Thursday, April 26, 2018

Marvel News

No SPOILERS below--I haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War nor have I had it spoiled--anything related to it is just speculation.

Frank Palmer at Screen Geek is claiming a major Marvel character dies:
The beginning of Avengers: Infinity War features the death of a major Marvel character. Some fans will be expecting it, while others will be blindsided.
Palmer himself echoes Kevin Feige's statement that deaths in the film will be permanent (looking, no doubt, to avoid the of Phil Coulson situation--dying in The Avengers only to spend five seasons on Agents of SHIELD). I agree with Palmer that, if true, the most logical character to die would be Loki--there's really no other major character that makes sense (and no, Heimdall does not count)--but this speculation isn't new as his death was rumoured weeks ago (eg). If this is true it will be a hard pill to swallow as Tom Hiddleston has been excellent in the role and there seems to be plenty of room for growth--admittedly his transformation from villain (Thor and The Avengers) to ally (Thor: Ragnarok) is a pretty complete character journey.

Feige, who was talking to everyone about everything in the run-up to Infinity War, told Mike Ryan:
I knew some about him [Captain Mar-Vell], but it was definitely Carol Danvers who was most interesting to us and why we choose her. [Mar-Vell will play a role when it comes to Carol Danvers’ origin story.] But as that character connects to the origin of Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel? We’re pulling from some of that for inspiration.
This turned into other sites saying "Kevin Feige isn't familiar with Captain Mar-Vell" which isn't what he said at all. To unpack this, let's briefly go over the origin of the film itself. Back in 2013 a Ms. Marvel script (pre-Kamala Khan, who first appeared in August of that year) was mentioned (Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel in 2012, so the script process presumably began no later than that), with Marvel looking for female-driven films (something Marvel Entertainment head Ike Perlmutter kept rejecting (passim; 'women and minorities don't sell toys' being his rationale--thus no Black Widow toys with the Avengers, cf). The announcement of a Captain Marvel film came in October, 2014 (alongside Black Panther, whose development history has a similar trajectory--both films delayed about a year after their announced date).

What this means is that in 2013 (at the latest) Kevin Feige had decided on a Carol Danvers film and, as a huge comicbook fan who is very involved in the MCU, he would know her origin story when she became a hero (as Ms. Marvel) in 1977 (the character dates back in 1968). Briefly, a former pilot and CIA agent who joins NASA, she befriends the Kree Mar-Vell (who debuted in 1967), who was using the identity of Dr. Walter Lawson as a cover--she becomes romantically and tangibly involved with him and via an accident gets her powers. Mar-Vell eventually gets cancer and dies (1982)--like every superhero in the comics his death doesn't last, but that's not our concern here. While the MCU is going to keep the Kree part of this story, along with Danvers having been an pilot and friend to Mar-Vell, I doubt how she gets her powers will be the same.

My assumption about the film (which takes place in the 90s and involves conflict between the Kree and Scrulls) is that it will end with Danvers trapped in the Quantum Realm, freezing her in time (much like Captain America), although how and why I have no idea. Because the film takes place in the past and it's expected she will be a major part of Avengers 4, it's not clear what will happen in her sequel as the version of the character the MCU is presumably going to draw from is the very modern (2015+) leader of S.W.O.R.D. and there's not many stories to draw from that (although I would enjoy her having adventures with Alpha Flight, the Canadian mutant superhero team who become part of SWORD).

As expected Jeremy Conrad is more reliable than Umberto Gonzalez, as less than three weeks after his scoop about The Eternals coming to the MCU Kevin Feige confirmed to Gonzalez (of all people) that they are having those discussions at Marvel. Gonzalez says 'insiders' have told him "multiple screenwriters have taken meetings and have been asked to come up with a story that focuses on the female Eternal known as Sersi"--I'd take his speculation with a grain of salt (especially in the immediate aftermath of his "insider knowledge" blowing up in his face).

