. There's no reason to doubt that Sony wants to continue planting the seeds for a Sinister Six movie (original Daredevil showrunner Drew Goddard left the show to helm Sinister Six film for Sony, only to have it cancelled). Like Keaton's character, Mysterio has never been portrayed in the movies before--he's also a fairly earthy villain (as in, doesn't have huge, dangerous powers) and I suspect he'll get the rounded treatment we saw for the Vulture. Where that leaves the hints about the Scorpian in Homecoming is uncertain (who, minus the costume, was introduced there), but I imagine Marvel won't push things the way Sony did in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. My only concern for the film is Sony's marketing, which was atrocious prior to Homecoming.

There's still no word on the actress role they've been trying to cast for some time (a woman in her 20s reportedly). Given that Zendaya's Michelle will serve as the love interest (I'm curious if Marvel will push her "MJ" nickname given how poorly it was received--Sony would double down, but will the MCU?), I don't think this will be any of Spider-Man's femme fatale's (especially given his movie-age), although nods to Black Cat or Silver Sable are possible if unlikely (the latter more so if the reported travel through Europe is correct, as she is from Symkaria, a fictional Eastern European country in Marvel which borders Doctor Doom's Latveria).

A Reddit rumour is making the rounds--ComicBookMovie doesn't offer a reason why we should trust this specific one nor does it link it, but I thought I'd go through it since it's being covered:
  • the film takes place before Infinity War--this is in direct contradiction to what Amy Pascal (Sony) has said, which is that the film occurs immediately afterwards (this doesn't nuke the theory immediately, but keep it in mind), with the end of the film linking up to the beginning of Infinity War (something which, dramatically, makes no sense at all--that whole plot will be resolved before this film comes out)
  • Peter is visiting a number of countries in Europe (which matches, in spirit, other rumours about the film)
  • the Rhino will be a secondary villain
  • both Ant-Man and Daredevil (!) will appear
  • the femme fatale referenced above is apparently a version of Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), although she's going to be based more on Felicia Hardy (Black Cat)--these are very different characters so I'm not sure in what way
  • Easter Egg or cameo of Oscorp
  • the film will double down on the Michelle=MJ scenario
I find this largely preposterous. It reads like someone's hopes based on the limited leaks thus far. Marvel is very careful in avoiding character clutter in its solo films, so other than hints I don't think we'll see Rhino (if he appears at all, which I doubt, it will be ala the Scorpian in the first movie); Sony's agreement with Marvel was that A-list heroes would appear in the films and neither Ant-Man nor Daredevil qualify (while I love the Netflix characters I have no idea what would be accomplished having them appear here). Other than the travel (which has already been heavily rumoured), I don't find this credible. Speaking of that MCU character, it's difficult to parse who it could be since it's unlikely to be Iron Man again--Captain America makes sense, but we'll have to see how Avengers 4 resolves before we can make educated guesses.

