Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lets talk about the MCU!

Okay. There's a lot to talk about, and this is probably going to be long and wandering, but you've been warned.

Here's where we are, as I see it:
  • Tony has dealt with his demons and isn't but is Iron Man, which I take to mean that the trilogy of his movies is actually a trilogy and there's no immediate plan to do an IM4--but we know that he's back in some capacity for Avengers 2, so there's that. As a fighter or just a consultant or a tech guy remains to be seen.
    • We still don't know if Pepper was cured of Extremis or just stabilized, and if she was cured, why isn't Tony sharing that info around, and if she was stabilized, can we look forward to Pepper-as-hero later?
    • We know from SHIELD and Cap2 that Extremis is still in play, and that it, along with Centipede (which uses alien tech), has been absorbed into the massive experimental mess that is HYDRA. And the special that came on TV before Cap2 informed us unequivocally that Extremis, Centipede and the Hulk are all attempts to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Cap, so that's still in play--and in HYDRA's hands.
  • Cap now knows that Bucky is still around and will definitely be going after him, and Bucky now knows that he's been used and lied to, and will also go  in search of himself. Which should be cool.
  • SHIELD meanwhile, is a mess. Fury is assumed dead (though Coulson and Cap and Widow know he's not), loyal agents are in hiding or dead, and it looks like up to half their roster was actually HYDRA all along. The powerful half, it would seem, leaving Coulson as the highest ranking field agent and Hill as the highest ranking leader-agent (since Fury is underground), but both out of a job, though they're handling that in different ways.
    • HYDRA seems to be based on cells like a terrorist organization--Garrett has taken over Centipede, and thinks he's a big deal, but there's also those who turned Bucky into Winter Soldier, and he doesn't seem to know about cyber-Zola, and neither of them seems to know about Nazis messing with the Staff and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
  • Thor brought us an understanding of the Nine Realms and showed how SHIELD isn't able to respond to this stuff anymore--they didn't answer Darcy's call and they didn't show up early to deal with this stuff before it went wonky the way they did all through Phase 1. Now they don't exist at all, except for whatever bases are so-called "safe" and whichever field agents rally behind Coulson or people like him.
    • Thor also brought us a Loki who faked his own death to replace his father and get his brother out of the way, and it's super-unclear as of yet whether that was just to rule, or whether there's still some tie to the Other, the Chitauri, and Thanos that lingers after the Avengers--some debt he owes them, some further plan of Thanos's that we don't know yet, but that Thanos's creepy smile at the end of Avengers implies?
    • And we're informed in the credits that the Aether is an Infinity Stone, and that the Tesseract is another, and that the Collector wants all of them.
    • And there's definitely a third Thor movie coming, where he'll almost definitely wind up going against Loki again, and if they defeat him--if he doesn't play the "I'm a manipulated victim, I HAD to try to kill you" card--then he's back in play as a villain and he's already tied to Thanos who is already tied to the stones, and we've got one third of them already, so...
    • SHIELD brought us a bit of fallout from Asgard already with Lorelai, who escaped because of Malekith's men busting up the prison, but wasn't killed because "Odin" wanted her brought back alive, and we're pretty sure that Loki has totally replaced Odin, so what's that all about, then?
  • SHIELD is also bringing us all sorts of potentials--the Berserker Staff, that helmet that infects people, Gravitonium, mind-altering tech, that probably-Kree half-body in a place that wasn't SHIELD but probably also wasn't HYDRA since Nick didn't know for sure if he was going against HYDRA, Deathlock, a name drop for Abomination...Some of this has to feed back into the movies, otherwise, why bother having SHIELD around, the perfect incubator for plot-bunnies and fallout and foreshadowing?
Near future:
  • Guardians of the Galaxy hasn't happened yet, so I can't really say definitively what it'll bring to the story, but a lot of articles seem to be already dismissing it as silliness or something out of left field, whereas I'm more than sure there'll be important things there--Benicio del Toro is in it and he's playing the Collector again for sure, so I'm willing to bet there's going to be a connection there--he knows of another stone, or he's actively looking for one, or the Guardians have a lead on one even though they don't know it.
    • Also, they're already in space, where people have just started to notice that Earth is around, messing with Cosmic Powers, and being protected by gods, and being attacked by aliens, and so on, and one of the characters comes from there, so I bet he'll wind up being directly connected in some way, too.
    • One of the articles below claims that Marvel doesn't have plans for a GotG2; if that's true, there has got to be a really strong and plot-specific reason for the movie to show up now that they're into mega-plot-land and have just announced a tentative plan up to 2028. It's all got to matter, eventually.
  • The Netflix original series' for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist that are coming out soon-ish have been confirmed once and for all to be in-continuity. They're smaller productions than the movies, and, being that they're people with a specific location (Hell's Kitchen, where Cap's mom lived, apparently) and without massive showy powers (that I know of), they might even have smaller budgets than SHIELD even. The Powers That Be keep talking about "street level" and "gritty", which will add a dimension of realism that might otherwise start disappearing as the movies get cosmic, so that'll be nice.
    • It's unclear whether they'll be set in the past, when Hell's Kitchen was the way it was when the comics were written, but if they are, that'd give precedent, in this world, for people to be dressing up and fighting crime, making all this Avengers-centric stuff less crazy.
    • If they're set modern / current, then I'm guessing they'll be in direct reaction to the Battle of New York, which, as I see it, is something we need to see. New York was trashed by friggin aliens and saved by a monster, two spies, a guy in a cape, a guy in a metal suit, and someone who froze to death 70 years ago; everyone with a single semi-heroic bone in their body--as well as anyone with a villainous bone--would start coming out of the woodwork all over the place. A precedent has been set for costumed crusaders, and they should be everywhere, and most of them should be nuts or incompetent or power-hungry.
  • The whole meaning of Agents of SHIELD has been shifted from people who work for SHIELD to people who are all that's left of SHIELD, and I'm willing to bet that the next season will be about getting them functional again--and I'd absolutely love it if they were reorganized as a freelance group associated with the Avengers, rather than having the Avengers associated with them. Like, the big-name heroes set the bar, and the normal people and small-name heroes doing the same job are what makes up the new SHIELD. 
    • There was a rumor I heard that Team Coulson might show up in one of the movies, and, sooner or later, Coulson is going to have to tell his actual friends Tony & Pepper, Thor, Cap, Widow, Hawkeye and Bruce that he's not actually dead. Hopefully this'll happen in Avengers 2, because I really need more SHIELD and more Coulson in my movies. And it's useful to do it all at once so that he doesn't have to repeat himself a jillion times over the whole course of the next Phase as he meets each one again individually.

