It's no secret I'm a massive fan of Marvel Comics. Thankfully, the comic books are supplying a lot of entertainment off the page - and on the big screen - over the next few years. There's a lot to keep up with, and a lot changing, but I thought it would be worth sharing the future developments of Marvel-related films, more than half of which are part of the grander scheme of Marvel films. Release dates below are taken from IMDB, listing the UK release unless there was only a USA release date. Keep in mind: I will be referencing previous films in the Marvel universe, and there will be spoilers in that regard.
Iron Man 3 - 26 April 2013
The third in the Iron Man franchise, there's a lot to expect. I don't think they'll be setting up the armoured billionaire for another film after this one, using the trilogy to present one half of the dynamic duo that lead the Avengers in every struggle they face. Iron Man 3 is the first film to hit the cinemas as part of Marvel's 'Phase Two'. Phase One ended with The Avengers, and the gathering of the heroes.
Why the division, now? Because each hero has his or her own story, and they only come together to face to the world's greatest threats. In this instance, Iron Man is to go up against The Mandarin. In the comic books, he wears ten magical rings that grant him magical powers. So far, the Marvel universe has held back on the magic, unless it came from Asgard. This does raise the question: will this be the introduction to earth-based magic in Marvel films?
The Wolverine - 26 July 2013
Following up from X-Men: The Last Stand, we're back with Wolverine. Xavier is dead, Jean is dead, and I'm sure he's pretty beat up about Scott, too. Inside. Deep inside. With Wolverine: Origins having already hit the screens a few years back, there were certainly some troubles with continuity as the X-Men films continued. While the relatively recent trilogy wasn't entirely true to the comic books, it still maintained some of the standards set by the comic books.
The Wolverine will see the titular hero in Japan, a journey he took much earlier in the comic books. It is likely that, in facing psychological and emotional troubles following the events of the previous film, Logan needs some space to breathe, to discover himself, and maybe move on from Jean Grey.
The trouble is, mutants aren't an American problem. The Silver Samurai, if they use the original, can cut through anything - except Adamantium - by channelling energy into his sword. He's also supposed to be able to teleport, but the films haven't always stuck to canon on powers. If they use the second Silver Samurai, he'll just be a human with a technological suit of armour, and swords. It'll be interesting to see what they do with the film, and there isn't that long to wait.
Thor: The Dark World - 30 October 2013
The Asgardian is due to face two sets of 'aliens' in this sequel to Thor and The Avengers: dark elves and marauders. I won't lie: I don't know much about them. However, there are much more interesting developments to keep in mind. For a start, Loki will be present again, and he's never been up to much good in the films.
To add to that, however, are the rumours of the first appearance of Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of Marvel Comics. Early suggestions have said that he will be working alongside Jane Foster. However, no information about Dr Strange has been released officially. If the hearsay proves true, it may be a cameo role, but one that will see his introduction to Asgardian technology. As Thor remarks, science for him is magic for earthlings, and it may result in a fascination that cannot be overcome for the good doctor.
If those rumours prove true, the chances of a Doctor Strange film appearing in 2016/2017 are increasingly likely, but I don't imagine we will see one before Avengers 2.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 4 April 2014
Remember Bucky Barnes and how he plummeted to his death in Captain America? Well, the trick to Marvel Comics is that nobody really dies permanently. (Just ask Jean Grey...) Bucky is, in fact, the brainwashed Russian warrior, known as The Winter Soldier.
Cue dramatic music and a shocked close up of the dear Captain. Right before Bucky tries to kill him.
But then, Bucky isn't the only one to return to the big screen. Natasha Romanov, AKA Black Widow, will return as Captain America attempts to fit in to his new life in the twenty-first century in SHIELD. Along with her are introductions to Crossbones and Sharon Carter, one of whom is responsible for the death of Captain America. We've also got the listed seventh hero of the Avengers: The Falcon. While he won't be getting his own film, it seems, the hero is credited, so far, in both The Winter Soldier and Avengers 2. If you haven't guessed yet, he flies.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 18 April 2014
April's a busy month for superhero films, with the web-slinging wall-crawler making a return to the big screen. He's joined by the lovely Gwen Stacy again, and Mary Jane Watson. Yep, MJ's back. I'm not sure I'm happy with that. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy have a much bigger story than has been shown already, including her untimely death. But then, we won't have a Green Goblin to get that ball rolling. Yet.
