Silver Screen Superheroics: Facts, Hopes, and Speculation

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

Last week, both Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment made HUGE announcements about the future of their respective film universes. Marvel announced the addition of Robert Downey Jr. to Captain America 3 pitting Steve Rogers against Tony Stark, Civil War style. Two days later, WB/DC announced a release schedule from 2016 to 2020 including 10 films featuring DC Comics characters (8 of which we didn’t know about). Then yesterday, Marvel fired back by announcing their full slate of Phase 3 films. That’s a ton of information, and I want to figure out what it all means. So let’s take a look at the films we’ll all be seeing over the next six years…

(NOTE: A few films were left off this list because we either don’t know anything about them, or they don’t have release dates and aren’t looking likely to get made *cough*Sony*cough*.)

2015

May 1st – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers Age of Ultron

 

Writer/Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man), Chris Evans (as Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (as Thor), Scarlett Johansson (as Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (as Bruce Banner/Hulk), Elizabeth Olsen (as Scarlet Witch), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Quicksilver), James Spader (as Ultron), and Paul Bettany (as Vison)

Facts: The Avengers take on an evil robot called Ultron for the fate of humanity! Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join the team! Vision gets an origin story!

Hopes: Nothing less than the best Marvel movie yet. The Avengers changed superhero films forever. It’s time to up the game. Also: Science Bros!

Speculation: Tony Stark builds Ultron to replace himself on the Avengers after quitting his Iron Man duties in Iron Man 3. Ultron’s stupid robot brain thinks saving humanity means enslaving and/or destroying it. Tony has to come out of retirement and put on the Iron Man armor again to stop Ultron. While I think everyone in the film will have their moment to shine, I have a feeling Age of Ultron will feel a lot like an unofficial Iron Man 4. Vision will be the result of Ultron infecting JARVIS to work for him and slapping him into an android body. But when Ultron has Tony on the ropes, JARVIS will overcome Ultron’s virus, save Tony, defeat Ultron, and join the Avengers to execute Tony’s original “Vision” for Ultron as an AI Iron Man replacement (now with a splash of humanity).

 

July 17th – Ant-Man

Ant-Man

Director: Peyton Reed; Writers: Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (w/ rewrites by Adam McKay)

Starring: Paul Rudd (as Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Michael Douglas (as Hank Pym), Evangeline Lilly (as Hope Van Dyne), and Corey Stoll (as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket).

Facts: Scott Lang is the titular character who steals the Ant-Man suit from an elderly Hank Pym. They end up pulling some sort of heist together. That’s all we know.

Hopes: Since it seems that they are loosely adapting Scott Lang’s fantastic origin story (one of the best in comics, in my opinion), I’d really hope that the impetus behind Lang’s criminal streak in the film comes from wanting to help his daughter Cassie. She a great character who becomes a hero in her own right when she eventually becomes Stature of the Young Avengers. Other than that, the replacement of Edgar Wright with Peyton Reed feels like a massive step down in camera work and visual flair, but Reed certainly makes sense as a filmmaker within the established Marvel Studios style more so than Wright. I’m just hoping for a really solid caper with a heart of gold in the style that we’re used to seeing from Marvel. I also hope that Marvel can find a way to advertise this film that will make it a success to shut-up everyone calling it Marvel’s first flop before seeing a frame of actual footage.

Speculation: None, really. Just hope.

 

August 7th – The Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four

Director: Josh Trank; Writer: Simon Kinberg

Starring: Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/Thing), and Toby Kebbell (Victor Von Doom).

Facts: A total franchise reboot for the Fantastic Four that is apparently taking a more grounded approach to the characters. That’s literally all we know.

Hopes: I want this to be good so badly. I loved Josh Trank’s Chronicle. Simon Kinberg wrote the incredibly good X-Men: Days of Future Past. Taken out of context of the franchise, this is a great cast. I Toby “Koba” Kebbell as Doctor Doom has the possibility of stealing next summer like he did in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There’s a good chance that this could be really great. All of the parts are there, but since we know literally nothing about the sum of these parts I can only have a blind hope.

