Thursday, April 12, 2018

Marvel TV and MCU News

Jeremy Conrad (known for breaking the Deadpool 2 story) has a scoop where he claims the MCU's next big team series will be the The Eternals. Here are the key points from his article:
Through confirmation from multiple sources [three], Marvel is looking to launch The Eternals as a new franchise post-Guardians of the Galaxy 3 [2020] and the wheels are already in motion to find Marvel’s new team of heroes. The decision to do them came after the success of the very Kirby-esque Thor: Ragnarok and DC developing their New Gods movie [in active production but with no release date], but they’ve been preparing for them for a while and we’ll see a moon-sized hint at them in Avengers: Infinity War this month [presumably referring to Thanos' home of Titan]. The rumor says the movie is currently on the Phase 4 schedule for 2021 or 2022, and there’s a possibility some of the Eternals could pop up in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 before being spun off into their own franchise. As Guardians 3 is the final outing for this team, introducing new cosmic characters prior spinning them off into their own movie would make a lot of sense.
The rest of the piece is Jeremy giving his opinion on why this is happening. The notorious Umberto Gonzalez has already dismissed the idea, but his own track record is a mixed bag (his colossal error on who Zendaya was playing in Spider-Man: Homecoming is just the latest example, but you can see an old list of others here), so his dismissal on its own doesn't amount to much. James Gunn is pretty quick to point out incorrect rumours so he's the one I'd watch in terms of the validity of Conrad's claims (the news broke on April 4th and so far there have been no denials--Rich Johnston is reporting an official announcement is coming soon--this runs contrary to Kevin Feige's statement that none of the Phase Four films would be revealed until after Infinity War, so my guess is the change is a reaction to Conrad's scoop).

As for who The Eternals are: Jack Kirby's creation back in 1976 when he returned to Marvel from DC (where he had created the New Gods which is the DC film mentioned above) and there are a lot of similarities between the two (both companies cancelled the run before he finished the storyline, illustrating their limited public appeal at the time). Briefly: when the Celestials visited Earth five million years ago and performed genetic experiments on early proto-humanity, they created two divergent races: the long-lived Eternals and the genetically unstable and monstrously grotesque Deviants (very angels/devils). The Eternals are long-lived and in general protected the human race, especially from the Deviants, with whom they've always had an enmity. Eventually the Eternals develop godlike powers.

How much of this the MCU would keep is hard to say. If the focus is the cosmic there's less need for the Eternals to be from earth's past. Thanos, who is an Eternal in the comics, may or may not be connected to them in the MCU--generally the MCU simplifies things (eg Ego becoming a Celestial) and that's what I'd expect with the Eternals.

A thought to add to my Infinity War speculation: is Tony Stark going to be the Uncle Ben moment for Spider-Man? I don't mean replacing it necessarily, I just mean as the dramatic moment--the emotional scene that serves as the cinematic touchstone for Peter Parker? There's certainly something about Tony wanting Peter to be better than he is that has some resonance with Ben's declaration in the comics. Just a thought.

Speaking of my speculation, we've had a comment from co-director Anthony Russo related to some of it:
We were considering showing [Thanos’] backstory, but ultimately felt it wasn’t necessary for the movie
My speculation was that we'd see Thanos' call to action (as in the event which begins his quest to balance the universe), so does this debunk that idea? It may, but Russo could also be talking about his origin in particular (growing up and developing) which is not quite the same thing.

I've also seen speculation that the fourth Avengers film will be in some way be the "Secret Wars" storyline--an idea that makes no sense to me whatsoever and fortunately the Russo's recently made comments that saves me going through why, as they expressed an interest in doing Secret Wars once the Fox properties are back with Marvel (see below).

For those unfamiliar with Secret Wars it refers to two two series in the 1980s from Jim Shooter (1984-86) and then a series of the same name from Jonathan Hickman in 2015. The two stories are very different--in the former an omnipotent being called the Beyonder is at the heart of the plot (which was written at the behest of Mattel to sell toys), whereas in the latter it's a merging of the various Marvel universes (bringing the Ultimate universe together with the default 616-universe, among others). The motivations of both are vastly different and when the Russo's refer to them I think they mean Hickman's (a sentiment echoed by others). While I no longer believe we'll ever see TV characters in the MCU, if we do this would be the place.

On the more take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt side of things the same Conrad has a one-source rumour that the Black Widow movie will be in 2020. This isn't much of a leap to make (it was my guess when the dates of phase four were announced). While Scarlett Johansson isn't old by any means (33), as a character she'll have had seven major appearances beforehand (I'm excluding her cameo in Thor: Ragnarok) and there comes a time where the interest in a solo appearance might fade away. Given how much Sebastian Stan has talked about such a movie it wouldn't be a surprise if he was in it (seeing the MCU tackle an espionage film would be fun).

On the Netflix side of things more news is coming out about Luke Cage season two (which is just two months away). Talking to Empire Magazine, showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker said:
Danny [Rand] helps Luke channel his chi in a fight to end all fights that was just one of the most fun things we've done.
This doesn't specifically give us much of an idea for why Luke seeks out Danny's help (to deal with the Bushmaster perhaps? see below), but it does suggest fun is part of the process, which is what you want from a nascent Heroes for Hire. It also doesn't provide any hint at how long Danny is in the show--what's described could be one episode or it might be part of a story arc (my guess is the former).

Coker also described Bushmaster's powers as being virtually the same as Luke's. Speaking of villains he deflected addressing the specific problems the first season had with Diamondback as a villain (implying it was largely a matter of comparative performance, ie, Mahershala Ali was so much better than Erik LaRay Harvey that it made his character seem poor by comparison--something not very fair to Harvey who, I think, was at minimum a victim of bad material).

In talking about Luke's journey Mike Colter said:
Luke is his own worst enemy, and that's something I enjoy playing about him, because he doesn't necessarily understand the results of his actions. He's fallible and he makes mistakes. He's got an edge, he's got a chip on his shoulder, he's got to discover his own popularity and enjoy it a bit. He's learning on the fly what it is to be someone everybody recognises, to be someone everyone in Harlem looks to for answers. It's a lot of responsibility
This is a good arc to follow since it's so distinctive from two of the other Netflix characters (Daredevil is a secret identity and Jessica Jones doesn't want popularity). Comments from Simon Missick were a bit more vague:
How does this person who is identified by her strength and her power as a cop do that job [without her good arm]? She can't. So we see Misty at the top of the season walking away from the thing that defined her.
So it seems Misty leaves the police (something presumed when we heard Daughters of the Dragon was going to be in Iron Fist season two), but it's not clear what she leaves the police for and discovering that seems to be her journey for the season.

Despite mixed reactions to the latest season of Jessica Jones it has been confirmed for another. The speedy renewal (about a month later) suggests Netflix had already made up its mind prior to the release of two (much as it had, say, with a Punisher series or Daredevil season two). What will be interesting to see is how showrunner Melissa Rosenberg reacts to the mixed feelings fans had about the second season--comments after the first showed her very concerned with audience reception (citing Dexter's collapse) and she can't be happy with how the second season was received. The obvious change to make would be to push Jessica's story forward rather than triple-dipping into her past, but we shall see (and it is a long way away).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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