Warning: This feature contains specific plot details regarding Marvel’s The Avengers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then what in the name of Mephisto’s fiery Hell-realm are you doing? Seriously.
Stop what you’re doing right now and get your ass to the nearest movie theater. Just go. No one’s stopping you. This is America [unless you’re not in America]. You have rights and freedoms [unless you don't].
Are you still reading this? Then I can only assume you’re a True Believer and you’ve seen The Avengers at least once, right? OK then, let’s suit up and get down to the good stuff – where I spoil the crap out of Joss Whedon’s epic love letter to Earth’s mightiest heroes.
As I pointed out in my review, I absolutely loved The Avengers. The question now is, “Where do we go from here?” Well, I’ll tell you where…
To Challenge the Humans is to Court Death…
First, let’s talk about the cameo after the credits. THANOS! The Mad Titan himself, Thanos is utterly obsessed with nihilism, death, and power. His appearance at the end of The Avengers is a sign that the Tesseract (or Cosmic Cube) will continue to be a MacGuffin in Marvel Studio’s next wave of superhero films.
In the Marvel comic book mythology, The First Thanos War focused on Thanos’ attempt to locate the Cosmic Cube on Earth and will it to make him all-powerful. Luckily, Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) was able to defeat Thanos and destroy the Cube.
At the end of The Avengers, we saw the Cosmic Cube on its way back to Asgard with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), presumably to collect dust in Odin’s vault with his other artifacts. Odin’s vault contains all kinds of interesting relics, including the Infinity Gauntlet.
Created by collecting the six Infinity Gems, the Infinity Gauntlet made Thanos omnipotent, providing him with the ability to eradicate half of all life in the universe. Before he could finish the job, however, Thanos was defeated again – this time by Adam Warlock.
Random Aside: At the end of The Avengers, the Other (Alexis Denisof) tells Thanos, “To challenge the humans is to court death” – a choice bit of dialogue considering Thanos is in love with death’s very embodiment, Mistress Death.
So, does his appearance all-but-guarantee Thanos as the villain for the next Avengers film, or will he be the antagonist for Thor 2? Will Thanos lead an assault on Asgard to reclaim the Infinity Gauntlet and the Cosmic Cube?
I think it’s probably a combination of both. I imagine we will feel Thanos’ influence (directly or indirectly) in Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2. The entire planet just witnessed an alien invasion for Odin’s sake! Inter-dimensional portals, space aliens, Asgardian Gods, and incredible green rage monsters are now common knowledge to the entire world.
Shane Black is set to direct Iron Man 3, which will be based on the Extremis story arc by Warren Ellis. Robert Downey, Jr. will reprise his role as Tony Stark, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle reprising their roles as Pepper Potts and James Rhodes. New additions to the cast include Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, a scientist responsible for the Extremis virus and Ben Kingsley as a yet-to-be-announced villain.
Scheduled for release on May 3, 2013, Iron Man 3 will be the first post-Avengers film from Marvel Studios. Could Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) make a cameo appearance to help Stark with a scientific conundrum? After the death of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Marvel will need to utilize other characters (like Cobie Smulders‘ Maria Hill, perhaps) to bridge the gaps between these post-Avengers sequels.
Next up is Thor 2, directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), scheduled to hit theaters on November 15, 2013. According to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Thor 2 will continue the story of Thor (Hemsworth) and his relationship with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
Feige has also said the film will explain “what’s been going on in the nine realms without the Asgardians being able to use the Bifrost.” While Loki (Hiddleston) has a part to play, Feige assures us “there will be a different villain, another big villain.”
I can see a scenario where Loki and Thor will be forced to set aside their differences to save Asgard from Thanos and his minions, who have come to reclaim the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gauntlet. With the absence of the Bifrost, Asgard has been isolated from the rest of the realms – which means Thanos could be influencing other worlds to join his cause and destroy Asgard.
Again, it’s safe to assume there will be cameos by other characters in the Avengers universe in Thor 2. There are no shortage of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and scientists that could aid Thor and Jane Foster in the sequel.
Hank Pym (Ant-Man) was referred to in Thor as a colleague that Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) mentions had previous “experience” with S.H.I.E.L.D. While he’s not mentioned by name, Kevin Feige confirmed that Selvig was referring to the creator of Pym Particles himself. Perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D. will namedrop Hank Pym or Scott Lang (Ant-Man II) to build excitement for Edgar Wright‘s Ant-Man film.
After Thor 2, the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger will hit theaters on April 4, 2014. According to Disney, the second installment will pick-up where The Avengers leaves off, as Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) continues his affiliation with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D., struggling to find his place in the modern world.
