With Ant-Man (2015) hitting theaters in July, we’ve reached the end of Marvel’s Phase 2, a stellar run which included Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Marvel has announced a full slate of films for Phase 3, and with that in mind here are five comic book arcs to keep in mind when considering Marvel’s plans.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol.3)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) was the surprise hit of last year, raking in over $700 million at the worldwide box office and making a legitimate star out of Chris Pratt. The film, which also drew rave reviews, was equal parts comedy and sci-fi action with the titular heroes battling the imposing Roman the Accuser (Lee Pace). While the original film did well to tie up most of its loose ends, it did leave a big question unanswered; who is Peter Quill’s (Star-Lord) father? The answers lie in the comic arc Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 3) (2013), where Quill explores his alien ancestry. While director James Gunn mentioned that what happens in the comics may not necessarily inform the movie directly, the familiar themes of family and parentage should remain consistent through the adaptation.
4. Black Panther (Vol. 3) (1998)
With Marvel’s Phase 3 comes an influx of new characters, perhaps the most important of which is the Black Panther, to be played by Chadwick Boseman. The prince of the distant African nation of Wakanda (mentioned in Avengers: Age of Ultron), the Black Panther should serve as a crucial figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as where his allegiance lies will matter greatly in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Blessed with superhuman strength and senses, the Black Panther should be a force to be reckoned with by the time his own film, Black Panther, arrives in 2015. What role he plays in films after that is anyone’s guess, but with the charismatic Boseman on board, it’s a safe bet he’ll stick around.
3. Thanos Quest (1990)
Tied intricately to the Infinity Gauntlet (1991) series that followed it, this comic arc follows recently resurrected Thanos in his quest to uncover and collect the Infinity Stones (powerful gems which can be used to manipulate elements of the universe such as reality, time, etc.). When assembled in the Infinity Gauntlet, they give the wearer extraordinary power capable of destroying the universe; Thanos, in his efforts to court Death, sets his sights on destroying the universe to win her favor. With Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) making his debut in 2012’s Avengers and earning more screen time in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), it’s safe to assume he will continue to play a nefarious role in the events which unfold moving forward.
2. Civil War (2006)
Although it’s beginning to look more like a full blown Avengers film than a solo venture, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War (2016) will be the third film in the acclaimed series starring Chris Evans as the titular hero. Also starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, the film takes its storyline from the comic run of the same name, where war breaks out amongst heroes after the passing of the controversial Superhero Registration Act. Written by the talented Mark Millar, the series touches upon themes of liberty and morality, as Captain America’s anti-registry allies fight a guerilla war against the act’s supporters, led by Iron Man (Tony Stark). It’s a complex narrative which refuses to wholly align either side with good and bad, instead preferring to operate in moral shades of grey. The film should follow a similar story arc with huge ramifications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. Infinity War (1992)
Penned by Jim Starlan, this six-episode sequel to 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet should serve as inspiration for both Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1) (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War (Part 2) (2019). The comic, which sees Thanos finally assembling all six Infinity Stones after defeating the Magus, culminates in an epic power struggle between Earth’s mightiest heroes and the Mad Titan. With the adaptation being given two films, logic holds that some material from Infinity Gauntlet (1991) should find its way onto the screen, but if you’re looking to bone up on your Marvel lore pre-phase 3, this is where you should start.