Tag Archives: Marvel Cinematic Universe

How Marvel Studios Should Approach Iron Fist

With Daredevil and Jessica Jones burning up the internet (and Luke Cage, not to mention a second helping of Ol’ Hornhead, on the way), everyone with a keyboard and some time to kill has been theorizing about Marvel’s plan for its Netflix series. The original plan was as follows: Four independent series–Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist–leading up to a team-up called The Defenders. It was a good plan. Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

 

Daredevil was an experiment. It could have failed. Miserably. Instead it took off. It became the most-watched show on Netflix and spurred Marvel to start work on a second season. Now there’s talk of a Punisher series. Maybe even Moon Knight. There’s also a lot of talk surrounding Iron Fist, and not all of it is good. Depending on who you ask, Marvel is either cancelling the series outright, retooling it to be a  one-off feature-length story, or going ahead with it as originally planned. It does seem as though the series has stalled. There’s been no word of casting or story or even when production might start. The usual internet reaction is to run around shouting that the sky is falling. Personally, this doesn’t bother me. Iron Fist will be an expensive endeavor (which is what’s fueling the one-off film rumor), not to mention an interesting creative hurdle: I mean, how do you visually represent someone’s chi or the Iron Fist effect?

 

Yes. An Iron Fist series will be expensive. Probably more expensive than DaredevilJessica Jones, and Luke Cage combined. At least if you want to do it right. K’un-L’un will need to be a lot more impressive than whatever matte painting Arrow uses for Nanda Parbat. (The easiest solution to this that I can think of is to just use whatever location Agents of SHIELD used for the Inhuman city, Afterlife.)

Afterlife

 

What about the story? Is the entire thing set in K’un-L’un? I imagine the first season of Iron Fist to be a little bit like Batman Begins. Danny Rand, long-thought dead, returns to New York City after years of training in K’un-L’un. As the Iron Fist, he has been sent to New York to prepare it for an upcoming supernatural threat (this ties in to one of the subplots from the first season of Daredevil). As Danny Rand, however, he has come home to face the men responsible for the death of his parents: the Board of Directors of the Rand Corporation. To accomplish this second goal, Danny needs the services of Heroes for Hire* (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Patsy Walker, and Misty Knight). Of course, things don’t go as planned and Danny discovers that his two objectives might be more connected than he originally thought. As with the other Netflix series, Iron Fist would rely on flashbacks to slowly spool out Danny Rand’s origin, from his parents’ death, to his training in K’un-L’un, to his rise as the Iron Fist.

There’s very little reinventing of the wheel here, and with good reason. Marvel’s Netflix series manage to be both straightforward and complex, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Iron Fist will be any different when we finally get to see it.

 

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*I would actually trade a second season of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist for an ongoing Heroes for Hire series featuring Jess, Luke, Danny, Misty, Patsy, and Colleen Wing.

 

Ant-Man: As Told by Me

I’m insanely excited about Ant-Man, even if I have a few misgivings about a lot of the choices this movie seems to have made. I was going to keep this to myself until after I saw the teaser trailer that’s being released in a few days, just in case any of the beats my version hits actually appear in the real movie, but I kinda went down the rabbit hole with this and got very excited with some of the things I came up with.

First and foremost, my version of Ant-Man would be a Hank Pym story. A story of redemption and accountability. A story whose lead suffers from legitimate mental health issues but, unlike almost every other comic, he becomes a hero and not a villain. I found a way to tie this into Age of Ultron, as well as the whole SHIELD/Hydra/AIM thing.

Okay, here goes…

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Twenty-five years ago, teenage wunderkind Hank Pym and his mentor, Dr. Vernon van Dyne, are contracted by SHIELD to create next-gen technologies for the global peacekeeping organization. When Pym realizes that SHIELD is going to weaponize his inventions, he quickly hacks into the SHIELD database and removes one crucial piece of information from each design, preventing SHIELD from ever using his designs.

The present: Dr. Hank Pym is a research scientist at a small college in upstate New York, specializing in robotics, cybernetics, and nanotechnology. Dr. van Dyne had retired from academia and entered the private sector, creating Van Dyne Industries, a world-renowned think tank now run by van Dyne’s daughter Janet. Although employed by the college, Pym and his lab partner Dr. Bill Foster receive the majority of their funding from VDI.

Hank is struggling with depression in the wake of the Ultron Incident. He knows that Ultron was based on one of his old designs (Ultron’s ability to control robot drones can be tied to the queen/drone relationship among social insects, thus explaining how Ant-Man can control ants).

