- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (May 5, 2017)
- Dir. James Gunn (Slither, Super, Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, Glenn Close, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Tommy Flanagan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Marvel jumps from two films a year to three starting in 2017 and it starts with their newest prized possession: the Guardians of the Galaxy. Expectations for the sequel are huge after the enormous, surprise success of the original. James Gunn, as open a filmmaker on social media as you’ll find, has been candid about how happy he is with this sequel, how personal it is and how much freedom he’s had. He’s adamantly said it stands alone as a continuation of the first Guardians and may even jettison the Thanos stuff that stuck out like a sore thumb.
All we know about the currently-filming movie so far is it concerns the mystery of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord’s father, whose identity has been the source of much speculation, from this site as well as others. Matthew McConaughey passed on the role to shoot The Dark Tower but they picked up Kurt Russell, in a career renaissance thanks to his 2015 triple-punch of Furious 7, Bone Tomahawk and The Hateful Eight. My best guess for his character? Starfox, based on two things – his name starts with Star (I can already see Pratt riffing on this) and I want to see Russell play a horndog. The Guardians pick up some new teammates this time around too. Nebula, Yondu and Mantis are rumored to join, with the Ravagers getting a more prominent role (plus Sylvester Stallone!).
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017)
- Dir. Jon Watts (Cop Car)
- Cast: Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey, Jr. Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Laura Harrier
Gotta say, I wasn’t a fan of the title when I first heard it but it has grown on me. Beyond it’s meta-hand tip to Spidey’s unexpected return to Marvel proper, I like that it also seems to set the stakes: Peter Parker finding a date for his high school homecoming. It’s a welcome relief from the wearying repetition of world-threatening events. There may be multiple villains as Michael Keaton was in talks to play a secondary one (rumored to be the Vulture) before the two sides fell apart. I have a sneaking suspicion Kraven the Hunter may appear as well. Filming will begin sometime in June/July.
Feige, Watts and the writers have said what makes Spider-Man special is his youth relative to the other Marvel superheroes. While he takes down villains, he’s also trying to do his homework. This is the crux of the MCU approach to Spider-Man and given the ecstatic response to his introduction in Civil War, it (and Tom Holland’s casting) is by far the right one. I also love how Brat Pack member Downey, Jr. is joining the festivities, connecting it directly to the John Hughes films cited as the filmmakers’ inspiration.
- Thor: Ragnarok (November 3, 2017)
- Dir. Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Cate Blanchett
Described as The Winter Soldier of Phase 3 with similar seismic consequences for the MCU, the third Thor proves that Feige has mastered the art of eventizing these solo feature. That means it’s up to Ragnarok to do the heavy-lifting to set up Thanos and the upcoming Infinity War. It also means adding Mark Ruffalo’s beloved take on the Hulk (presumably adapting portions of the Planet Hulk arc). While many are excited for the return of everyone’s favorite Marvel villain Loki after a four year absence, new director Taika Waititi said his goal is to make Thor the most interesting character in the film. The god of thunder is my least favorite Avenger and Waititi seems to agree there’s work to be done on the character to make him more compelling.
Filming is set to begin in July in Australia. The villain in this case is Cate Blanchett, rumored to be Hela, goddess of the dead. Tessa Thompson also joins as Thor’s new love interest Valkyrie since Natalie Portman’s uninteresting physicist Jane Foster is absent from this more cosmic entry in the Thor trilogy. There’s also a rumor of another female role, one I pray is the Enchantress so she can act as Loki’s love interest. I love the idea of Loki getting a Lady Macbeth-esque ally.