With that said, in looking for the source of the above I came across another thread [originating on 4Chan] claiming to be from a reliable source which has a much more plausible set-up:
  • Set after AVENGERS 4. Peter is revived, and it appears Tony Stark will indeed die and Peter will be mourning his death. The plot revolved around something groundbreaking that Stark has created, and which is stolen and Spider-Man must retrieve.
  • Set mainly in London [where filming of the movie begins in July]. Peter and his friends are there for a conference sponsored by Stark Industries. Michelle, Ned, Liz, Flash and Aunt May are returning, alongside the Midtown students and staff from HOMECOMING [this is a bit odd since Liz Allen moved away at the end of Homecoming, but it's not a major issue with the theory]. Gwyneth Paltrow is also supposed to appear as Pepper Potts [which makes sense given that she would be running Stark Industries].
  • Mysterio is the main villain. He is an international thief and master of illusion, who has stolen Stark’s creation at the behest of a mysterious employer. Apparently, there are plans to include the fishbowl helmet, but he will not wear it throughout the movie.
  • Jessica Drew [Spider-Woman] is a MI6 operative pursuing Mysterio, who begrudgingly teams up with Spider-Man to stop him. She has no superpowers, but is a combat expert and skilled tactician.
  • Peter develops a rivalry with a new student, Alistair Smythe [Spider-Slayer], a technology prodigy who is determined to upstage him. Smythe is “manipulative” and tries to turn Peter’s friends against him. His father, Spencer Smythe, works for Stark Industries.
  • Vulture and Scorpion will appear in minor roles. Scorpion is apparently working for the same man who hired Mysterio to steal Stark’s creation, and they attempt to get Vulture to betray Spider-Man’s identity to them.
  • Mysterio’s employer is apparently a major villain from the comics and will be prominent in SPIDER-MAN movies going forward. No word on who he is yet, but he will have a minor appearance in the movie. Marvel and Sony eyeing A-list actors. Casting won’t be officially announced. Supposed to be a surprise twist.
This is a far more plausible story that doesn't raise the red flags of the one above. Is it true? Jessica Drew has an English background, so the fluff included is correct (as would it be not having her adopt her hero identify initially--it's hard to accept a Spider-Woman when Peter Parker is still a teenager--granting that the background described here is thematically similar to Black Widow). The mysterious employer of Mysterio could very well be Norman Osborn and having Stark tech at the heart of the plot has a nice synergy with the first film. The theory would also fit my guess that Iron Man dies at the end of Avengers 4. The Smythe inclusion seems odd, although given that Flash wasn't well-received in Homecoming he might be replacing his role as the bully. With that said, there's no telling if this is accurate or not--we can judge it properly once more information comes out.

Writers Matthew and Ryan Firpo have been hired to write the Eternals movie. A question Jeremy Conrad addresses is why there's a push for new IP prior to the return of the Fox characters. He writes:
Marvel Studios cannot legally work on any of the Fox characters yet. That even means nothing as “innocent” as concept art. ... Yet Marvel still has to release a slate of movies every year. ... Marvel still needs to plan for 2020 and 2021 as it’ll take time to get those movies going and they can’t sit around hoping for the merger to complete. That’s why James Gunn is currently writing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, writers are working on Black Widow as the director search continues, and writers were just hired for The Eternals. Sersi, Ikaris, and the rest aren’t expected to make their big screen debut until 2021, however the rumor is that they’ll be introduced in the MCU in some way prior to then.
That legality should cool the jets of those hoping for Fox-related Easter Eggs in Avengers 4--something only possible if the deal is approved months before its release. When I went through my speculation for the announced MCU release dates my 2021 slate was filled with various sequels, imagining new IP for James Gunn's cosmic side not to show up until 2022 (with either a Nova Corps film or an Adam Warlock film). Introducing the Eternals in another movie makes a lot of sense, even if its just a tease (Guardians 3 makes the most sense in that respect). It's also a shot across the bow to DC's hypothetical New Gods movie (announced in March with A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay attached).

I mentioned previously that I was confident Jigsaw would return in season two and we now have confirmation of that. Filming has been underway since March 10th and given the usual Netflix time frame for seasons should wrap in August--I'd expect its release in early 2019, assuming we get all four Defenders in 2018 (as I've previously surmised).

Jessica Jones season three will start filming shortly, although as yet we don't have a specific start date. Nothing was hinted about what the show will be about, but Krysten Ritter did say she wanted Jessica to be less of a trainwreck--something I would like as well (as I said last time they really need to move the character forward). One thing I want to point out from that post: in it I said that in Netflix casting calls the first letter of the character's name was often the same as who they really were--Daredevil broke that connection with Bullseye such that we'll have to take speculation based on that with even more grains of salt.