Meanwhile, Hydra dispatches Grim Reaper to one of AIM’s hidden labs in New York City. Hydra is still angry that they lost the Tesseract and they want AIM to create a replacement. AIM chief scientist, George Tarleton, explains that, while they have the means to create another Tesseract, they still require the materials. Grim Reaper promises to obtain the materials AIM needs and departs. Tarleton walks through a doorway that leads to a restricted area, past a cryogenic chamber labelled “J. SCHMIDT”, and into the “M.O.D.O.C. Chamber.” We see that Aldrich Killian’s head has been preserved and joined to a massive mobile computing array.

Hydra sends Blizzard, Whirlwind, and Beetle to Van Dyne Industries to obtain the heavy elements that AIM needs to create a new Tesseract. Pym watches the attack on the news, horrified when he recognizes that some of the tech used in the attack was also part of the work he did for SHIELD as a teenager. He vows to make a stand. He vows that his inventions will never again be used to hurt others. He dons a suit he designed to use in his nanotech experiments and a special cybernetic helmet: Ant-Man is born.

Things kinda follow the usual superhero plot trajectory from here. Hydra gets what it needs and AIM creates a new Tesseract, only to double-cross Hydra. As punishment, Grim Reaper kills Tarleton, who manages to save himself by merging with M.O.D.O.C. and becoming M.O.D.O.K. Janet refuses to stand by while Hank fights those responsible for the attack on her company, giving birth to Wasp.

I’m all for teasing the appearance of Scott Lang in a possible sequel, maybe a line of dialogue about the new lab assistant starting next week.

As far as the casting goes, you’ll never be able to convince me that anyone other than Alan Tudyk can play Hank Pym. For Janet, I’ve always wanted Nicki Clyne; however, after seeing Evangeline Lilly’s bob cut, how can I not want her to play Jan? The only other casting I can think of is Steve Buscemi as Tarleton/M.O.D.O.K. Oh, and I’d cast the kid who played Blizzard on Agents of SHIELD to reprise his role in the movie.

Captain Whiz Bang: Five Actresses Who Could Play Captain Marvel

With Marvel’s recent announcement of a Captain Marvel movie coming our way in 2018, the hunt is on for an actress to fill the lead role of Carol Danvers, the USAF pilot-turned-superhero.

Here are five actresses who could do some serious damage as Captain Marvel.

1. Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff (Victoria "Vic" Moretti

If there’s a female version of Nathan Fillion, it’s Sackhoff. Her name is tossed around any project with even the slightest hint of “geek appeal.” Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Sackhoff’s Battlestar Galactica character, is the spiritual cousin of Carol Danvers: a hotshot pilot ready to punch her way out of any problem that her mouth gets her in.

2. Yvonne Strahovski

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Strahovski, like Sackhoff, has already played a Danvers-esque character on television. Chuck‘s Sarah Walker punched, kicked, and shot her way through spies and assassins. If there’s one difference between Walker and Starbuck, it’s that Strahovski played her role with a little less insubordination.

3. Jennifer Morrison

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Perhaps best known for her work on House and How I Met Your Mother, Jennifer Morrison has spent the last several years fighting dragons and evil queens on Once Upon A Time. Morrison could bring a more world-weary, seen-it-all approach to Carol.

4. Katheryn Winnick

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Vikings‘ Winnick has expressed an interest in entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going so far as to post some fanart. Not only is Winnick experienced with action roles, but she’s also a skilled martial artist in what you people call “the real world.”

5. Jeri Ryan

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Jeri Ryan certainly has the genre cred. She’s also known for playing powerful, no-nonsense women capable of holding their own in a room full of men. How much would you be willing to pay to see Ryan’s Danvers go toe-to-toe with RDJ’s Tony Stark?

Honorary Mention: Natalie Dormer

The Heat - Gala Screening - Red Carpet Arrivals

There’s a fairly vocal group of Dormer fans pushing for her to land the role of Captain Marvel. Personally, I’d rather see her play the Enchantress. But, that’s just me.

Diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

First things first: Marvel Comics is doing some great things in terms of diversity in their books. Sam Wilson will soon be the new Captain America, Thor’s hammer will be passed to a woman who will take up the role of Thunderer/Protector of Midgard, and there’s a growing number of titles that focus on women and people of color: Black WidowCaptain Marvel, The Mighty AvengersElektraShe-HulkMs. MarvelAll-New Ghost Rider, etc.

And that’s great. The only problem is that this push for diversity seems to stop right before it reaches the doors of Marvel Studios. Sure, Black Widow has been kick-ass in Iron Man 2Avengers, and Captain American: The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier also gave us the aforementioned Sam Wilson. There’s also Sif, who was not only amazing in both Thor movies, but even crossed over to the small screen to appear in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, to date, all of Marvel’s movies have focused on a white dude or a collection of white dudes with maybe a woman (or raccoon or giant tree monster) thrown in for good measure.

