After Thanos’ cataclysmic finger snap, you wouldn’t think that there would be much wiggle room for further stories to be told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Half of the characters in this franchise are now (SPOILER ALERT!) supposed to be dead! But sure enough, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige is charging ahead with a bunch of film and TV projects – some involving the characters who turned to dust, so it’s safe to assume that they’ll be coming back, one way or another. So, here are the 10 most exciting movie and television projects coming up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pipeline!
10. Doctor Strange sequel
A second solo movie featuring Doctor Strange will apparently begin shooting early next year, if rumors are to be believed. It has been reported recently that Benedict Cumberbatch stands to earn a cool $9.5 million for the proposed sequel, which is more than $6 million higher than what he was paid for the first movie, which went on to gross over $677 million at the worldwide box office. Director Scott Derrickson is eager to return and bring in some of the “weird stuff” from the comics that he couldn’t fit into the 2016 origin story. The sequel is definitely happening – the question is just of when. Derrickson said, “I love the character, I love the visual possibilities, and I know the comics so well – [the first movie is] the tip of an iceberg. There’s so much progress that can be made.” He wants the sequel’s villain to have the impact of Heath Ledger’s Joker, so that he can “bring in a villain where you really got to go deep [and have] a more visceral experience.” The characters of Jonathan Pangborn and Hamir from the first movie will reportedly have bigger roles in the sequel, while Nightmare has been suggested to be included.
9. New Warriors
This TV series was originally supposed to air on Freeform, but the network executives have since decided to drop it. Still, the Marvel people aren’t giving up on it. They’re determined to get it picked up somewhere and they’ve been shopping it around the other networks. It’s a different kind of project for the MCU, since their television projects tend to be dark and gloomy and this one has more comedic elements (it revolves around two characters named Squirrel Girl and Mister Immortal), but it certainly sounds interesting. Marvel should have no problem selling the show to another network, since the pilot episode has reportedly “tested through the roof” with focus groups and has won over the hearts of a number of top level Disney executives – and it’s a Marvel property, so there’s that. There’s even the potential for every character in the ensemble to eventually get their own spin-offs. These chosen characters “are all really singular and could each carry the show that they’re on. They’re bound together…for as long as we choose with this show, but it’s conceptually tailor made for spin-offs,” says Freeform exec Karey Burke, who had been developing the show to appeal to a young adult audience. The show is aiming for a 2018 air date – but of course, it needs a network first.
8. Ant-Man prequel
Now that digitally de-aging actors is all the rage, Michael Douglas is all geared up to play a young Hank Pym – the original bearer of the Ant-Man name – in a full prequel movie. We’ve seen a younger version of Douglas – and Michelle Pfeiffer, for that matter – in the Paul Rudd movies in flashback scenes, but Douglas wants to take center stage. He said in a recent interview with Screen Rant to promote the latest solo Ant-Man movie (well, solo in the sense that it’s not an ensemble team up – but he is joined by the Wasp), “I’d like to see [Hank Pym], if there’s magic, we do movie magic in terms of flashbacks. How about getting Hank back to his prime age as the original Ant-Man and kick some serious ass?” He added, “I’m ready. I’m geared. I need a good stunt double. You know, I’ll find him. But now you can make me look forty years younger, let’s do the whole job!” Nothing has been confirmed officially by Marvel regarding this proposed prequel, but Douglas seems excited about the idea and director Peyton Reed has teased it as a possibility as far back as 2015 – plus, the Paul Rudd/Evangeline Lilly movies have been consistently doing well at the box office, so why not?
7. Damage Control
The Marvel guys have long been planning a television series with strong comedic elements that would tell the adventures of the Department of Damage Control – basically the government initiative set up to clean up after the Avengers. In the movies, we see alien robots smashing up skyscrapers. In the TV show, we would see government employees getting rid of the rubble. It’s a comical idea and it would not be the first time that Damage Control has been featured in the MCU. In the movies, they’ve been shown to have been set up as a joint venture between Stark Industries and the United States government, initially to clear up the wreckage that was left behind after the Battle of New York. Since their bureaucratic missteps and heartless attitudes are what lead to the Vulture becoming an alien technology arms dealer, you might not think that a comedy could be made about them. The comedy of the show would come from the fact that these Damage Control employees would be overworked and underpaid, while the superpowered individuals creating more and more work for them are praised as the heroes. It has a lot of potential to be a funny show. Hopefully Marvel can find the right home for it.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
It’s safe to say now that Disney will not be hiring director James Gunn back for the third movie in his comical space opera franchise, which is a real shame. Even after the cast spoke out in support of Gunn – particularly Dave Bautista, who seems to be the most passionate one about getting the director back on board – Disney have refused to relent. Let’s not get bogged down in whether or not Disney did the right thing (although they definitely, definitely didn’t – his tweets were just poor attempts at edgy humor, which Gunn is the first person to admit, and he has apologized profusely for them). Let’s just look ahead to what the movie will entail. The cast will all be back, including a begrudging Bautista who is only doing the movie without Gunn because he is legally required to, and despite Gunn’s firing as director, it seems as though Disney will still be using his script – so there will still be his signature blend of humor, heart, and action in there. Let’s just hope that whoever Disney hire to replace Gunn can live up to what he has done before – someone who is a known comic book nerd who makes movies that are funny, smart, insightful, quirky, edgy, and overall unique. Kevin Smith would be perfect.