We've got a new villain to join the ranks, though: Electro. He's going to cause a fair amount of trouble, it can be assumed, especially if the casting of a Rhino is to be taken seriously. We're talking full-on Super Villain Super Team here, with Doc Connors only locked away, and a mysterious figure in his cell. It's my guess that they'll be building things up for a big finish with the trilogy - and God I hope it's only a trilogy, and without the emo-Spidey that featured last time - with a collection of villains to really test Spider-Man in a way that hasn't been seen since the comic books. So far, adaptations have been lacking in the villainy Spider-Man has had to face during his life.
X-Men: Days of Future Past - 18 July 2014
The X-Men were the first superheroes I really loved. In this sequel to First Class, we're continuing with the newbies that were introduced, and still back in the Cold War era, but with a story that hasn't been tested on the superhero big screen before: a time-travel story arc.
With the casting of particular actors, there's the suggestion that this burst of X-Men films precedes the trilogy that first starred Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman. Well, guess what? Thanks to the miracle of time travel, many of the trilogy's characters are coming to cinemas once again! While there are still only rumours about Cyclops and Storm, so far it has been revealed that we'll be seeing Shadowcat, Iceman, Rogue, Wolverine, Magneto and Xavier, and actor Peter Dinklage (from Game of Thrones) as the antagonist. So far, his character is unknown, as the original story arc isn't quite the same as what the film will produce.
What this revelation does, however, is completely remove Wolverine: Origins from the line of stories. Emma Frost is younger in Origins than she is in First Class; Professor X can walk and has hair when he first meets her in the later film, but in Origins he's bald. He's also walking, despite the bullet to the spine. While it is still suggested by the line-up of films together, Wolverine: Origins doesn't seem to fit in, in terms of continuity.
Guardians of the Galaxy - 1 August 2014
We've received very little information on Guardians of the Galaxy as of yet, though the Marvel Now! comics are due to begin fitting the shelves shortly. Historically, they've only had a couple of major stories that people still talk about, one of which involves a battle against Thanos.
This is Marvel's chance to play off the more science-fiction elements of their universe. The Guardians are space travellers with high-tech equipment. I don't know what to expect from the film, but if the rumours are right, they'll be in the way when Thanos starts making his journey to Earth. If the film proves to be part of Phase Two in Marvel's plan, the heroes may lose the battle, and Thanos will reach Earth.
Fantastic Four - 6 March 2015
We almost had a chance to rewrite Daredevil's cinematic history. That would have been wonderful. However, the man in charge decided that the Fantastic Four reboot would be favourable. I tend to agree, though I'm a little bit annoyed at the same time. Marvel would have recovered the rights to the universe of the Fantastic Four if a film hadn't been made.
At the same time, there are some interesting stories to tell with the Fantastic Four, who exist in a universe outside of Marvel's films, but in the same developments as the X-Men franchise, and the Spider-Man franchise. It will be interesting to see what they produce by the time 2015 comes around.
Avengers 2 - 1 May 2015
Bringing Phase Two of Marvel's films to a close is the second Avengers film. We can expect it to take place after the events of Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and likely after Guardians of the Galaxy, if it is indeed included in the same story arc.
With that in mind, we'll be receiving the Falcon into the team, and just in time to face an as-yet unspecified villain. Rumour has it Thanos will be taking the world by storm, having pledged his vengeance for his defeat in The Avengers. Still, rumours will remain rumours until something is said.
Ant-Man - 6 November 2015
Beginning to Marvel's Phase Three is the introduction of Hank Pym, AKA Ant-Man. There's much to reveal yet (except to tell those who don't know about him that he can become microscopic, or about 100 foot tall, depending on what he needs), though there are rumours that Ant-Man will confront one of his enemies, Chen Lu, known also as Radioactive Man (imaginative naming at its best.)
The film's position at the start of Phase Three does raise some questions, especially with recent rumours about a new Hulk film. This has led to speculation that somewhere along the line, the Hulk will rampage and be sent off to space, resulting in a Planet Hulk film, and eventually World War Hulk - a possible story for Avengers 3.
However, that's all a long way away. It can be expected that some rumours will be bashed and others confirmed, so that maybe we'll be seeing Thanos fighting the Avengers, Dr Strange weaving some spells, and the Hulk smashing a whole other planet. In the meantime, we've got ten films based on Marvel's comic books to keep us going for the next two and a half years or so, many new characters to be introduced, and a lot of interesting developments to be made. And of course, I'll be getting massively excited about each one.