What a difference a weekend makes.
Last Friday on the eve of Iron Man‘s release, we reported that the folks who brought us the Robert Downey, Jr. superhero adventure were already thinking ahead towards a sequel in two years’ time.
Today and $200 million taken in worldwide at the box office later, Marvel Studios has announced that Iron Man 2 is definitely going to be made and that as hinted in Iron Man’s post-end credits coda scene, a film featuring a team of Marvel’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, is definitely set for a July 2011 release.
The news comes via Marvel Enterprises’ 1st Quarter earnings report, which was released earlier this morning.
The report also notes that the Incredible Hulk movie comes out June 13 and that Marvel Studios has no film releases scheduled for 2009.
Marvel Studio then ramps up production for 2010 with the Iron Man sequel announced for April 30 to be followed by Thor, which features the mythical Norse thunder god as a superhero, on June 4. The following summer, Marvel will kick off things with The First Avenger: Captain America on May 6 with the full-on Avengers movie in July.
We’ve already reported on how next month’s Incredible Hulk film has references to Captain America as well as a cameo featuring Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Marvel is already laying the foundation for their Avengers film by slowly introducing the fact that all these characters share the same world. My own speculation is that Marvel will set the Captain America movie during World War Two, which is when the hero was first published. The movie would then end Cap being put into suspended animation somehow, either by accident as in the comics continuity or on purpose, cliffhangering things into the Avengers movie two months later.
(Marvel characters The Punisher and Wolverine also have upcoming feature films, but as they are characters licensed out to other studios, they won’t figure into Marvel Studios’ plans for setting up the Avengers movie.)
You know all that bitching I did earlier today in the post on a PG-13 Terminator movie about franchise management? Well, the folks over there could take a lesson from what Marvel Studios is doing here. Granted, the path Marvel is taking is far different – introducing several heroes in their own solo pictures before grouping them together for the big team film – but the end result is the same. They are creating excitement for the franchise that keeps fans coming back for the next installment. that’s something the folks not just at the Terminator franchise, but at a number of movie series, needs to realize.
While this is the stuff that definitely gets the comics fanbase worked up in a good way, I can see this exciting the casual moviegoer as well. Done correctly, and it looks like Marvel has been doing it that way so far, the average ticket buyer will slowly see the revelation of the relationships between all the characters and want to see how they will eventually get paid off.
Admittedly, while I am a fan of many of Marvel’s characters, I am not a fan of the editorial direction their comic lines have taken recently. (That said, the just started Secret Invasion event seems to be off to a good start.) However, what is being done with their properties on the film side more than makes up for the lack of interest I have in their ink and paper counterparts.