Early reviews for Cloak & Dagger have been very positive, but we're well beyond the point of paying attention to reviews for Marvel properties (there's no getting around how ridiculous the 100% for Agents of SHIELD is when The Punisher is sitting at 62%). The trailers have been underwhelming, but I'm not part of the targeted YA-audience so I won't judge purely from that. As a fan of the source material the show has a pretty big mountain to climb for me (this is unlike The Runaways where I came in with no expectations). In terms of surface details I was much happier with the Hulu casting versus what we've got with Freeform, but seeing the actors act really makes all the difference.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Marvel TV and MCU News

Since my last post a few weeks ago an avalanche of news and speculation has come out. Below I cover Avengers: Infinity War news and theories; Avengers 4 theories; Black Widow speculation; Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones news; Captain Marvel; Ms. Marvel news; and the status of ABC's Marvel shows.

SPOILERS below for all released MCU movies and the Netflix shows

Jeremy Conrad (who broke The Eternals story) has the following rumour about Avengers 4:
In the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, Nick Fury and Maria Hill are tracking the extraterrestrial signals being detected in Wakanda. Now neither Fury nor Hill knows about Thanos coming to Earth. But Fury does know about another extraterrestrial threat in the Skrulls due to him being around Carol Danvers in the 90s when she was dealing with them [in the upcoming Captain Marvel]. That’s why he sends the signal to Captain Marvel, because he believed the Skrulls were finally invading Earth. This then ties into Avengers 4 and Hawkeye’s role in the story. The rumor is that he’s working as Ronin in Tokyo and hunting down Yakuza, who are actually Skrulls. The casting notice for these extras apparently said they needed to be comfortable wearing a facial prosthetic, which would definitely point to them being Skrulls if true.
It sounds like the primary evidence for this rumour is the casting call associated with prosthetics. It's certainly plausible (as all good rumours should be), but if true doesn't sound like it's a major part of the story (simply background for what Clint has been doing).

Image result for five year gap

Another rumour floating around is that there will be a five-year jump from the end of Infinity War to its sequel. This idea primarily comes from something Gwyneth Paltrow said (see below), but also the casting of a 16-year old Cassie Lang and the leaked photos of Avengers 4 and Zoe Saldana's instagram from last year, both of which seem to show at least some characters in their outfits from the first Avengers/Guardians films. This is the idea:
In the five years after the events of Infinity War, Tony Stark (and possibly others) are now agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. He and Scott Lang use some kind of technology that Hank Pym has developed in order to travel back in time in an attempt to defeat Thanos in the past. [The idea is Tony Stark will be married with a child and have to give up that life in order to save the trillions killed by Thanos.]
When the photos first leaked they were dismissed as Tony using his B.A.R.F. technology from Captain America: Civil War (this is because there was a set-photo that indicated that was the case--for those who don't recall, it allowed him to re-envision the past). The idea behind the five-year gap is that the story would echo Scott Busiek and Roger Stern's Avengers Forever storyline from 1998-99 (in which Avengers from the past and future are brought together to resolve the plot). The problem with this idea is that it's hard to jive the idea with the sequence of the second Spider-Man film unless the resolution puts them back in current times--and why would Nick Fury summon Captain Marvel if it was going to take her years to respond? It also runs against the MCU's normal routine of movies happening in real time (ergo, a year later).

[The Game of Thrones image above, incidentally, references George R. R. Martin's infamous five-year gap--where he planned a time jump from the end of Storm of Swords before the fourth book of the series, then changed his mind partway through the process which has since crippled his ability to finish the series.]

Joe Russo has said about the film (echoing Kevin Feige, link below):
I don’t think there are any comics that correlate to it. I think we’re in pretty fresh territory with Avengers 4. If anything, I think it’s interesting after to go back and look at some of the Marvel films and view them through a different lens. But I can’t think of any comics in particular that would have value
While this quote seems to contradict the idea of miming Avengers Forever, Conrad adds this (from Kevin Feige):
People always will jump to that [character death]. That’s not necessarily what we’re talking about. I talk a lot, because I’m a big-ass nerd, about Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things.” That to me is one of the best series finales ever. That wasn’t about death. Picard went and played poker with the crew, something he should have done a long time ago, right?
Conrad thinks this means we'll get something like that episode where Picard is jumping through time, re-visiting events to resolve the catastrophe. I remember the episode pretty well and the idea of exploring the past to solve the problem of the present is a good one (and matches what little information is out there), although I'm not sure what's known requires this kind of interpretation (or time travel--the B.A.R.F. tech could accomplish the same thing so long as they don't need to change or retrieve something).

