Marvel has a "Phase 2" film line-up that, not surprisingly, involves sequels: Iron Man 3 (opening May 3, 2013), Thor 2 (Nov. 15, 2013), Captain American 2 (April 4, 2014) and a TBD film to open May 16, 2014. The assumption is that, just as the previous films leaded up to The Avengers, the new batch will prime the pump for an Avengers 2 in 2015. On-line rumors have been in a flurry over the mystery film, which will probably be the only non-sequel of the bunch, and be one of three likely contenders. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of them, because pretty much all of Marvel's A-list characters have already been brought to the big screen.
Ant-Man (screenplay by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish), involving the size-changing, ant-talking hero Hank Pym.
Reasons for it: Ant-Man dates back 50 years and, with his wife/partner The Wasp, was a founding member of The Avengers. Wright has been developing Ant-Man for years (he mentioned it when I interviewed him during the release of Hot Fuzz in 2007). Quite recently Wright shot an Ant-Man test reel, so they're definitely taking it seriously.
Reasons Against It: Wright's scheduled to film another movie, the comedy World's End, this fall. He seems like the kind of obscure, marginal character who could be introduced in the other movies, like Hawkeye was.
Black Panther (screenplay by documentarian Mark Bailey), an African prince during costumed crime-fighter with enhanced strength and agility.
Reasons For It: Dating back to the Fantastic Four comics of 1966, the Black Panther is considered the one of the first black superheroes, and could add diversity to the Marvel movie line-up. LatinoReview, considered a reliable source of Marvel gossip, predicted that Black Panther would be Marvel's next standalone film on June 6. He has a cool outfit.
Reasons Against It: He's still a pretty obscure character. Whenever I imagine how a movie will dramatize his homeland of Wakanda, I imagine a remake of Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, only with him becoming a New York superhero instead of a fast food employee. Also, Latino Review recently corrected itself, and said the mystery movie was going to be...
The Guardians of the Galaxy (screenplay by Nicole Perlman), a rag-tag group of outer-space do-gooders.
Reasons For It: The Avengers ended with an appearance by Thanos, a galactic bad guy with close ties to the Guardians and numerous others of Marvel's "cosmic" characters. The Avengers Assemble comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Marietta's Mark Bagley is aimed at movie audiences and is showcasing Thanos and the Guardians, so clearly they're on the agenda. Marvel has also recently filed trademark applications for potential Guardians of the Galaxy ancillary products.
Reasons Against It: Even by comic book standards, they're an obscure bunch of characters. After the box office disappointments of Green Lantern and John Carter, would Marvel want to gamble on a complicated, special effects-heavy sci-fi project?
My Best Guess: Guardians of the Galaxy might be the biggest gamble, but it could offer the biggest commercial pay out. Ant-Man and Black Panther would introduce one more hero amidst a mob of costumed crusaders, but Guardians could launch a potential Star Wars-style space opera series, with the attendant potential for spin-offs, merchandising, toys, etc. It may even its own equivalents of Chewbacca and R2D2, as the Guardians include a walking, talking tree called Groot and a belligerent mammal called Rocket Raccoon. As Marvel President Kevin Fiege explains:
"We are very excited about bringing things like that, maybe things exactly like that, to the screen. When you tell people, you know what would be really cool? This movie, and there's a raccoon, and there's a tree ... And they go, 'What?' And people like you know what it is, and get excited. And the majority of people go, 'Did you say a raccoon and a tree?' 'Oh yeah, they're going to steal the whole movie. They're hilarious.' 'Okay, I'll believe it when I see it.' I like that."
I hope whoever replaces him has as good a mustache as his.
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i'm sorry, i just can't a grown man seriously with a nickname like "bubba".