I'm just going to say it: I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm obsessed with it, each new announcement about it gets me excited, and I truly believe the more the merrier when it comes to expanding the whole thing. Since the one-two punch of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk back in 2008, the whole MCU has gotten bigger than any of us could've ever imagined, branching out into a number of different films and television shows, turning characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man into household names, crossing genres, and telling all kinds of great stories. I could talk about it for days on end, but today I'm going to focus on this weekend's MCU news from the San Diego Comic-Con to help sort out my thoughts on it all and get YOU up to speed in case you missed anything.
From the introduction of Ghost Rider to footage from Luke Cage and Iron Fist to all sorts of news about Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the sequels to Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy, I've got you covered. So let's get started!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 4
A lot of people jumped ship during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season back in 2013, but man, it's been one hell of a ride for those of us who stuck with it. After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier completely shook up the show, it's been a roller coaster ever since, with the series introducing Inhumans into the franchise, building its characters into faces it's hard not to love, and being home to a number of amazing villains that put some of their cinematic counterparts to shame like Grant Ward, John Garrett, Calvin Johnson/Mr. Hyde, and Hive, just to name a few.
The show's fourth season is moving the series back an hour from 9:00pm to 10:00pm, the shift to the later hour promising to bring with it the chance for the show to go a little darker. And after a summer of teasing just what's in store for the show, which last saw the team forever changed and Daisy now a vigilante, it was announced on Friday that Ghost Rider - not the famous, bike-riding Johnny Blaze, but the more recent Robbie Reyes incarnation of the character - will be making his debut in the MCU via Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., played by actor Gabriel Luna.
It's huge news and awesome for fans of the character and the show, and considering how good Hive looked in season three, it's hard not to be excited to see how Reyes will be brought to life when the series returns onSeptember 20th... And, of course, there was a teaser reveal:
Daredevil: Season 3
Everyone's favorite Devil of Hell's Kitchen is coming back for a third season, to absolutely no one's surprise. Netflix and Marvel dropped the teaser (below!) but no word on exactly when it's coming, though with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on the way, we probably won't see it until sometime after the latter is released. Fret not, however, cause we'll still get your Daredevil fix in The Defenders!
Luke Cage: Season 1
The first season of Luke Cage is coming to Netflix on September 30th, and after the character's appearance in the first season of Jessica Jones, I personally can't wait to see him branch out on his own. He's moved to Harlem, has his own enemies to square off against - including the villainous Cottonmouth and Shades - and has a whole lot of backstory just waiting to be revealed to everyone still itching to learn more about him. On Thursday, the show finally got its first big - and badass - teaser trailer dropped:
Iron Fist: Season 1
After Luke Cage, the next Netflix series we have to look forward to is Iron Fist, the final stop before those two characters team up with Daredevil and Jessica Jones for The Defenders. Finn Jones, who you'll recognize from Game of Thrones as Loras Tyrell, is taking on the role of Danny Rand, the young billionaire who returns to New York - armed with the power of the Iron Fist - to fight evil. Undoubtedly, a number of familiar faces from the previous Netflix shows will pop up in his story, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see Daredevil's Madame Gao play into it, too, after that show already set up one of Iron Fist's biggest enemies: Steel Serpent. How it all comes together is anyone's guess right now, especially as the focus is more on Luke Cage, but that doesn't make Iron Fist's imminent arrival to the MCU any less exciting. Check out the teaser Netflix and Marvel dropped on Thursday:
This is it. This'll be the moment we've all been waiting for since the Netflix corner of the MCU kicked off last year: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all brought together to help defend their world. Of course, they'll probably be joined by a number of other characters - it's pretty much a given the Punisher will show up at some point - but this'll be the chance for these characters to finally interact and learn to be a team. The teaser dropped on Thursday hints they'll be fighting The Hand, which Daredevil fans will recognize, but there's still so much up in the air about what else is in store for us. Jessica Jones is getting another season and the Punisher is getting his own series, but The Defenders will be first up to bat after Iron Fist, it seems, and it can't get here any sooner.
T'Challa stole the show when he debuted in Captain America: Civil War, and his next appearance in the MCU will be in his own solo outing on February 16th, 2018, just a few months before the first part of Avengers: Infinity War arrives. The film hasn't started shooting yet, but on Saturday star Chadwick Boseman and director Ryan Coogler were brought on stage to talk about the film - spoiler: both are incredibly excited - before a few additional cast members were official announced. Michael B. Jordan will be playing the film's villain, Erik Killmonger; Lupita Nyong'o will take on the role of Nakia; and - my favorite one - The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira, Michonne herself, will star as Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje, the personal bodyguards of the Black Panther, who made a brief appearance in Civil War.