While I don't think a five-year jump makes a whole lot of sense, of the various time-travel scenarios I've seen none of followed this pattern: stopping Thanos by stopping Civil War--preventing the events that lead to the Avengers breaking up so that they aren't separated when Thanos comes for the stones. This would involve at least three changes:
  • Preventing Loki from taking over in Asgard (Thor: The Dark World) - this would mean Odin isn't banished, Hela isn't freed (to destroy Mjolnir and cause Asgard's destruction), or Thor having to spend years running around the Nine Realms to sort out what was wrong (which might also prevent Thanos from getting the gauntlet made by Eitri)
  • Cap telling Tony that Bucky killed his parents (Winter Soldier) - the pair can process their grief long before Tony's guilt for creating Ultron has him back the Sokovia Accords and cause the Avengers to breakup
  • Banner making peace with the Hulk so he doesn't leave Earth (Age of Ultron)
This idea isn't perfect (I don't think it's what we'll see) and it doesn't answer some of the questions we have--like why is the team going all the way back to the first Avengers? There's even a rumour we'll see scenes from the first Captain America--how would that relate? This would also remove a lot of interesting character development and we know Taika Waititi wants to move on from the original Thor set-up, so something like this runs against what the MCU is trying to do and could take the stakes away from the consequences of earlier movies. That's the problem with time travel: avoiding confusion and making its impact felt in a way that feels earned. Ultimately I don't think we'll see anything in the past changed.

Finally we get to a rumour that comes from 4Chan. Why do we care about it? The same poster got some of Infinity War's elements correct (although looking through them most, if not all, seem derived from leaks, toy reveals, the comics and educated guesses), but its fun to go through these things anyway. So, this is the poster's version of the movie:
  • Iron Man reassembles the Avengers and decides to build his own Infinity Gauntlet to undo what Thanos did. They recruit Ant-Man to help them travel through time and space using the Quantum Realm to retrieve the Infinity Stones from different time periods. Thanos finds out about their plans and becomes hellbent on stopping them
  • The movie revolves around the relationship between Captain America and Iron Man
  • At one point, Captain America and Thor fight Thanos. Timeline alterations have restored Mjolnir, and Cap wields it against Thanos to allow the others to escape, and is killed holding Thanos off
  • At one point, Hawkeye must protect the unfinished Stark Gauntlet from Thanos' minions. He plays an "instrumental" role in Thanos' defeat
  • Thor's subplot centers on him assembling an army to challenge Thanos. Captain Marvel joins him
  • Hulk's subplot centers on Banner and Hulk finally merging to become Professor Hulk. He is the one that ultimately wields the Stark Gauntlet against Thanos, losing his arm in the process
  • Nebula's subplot centers on her efforts to redeem herself. At one point, she fights her murderous past self
  • Several MCU movies are revisited and retconned (probably not permanently), such as the Avengers retrieving the Power Stone creating a timeline where the Guardians of the Galaxy never came together
  • There's a pivotal scene between Doctor Strange and a fully CGI character being shot on a secret location, with a skeleton crew, and takes up a sizeable portion of the budget.
  • Only two of the original Avengers [are] meant to survive the movie. Cap dies.
  • The title was Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet at one point, but it might be changed after Zoe Saldana accidentally leaked it [this happened back in April, 2017]

You can see some parallel's to my thought-experiment above (with a different emphasis--here it's a hunt for the Infinity Stones). Is the basic premise plausible? Yes. Eitri has the mould for the glove, so making another is possible--certainly the power of a gauntlet is the simplest way to undo its work, although Stark himself (as a human) could never actually use an Infinity Stone. "Professor Hulk" refers to a Hulk with the intelligence of Banner--I'm accustomed to him being called the grey Hulk and when I was actively reading comics he went by "Mr. Fixit" (beginning in 1986).