Speculation: This will be a completely new interpretation based on the basic concept of the Fantastic Four, and not any specific take on the characters we’ve ever seen previously in comics or otherwise.

 

2016

February 12th – Deadpool

Deadpool

Director: Tim Miller; Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds (assumed but not officially attached)

Facts: It’s a movie about Deadpool! And he’ll (probably) have a mouth this time!

Hopes: I’m sure that I’m in the minority here, but I would rather the film be based on the more recent interpretation of Deadpool that’s been getting used in the comics. It’s a sillier version, but I also think it’s also much more nuanced than ever before. I don’t much care for the version of the character made popular in the Joe Kelly and Daniel Way runs, but if that test footage is any indication, that’s definitely the version we’ll be getting.

Speculation: None.

 

March 25th – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Director: Zack Snyder; Writer: Chris Terrio (story by David S. Goyer)

Starring: Ben Affleck (as Batman), Henry Cavill (as Superman), Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman), Jesse Eisenberg (as Lex Luthor), Amy Adams (as Lois Lane), Jeremy Irons (as Alfred Pennyworth), Jason Momoa (as Aquaman), and more.

Facts: As much as this film is talked about, we don’t actually know a whole lot of facts. We know it’s a prequel to the Justice League. We know that several of Justice characters will be making their debut in this film. We know it’s “inspired” by The Dark Knight Returns (whatever that’s going to actually mean is up for debate). That’s basically it. Everything else has been nothing but rumors.

Hopes: Please, be good. Just be really, really good. We’ve heard that Chris Terrio was hired to rewrite Goyer’s original script when Ben Affleck expressed concern over its quality. Chris Terrio wrote Argo (and won an Oscar for the screenplay), so I’m putting a lot of my faith in his talent as a screenwriter to finally bring us a DC Cinematic Universe to be proud of. It should also be noted that Zack Snyder’s regular cinematographer Larry Fong is returning to join Snyder on BvS after sitting out Man of Steel (which was done by Amir Mokri of Transformers 3 & 4 fame). So hopefully, this film will look more like cleaner, crisper Watchmen this time around, rather than the muddy, gray poor man’s Christopher Nolan look of Man of Steel.

Speculation: I think Batman puts together a contingency against Superman. A “league” of individuals who are brought together to get “justice” against Superman for what he did to Metropolis during his fight against Zod in Man of Steel. Alone, none of them would stand a chance against Superman, but together? Maybe. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, develops a “super” man of his own (maybe from Zod’s left behind DNA?) that goes wrong and becomes Doomsday. The Justice League band together with Superman to stop Doomsday. (Note: This is simply wild speculation just for fun. If I’m going to guess what happens, why not aim for the fences?)

 

May 6th – Captain America: Civil War

Captain America Civil War

Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo; Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans (as Captain America); Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man); and more

Facts: Steve Rogers goes head to head with Tony Stark in a film based on the Marvel Comics event series of 2006.

Hopes: Civil War isn’t actually a particularly great story. I mean don’t get me wrong, it has some fantastic moments throughout and it’s a phenomenal idea, but everyone acts out of character and the series ends with a whimper rather than a bang. So, I’m hoping this film is only loosely based on Civil War

Speculation: Rather than the Superhero Registration Act from the original series, I think this will be a war over the fate of Bucky. Steve sees his best friend, a guy who can be saved. Tony sees a criminal, the murderer who killed his parents. The other Avengers choose sides and boom! A Civil War erupts.

 

May 27th – X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse

Director: Bryan Singer; Writers: Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (as Mystique); James McAvoy (as Charles Xavier); Michael Fassbender (as Magneto); Nicholas Hoult (as Beast); and more

Facts: The conclusion of the trilogy of X-Men films that began with First Class and Days of Future Past. While those films took place in the 60s and 70s respectively, Apocalypse will be set in the 80s as the X-Men take on the all powerful first mutant, En Sabah Nur (aka Apocalypse).