The film is shaping up to be incredible, with an awesome cast and a fantastic director, and as production inches closer, more casting will be announced. I'm personally hoping that Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue will resurface in the film, too, the character having made his first and only appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's one of Black Panther's biggest enemies, and even if he plays but a small part ahead of a larger role down the line, I'll be content. Either way, it's about time everyone's favorite Wakandan got his own movie, and I'm rooting for Coogler and Boseman to knock it right out of the park.
He got name-dropped back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but now Stephen Strange is finally turning up in the flesh in just a matter of months. I don't know about you, but I'm stoked: The character is going to open a window into a whole new realm of the MCU we've only been teased with, full of mysticism and mind-bending possibilities, and the footage we've been given so far has gone a long way in selling the film as one unafraid to go all out and get - ahem - strange.
The cast is incredible, and I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as longtime Strange nemesis Baron Mordo, and Mads Mikkelsen as the film's major antagonist, Kaecilius. And though I had my initial reservations about Benedict Cumberbatch, who I'll be the first to admit I've never seen the appeal of, he looks great in the part, and the trailers have won me over towards seeing him bring the character to life. He's next up to bat on the big screen, and since he doesn't have the benefit of having appeared in previous MCU movies to get audiences familiar with him - like Spider-Man and Black Panther did in Civil War - I have little doubt that he'll be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the MCU's heaviest hitters come November. (Also, I'm a big fan of composer Michael Giacchino, and he'll be scoring the film, so... Another win!)
His film arrives on November 4th, and while the cast took the stage on Saturday to discuss the film and their roles in it, the biggest thing to come out this weekend was its second major trailer. And boy, does it look good:
Captain Marvel has been on Marvel's slate for an eternity, it feels like, and years have gone by without any casting announcements or much in the way of information about her solo outing. Her film is pegged for release on March 8th, 2019, sandwiched between the two parts of Avengers: Infinity War alongside Ant-Man and the Wasp, and if there was ever a time to make the announcement about who would be taking on the role of Carol Danvers, it was this weekend.
It was the last big reveal of Saturday's panel, but Marvel brought out Brie Larson on stage after weeks of rumors that she had nabbed the part, and it's hard to find a single complaint with it. Larson is great, and her star has definitely risen over the last few years - though she'll always be Envy Adams to me - and hopefully she'll be appearing in the first part of Infinity War in 2018 to introduce her to the world a little earlier.
After Infinity War has concluded, it's pretty clear that many of the old guard, characters like Thor and Captain America and Iron Man, will be stepping aside to make way for the future of the MCU, one carried by Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and more, the new wave of the Avengers. And at their core, ideally, will be Captain Marvel, a leader and an excellent character more than deserving of a massive role in the MCU for years to come. To put it mildly, I'm unbelievably excited to see her finally brought to life, particularly with Larson filling her shoes, and can't wait to learn more over the next few years about what we can expect to see from her, her involvement in Infinity War, and her own solo film.
In my opinion, of all the separate character films in the MCU so far, Thor's have been the weakest. I enjoy them, sure, but compare Thor as a character to, say, Captain America or Tony Stark or any of the Guardians, and he doesn't quite compare for me. Hemsworth is good in the role, and of course who doesn't love Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but Thor himself hasn't quite gotten a movie worthy of him, his powers, and the wealth of storytelling potential waiting in the character's comic history.
Thankfully, it looks like that's about to change with Thor: Ragnarok, which will be hitting theaters November 3rd, 2017. It's already been promised that the film will have major repercussions for the MCU similar to The Winter Soldier, and considering just how much is being packed into it, it's easy to believe that. Aside from returning faces like Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins, the cast is being filled out by newcomers including Tessa Thompson as the Asgardian warrior Valkyrie, who may just be Thor's new love interest; Karl Urban as Skurge the Executioner; Cate Blanchett as the villainous Hela; and - lest I forget - the always-great Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, an important cosmic figure who loves to play games and might just be instrumental in helping set up the events of Infinity War.
And while Natalie Portman won't be returning - there's reportedly no love lost between her and Marvel, and personally I'm happy to see her go - in her place will be Mark Ruffalo, swapping out a love story for a buddy comedy as Thor and the Hulk go on a road trip through the universe together. Us peons who couldn't make it to Comic-Con haven't been able to see the footage revealed as of yet, but tidbits have been put out nonetheless, including the fact that the Hulk will be donning a gladiator suit - finally fulfilling years of fan's desire to see the comic story Planet Hulk brought to life - and that the evil demon Surtur will be turning up in the film.
It's all exciting stuff, and I have no difficulty in believing the film will be knocked out of the park by director Taiki Waititi, a unique choice on Marvel's part but one who seems massively excited to be going wild with the project. It may be easy for those of you to underestimate the film considering Thor's cinematic track record - the first is good, the second is divisive - but Ragnarok is going to be an event, and one worth fully looking forward to.
Ask me who my favorite MCU hero is in the MCU and I'll answer before you can even finish the question: Captain America. Ask me who my favorite Marvel hero overall is, and I'll forever and always answer with Spider-Man. I love Spidey, I love what Peter Parker represents, I love his rogues gallery, I love J. Jonah Jameson, and on and on. But I'll stop there, otherwise we'll be here all day.
My point is that when the announcement came that Marvel and Sony - who had long ago bought the film rights to the character when Marvel was struggling and selling off rights right and left - had finally come to an accord to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, I was ecstatic. Though I loved Sam Raimi's first two Spider-Man movies in 2002 and 2004, I didn't care for Spider-Man 3, and fully hated the two Amazing Spider-Man films that attempted to reboot the franchise in 2012 and 2014. Knowing the character was finally "home" and ready to be done right was fulfilling, and his debut in Civil War this summer was everything I hoped for, as both Peter Parker and his web-swinging alter ego were a highlight of the film, and I came out of it more excited than ever to see him in his own film slated for July 7th next year.
We've known for months that Tony Stark is going to be figuring into it, which is great, but those behind the film have promised that it won't focus on Spidey dealing with Avengers-level events. It's a high school story through and through, and one that will highlight just how much of a struggle it is for Peter to balance his crime-fighting life with trying to pass tests and survive the campus scene. This is the Peter I can't wait to see, an actual teenager playing a teenager - not a 30-year-old trying to pass off as one - who will actually be able to grow up alongside the MCU. He's unlike any other hero in the franchise, all of whom are adults, and he has the capacity to become the best of them in the long run, the wise-cracking heart of the team.
The film is loaded with great actors, but the one I'm most excited about is Michael Keaton, who will be playing the villainous Vulture. I adore Keaton, and it's been great seeing him finally make a comeback over the last few years. The teaser footage shown to the Comic-Con crowd mainly focused on Parker in school, reportedly, but a last-second tease of the Vulture was part of it, and hopefully it will leak sooner than later (in which case I'll update this to include it). That said, you can see the concept art of the hero and villain going at it above, and now that we're less than a year away from the film's release, it's just the tip of the iceberg in what's to come on the road to its arrival.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
Ever since the MCU started, naysayers have been trying to peg certain films as the inevitable downfall of Marvel Studios' massive success. Back in 2011, Thor was the film that some people were absolutely certain was going to ruin the lead-up to The Avengers. In 2015, some people were absolutely certain Ant-Man was going to be the studios' first massive flop. And back in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was no different; some people were absolutely certain that its weirdness and the fact it featured a talking raccoon and sentient tree were going to result in a massive misfire by the company that would leave them reeling.
Yet here we are, none of those films having been failures, and that talking raccoon and sentient tree have gone on to become household names, while that "weirdness" is exactly what got people flocking to the theaters, gladly falling in love with it. Vol. 2 is set for release on May 5th of next year, and as such it had a massive presence on Saturday's panel, where a trailer was revealed for the film - that, of course, those of us who weren't there for aren't allowed to see (yet) - and tons of details were doled out, including more information about how Yondu and Nebula will be stepping up to join the team along with a newcomer, Mantis; how Kurt Russell - YES! - will be playing Star-Lord's father, Ego; and that Sylvester Stallone will even be in the film!
/Film has an excellent write-up on the footage that you can read here to tide you over until we see it, but long story short, those of you looking to see Baby Groot in action - count me as one of you - won't be disappointed. And to top it all off, it was fully announced after months of speculation that Guardians of the Galaxy will be coming to Disney's California Adventure theme park next summer, taking over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride to take riders into The Collector's lair, where the Guardians have been imprisoned and need our help to bust out. The cast have all filmed footage for the ride - including Benicio del Toro, despite not reprising his Collector role for Vol. 2 - and I've included the big announcement video below! And it should be noted that this ride will be the first step in Marvel really coming to the park in a big way beyond the various meet-and-greets that have been present there the last few years, paving the road for a host of other attractions down the road.
This was a big weekend for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that gave fans a lot to be excited about. Not a whole lot of news dropped about projects like the second season of Jessica Jones, the first season of The Punisher, and the incoming Cloak and Dagger series on Freeform, or films like Ant-Man and the Wasp and the Infinity War films, but that's perfectly fine. The focus was primarily on the immediate future, and that's more than enough. SDCC '17 will undoubtedly be home to more information and reveals about those projects, after all, and I know I'm already looking forward to it.
Of all the projects talked about above, I'm most excited to see how The Defenders shakes out, and to see how our new Spider-Man does, how the Guardians sequel pans out, Brie Larson for the first time on screen as Carol, and how Doctor Strange changes everything in just a few months, though, of course, I'm looking forward to it all regardless. Feel free to let me know what you're looking forward to or even anything I may have missed! I'll leave you now with our first look at Marvel Studios' new opening title, which is definitely pretty slick...
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