What are the flaws of the summary? Let's go through them:
  • Stark can't actually wield the Infinity Gauntlet--Peter Quill, who is half-celestial, could only hold a single stone temporarily and then only with help--this doesn't mean he couldn't build one for someone like Thor, but that's not how the post presents things
  • Thor isn't going to die--prior to filming Ragarok (2016) it's likely Chris Hemsworth wanted to die (and the MCU was probably done with him too), but its success means there are more films for the thunder god in the works
  • There's very little Captain Marvel material here which would surprise me (even though Avengers 4 is meant to wrap-up the previous phases of the MCU I'd expect her to be more prominent)
  • I'm less certain that so many (four) of the original Avengers will perish. In terms of characters arcs, only Black Widow has places to go that won't be wrapped up by this movie (Iron Man's arc will be finished here, I think), but while someone like Hawkeye isn't that popular the rest of the characters are and I'm not sure how many the MCU really wants to kill off (Feige's comments about deaths above serve as a caution--comics almost never kill characters either)
  • There's no mechanism for how Doctor Strange returns from having been disappeared to being alive for his secret scene as described
  • Bringing back Mjolnir just to destroy it again seems redundant; I also don't think someone as important as Cap dies except in the climax

I suspect this post is just like the one for Infinity War--partially accurate--but comes via educated guesses from what's known rather than leaks or access to a script. Just to follow it through, however, if the movie does go through time to collect the Stones in their first appearances, we'd see callbacks to these movies:
-Captain America: The First Avenger (Space Stone)
-The Avengers (Mind Stone)
-Thor: The Dark World (Reality Stone)
-Guardians of the Galaxy (Power Stone)
-Doctor Strange (Time Stone)

Image result for young gamora

Speaking of rumours, there was a lot of speculation that Gamora was within the Soul Stone--this has been busted by Joe Russo:
And that moment when he clicks his fingers sends him into this ethereal plane inside of the Soul Stone where as part of his quote unquote hero’s journey in the film, he has one last moment to convey a sense of guilt about what he’s done. It illustrates what a complicated character he is. So, to clarify, it’s a spiritual representation of her [my emphasis] and obviously that’s something that the Soul Stone has power to do. But really it’s there to illustrate his pain and his guilt. I wouldn’t read much more into it beyond that.
This suggests she is indeed dead--which doesn't mean she can't come back in some way, but it sounds like the MCU is going to avoid the Soul World within the stone as per the comics.

Speaking of death, one of the weirder death confirmations we now have is Sif. Jaimie Alexander was scheduled to appear in Thor: Ragarok (presumably to die along with the Warriors Three), but couldn't due to her TV schedule. Apparently she is dead regardless (this time via Thanos). Betty Ross was also rumoured to appear, but she is also gone (either because Liv Tyler didn't want to come back or there was nothing left to do with the character).

The Luke Cage trailer looks pretty good. I'm a little surprised they kept Bushmaster's name (I've been assuming they wouldn't), but he was featured prominently as the antagonist. I'm curious if Netflix is going to move away from the six-episode arcs for antagonists--if not, presumably Mariah  will serve in the second half.

With more time to think about Cheo Hodari Coker's comments about Danny Rand's appearance, I suspect he's simply a single-episode cameo prior to the final battle with Bushmaster.

Iron Fist season two has wrapped filming, almost exactly five months after it began back in December. Conventional wisdom still imagines Daredevil season three appearing next (after Luke Cage), even though its filming won't wrap for another month. My opinion (which has been echoed, albeit unintentionally, elsewhere and I've expressed previously), is that we'll get Danny Rand's adventures first. I think it makes more sense to have Luke Cage and Iron Fist's releases close to one another (to capitalize off his appearance in Luke Cage). Back in October I went through how Netflix could release all four shows in this calendar year and that framework is still possible--with a September release for the next series (whichever they choose) and a November/December release for the other. What I'm truly hoping, however, is that Netflix realizes the shows need to interconnect much more to truly maximize what they can be (so no repeats of the disconnected Jessica Jones season two). Both the MCU itself and the CW DC shows prove how much this helps.

