The Monday after Iron Man opened to impressive box office numbers back in 2008, Marvel Studios announced that the film was just the first step towards a superhero franchise that would feature solo films for characters like The Hulk, Thor and Captain America all building towards an endgame of teaming up those characters in The Avengers. Now it is looking as if The Avengers is the starting point for an even bigger expansion of Marvel’s cinematic universe.
Speaking to the Disney Fan Club magazine D23, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige stated -
Iron Man was the dawn of the Marvel Studios age and the establishment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the beginning of that continuity. The Avengers is the next big step. Once all these characters come together, it’s the culmination of all that has come before. It launches a new era and a new time in the history of our films. Not only will it be the first film that our new home studio, Disney, will be distributing, but it will also renew each of these characters and launch them into their own franchises, starting with the second film to be released by Disney, Iron Man 3.
Thor will go off into a new adventure, and Captain America will continue to explore the modern world in another film of his own. We hope that holds true for the characters appearing in that film — Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the spy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. —all of whom are more than worthy and capable of carrying their own films. And, we’ve got a lot of other characters we’re prepping and getting ready for film debuts: the world of martial arts, these great cosmic space fantasies, Dr. Strange, and the magic side of the Marvel Universe. There are many, many stories to be mined.
Some of his statement may seem like old news. We’ve known that Iron Man 3 has been in development with Shane Black signed to direct and Drew Pearce writing the script. We pretty much assumed that Thor and Captain America would be getting sequels as well, providing that their box office was strong. We also knew that a Doctor Strange film was in the works, as the writers of the Conan revamp, Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, have been hired to work on that.
But there are a number of nuggets that can still be panned out of Feige’s statement.
First of all, we now know that Marvel will be keeping their Captain America franchise in the present and a sequel won’t flash back to more World War Two adventures.
Feige’s statement that the studio is prepping a film set in “the world of martial arts” pretty much confirms speculation that the studio is working on a movie featuring the Marvel Comics character Iron Fist. For those unfamiliar with the character, Iron Fist is actually Danny Rand, who as a young boy was taken in to the hidden city of K’un-L’un in Tibet after his parents are killed while mountaineering and is taught the secrets of a mystical form of martial arts.
Slightly less obvious is his mentioning of “these great cosmic space fantasies.” Discounting the characters whose film rights are still held by other studios, i.e., the Fantastic Four, my guess as to who they may be considering for a more cosmic story would be Nova, an Earth-based member of an intergalactic police force. I would suspect that this may be at least slightly contingent on how well the similarly-themed Green Lantern does at the box office later this summer.
I suppose that a possible spinoff film for SHIELD or some of the other hero characters we’ve already met or will be meeting over the next year or so has always been a possibility. I think a SHIELD movie, especially headed up Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury could be a fun, globe-trotting adventure that would open up the franchise. I’m not sure as they stand now, that Fury or Black Widow show as deep characterization as we’ve seen from the characters of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but that just may be because they have been supporting players in the films so far. Hopefully, if a SHIELD film were to go ahead, they would add some more depth to those characters.