Hopes: I really really want to see teenaged versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm (with awesome 80s appropriate mohawk). Along with Apocalypse himself, I’d love to see Mister Sinister and Cable make their cinematic debut. Cable could be especially interesting if he’s this older, rugged man meeting his parents as teenagers who have just met for the first time earlier in the movie. They’re not even dating yet, and this guy from the future is their son? That would be intense. Like reverse Back to the Future.

Speculation: I think that Mystique and Wolverine will be two of Apocalypse Four Horsemen. In fact, in the new timeline created in Days of Future Past, I think Wolverine will obtain his adamantium bones and claws through this process rather than the Weapon X program. I also think this film will set-up a new trilogy of X-Men films with young Jean, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm as the leads. Perhaps even allowing Bryan Singer the opportunity for a do-over Dark Phoenix Saga in the process.

 

August 5th – Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

Director: David Ayer; Writer: Justin Marks

Starring: (none attached)

Facts: It’s a Suicide Squad movie. That’s literally all we got.

Hopes: This is the DC film I’m probably least interested in. I’ve never been really interested in stories from a villain’s perspective, so I’m not really the target audience for this. That being said, I absolutely want this to be good for all of the people who love this sort of thing.

Speculation: Deadshot will be the lead but he won’t be joined by a bunch of D-listers. This will be an all-star cast of villains that will include fairly well-known characters like Harley Quinn and Lex Luthor. Maybe all of these villains find a way to cut off their government leash and strike out on their own. Could be an interesting way for Amanda Waller to be accidentally responsible for the Legion of Doom.

 

November 4th – Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Director: Scott Derrickson; Writer: Jon Spaihts (w/ Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch (in negotiations)

Facts: Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme introduces the world to the supernatural/mystical corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Hopes: Marvel President Kevin Feige has recently said that Marvel Studios is no longer making origin stories. I hope this isn’t true, because I think Doctor Strange has one of the best origin stories in comics and I would hate to miss out on seeing it come to life on the big screen. That being said, using Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s Doctor Strange: The Oath mini-series as a basis for the film could be a great way for Marvel to have its cake, eat it, and give us a great new female character in the form of Night Nurse!

Speculation: Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto will be one of the Infinity Gems, specifically, the “Spirit” Gem.

 

November 11th – The Sinister Six

The Sinister Six

 

Writer/Director: Drew Goddard

Starring: (none confirmed)

Facts: It’s the only Spider-Man franchise film with a release date. And Drew “The Cabin in the Woods” Goddard is writing/directing.

Hopes: I have mixed feelings about this one. I love Drew Goddard. The guy can do no wrong in my eyes. But this suffers from the same problem as Suicide Squad for me. I don’t want to watch a movie with bad guys as the protagonists. So I hope this isn’t actually what everyone has been assuming it is. I want it to be something else.

Speculation: With the disappointing turnout for Amazing Spider-Man 2, I imagine that Sony is thinking hard about what to do with the franchise. With release dates dropped for both the Venom and “female Spider-Man character” planned spin-off franchise films, as well as Amazing Spider-Man 3, it’s odd that The Sinister Six still remains on the docket. That’s why I think this film isn’t actually a spin-off film. I think Sony are prepping The Sinister Six as a full-on Spider-Man film that will be used to creatively renew the franchise (a “soft reboot” ala The Incredible Hulk) with a fresh start from a guy who knows a thing or two about how Joss Whedon writes movies. I also wouldn’t be surprised if The Sinister Six is the beginning of a collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios that would eradicate any and all ill will left over from Amazing Spider-Man 2.

 

2017

March 3rd – Wolverine 3

Wolverine 3

Director: James Mangold (assumed); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine)

Facts: The only thing we know is that it’s getting made.

Hopes: That it doesn’t suffer from the same third act problems that almost ruined (the very nearly perfect until then) The Wolverine.

Speculation: They covered Weapon-X in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They covered Japan in The Wolverine. Are there any other major Wolverine stories left to cover? The (very) recent Death of Wolverine, perhaps? Or maybe Old Man Logan? I have no idea what to expect with this one.

 

May 5th – Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Writer/Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt (as Star Lord); Zoe Saldana (as Gamora); Dave Batista (as Drax); Vin Deisel (as Groot); Bradley Cooper (as Rocket); and more.