Captain America 2 will no doubt be the most interesting post-Avengers sequel, being as it picks up immediately after the events of the first film. The World Security Council ordered a nuclear missile strike on Manhattan, S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to manufacture weapons of mass destruction using alien technology as a nuclear deterrent.
The United States government is questioning the actions of Steve Rogers and his fellow Avengers. Are we moving closer to the introduction of a Superhuman Registration Act? In Marvel’s Civil War storyline, the Superhuman Registration Act required any person with superhuman abilities to register with the federal government as a “human weapon of mass destruction” and reveal their true identity to authorities.
As a result, the Marvel Universe split into two groups: one advocating the registration as a responsible obligation (led by Iron Man), and the other opposing the law because it violates civil liberties and the protection that secret identities provide (led by Captain America). Is this where we’re headed? I sure as Hell hope so.
A Simple List of Dreams and Wishes…
Which brings us to The Avengers 2. How amazing would it have been to see Luke Cage or Giant-Man show up on the streets of Manhattan to battle the Chitauri with Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow during that climactic mega-battle?
While the odds of seeing Spider-Man or Daredevil swing in to help the Avengers are extremely low, this next wave of Marvel Studios films promises some new additions to the roster in the inevitable sequel.
From what we know of Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man film, the script features Henry “Hank” Pym and Scott Lang as major characters, with Pym as Ant-Man in the ’60s and Lang as Ant-Man’s successor in modern day. Lang was a thief who first who stole the Ant-Man suit to save his daughter from a deadly heart condition. After reforming from his life of crime, Lang joined the Avengers full-time under the guidance of Pym.
But where does that leave Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp? An Avengers sequel will need more strong female characters, and The Wasp is a must-have. Wasp serves as the team’s stealth agent, shrinking down to a few centimeters and infiltrating enemy lines with the help of a pair of translucent insect wings, courtesy of a genetic modification concocted by Hank Pym. Wasp can also harness her body’s natural bio-electric energy, shooting it from her hands in powerful bursts, called ‘stinger blasts.’
Another female who would be a good fit? Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel. Talk about a strong female character, the virtually indestructible heroine has superhuman strength and discharges explosive blasts of radiant energy. Ms. Marvel can also fly at half the speed of sound, so there’s that.
What about Spider-Woman? Unfortunately Marvel Studios won’t be able to include Spider-Man in the Avengers universe being as Sony has the rights on lockdown – but they could introduce Spider-Woman, another bad-ass female character. Jessica Drew has all the abilities of Peter Parker: superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and speed.
She can also focus a kind of bioelectric energy her body generates into “venom blasts” that can stun or even kill. Like Spider-Man, Drew can adhere to almost any surface and while she doesn’t have web-shooters, she can glide with the help of web-like extensions on her costume.
While we’re at it, let’s get Luke Cage in there. His steel-hard skin and super-dense muscles can withstand bullets and blades, not to mention he’s super-strong and could easily stand toe-to-toe with Thor or the Hulk. Born and raised in Harlem, Luke Cage would probably want a little revenge for the Hulk’s destruction of his home turf – if anything it could be an entry point for the character into the series.
While they’ll no doubt appear on numerous Avengers 2 wish lists, I can’t see characters like Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, or Black Panther making an appearance. Black Panther would need a standalone film to establish his origins, and being as Magneto is the father of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, I can’t see their mutant heritage playing a part in Whedon’s current take on The Avengers.
There is one other character, however, that could possibly show up. The Vision, a synthetic being with the unique ability to manipulate his density, which gives him a ghostly, phasing ability.
I could easily see S.H.I.E.L.D. commemorating the fallen Agent Coulson by creating an android with his likeness, as well as the voice of Clark Gregg. In Marvel’s recent Fear Itself storyline, Tony Stark was able to rebuild The Vision, who then joined the Avengers, so it’s certainly possible. This would be a great way to keep the actor involved in the films despite his sacrifice in The Avengers.
Marvel Studios has accomplished something that no one thought possible – the ultimate superhero crossover. Disney has announced that the film earned an estimated $200 million domestically this weekend, making The Avengers the highest-grossing debut ever.
The worldwide box office for Joss Whedon’s film has already surpassed the global box office totals of Captain America: The First Avenger ($364 million), Thor ($449 million), Iron Man ($585 million), and Iron Man 2 ($624 million). Needless to say, it’s a smash.
With their upcoming slate of films like Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and Ant-Man, it’s obvious Marvel Studios will use the success of The Avengers to further develop these beloved characters and work toward the next team-up.
By 2015, we’ll be ready for Avengers 2, when Thanos obtains the Infinity Gauntlet and launches a full-scale attack on the planet Earth…