So, what’s the problem? The folks at Marvel Studios has claimed that it’s a question of momentum. They have several plates spinning at once (another Thor movie, another Captain America movie, two more Avengers movies, not to mention the new Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), and they’re worried about breaking the pace of these franchises. I’m not gonna lie, I kind of see their point. But, I see a few golden opportunities on the horizon for, if nothing else, a movie for Black Panther and a movie for Captain Marvel.

Wakanda, Vibranium, and the Black Panther

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the following prop was on display at the Marvel booth–

Now, it’s unclear if Cap’s iconic shield is actually shattered during the events of Age of Ultron, or if it’s some kind of dream/nightmare/illusion. Captain America’s shield has been broken several times in the comics. Sometimes it’s repaired by Doctor Strange’s mystical know-how, sometimes it’s repaired by a cadre of Asgardian dwarfs, and sometimes it’s repaired by the advanced science of Wakanda. So, my hope is that Cap’s shield is broken and the post-credit scene of Avengers 2 involves Steve and Tony traveling to Wakanda in order to ask King T’Challa, who happens to be an old friend of Tony’s, to help them repair the shield. That would open the door for a Black Panther movie. Maybe the plot would involve a battle over Wakanda’s vibranium supply, hopefully including the villainous Ulysses Klaw or some new faction of Hydra or AIM.

The Kree, Mar-Vell, and Captain Marvel

This week’s Guardians of the Galaxy–which is amazing fun, by the way–introduces movie audiences to one of Marvel’s classic alien species, the Kree.

The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D also included the corpse of something that’s clearly a member of the Kree race–

KREE

So, the Kree have clearly been to Earth. Perhaps they are a continuing presence, lurking in the background. That means that undercover Kree agent, Mar-Vell, could easily appear in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

And, if the first season finale can include Nick Fury and Maria Hill, the second season finale can include the incident that transfers a portion of Mar-Vell’s Kree powers to kick-ass U.S. Air Force officer Carol Danvers and, BOOM!, a Captain Marvel movie.

Mark Ruffalo, Blood Transfusions, and Sensational Cousins

Everyone agrees that Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner was the breakout character in Avengers. Since then, everyone has been itching for another solo Hulk movie. I say that’s a bad idea. Hulk is an expensive character to have as the lead in a movie, that’s why he usually doesn’t show up until the third act. Instead, I say use Ruffalo’s draw to open a She-Hulk movie. Banner visits his cousin Jennifer Walters, an up-and-coming lawyer in Washington, DC. When the opposition in Jennifer’s biggest case to date tries to kill her, only a blood transfusion from her cousin can save her life (and change it forever)–

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. A solo movie for Black Widow has been sort of promised. I’d pay to see a movie about Spider-Woman. Or a solo Sif movie. I’d also do horrible things to your loved ones if it got me a movie about Rikki Barnes and Eli Bradley. And, I know that Marvel may be doing this movie or may be casting that character, but it doesn’t count until I see footage.

Basically, all I’m saying is this: Get on this, Marvel Studios. It ain’t that hard.

After Ultron: What I Would Like to See from Future Avengers Movies

Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, recently said that the studio has Marvel movies planned as far as 2028. This may seem ambitious to some, downright insane to others. Personally, I think it could work. And, before everyone starts using words like rebootrecast, and whatever other r-words have become hopelessly spot-welded to conversations about movie franchises, I’ll give you two very good reasons why it could.

First, there is a lot of source material that Marvel can work with. A lot. And, if this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy rakes in an astronomical amount of cash, that’s pretty much a giant green light for Marvel to go ahead and mine some of its more esoteric characters (and, believe me, I have a list).

Second, if you consider the Avengers movies as “the point” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–that every other movie Marvel makes is either a lead-in to, or a denouement of, an Avengers movie–then I have great news for you. The Avengers has–and has always had–a rotating roster. (This is something that Feige and Friends sorta implied way back around the time the first Avengers movie was coming out.) So, even if Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t sign a new contract or Chris Evans takes an extended break from acting, that doesn’t mean there can’t be any more Avengers movies.

So, after Phase Three is complete and we have an Avengers trilogy, I present to you Phase Four: The Era of the New Avengers.

You have two characters who can serve as a linchpin for a new roster of Avengers (three, depending on how that whole Netflix thing shakes out): Falcon and Bucky. So, you bring back Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier/Captain America.

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From here, I’d add Terry Crews as Luke Cage,

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Meghan Ory as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman,

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Beth Riesgraf as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird,

 

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and Yvonne Strahovski as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

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That’s it. That would be my Avengers team for a second trilogy of movies.