Facts: It will involve Star Lord’s father in some capacity, but we don’t know who he’s actually going to be. However, James Gunn did confirm that his father is NOT going to be the same as his comic universe father, J’son of Spartax. So that leaves… literally everyone else.

Hopes: I want more Cosmo the Russian Cosmonaut Dog and I want him to speak this time. I’d love it if Cosmo and Howard the Duck teamed up as the Guardians’ galactic “Oracle” of sorts, giving them information about the various jobs they take on from a central hub location somewhere in Knowhere. Also, let’s get some Richard Rider going, yeah?

Speculation: Like most people, I’m convinced that Star Lord’s father is Adam Warlock.

 

June 23rd – Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman)

Facts: DC/Warner want a female director which is a big ol’ step in the right direction.

Hopes: Let’s hope they get a female writer (or writing team) as well. I’d love for this to be mostly based on the Wonder Woman series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. I think it’s a really great interpretation of the character featuring a phenomenal ensemble that’s ripe for a cinematic adaptation.

Speculation: Hey DC/Warner, I bet Jane Goldman and Michelle MacLaren are free…

 

July 14th – The Fantastic Four 2

The Fantastic Four 2

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/Thing), and Toby Kebbell (Victor Von Doom).

Facts: It’s a sequel to a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.

Hopes: None.

Speculation: None.

 

July 28th – Thor: Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth (as Thor); Tom Hiddleston (as Loki); (others unconfirmed).

Facts: “Ragnarok” is basically the Norse equivalent to the apocalypse. Marvel President Kevin Feige referred to it as a lynchpin/game-changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Phase 3, in the same way that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was for Phase 2.

Hopes: More Warriors Three. All Nine Realms. Thor’s flying goats, Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, and his axe, Jarnbjorn. Also, Beta Ray Bill would be unbelievably cool.

Speculation: Loki (as Odin) will grow bored with ruling just Asgard and decide to conquer the other nine realms as well. With the power of eight realms behind him, Odin/Loki will wage war on Midgard. Thor will obviously need to stop this, but won’t be able to because Loki is now far too powerful. He will be forced to invoke Ragnarok in order to end Loki’s rein, killing all of the gods in the process (including himself).

 

November 3rd – Black Panther

Black Panther

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman (as Black Panther)

Facts: “He’s a bit of a prince, he may even become a bit of a king, but it’s all about how this isolationist country meets the world. Maybe it goes well, maybe it doesn’t.” – Marvel President Kevin Feige

Hopes: Denzel Washington as T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, the King of Wakanda, and the original Black Panther.

Speculation: None.

 

November 17th – Justice League, Part 1

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder; Writer: Chris Terrio

Starring: Ben Affleck (as Batman), Henry Cavill (as Superman), Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (as Aquaman), Ezra Miller (as The Flash), Ray Fisher (as Cyborg), and more.

Facts: Other than the cast and creators? Nada.

Hopes: Without being forced to adhere to a story by David Goyer, I’d love to see Chris Terrio really shine and do something great with the Justice League script. I want something that stays true to the full mixture of science fiction and fantasy that makes the DC Universe so great. Don’t go for “realistic”. I want to see an untethered Justice League movie.

Speculation: Nothing.

 

2018

March 23rd – The Flash

Ezra Miller The Flash

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Ezra Miller (as The Flash)

Facts: Nothing confirmed.

Hopes: We have no idea which version of the Flash Ezra Miller is going to be portraying. I just hope he’s not playing Barry Allen. I think this could be a great opportunity to make a Bart Allen or Wally West film to counter the Barry Allen on television.

Speculation: I have no idea.

 

May 4th – Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1

Avengers Infinity War Part 1

Director: (none confirmed); Writer: (none confirmed)

Starring: (none confirmed)

Facts: The Avengers vs Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.