5. Black Panther sequel
T’Challa’s first solo movie, which was acclaimed by critics and is included on some lists of Oscar predictions for next year and grossed an unprecedented $1.3 billion at the global box office, was such a huge hit that it would be stupid not to make a sequel. Producer Kevin Feige has said that “there are many, many [Black Panther] stories to tell” in future sequels, with a focus on seeing how T’Challa develops as a character. Without giving away any specific details, Feige has confirmed that a sequel is definitely on its way and the creative team working behind it have “ideas and a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one.” The problem faced by the sequel is simply living up to the first movie. It was a masterpiece, and that’s no exaggeration. It wasn’t just brilliant for a superhero movie – it was a fantastic film, through and through. You can hardly fault it. Denzel Washington recently admitted that watching it brought him to tears. So, the sequel has a lot to live up to. But in the right hands – i.e. the same hands that made the first movie – the sequel should be just as great.
4. Captain Marvel
When Carol Danvers gets her own solo movie next year, she will become the first female character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to get her own movie. And they couldn’t have picked a better character to get into the female business with – Captain Marvel will be the most powerful character in the whole MCU. She’s even more powerful than Thanos and will likely kick his ass when she joins the Avengers in their next movie. Screenwriter Nicole Perlman has spoken about the importance of getting the first female solo movie in the MCU right: “We’ve been talking a lot about archetypes and what we want this movie to be about and just how to write a strong female superhero without making it Superman with boobs…We’ll catch ourselves and say, ‘Wait a minute, what are we saying [here] about women in power?’ Then we have to say, ‘Why are we getting so hung up on that? We should just tell the best story and build the best character.’ And then we have this constant back and forth about how to tell a story that is compelling, entertaining, moving, kick-ass, and fun, and also be aware of what those larger implications might be.” The film will be set in the 1990s and feature both Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg as younger versions of their characters Nick Fury (back when he still had two eyes) and Agent Phil Coulson, respectively. So, Captain Marvel’s origin story could also double up as theirs, too. Her appearance was first teased on Nick Fury’s pager when he contacted her quickly as he was disappearing after Thanos’ finger snap. It’ll be exciting to see where her movie, starring the wonderful Brie Larson in the title role, goes.
3. Black Widow solo movie
It looks as though this project is finally moving forward, almost a decade after Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In all that time, fans have been clamoring for a Black Widow solo movie and yet Marvel never indulged them – until now. So, what took them so long to finally move ahead with it? Apparently they were waiting to find the perfect director pull it off, like the search for Ryan Coogler. After an “extremely thorough” search in which they met with over 65 directors, Marvel have finally settled on Cate Shortland to direct Black Widow’s first solo outing. This will make it the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a solo female director at the helm. Asked to comment on the project, Johansson said that it would be an origin story: “I think there’s room for it. The only way to do it was if it was something we’d never seen before that was groundbreaking and incredibly badass. But I think if anything could make that happen, my boss Kevin Feige could. He’s a visionary. It could be something very special. The character has a tortured past to say the least. She’s had to make a lot of difficult decisions and she’s got trauma – and she’s got issues!”
2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Tom Holland’s next solo outing as Peter Parker will take the character away from his humble abode in Queens and off to Europe for a summer vacation with his friends. You really do need to get away for some rest and relaxation after you’ve been wiped from existence and sent to the Quantum Realm. Director Jon Watts is back and Jake Gyllenhaal has been cast as the iconic villain Mysterio. The problem that the good people at Sony face with this movie is not being able to market it. Comic book fans and movie buffs are savvy to the fact that, one way or another, Peter Parker is going to be resurrected. But people who don’t pay as close attention to the message boards and Comic-Con panels and interviews and source material won’t know that when Thanos’ finger snap erased Peter, that wasn’t the end of him. Sony can’t spoil what happens, but at the same time, their own movie is due to be released right after it and they need to get audiences in. It’s not like audiences won’t show up to see a Spider-Man movie, but if Sony haven’t been able to get trailers and posters out there, then people who aren’t diehard fans with their ear to the ground, then they might not know there’s even a Spider-Man movie to see.
1. Avengers 4
Next year, we will finally get to find out what happened after Thanos snapped his fingers. Where did all of those people who disappeared go to? How will they be resurrected? Because let’s face it, they will be resurrected – there’s no way that Disney would allow Marvel to kill of Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and every other expensive cash cow that disintegrated when the Mad Titan completed his evil plan. It will be interesting to see where they go with it. The still untitled sequel will also act as a kind of series finale for the MCU. There will be movies after it, but it will likely be the last one to feature all the core heroes: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, all of those guys. Chris Evans has said that he’s likely to jump ship and move on to other projects and roles after this movie. What’s going to happen to Cap? Will Bucky assume the role of Captain America? Will Steve Rogers die or just retire? There’s a million directions that this movie could take the overall narrative in and it will decide where the franchise goes next, so it will definitely be exciting.