SDCC 2019: Marvel Studios Raises the Bar with Hall H Presentation
So it’s taken me a week to finally recovery (or at least partially recover) from San Diego Comic-Con this year. Between all the interviews and news, it was just a lot (I think I’m even fighting back my first run in with “Con Crud). We still have a lot of photos and interviews to run but I did want to do a quick writeup on what was clearly the biggest panel at San Diego this year.
So first up, there was no Stan Lee Tribute and no Avengers Reunion. I’m actually shocked nothing for Stan Lee was done but with only 90 minutes to go through everything, Feige and crew were running a tight schedule. And while it would have been nice to see Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans say goodbye one last time, we still got to see 3 other of the original Avengers and we know that they still have films and series coming out. So it’s not too big of a deal.
This was really about Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios Studios looking ahead. And I don’t just mean with Phase 4 announcements. Phase 3 was the first Phase of the MCU where Kevin Feige was no longer held back by Ike Perlmutter (The racist, Trump supporting CEO of Marvel Entertainment). If Phase 3 was the experiment to see what Feige could do without Perlmutter mucking things up, then Phase 4 is him giving the finger to Ike for good. Out of all the films announced for Phase 4 so far, only one of them is directed by a white man. If the salty dudebros were mad about “SJW Marvel” before, well Phase 4 is upping the ante. And why wouldn’t they? Black Panther and Captain Marvel both made over a billion dollars at the world wide box-office. Diversity and Inclusion clearly sell. But beyond that...that's also what Marvel has always been. "The World Outside Your Window" and a reflection of real life. So of course we'd see more women and non-white actors and characters.
Below I go through each of the films and series announced with some quick comments along with photos from the panel from both myself and Brandon. We’ll discuss this more on this month’s Mailbag being recorded on the 31st.
Before I get into the films and series though, I did want to take a minute to point out one of the cooler moments of the panel. At the beginning, before bringing out any movie stars or announcing the Phase 4 slate, Feige brought out the other producers behind making the MCU such a huge success. We always give Kevin Feige credit for the work he's done at Marvel Studios but there's a whole team behind him. And it was a great moment to see him bring these folks out before the Hall H crowd and make the announcement that Avengers Endgame finally surpassed Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time.
We knew Chloe Zhao had been tapped to direct this film and we knew there was good chance that it would come out next year but word on this project had been pretty tight lipped. So much so that when rumors came that they were looking to bring Angelina Jolie on, it was radio silence from Marvel. I said in my Hall H preview that for all we knew they’d just bring her on stage and let that be the confirmation and….that’s exactly what they did.
I tell you, this just makes me look over at WB/DC and ask what they were thinking skipping out on Hall H this year. First, they’re actually gonna beat Marvel to the punch with having Cathy Yan, a Chinese-American director helming their Birds of Prey film slated for February of 2020. Then there’s the whole lack of information on their New Gods film being directed by Ava Duvernay and apparently written by Tom King (excuse me…Eisner-Winning Tom King). You’d think they’d want to get out in front of Marvel and put some good news and vibes out there yet…no.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
I still want this to be called Captain America and Bucky but I’m probably just getting ahead of myself and being impatient. Also…Zemo Back….with the purple mask.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier @ SDCC 2019
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
When I said that Marvel announcing Phase 4 films was dependent on how close they were to casting their leads, I didn’t anticipate them cutting it this close. Liu screen tested on Sunday, found out he got the job on Tuesday and had 4 days to prepare to walk across the stage in front of 6500 people in the biggest SDCC panel. No pressure. You can actually see the gravity of the situation hitting him as he walks out in the pictures I took
One thing that really stands out to me here is how much Marvel is mining their own content. The Ten Rings were seeded all the way back in Iron Man 1 at the beginning of Phase 1 and here we are in Phase 4 finally getting the real Mandarin and the ten rings. That’s classic “mining our own material” Marvel. I will also say that I’ve seen some concern about the racist background of the Mandarin and other Asian characters and I will say that I think folks shouldn’t worry too much. Feige is well aware of the racist background of the Mandarin (why he was never onboard with bringing him in in the first place) and if he’s changed his tune, it’s because he’s handing it over to Destin Daniel Cretton to give an interpretation of The Mandarin that isn’t a stereotype or racist. Also helps that they put the character up against Shang-Chi and not Tony Stark.
WandaVision and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
People who jumped off the deep end and tried to say that Marvel was “erasing Monica Rambeau” by making her a little girl in Captain Marvel gotta be feeling pretty stupid right now (Who am I kidding, they’re not self-aware enough). Also for all the folks still on the fence about Disney+ (I don't get it), Feige confirms that events in WandaVision will lead to things in the next Doctor Strange. This is huge for several reasons. First, the inclusion of the Disney+ series in the Phase 4 lineup already signaled how important they are. Agents of SHIELD had direct tie-ins to the MCU and yet it was never included in any of the official Phase 1 - 3 announcements. Secondly, even with Agents, the movies affected the show not the other way around. So with WandaVision we have a series that is going to directly affect a movie. We're entering new territory here for the MCU and I can't wait. Also, as Feige said, just cause Quentin Beck lied, doesn't mean the Multiverse isn't real.
Doctor Strange 2 @ SDCC 2019
Loki and What If…?
Loki through time…what could go wrong? And the MCU's first animated film? Endgame showed that Marvel Studios isn't afraid to get weird with time travel and even multi-dimensional stuff. If WandaVision is going to directly affect the Doctor Strange movie, I'm wondering what Loki messing with Time and The Watcher alternate realities will do and affect.
Only thing I have to say here is that Jeremy Renner clearly learned from his last PR fumbles when it came to women (calling Black Widow a slut) and kept harping on Kate Bishop being the better version of Hawkeye. Protect the bag Renner...protect the bag.
Thor: Love and Thunder
I mean I was already in when they announced Taika Waititi was back to direct. But as soon as he dropped Jason Aaron's name and "Mighty Thor", I knew Portman was walking out on that stage. Again, it fits with where the MCU is head. We have Sam as Captain America, Carol Danvers and T'Challa, we know Feige and crew want to do something with Kamala Khan and so Jane Foster Thor (Please stop calling her 'Lady Thor') makes sense. And I'm not against Portman returning as some other folks. I think she wasn't given much to do in the first Thor film and I think she was much better in Thor 2 (no matter how you feel about the film overall) because she was given something to do. She's a good actress and I look forward to seeing what she can do with Waititi and the rest of the cast.
Thor Love & Thunder @ SDCC 2019
Having seen the footage, I have to say, I really am leaning towards Taskmaster being played by a woman. One, the scene with Taskmaster mimicking Black Widow in the fight really seems to back that up. Second, it just fits with the rest of Phase 4.
Also, I won't lie. I'm one of those people that never really cared to see this film. Don't get me wrong, I've always fallen into the "If Marvel makes it, I will be there day one" part of the crowd. But I never thought Black Widow (or Hawkeye) needed their own films. But they're making it and I will be there to watch and I know it will be good. Even with Scarlett being very problematic.
Black Widow @ SDCC 2019
So that's everything that was announced. Feige did mention that Black Panther 2 and Captain Marvel 2 are happening (duh). And he also mentioned the Fantastic Four and mutants but no word on when those will come. Personally, I don't believe this is the full Phase 4 lineup. First, this is only 2 years of movies and series. Granted, it's A LOT so that doesn't mean much. But the bigger thing that stands out to me is that there isn't a big tentpole film like Avengers in this lineup. So part of me thinks Feige and crew still have something up their sleeve. I mean...they also dropped that Mahershala Ali as Blade as a parting shot so we know the MCU has plenty of secrets left.
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