Wild Speculation Time! 

There's no way to really know what's going on until it happens, and part of the joy of this series, for me, is that I can't guess what's coming up (rare, since I both write and know how plot works, and watch a lot of TV and movies and understand how those are built), but here's what I think could be factors going into Phase 3 and beyond.
  • Ant-Man is confirmed and already being made, and according to comics cannon, he's involved with Ultron and Vision, who are both in the next Avengers movie. So yay, a reason for Ant-Man, of all people! He's also one of the original Avengers in the comic, so if he joins up by A3, we'll have most of the original team on board at once.
  • One of the incarnations of Vision in the comics was in love with and married Wanda Maximoff, and they're both in the next movie, so there's something that can be carried forward there. He's also part of one of the reasons she went bonkers (one of the times she went bonkers), but Elizabeth Olson is saying Wanda is already totally off her gourd, so maybe her being married to him and improbably having kids and improbably losing them is not a story they're going to be tackling at all. 
    • They also seem to have changed her powers from "probability manipulation" to a combo of telekenesis, psychokenisis and mediumship, so who knows. Although, being able to speak to the dead or to aliens across the universe or anything like that could be very useful for introducing magic-based characters like Dr Strange, or reaching across space to get to, say, GothG or Thanos or Loki, or any of the other space-based stories that may or may not tie in to the main story here on Earth.
  • They could easily spin off GotG characters into other stories set in space, or bring them down to join the Avengers. One incarnation of the Guardians that doesn't include any of these characters are semi-members of the Avengers, so there's at least a little link between the movies there.
  • It's super-unlikely that any of the X-Men characters will show up, but after Age of Ultron, there's space for the Avengers to expand all they want. It might even be necessary as the threats to the world get bigger and stranger, and SHIELD is already starting to uncover people with powers, tools of power, or scientific accidents that look like a crop of crazy new villains. Sooner or later, they'll start teaming up and causing havock, and there you go, excuse for an expanded team, especially if SHIELD never gets back on their feet, or takes too long doing it.
    • In the comics, there are a number of spin-off teams, and Fury DID go to Europe to make contacts, so...
  • Daredevil was a member of the team at some point, and he's got a show in the works, so maybe some of the other Avengers and Avenger-linked characters could get their own shows if these four are successful and well-done?
    • I feel like this is sort of a test-run for another branch of the MCU; they take a few years and put out TV shows that are delivered whole and then link up at the end. If it works, they can do it again with other heroes, and shuffle the resulting characters into the movies, or into other shows, or have them pass through SHIELD or whatever.
  • We saw in IM3 that Trevor wasn't the Mandarin, but we also saw in the short about him that there's apparently a real Mandarin somewhere who wasn't happy about his use of the name. Does this mean he'll be coming out of the shadows, too, another villain for the crazy world here? Or will be turn out to be someone else we already know--good or bad, and I'm sort of hoping someone who seems good--and that he'll be revealed to be, all along, part of HYDRA's plan, or Thanos's, or Loki's, or behind some of what we've been blaming on one of those guys and part of a separate thing? Layers in layers in layers, and it's better every time we find out we've had it wrong all along, after all!
  • If you follow me liveblogging SHIELD on my Tumblr, you'll have noticed that I don't think it's a coincidence that Garrett was posing as the Clairvoyant, using SHIELD info to act like he knows the future, at the same time that Zola was existing as a sentient computer and creating an algorithm that does the same thing. So with HYDRA and Nazis back in play, of which he was both, I think we'll see the algorithm again, and that it'll be sentient, and that Garrett was actually using some of those results or the List of potential threats to HYDRA as his info-source--or that he actually had nothing to do with that and, just like he was feeding info to dudebro (who's name I can't remember, the rich guy) and to Raina, he was having info fed to him by Zola and / or the Algorithm, whether he knew it or not.
    • I also think this is why Zola, who cared enough about his own preservation that he was willing to translate his consciousness into computer form when computers barely existed, wasn't worried at all about a giant bunker-buster missile headed straight for his abandoned safe-house--because he's got backups elsewhere, or because he didn't just make the Algorithm, he IS the Algorithm, and that it'll be WAY IMPORTANT at some point in the future.
  • Agent 13 just feels like she's going to be important. I'm pretty sure she's going to turn out to be Sharon Carter, descendant of / family of Cap's Best Girl Peggy, but maybe she'll also be important in rebuilding SHIELD or expanding the Avengers or something that still hasn't happened yet.
  • Falcon is the grandson of one of Cap's Howling Commandos, and I feel that that's going to be important, too.
  • I heard a rumor, too, that there was a specific reason Hawkeye wasn't at all involved in the fall of SHIELD--or even mentioned as it happened--and that we'll find out what that reason is, eventually. Which is good, because when they were questioning people's loyalty in the middle of Cap2, Cap could have pointed out that Clint was compromised before, and Nat could have defended him, but he wasn't even brought up, so I assume they both know he's beyond question and I want to know why!