Hopes: Whedon was once quoted as saying that Thanos is his favorite supervillain of all time, so I’d love for him to return to write/direct Infinity War. But with Infinity War being split between two films, it’s unlikely due to Whedon’s distaste for that sort of thing. Here’s what he said about the ending of The Empire Strikes Back:

“Well, it’s not an ending. It’s a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie. That’s a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can’t just build off the first one or play variations. “

Speculation: With that in mind, I think Infinity War will end up being directed by Captain America 2 & 3‘s Anthony Russo & Joe Russo. Maybe they’ll even get Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely to join them. I also think Kang the Conqueror will be involved in the plot somehow in order to bring in the final Infinity Gem: the “Time” Gem. Perhaps the Avengers will be in a race to obtain the gem before Thanos can get to it. They fail, of course, and the cliffhanger is Thanos putting on the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time and zapping half of the Universe’s population out of existence just because he can.

 

July 6th – Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: (none attached)

Facts: It’s going to be about Carol Danvers.

Hopes: Female writer/director. A great actress as Carol Danvers. Personally, I’d love to see someone like Rosamund Pike or Carey Mulligan get the role.

Speculation: The original Captain Mar-Vell will probably be involved somehow.

 

July 13th – [Untitled X-Men Universe Film]

Untitled X-Men

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: (none attached)

Facts: Literally nothing.

Hopes: Bryan Singer’s Dark Phoenix Saga do-over.

Speculation: None.

 

July 27th – Aquaman

Aquaman Jason Momoa

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Jason Momoa (as Aquaman)

Facts: Nothing beyond the star.

Hopes: I really don’t want it to be a dark and broody “Warrior King of Atlantis” Aquaman.

Speculation: It will be a dark and broody “Warrior King of Atlantis” Aquaman.

 

November 2nd – Inhumans

Inhumans

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: (none attached)

Facts: Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige envisions Inhumans as the start of a series of self-sustaining franchises.

Hopes: Ryan Gosling as Black Bolt. Have you seen Drive? The dude is GREAT at maintaining an incredible level of charisma with little to no dialogue. Also, Natalie Dormer as Medusa. And Lockjaw.

Speculation: They’ll use the recent Marvel Comics event Inhumanity as a basis for the film.

 

2019

April 5th – Shazam

Shazam

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson (as Black Adam)

Facts: (see above)

Hopes: Humor? I’d love to see this as the superhero equivalent to Big. Also, an actor playing Shazam (totally not “Captain Marvel”, nope) that could pull off the silly comedy involved in playing a kid who becomes a grown-up superhero. I know he gets thrown around for (almost literally) everything, but I legitimately think Nathan Fillion might actually be the perfect choice to play Billy Batson’s Big Blue Cheese.

Speculation: Probably going to be based heavily on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s New 52 version of the character.

 

May 3rd – Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2

Avengers Infinity War Part 2

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: (none confirmed)

Facts: The Avengers are still fighting Thanos and that darn Infinity Gauntlet.

Hopes: I want to see every Marvel Cinematic character ever, working together to defeat Thanos.

Speculation: This will mark the end of a lot of actors’ contracts with Marvel.

 

June 14th – Justice League, Part 2

Justice League 2

Director: Zack Snyder; Writer: Chris Terrio

Starring: Ben Affleck (as Batman), Henry Cavill (as Superman), Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (as Aquaman), Ezra Miller (as The Flash), Ray Fisher (as Cyborg), and more.

Facts: That’s it.

Hopes: Darkseid and the New Gods.

Speculation: Probably, Darkseid and the New Gods.

 

2020

April 3rd – Cyborg

Cyborg Ray Fisher

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: Ray Fisher (as Cyborg)

Facts: (see above)

Hopes: A buddy film between Cyborg and Shazam (I’ve been enjoying their interactions in Geoff Johns’ Justice League comic a lot).

Speculation: No idea. Metal Men, maybe? Does Cyborg really even have any villains? Brother Eye could work.

 

June 19th – Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Director: (none attached); Writer: (none attached)

Starring: (none attached)

Facts: We know nothing.

Hopes: Any Green Lantern other than Hal Jordan. I’d love to see a big ensemble film with John Stewart and/or Guy Gardner.

Speculation: None.

So, what do you all think about the future of cinematic superheroes? What are you most excited about? Do you have any speculations of your own? Is there anything else you’d still like to see? Sound off in the comments!

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