We got some casting news for season two, as veteran actors Annette O'Toole and Corbin Bernsen have been added. The latter is playing Anderson Schultz, a wealthy man, and O'Toole is playing his wife Eliza. Neither have a clear comicbook basis. This is the first casting news we've had in a couple of months. At the time the speculation was that we'd be seeing a version of "Suicide Run" which, if true, would presumably put the characters in the role of criminal bosses. I'm less sold on that idea, unless the adaptation is very loose. It would be a shame to give Jigsaw's origin in the first season and not use him as a primary antagonist in the second. I think it's much more likely we're getting an original story that simply borrows elements from the comics. I'm also curious if the restriction from Marvel to keep other Defenders from appearing in the show remains--I would hope not.

With casting news already coming out the production for Jessica Jones season three can't be that far away (to appear after The Punisher season two in 2019 presumably). That Hashtag Show has these breakdowns:
[ELLIOTT] Mid 30s-early 40s, male, open ethnicity. Must be over 5’11. A charismatic gambler and alcoholic. Attractive, quick-witted and dry. His edgy charm comes through even in the direst circumstances. SERIES REGULAR – ONE YEAR DEAL 
[COLLINS] 30-50, male, open ethnicity. He is physically spry, extremely intelligent and meticulous. Driven by a pathological need to feel superior. SERIES REGULAR – ONE YEAR DEAL
[KEIRA] 48-52, female, please submit African American, Latina, Asian, Native American, etc. A bohemian cellist and music professor. Intelligent, wry and sexy. Self possessed and able to weather any storm. SERIES REGULAR – POSSIBLE TWO YEAR DEAL
[ZELDA] 27-31, female, African American, strong, smart and driven. A rising star in her profession with the ambition and talent to propel her to the top one day. She’s earthy, beautiful, supportive and fiercely protective of those she loves. SERIES REGULAR – MULTI-YEAR DEAL
Typically the first letter of the name matches that actual name in the show. THS' guesses for season two postings were hilariously wrong and they acknowledge that there just aren't many characters from the character's comic past to draw from (all the additions last season were original to the show), so these are probably show-creations. That said, they made these guesses:
  • Edward Garner - this immensely obscure character (10 appearances debuting in The Thing, which makes me wonder if he's owned by Fox) ran the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation (superheros wrestling each other), many of whom got their powers from the Power Broker (see below); this sort of storyline would be a lot of fun, something Jessica Jones avoids at all costs; my guess is that he's a love interest for Jessica (hopefully we will be saved from the awful Oscar in the next season)
  • The Power Broker (Curtiss Jackson) - a slightly more notable villain (31 appearances) who debuted in Captain America; his selection was to match Garner, but while I do think he's an antagonist I don't think this is who he is--I'm guessing it's another original creation
  • Unknown - the description suggests a possible love-interest for Hogarth; she certainly doesn't seem to be an antagonist
  • Member of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation - This connects to the UCWF idea above, which I don't think is on the table, so I think she's either a lawyer and part of Hogarth's storyline, or else a love interest for Malcolm
I still have PTSD from season two (my review isn't up yet, but I thought only the C and D plots worked, with A and B being derivative and occasionally bad--season one remains my favourite from the Netflix offerings, while the second is the worst--the complete lack of impact from the second season in the fandom indicates the show didn't miss just with me). Course-correction is always possible and perhaps showrunner Melissa Rosenberg can bring the show back to the heights of season one (the absence of Brian Michael Bendis material makes me doubtful, but it is possible). If the plot of the third season again revolves around previously unstated problems from Jessica's past I think that will asphyxiate the show. To quote Pops (Luke Cage), "Always forward".

I was feeling like a voice in the wilderness bemoaning the idea of the Black Widow movie being a prequel (as I said last time there's no new ground for it to go over, so what's the point?). Finally someone else out there agrees with me.