Speaking of comments from Feige, he said the following about Nova:
Nova is… if we have a big board with a bunch of characters that have more immediate potential, Nova is on that board. Because of the connection to the Guardians universe, because there are more than one example to pull from in the comics that are interesting [Richard Rider and Sam Alexander]. And you’re absolutely right, he was in the earliest drafts of the [Guardians of the Galaxy].
This is no surprise given that the Nova Corps itself was featured in the first Guardians film. With the second Guardians film teasing Adam Warlock and James Gunn teasing Quasar on Twitter last summer, there's a host of cosmic characters around for the MCU to play with.

That Hashtag Show is claiming actress Emma Fuhrmann will portray Cassie Lang (Scott Lang's daughter) in Avengers 4--they don't know why it's an aged-up version (Fuhrmann is 16), as original actress Abby Ryder Forston (who is 10) will appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp. If the report is accurate it's also not clear if this change reflects events happening in the aforementioned film or Avengers 4. In the comics Cassie is known as Stature and Stinger and was a member of The Young Avengers, becoming a hero after her father's death. This makes me wonder if the Phase Four change that's been referred too isn't just the addition of the Fox characters, but the addition of something like The Young Avengers (it's had a varying composition, but began with Iron Lad, Hulkling, Patroit, Wiccan, the Kate Bishop Hawkeye, and Stature--I don't think Marvel would feel beholden to this lineup, but its spirit of young characters with some connection to the original Avengers makes sense).

Speaking of That Hashtag Show, they claim the Black Widow film will be a prequel (which I'm not a fan of). Specifically:
Late last year, I was told that this film would take place in the past; today, that was confirmed by a second source. The film will find Natasha living in the United States 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union! That timeline places the film firmly in the mid-2000s [the USSR dissolved in 1991, meaning the film would take place in 2006], meaning we’ll meet up with Nat prior to the events of Iron Man 2. That time frame opens up plenty of options, and while many fans seem to want a Black Widow/Hawkeye team up in Budapest [cf The Avengers], we’ve been told that early discussions about the film involved Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier. Stan seemed to have some ideas about a potential Black Widow film recently and their unique comic book history could make for a VERY interesting adaptation. Though no director has been officially attached to the film, we can report that Brad Winderbaum will serve as the film’s executive producer, following his time in that role on Thor: Ragnarok. While rumors place the film on Marvel Studios slate of 2020 films, we were unable to confirm that release date.
While I'm a fan of Black Widow, I think re-treading a background already spoiled in other films (particularly Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron) is not the right move, so hopefully it's not the plot we get.

Joe Russo was asked to expand on his comments about potentially adapting the "Secret Wars" storyline and he said the following:
Listen, my second favorite character growing up, and one of my prized possessions in my comic book collection is Incredible Hulk #181, which of course is the first appearance of Wolverine [November, 1974]. I feel like the mission of the Marvel Universe is to keep expanding and surprising people. Surprise them with casting choices, surprise them with story choices. If we’re moving into this world of crossover events, certainly that affords opportunity for other large-scale stories from the books like Secret Wars [1984] — which was another favorite comic of mine as a kid.
CBR, the source of these comments, believes that because the original version of Secret Wars was one of Joe's favourites as a kid that that's the version he'd adapt (as opposed to the Jonathan Hickman version in 2015). I think the key element is "surprise them with story choices"--I seriously doubt the Russo's would want to simply have the Beyonder force heroes to fight before eventually defeating him themselves.

Antonique Smith's character role has been revealed: Detective Nandi Tyler, who was a childhood friend and then professional rival of Misty Knight. She's an original character (as in no comic book basis). This is very similar to the Diamondback plot from the first season and I worry it's going to fall into the exact same cliches--Smith's performance, of course, could give it much more weight.

The never-ending Moon Knight rumours (the last being Jon Schnepp's erroneous prediction that he'd appear in The Punisher) got a boost of sorts from Kevin Feige when he said:
Yes. Does that mean five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now? There are stacks of character cards that we have in our, in our development offices, which we look at. Which we pull for him, which we discussed.
This is pretty vague and doesn't suggest any kind of immediacy--indeed, he's always seemed like a character more suited to television, although this suggests he's not coming to TV any time soon (if at all).

