The hotly anticipated Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con has revealed a flood of new details for Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
. Phase One consisted of the Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America movies leading in to this year's mega-blockbuster Avengers movie. We now know that Phase Two will feature both
of the movies that were hotly rumored to be next on the studio's slate; Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy
. We also now have new titles for the Thor and Captain America sequels
The Thor sequel, due out November 9, 2013 and directed by Game of Thrones
' Alan Taylor, is now called Thor: The Dark World
. That ties in with suggestions that the sequel would see Thor explore more of the Nine Worlds of the Asgardian dimension, and suggests that Thor's specific destination is Svartalfheim, the world of the Dark Elves.
That in turn gives us a clue at the possible identity of the villain. Bleeding Cool confidently reported
that the Enchantress would appear in Thor 2
, so when Mads Mikkelsen was cast as a villain many supposed he would play the Enchantress's usual partner in crime, Skurge the Executioner. Mikkelsen looks nothing like Skurge, who is a proverbial brickhouse, but he would be a perfect fit for Malekith the Accursed, ruler of the Dark Elves. Mikkelsen is no longer attached
to Thor 2
, but expect another sinisterly elven actor to take his place in The Dark World
The Captain America sequel, set for an April 4, 2014 release, now has confirmed directors in the Russo Brothers and a new title; Captain America: The Winter Soldier
. The title inspired outgoing Cap writer Ed Brubaker to exclaim
"HOLY SH*T" on Twitter. Brubaker wrote the Winter Soldier
storyline in the comics that saw Cap's World War II sidekick Bucky come back from the dead as a brainwashed assassin, so it's probably safe to guess that movie Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is coming back.
It was always likely to happen, of course, but may be quicker than most fans expected. Cap's role as a man out of time may be a little compromised if his best bud is hot on his heels, but bringing back Bucky is a smart way to bridge the gap between World War II and the modern day, and we know that the sequel is meant to include period flashbacks.
The Guardians of the Galaxy
movie is confirmed for an August 1, 2014 release, with a roster of Drax, Groot, Starlord, Gamora and Rocket Raccoon. That's two dudes, one chick, one tree and one small furry mammal that eats out of bins. Forty percent of the team will be green. No word on what the plot will be, but one might make an educated guess at an appearance by Thanos.
The concept art by Charlie Wen (at the top of this article) gives a hint of what the movie might look like. It's notable that Gamora is more modestly dressed than she usually is in the comics, and her cowl and sword make her look like Phyla-Vell.
Edgar Wright's Ant-Man
has been in the works for a long time. Now we know it's officially in development, though no release date has been given and no actors have been cast. Wright says the story will be based on "To Steal an Ant Man" from Marvel Premiere
#47 by David Michelenie, John Byrne and Bob Layton. That's the story that introduced Scott Lang as a burglar who breaks in to Hank Pym's lab to steal technology for his sick daughter Cassie, so the movie will probably feature two Ant-Men. No word on whether Wasp will appear.
Wright aired test footage at the panel that showed a stunt actor in an Ant-Man suit popping out of an air conditioning vent to take on armed goons.
Finally, Robert Downey Jr. made a surprise appearance at the panel to air some footage from Iron Man 3
that showed new armor, lots of explosions, and a first glimpse of Ben Kingsley as a villain with ten fancy rings on his fingers. The Mandarin is in the house.
This is a rare instance where casting a non-Chinese actor in an Asian role may actually be the smart choice. Usually it's whitewashing, but given that the character originated as a horrifying yellow peril stereotype, casting someone like Kingsley (who is half Gujarati Indian) allows the character to break away from the cliche.
Iron Man 3
is due out May 13th 2013 and is directed by Shane Black. It also stars Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, and the story is inspired by Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov.