Samuel Brace on why Phase Three of the MCU is going to be better than Phase One and Phase Two…
That Marvel will be raising their game for Phase Three may seem obvious but to the uninitiated a slate of films that includes a plethora of new heroes with their own solo movies and attention slowly being taken away from such staple characters as Iron Man and Captain America, the average cinema goer may be left feeling indifferent to what’s coming next. Fear not however because newly announced characters and their accompanying films such as Ant-Man (yes, I am counting Ant-Man as a Phase Three film), Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and Thanos himself (appearing mainly in the two-part Avengers spectacular that will finish the upcoming phase), among many others means that things are going to get propelled (hopefully) to a whole new level of awesomeness.
Yes Ant-Man, everyone’s favourite ant sized superhero (sorry Atom). Now, while people seemed to have enjoyed Marvel’s latest — for the most part — not too many are mentioning this hero as a Phase Three game changer. Enthusiasm is pretty tepid, probably not helped much by the fact it had to follow the mammoth slice of exuberance that was Avengers: Age of Ultron. But I however really enjoyed this film (the title character in particular) and I am super excited for Ant-Man going forward for a number of reasons. The first of which is Paul Rudd, seriously, who doesn’t like Paul Rudd. Rudd is a comedic actor by trade and even from his one outing so far, one can tell that he just adds something different that is so far missing from the MCU. This film, and Rudd’s Lang, are hilarious and just the right antidote to the world shaking exploits of Thor, Hulk and Ultron. Also Michael Douglas in the role of Hank Pym, Lang’s mentor and Ant-Man suit creator/genius, was just perfect and if I need to explain to you why Michael Douglas being in anything is great, then go and watch Wall Street and a personal favourite film of mine, The Game. Or, you know, just watch Ant-Man.
My main reason for being hyped for the future adventures of Scott Lang however stem from the ramifications and impact this character will have on the rest of Phase Three and indeed the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole going forward. Just think about the current roster of Avengers. With the exception of Iron Man’s snarky snarkyness (wearing a little thin now, at least for me) we have Thor, Cap, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow taking up most of the current Marvel real estate. None of these characters are particularity enigmatic, flamboyant or really charismatic in any way. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy these characters or the films they are in (I do very much) but they are all kind of singing on the same note and it’s a pretty flat one. Just think of what throwing in Rudd’s Ant-Man and his self-deprecating, “I can’t believe I am doing this”, vibe will do to the energy of the group. It’s going to liven things up and bring a very different wit and sense of humour to the mix in contrast to that of RDJ’s Iron Man. If you are not on board with this line of thinking then do your self a favour and imagine a scenario where the Hulk and Ant-Man are side by side, tearing through whatever cannon fodder Thanos decides to throw at them, one doing his normal, “I am so OP, look how monstrous I am” thing and Scott Lang shrinking down to a speck, leaping off Hulk’s giant green shoulders and kicking lackey number fifty-five across the room. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Now this is where things are going to get weird and most likely very different from what most fans have become accustomed to with the MCU. The current line up of superheroes, particularly before Age of Ultron, had a very similar skill/power set. Iron Man has a suit that made him strong, Cap was engineered to be exceptionally strong, Thor, a god, is again incredibly strong and Hulk is, obviously, crazy, skyscraper, smashing strong. What I am trying to say is that they are all a bit samey. With the impending introduction of Dr Stephen Strange however this is going to change fast.
If you didn’t know Stephen Strange is a surgeon who loses his ability to operate on patients after damaging his hands in an accident. He then goes on a travelling quest of sorts and eventually becomes The Sorcerer Supreme, basically he becomes a wizard. His powers are vast and very different then the ones we are used to seeing in these films, with the exception of maybe Scarlet Witch. However it’s not just his magical powers that have me excited and eager to see in harmony with some of the more ‘regular’ members of this universe. It is the environment and the crazy world of mystic arts that Doctor Strange automatically unlocks with his presence. Introducing Strange means we will see many different worlds, dimensions and crazy, sometimes terrifying villains. Expect something more on the lines of Thor but scarier and with a protagonist that is both engaging and chock full of charisma. I haven’t even mentioned that Strange is being portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch which is going to be utterly spectacular because…obviously.