Speaking of rumoured characters, last February Namor was rumoured to have a TV show or movie in production (the former seeming most likely) and at that time speculation was Marvel had reacquired the rights to him. Talking to IGN recently Kevin Feige made comments suggesting Universal still had some control over the character (likely the same distribution rights they own for the Hulk since Universal owns them both), meaning using the character would have similar complications. Given that Universal (owned by Comcast) is unlikely to ever sell the character back (who presumably isn't under the same seven-year reversion clock that the Fox characters were), the MCU ought to use him like the Hulk if they want to include him.

Deadline put out a story that said the following:
[Peter] Rice told Fox employees that the transaction will most likely [my emphasis] be completed by spring-summer 2019 and end of summer 2019 at the latest
This lead to innumerable outlets (eg) saying the deal is going to be done in the summer of 2019 if it goes ahead. There are two things to point out here: Rice said "most likely" (so the timeframe could be shorter or longer), and that it's "mostly likely spring-summer"--a period covering roughly April-August, which is pretty broad and whose precise timing has a major impact on what movies Fox could release beforehand. I can't imagine that Rice has insider knowledge of how fast the courts are going to move, so I take this as him simply telling his employees what's already known--these decisions take at least 12-18 months--and he has no reason to imagine the sale not happening.

Speaking of that impact, Brent Andrew claims to have talked to some high-level Fox production crew members who told him the following:

  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the last proper Fox Marvel movie (meaning adhering to the muddled Fox continuity beginning with Bryan Singer's X-Men in 2000)--they also seemed to confirm re-shoot rumours for the film (which I discussed a month ago and make sense given the release date change)
  • The X-Men characters (and everything else Marvel at Fox) will be integrated into the MCU ASAP and all are planned for Phase Four

None of these revelations are surprising (some pundits were speculating on a much longer integration, which I think is ridiculous), but it's added fuel to what's already been rumoured. It's also yet another sign that New Mutants is just never going to be released.

After writing the above Kevin Feige provided some fuel to the ridiculous fire by saying it will be a long time before the Fox characters appear. I believe this is him both being prudent as well as some deliberate obfuscation--the same way I viewed his Spider-Man deal denials (something Sony and Marvel adamantly denied right up to the official announcement). Until the sale to Disney is complete Feige isn't going to say anything about what Marvel will or won't do with the properties--I'm pretty sure that's viewed as tampering if he did. The plans are in motion and once the sale is complete we'll see those characters ASAP.

More updates from DC as apparently Birds of Prey is taking Suicide Squad 2's production date to be the next film in active production for the DCEU. I mentioned a month ago that it was unclear if Birds of Prey was happening at all, or if it instead was going to be the Harley Quinn movie or Gotham City Sirens. At that time rumours suggested Suicide Squad 2 was filming this fall, but if this is correct it appears that indeed we are getting the film Margot Robbie mentioned back in November, 2016. To me the decision makes a lot of sense--Suicide Squad was a mess and not an easy movie to make a sequel to. Birds of Prey, on the other hand, takes an element people liked (Harley Quinn) and puts it in a fresh context which could serve as a launching point for a Batgirl film (however weird it will be to have Batgirl before we get the Matt Reeves' Batman movie). Since this report came out Variety is reporting there are two scripts for the film and the only constants in both are Harley and Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl). The report also indicates Suicide Squad 2 might film immediately afterward. It makes sense for DC to double down on female-lead films when the MCU is only just getting there, but whether they can actually put out a good film remains an open question (signing Ava DuVernay to direct New Gods is not a positive sign).

The other rumoured DC film, Blackhawks (if it ever happens given Spielberg's age and busy schedule), isn't connected to the DCEU, so I won't get into that.

The leaked Venom trailer wasn't that bad except for the look for Venom itself (I've seen mixed reactions to it, positive and negative). I'm still not sure how the film will work out for Sony--detaching the character from its Marvel context. As a trailer it's an improvement on the very bland teaser the preceded it.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

No comments:

Post a Comment