As if we didn’t have enough massive films coming from Marvel Studios, this one is likely to break every box office record that’s come before it. We got a massive tease for Thanos at the end of the first Avengers film and now it’s time for the big payoff. And about time, too.
But what else might be happening here? Several high-profile contracts are ending with this film (if part one is indeed considered a separate movie from part two) and it could mean a full changing of the guard is about to happen.
We also might be seeing a new director(s) taking over for Joss Whedon who is supposedly stepping aside. That sounds like a lot, but it’s not nearly as scary as you might think. In fact, it could open the door to all sorts of new possibilities that could push the Marvel Cinematic Universe to new heights.
What a ride this is going to be!
Avengers…break out that checkbook
By now you should realize these movies are only getting bigger and bigger. This will be the third Avengers film from Marvel Studios and it’s going to require the biggest budget yet. How big? About $300 million or more. Covering Robert Downey Jr’s price tag will be expensive enough, but then you’ve got ballooning pay grades for most of the main cast, the biggest special effects yet in one of these movies (trust me, that’s going to happen) and the addition of more cast members than ever before…bank account broken.
The action in this first part, I think, is likely to go between Earth and space as it’s also likely the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to be part of this, too. If there’s a huge battle on Earth (how could there not be?), things are going to get trashed and lots of collateral damage will be unavoidable. If the destruction in Man of Steel bothered you, better get ready to type out more angry statuses for this one.
Splitting this movie into two parts might have been the only way to tell the complete story and keep the budget from being unmanageable. The first part alone is going to bust some records, but part two is going to be even bigger. Let’s not forget, this is where it all finally comes together. The biggest invasion in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what will either be the end of it all together or the shift from one set of heroes to another.
As has been mentioned before, this is where lots of contracts end, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. While we’ve got a couple of potential replacements for Evans, Downey and Hemsworth remain unknown. There could still be new contracts signed before we get to this point, but that will only cause this movie and its sequel to weigh heavier on Disney’s bank account. The notoriously frugal company might not be down with signing away all the profits to keep the stars in place.
Time will tell, but that’s hardly the biggest question for this movie.
With contracts coming to a close and this being the third film in the Avengers trilogy, it’s highly likely we’re going to see the end of some characters. Or some sort of lineup change to the Avengers roster.
In Age of Ultron, we’ve got Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Due to recent comic events, these two are also no longer considered mutants nor are they the children of Magneto. This frees them up to be used by Marvel Studios without so much Fox interference (sorry X-Men fans). We know they and The Vision (watch Age of Ultron, it’ll explain everything you need to know) are already part of the new lineup, but who’s likely out?
My first guess: Chris Evans. With Sebastian Stan signed to nine films and The Winter Soldier doing so well in theaters, it’s likely he’s going to play out that full Ed Brubaker story arc and become Captain America…when Steve Rogers dies in this movie or during Captain America: Civil War. The more likely scenario is that Rogers (Evans) will die in the opening salvo against Thanos, possibly along with other Avengers like Thor and Iron Man. In their absence, new heroes rise to take their places. That’s where we get a new Captain America (Stan), new Iron Man (Doctor Strange or War Machine/Iron Patriot) and new Thor (possibly the introduction of the new female Thor from the current comic book run).
I have my own theory about a new Thor, as I think Ragnarok may refer to his evil cybernetic clone in his third film. If that’s the case, we may see a version of Thor that sides with Thanos. All pure speculation, of course, but I’m not the first one to think of the “Death of the Avengers” possibility.
Black Panther and Doctor Strange are likely to figure in prominently to all of this, too, so I half-expect them to become the new front men for the team. Benedict Cumberbatch now officially cast as Steven Strange is what pulls me in that direction. As does Panther’s heavy involvement in Captain America: Civil War and, of course, his own solo film prior to this one. There’s one other major character who is being introduced after this movie ends who I think will be the third major character in this new MCU Trinity, but that’s for another column.
One other big rumor floating around out there is that Spider-Man will be appearing in this movie. Let’s review quickly, though. Sony Pictures still holds the film rights to the character. There were some talks with Marvel Studios about the possibility of “sharing” him, but those fell through. Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been pushed back/possibly put on indefinite hold, but that doesn’t mean Sony’s ready to “sell him back” yet. Reevaluate their current film plans, maybe, but give up a billion-dollar franchise just like that? C’mon, use your head. It might not be successful right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be again. And given how much Disney/Marvel would have to shell out and give up to get the character for what would likely be a cameo appearance, it just doesn’t seem worth it for them.
Avengers is going to be huge, with or without Spider-Man. Adding him would probably wind up costing them more money than it would make. And that’s the kind of deal Disney just isn’t going to go for. A sharing deal isn’t impossible, but in the current climate, it’s unlikely. Sony’s going to have to be in even worse shape than they are now for those deals to go through. With their recent woes from a (probably inside) hacker releasing confidential emails from high-ranking execs, things do looks bad. But not that bad. Some jobs are going to be lost, for sure and some movies might get scrapped, but Spider-Man is their cash cow and possible saving grace. And if the recent rumor about a casting call in Atlanta for ASM3 is true, looks like Sony has no plans to head back to the negotiating table at all.
But don’t worry about any of that, Infinity War is going to be great and it’s no surprise, really. Look at the Marvel Studios track record and tell me I’m wrong.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
This is the most successful comic book film franchise in history and it’s likely to stay that way for a good long while. What we’re seeing here is a real possibility for the studio to capitalize on the idea of legacy characters; something comics have rarely stuck to for long.
As pricey as this one is going to be and as many contract disputes as are definitely going to happen, this will be no less than magnificent to see on screen. This is the culmination of the golden age of comic book films. It may never be this good again.
We’ve come a long way to get to this point and there’s still a little further to go. The next chapter in this saga is going to determine if audiences are willing to give more obscure characters a chance to take over for the leads they’ve followed for so long. It’s a tricky question to answer, but we’ll know for sure much sooner than later. Either way, what a ride it’s been, true believers!
Opens May 4, 2018. Subject to change, of course.
Come back in two weeks for a breakdown of Captain Marvel!