Having Strange become a part of this movie universe and appearing alongside our more established heroes is going to be pretty game changing. From the his powers, to his enemies, the actor donning the cape and the genre (if rumour is to be believed) being more of a horror flick, the good doctor is going shake things up and then some.
While not having the most imaginative name in marvel land, Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers is going to be a fantastic addition to the team and help make Phase Three truly spectacular. Danvers starts out as a high ranking air force pilot until she eventually finds herself working for NASA. After a space mission gone wrong she is kidnapped by the alien species The Kree, remember them from Guardians of the Galaxy? They experiment on her and end up giving Danvers a series of incredible powers, such as flight and super strength. Her power set however isn’t what makes her addition one to be excited for.
First of all this will be Marvel’s first female led solo movie. Now that’s a big deal and something fans all over the world have been clamouring for. For years now audience members have been plugging for a solo Black Widow movie but instead we are getting something much, much more interesting and something that will really help tie in the larger, cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. The Kree being such a vital part of her story instantly connects her and her tale to newly crowned fan favourites Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, Gamora and Groot and that is only good news. Anything that gets us up and away from Earth and into the cosmos is instantly going to make things more interesting visually and creatively, also the prospect of her bumping into our beloved Guardians is enough to get the heart racing with anticipation. Another angle worth considering is that Avengers: Infinity War, the two-part phase ender is most likely going to be set largely in space and involve many a cosmic entity. So having Carol, along with Rocket and the rest as tethering points for the audience is going to be huge in connecting both us and our Earth bound heroes to the more outlandish and sci-fi aspects of this ever diversifying phase of films. Also considering Captain Marvel will be released in between Parts 1 & 2 of Infinity War means that Carol’s story is going to be pretty vital to the events of those films and all the world changing, galaxy spanning madness that is going to be bequeathed upon us. By the time we get to Part 2 we will have a new kick ass female heroin on the way to save the day, quite possibly with Star-Lord and co along for the ride.
Captain Marvel isn’t game changing because of her powers but because of the world she is going to be thrust into and the characters that she will inevitably meet along the way, meaning that like with Doctor Strange and Guardians we will be taken to places that will both dazzle and amaze us, all coming together to take Phase 3 to all new heights.
In all seriousness pretty much every entry into Phase Three is going to be game changing to some degree. Even next year’s Captain America: Civil War should change the Avengers dynamic considerably. We are also getting an MCU Spider-Man film, something fans have long been desperate for, the thought of seeing Spidey done right, kicking ass with his Avengers buddies and the humour (similarly to Ant-Man) that he will bring to the table will be a treat worth paying numerous times for.
We also have Daredevil, Netflix’s latest original series which has made the not so blind devil of Hells Kitchen into a fan favourite in an incredibly short amount of time. I had no interest in Matt Murdoch before hand, the scars of that abysmal film I saw as a child warning off any desire I had of seeing him again, truth is I (like many others) never even gave him a second thought but after seeing the incredible series brought to us by Netflix I was won over immediately and now I can’t wait to see him again, luckily none of us will have to wait long as Netflix renewed the show for a second season due in 2016. If they can keep the quality of that show where it currently resides and maybe give us some Daredevil cameos in future MCU films (Spider-Man, please) then the lawyer turned vigilante will himself be contributing wildly to the success of phase 3 going forward.
Last but not least we have to mention Thanos. The big bad behind the scenes of basically everything that we have so far been witness too. Thanos is one of the most powerful entities that Marvel Studios currently have movie rights to so he by default is going to pose quite the threat but then adding the universe destroying power of the Infinity Gauntlet and you have quite the recipe for a quality dramatic cinema experience. Things won’t be the same once Thanos finally announces himself for real, hopefully in the next Thor entry by storming into Asgard and obliterating everything in his path until he gets his hands on The Tesseract. Thanos is a beast and will likely take many an Avenger out before his time is done.
Phase Three is going to be monstrous. There is no doubt about it. From new, more interesting characters in both terms of personality and abilities, to crazy new genres and tantalizing fresh worlds, Marvel fans are going to be in for an absolute treat. The only problem is where on earth do they go once Thanos is out-of-the-way? Phase Three is going to be mighty hard to top.