I've been thinking about where Captain Marvel has been since the 1990s (when her film is set). Has she simply been off in space leaving the problems on Earth to Nick Fury?  My guess is that she has been in suspended animation or that her abilities slow the aging process. My original suspicion was that she, like the original Wasp, was trapped in the Quantum Realm, but that's clearly not the case.

My familiarity with the Captain Marvel is quite limited--I know her mostly from her impact on Rogue in The Uncanny X-Men when I was reading the comic (1987-92). For those who don't know that story: Rogue takes Carol Danvers' powers in Avengers Annual #10 (1981) while she was still a villain working with Mystique; Danvers subsequently becomes the Phoenix-like Binary and joins the X-Men (#163; 1982), which Rogue joins not long after due to the trauma of absorbing so much of Carol's psyche (#171; 1983); this causes Danvers to leave in a rage. Carol regains her typical powers many years later (X-Men #269, 1990), but goes "off-page" for a considerable time afterwards (finally reappearing in 2000), joining the Avengers and re-branding herself as Warbird (2001). She returns to her old name (Ms. Marvel) after the disbanding of the Avengers (2005) and winds up on the Mighty Avengers (2007). The Captain Marvel moniker only became hers in her own comic in 2012. This complicated history will, I think, be ignored other than elements of her origin (but instead of Ms. Marvel she'll start as Captain Marvel). Whether any of the interaction with Rogue will happen once Marvel gets the X-Men back is hard to know (it's a great storyline, so maybe?).

Speaking of Ms Marvel, Kevin Feige recently said:
Ms. Marvel, which is another character in the comic books, the Muslim hero who is inspired by Captain Marvel, is definitely sort of in the works. We have plans for that once we introduce Captain Marvel.
I think this is part of the reason why the Carol Danvers film is in the past--there's plenty of time for Kamala Khan to have become a fan. Rumours about this being John Ridley's secret project for Marvel go back to April of 2015 (assuming this is his project for them), but those rumours were about him getting a television show with her. Feige, with the exception of Agent Carter, doesn't work with the TV-branch of Marvel (Marvel Entertainment), so putting aside whatever "sort of in the works" means, this suggests a film version of the character is on its way (presumably Kamala would be earth-based and Carol would be in space). This makes a lot of sense to me for both popularity and representative purposes. For those unfamiliar with the character, she was introduced in 2013--a teenage Inhuman character whose powers are similar to Mister Fantastic; before those powers manifest she's a fangirl of Danvers.

As expected Scott Buck's disastrous Inhumans officially got the axe from ABC. Agents of SHIELD remains hanging in the balance--will it be cancelled, retained, or moved to another platform? For myself, until the show actually becomes connected to the MCU/Netflix I won't be tuning in (as I've mentioned before). [Hours after I originally posted this it was renewed for an abbreviated sixth season.]
Image result for ch-ch-changes

There's a great comment from Joe Russo I want to touch on:
I think all of this — Netflix, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ this massive moment of disruption we’re in — is really a function of audiences craving new kinds of storytelling. I think we had a really nice run for 100 years of two-hour, two-dimensional storytelling, but I think over the next decade, decade-and-a-half, you’re going to see a radical shift in how stories are told.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. The attachment to traditional movies is one reason why some people struggle so much with Marvel movies--there's a sense of exasperation and resistance to change (Mike Stoklasa from Red Letter Media expresses this quite plainly--although it's worth noting he liked Infinity War). Those who struggle with it sometimes have the other problem you see with critics who find the entire genre ridiculous (people in capes fighting crime?). Those with the latter view get into fights with fans over the silly elements in these kinds of films (Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an example of this--for someone who thinks the film is aimed at 12-year olds, why should it matter if something in the movie doesn't make sense?). Critical conservatism is nothing new--to use literature as an example, it took 150 years for William Shakespeare to be acknowledged as anything more than popular entertainment (we can thank Samuel Johnson for that); decades for Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, and so on to get their due--just as many of their genres (horror, fantasy, etc) were long rejected. Comicbook movies are another rung on the ladder of critical appreciation (as, indeed, were comics themselves).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)