A digression: If Marvel keeps being a crazy juggernaut of money-making, I really hope the other studios decide that making nice and getting a cut is better than maintaining strict divisions in franchises that are not naturally divided at all because:
  1. I want to see how they can make X-Men and Spiderman work in the MCU
    1. Spiderman, I feel, would be easier to stitch in--they just have to mention the Battle for NY once, and we'll know that all this costumes-and-experiments stuff was brought to a head by aliens.
    2. X-Men? It'll probably have to do with how they handle the continuity-stitching they're already up to in Days of Future Past, and I'll probably do a post about how they could do it after I see that movie.
  2. I want to see what Fige and Whedon will do with those things
  3. I want to see who wins out in the battle to be Quicksilver
  4. I really want an Avengers vs X-Men movie
But back on point. So here's what we have in play, in summary:
  • Extremis, Centipede, and through Hulk, the Gamma Tests, all working to recreate Cap, who is the only successful example of that work.
  • Hydra, who has a lot of heads, as befits the name, and a lot of independent scientific experiments running at once--and so far, no indication of who is in control of all of it, or if it's just a super-invasive and totally decentralized thing. Which might be cool, but we need a face to make it personal, at least for a while.
  • Loki on the throne, and Asgard back in control of the Nine Realms, now that the Svartalves are out of the way and the Convergence is done.
  • Thanos, who is, in the comics, obsessed with the Infinity Gems, and two of which are now in the hands of the Collector.
  • Space-based bounty-hunters.
  • Chitauri remnants after the Battle for New York, and Chitauri leadership that still knows where Earth is.
  • Mandarin who may or may not be a real thing after all.
  • Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, separated from the baggage of having a father who is a major villain in another studio's epic, but still possibly connected with A LOT of great stories in the Avengers cannon.
  • A quartet of on-the-ground lower-powered but very well-trained heroes about to work into the continuity somehow, and who will likely decide whether other heroes like them get to get shows of their own, too.
  • A history of Shorts that add to the stories and will likely keep doing so.
  • A history of in-credits scenes that stitch the stories together and had better keep doing so.

But how does it all fit together? And how does Ant-Man fit in? And what wonderful new weirdness will we get AFTER that?

What do you think?

Sources, cuz I actually have a few this time:

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