For those of you who have seen some or all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the Avengers film and its standalone films featuring the individual heroes) and may not be following the news of future releases, there's some big developments in the works that are not exactly as formulaic as people may have predicted, but this creates the dilemma of being a bit risky. Let me summarize these three main points:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Coming August 2014)
The next film to debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity between Captain America's sequel and the Avengers sequel is about yet another team of superheroes, the titular Guardians. Featuring an ensemble cast including some very huge names (Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, among others), it looks like the budget on this one is going to be very big, particularly since the entire thing is meant to take place in outer space and probably require much more CGI than most of the other films.
Why is this a big gamble for Marvel to take?
Well, not many people have even heard of the Guardians until the news of this film's existence and that in and of itself, amidst all the very popular heroes already with multiple films under their belts, means some people may be hesitant to shell out cash for this relatively unknown group of super misfits. With any luck the star power and story will make it fare better than other special effects-laden stuff getting released every month or so. The other concern is, the Avengers had pretty much at least one film of their own to establish their backstories and abilities before cramming them into their team film; the Guardians are going to have to shoehorn all of that in for each of its five members in the span of a single film. Is this a good idea? Will that hurt the story, the pace or the character development? Only time will tell, but it is something to wonder about. Even as someone looking forward to the film, these things have me reserving judgment about whether or not it will be successful and perhaps affect the future of the franchise as a whole if it fails to meet its budget or rake in a significant box office profit.
2. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (First half 2015)
These two characters, a brother-sister duo of mutants with the powers of super-speed and 'hexing', respectively, are the children of the mutant Magneto and would be expected to appear in the X-Men universe (owned by Fox) before appearing in the Avengers universe but it was revealed that they will be appearing in the sequel to the Avengers.
Why is this such a big gamble?
Well, it opens a huge can of worms for one thing and on top of that, you've got to share them with the X-Men because Fox won't relent and just play ball (who can blame them when their films aren't making nearly as much cash?); in fact the latest film in their series, Days of Future Past, has already cast someone as Quicksilver (meaning there will be two different versions of him in the two separate universes!) While that in and of itself may not be as bad as all that, the fact that there's not been a single mention of mutants anywhere in the MCU is going to leave a lot of people scratching their heads as to where the two siblings' powers emerged from since they are forbidden from being used in the MCU if anyone mentions 'mutants' or 'X-Men' or 'Magneto'. This really limits their options, and considering Hawkeye and Black Widow are still set to appear in the film, it isn't as though Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are the replacements for the only non-super male and female members of the team. Is this a good idea? Are they just wasting time and effort trying to squeeze the two into the story? Will fans be okay with a half-assed attempt to add to the Avengers ranks with, once again, little or no time to establish these characters' origins?
3. Ant-Man (Second half 2015)
Many of you may not even know who Ant-Man is. While he didn't appear in the Avengers film (and isn't even planned to appear in the second), he was originally a founding member of the Avengers in the comics. Hank Pym, creator of a helmet that let him telepathically control insects and developer of a compound called Pym Particles that allow him to change size to that of an insect himself or upwards of 12 feet when he donned his other persona, Giant Man/Goliath. His female love interest, Janet Van Dyne, who became the flying female Avenger the Wasp, was also a significant part of the team alongside him. The two of them would be perfect for replacing Hawkeye and Black Widow once ordinary humans are no longer able to compete with the villains the Avengers team faces.
Why is this one a gamble of the big variety?
More than any of the others, this one is extremely controversial for a lot of reasons. Like Guardians, many are unfamiliar with Ant-Man and his powers don't exactly seem very powerful except for becoming a giant. That can certainly affect box-office performance and that's just the beginning. The casting has already been decided and Michael Douglas is going to portray an elderly Hank Pym who is supposedly passing the mantle on to his successor from the comics, Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd (I'm even more surprised than you, believe me), a guy in his forties who isn't exactly a RDJ in Tony Stark's shoes; someone closer to Thor or Cap's ages might have been more appropriate but they've gone with him. That should prove to make may others like myself skeptical about the appropriateness of the level of action in the film (being helmed by comedy director Edgar Wright; don't get me wrong, some of his projects are extremely action-packed like Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim) but we'll just need to wait for the trailer to see if they alleviate our apprehensions. Wasp is also yet to be confirmed to appear which is pretty damned important if you think about it (but Evangeline Lilly is rumored to be in the film though not as anyone yet revealed.) To top it all off, Hank Pym created the helmet and the Pym Particles, two amazing ideas that rival even Iron Man's level of technological mastery, and yet there's no mention of him anywhere by SHIELD (who is supposedly really good at keeping track of this kind of thing) or anyone else. It's almost like he's existed outside of there until just now when he's supposed to be part of their overall universe. Was he (or someone else using his equipment) not considered appropriate for the Avengers Initiative? I really want to know what their answer to that is, it's almost as bad as the 'never mentioning mutants' mistake.
So there you have it. Three big risks that stand to hinder the future of the greatest comic film franchise yet. Your thoughts? Concerns? Hopes for the future? You can pretty much say anything you want about the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe here, actually.