Iron Man 3 – May 3, 2013. Thor 2 – November 15, 2013. Captain America 2 – April 4, 2014. All confirmed. Avengers 2 will likely be in 2015 then. As before, it seems Cap’s movie will precede the team-up.
So let’s chat about what to expect.
Iron Man 3 has been reported to adapt the Extremis storyline, the book itself something of a reboot for Iron Man years ago with his mainstream sleek armor and added powers. It deals with a nano-machine version of the super-soldier serum, which would make it topical with the MCU. The Mandarin, or some version of him, will be the villain. Expect requisite new armor and possible new abilities that makes Stark rather superhuman.
Thor 2 was spoken of to include other worlds, and explore Thor and Loki’s brotherhood following Avengers. Jane Foster and Dr. Selvic will return. No word on the Warrior’s Three and Sif, though I think they’re likely. Also no word on the villain. There was lots of interest by both Chris and Tom about Loki’s possible redemption, jury’s out on how much of their input will be added to the story. Major characters to come may be Baldur, Amora (Enchantress), and Hela – who I find to be particularly important…
Cap 2 sees Steve still the man out of time working with SHIELD. Kevin Fiege revealed that he may meet old allies from his old time. Bucky’s actor as signed for multiple pictures though there was no talk of Winter Soldier. With the SHIELD angle, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, and Black Widow are likely to appear. The comics show that Hydra is still alive and well in modern times. Explaining Winter Soldier’s longevity would also be a good time to expand on Nick Fury’s allusion to his actual age – as well as Black Widow if they adapted that part of her comic version.
The new macro-arc may involve Thano’s presence. Since the last major arc was the Avengers coming together, using SHIELD and Nick Fury as the thread, these new movies could be connected by indirectly connected villains. It helps that unlike many other superhero movies, villains aren’t killed off as much. Tony’s rival Justin Hammer is alive and vowed revenge. Red Skull is still out there in the universe, his super-soldier serum may have helped him age well. Loki lives, of course, as do an entire planet of Frost Giants who had their king killed by an Asgardian (and what is Loki’s place in that kingdom technically speaking?).
So let’s talk villains then:
The Mandarin’s presence was made known in the Iron Man movies, with the Ten Rings adapted as a international terrorist organization. Whiplash received his forged papers to head to Morocco by a Ten Rings agent (confirmed by Word of God). The Mandarin is the likely payoff to these hints. With my theory that the underpinning of these movies will be the villains at work, how does he fare in the larger universe? Well if he’s the head of this terrorist regime in the MCU, he most likely got on SHIELD’s radar long ago. Tony’s not an agent of SHIELD, so his knowledge of them is as good as any civilian. Facing the Mandarin may force Tony to cross paths with SHIELD once again.
In Thor 2, Loki is likely bound and chained as a prisoner. Odin would never sentence his son to death, and you kinda wanna keep a character as awesome as this alive (or…). This also jives with interest in redeeming him, which is in any case a common comic book trope. Thor 2 is important since the Infinity Gauntlet was last seen in Thor, and it is a major item in regard to Thanos. There are plenty of Thor villains that can be used as the main threat in Thor 2, namely The Enchantress and Executioner. But bear with me on this; that Thanos could make is full reveal within Thor 2 itself. His acquisition of the gauntlet simply isn’t something to leave between movies, and may be too major an event to slip in a post-credits scene or even DVD extra short film. Also, and most curiously, if Thanos would make an 11th hour appearance as in Thor 2 – would Loki’s redemption be in the form of sacrificing himself against this major threat?
While we’re still talking Asgard, I wonder what would the rules be as far as death is concerned in the MCU. You see, Agent Coulson was killed by an Asgardian – so would that make him available to Hela’s domain? Under certain circumstances, one can return from the dead if Hela can be convinced…
On to Cap 2, as mentioned Hydra may still be around. There a few Cap villains to use in that regard, but I can’t help but think about Winter Soldier. Cap 2 is said to invoke espionage. I see this as a super-powered Tom Clancy movie, rich with historical revelations of dark politics. This is certainly perfect for Winter Soldier who was modeled into a Russian assassin, which may have been Black Widow’s fate once upon a time. But wait, since we’re talking international intrigue let’s go back to The Mandarin and his Ten Rings outfit. Is the Ten Rings related to Hydra? Perhaps an evolved form? A spin-off? Do they know of each other? How about Red Skull returning to reclaim his army? What has he seen in the void that drove Loki so far (assuming his fate was similar to Loki’s). Red Skull doing some world hopping and appearing in Cap 2 would tie Cap to the larger cosmos, which is what needs to happen in some way if this ‘villain-focused thread’ is to be followed.
And as for Avenger 2… Thanos may not be the main villain after all. My final theory points the finger at Hela herself. Once again somebody from Thor’s life may come to wreck things. You see Whedon made clear that Thanos is intact in the MCU, love of death and all. But I think we can’t go and introduce some intangible concept of death, even after the fantastical things the MCU has allowed. That leads me to Asgard’s incarnation of the character: Hela. In the MCU Thanos is actually in love with Hela and she will use this to her advantage as a major villain. What’s the plan? I can only guess… perhaps she wants to claim all human life. Maybe she wants to be bigger than a soul manager. But that’s the best I got.
I could be wrong about all of my thoughts but based on what I know and heard, this is my view of the MCU going forward.