“Falcon & The Winter Soldier” Updates!

Marvel always has something going on – today had been relatively quiet, as the world calmed down after the epic Game of Thrones finale last night, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe still managed to grab some headlines this evening with the news that the upcoming Falcon & The Winter Soldier streaming show for Disney Plus will start filming in the fall, under the direction of Emmy-nominee and BAFTA-winner Kari Skogland, written by Malcom Spellman of Empire; the show will apparently premiere in August of 2020.

This news would be big enough on its own to be worth an entire post, but Marvel went one step further and even teased us with two very intriguing casting-announcements: one being Emily VanCamp, and the other Daniel Brühl, both of whom will be reprising previous roles in the MCU – those of Sharon Carter (Agent 13) and Helmut Zemo, respectively.

The VanCamp reveal might not be so startling if it weren’t for the fact that Sharon Carter’s character has been almost erased from Marvel continuity, just like…well, all her fellow Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, whose existence on the ABC network has left them too far away to share in the enormous success of the MCU proper. Carter’s unfortunate romantic relationship with her great-aunt’s former boyfriend (long story) also made her character unpopular with fans – and certain cast members. Her subsequent disappearance has not done her any favors either: I’m willing to bet most people have either forgotten her entirely or at least have forgotten what role she plays in the MCU – they’d be forgiven for that, because Sharon Carter really has nothing to do in the MCU, except flirt with Steve Rogers at her great-aunt’s funeral (yeah, that’s not creepy at all), or at other randomly inconvenient moments. Bringing her back is an interesting choice, one that could lead to potential complications – maybe this time she’ll end up with her great-aunt’s former boyfriend’s best friend Bucky Barnes, considering that he’s still single.

The Stucky shippers would riot.

Adding VanCamp – and thus, Sharon Carter – to the cast raises the possibility of Martin Freeman’s character Everett Ross also returning, since one of the only things that Carter did in Captain America: Civil War – besides flirting with Steve, of course – was standing solemnly next to Ross. Freeman already hinted that he might return to the MCU at some point after his popularity in Black Panther, so the possibility is open.

But the big reveal is the Daniel Brühl casting – Helmut Zemo was one of the most peculiar and unsettling Marvel villains to date, and his Civil War storyline was basically left open-ended, with Zemo seemingly unfazed by his imprisonment and still smirking when last we saw him: his plan to divide the Avengers, unlike those of many other villains, actually had lasting repercussions in the MCU, and in some part contributed to the crushing defeat suffered at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. The return of Zemo was being rumored a few weeks ago, but the confirmation is an exciting development: in the comics, Zemo heads the Masters of Evil, a team of dangerous supervillains – and, considering how many villains are still around in the MCU, not doing much of anything, there are plenty of candidates to choose from if one were to assemble a team like this: even Marvel president Kevin Feige hinted at the possibility.

So the groundwork has been laid for something truly spectacular – or at least something with potential. With shooting set to begin this fall, it looks like we won’t have to wait long before we get more details on this upcoming project.

New Details About “Loki”!

Disney’s upcoming streaming platform/Netflix competitor Disney Plus is set to debut in November, with a whole bunch of old and original content: a Lady & The Tramp remake with music by Janelle Monáe, a Toy Story spinoff based on the adventures of Little Bo Peep, a Frozen 2 documentary, and a National Geographic show hosted by Jeff Goldblum (which actually sounds really interesting). Of course, a treasure-trove of original Marvel content is expected to premiere on Disney Plus as well, including three six-episode miniseries: starring Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wanda Maximoff and Vision, and Loki – and quite inventively titled Falcon & The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki, respectively. These three shows will likely be joined by an as yet unconfirmed Hawkeye show.

While filming for WandaVision is set to begin in the fall, plot details about these shows have been scarce: aside from some “plot leaks” that may or may not be true. Today, however, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed something about the Loki show that might give us a clearer idea of what to expect.

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead!

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If you recall, when the Avengers went back in time to the Battle of New York in an attempt to capture the Mind, Space and Time Stones, they almost succeeded, but not quite. Captain America was able to wrest the Mind Stone from…Captain America, and Bruce Banner convinced the Ancient One to give up the Time Stone under the condition that the Stones would be returned to their proper timelines after the Avengers had used them – but Iron Man and Ant-Man had a lot more difficulty on their end.

Their mission was to intercept the past versions of Iron Man and Thor as the two Avengers victoriously escorted their prisoner Loki and the Space Stone into S.H.I.E.L.D custody – unfortunately for the present versions of Iron Man and Ant-Man, their attempt to send past Iron Man into cardiac arrest, causing a distraction, failed massively: the Incredible Hulk smashed into present Iron Man accidentally, sending Tony and the Space Stone flying across the room – and the Space Stone came to rest right at Loki’s feet. The trickster god being the trickster god, he wasted no time grabbing the Stone and teleporting himself away from his current predicament – and that is where his story in Avengers: Endgame ends, but apparently it’s just the beginning for Loki.

At the end of Endgame, Captain America is the hero who decides to go back in time once more in order to return all the Infinity Stones to their correct timelines: how he does this is not explained, but we know that Cap did his job and then decided to take some extra time off so he could spend an entire lifetime with Peggy Carter, the woman he loved in the 1940’s. This raises a whole bunch of timeline-questions and conundrums, but none of them are relevant to the topic of Loki.

According to the Russo Brothers, Peggy Carter wasn’t the only thing that distracted Cap from his mission: apparently he also felt it was his responsibility to track down the escaped Loki in that alternate timeline and follow him across the vast expanses of space – the timeline-questions and conundrums that this raises are most definitely relevant.

For instance, does this mean Loki and a younger version of Cap are still out there somewhere? We know from the Spider-man: Far From Home trailers that holes can open in between dimensions, allowing people from one reality to enter another: so could Loki and Cap abruptly appear out of nowhere in the present day MCU? If not, then what is the point of a Loki show if we know from the outset that Loki will be captured by Cap and all the things he does in the show will simply be undone? If alternate Loki shows up in the present timeline, would he still have the Space Stone? – it wouldn’t be surprising: the Space Stone, or Tesseract, has always been a key element in MCU movies, including Captain America: The First Avenger. Cap is no stranger to the Space Stone’s powers – maybe in order to track down Loki, he has to go back to his 1945 duel with the Red Skull, to take the Space Stone from him…but then where does Red Skull go, and what ramifications could that have for the events of Vormir, and the death of Black Widow? You see, time travel and reality-hopping are pretty complex ideas, and in a six-episode miniseries how much can you really do to explain them?

Does this also mean that the earlier rumors that Loki would depict the god traveling through time, influencing historical events, are untrue? As far as we know, the Space Stone does not have the ability to send the user through time. Which is kind of disappointing, because those rumors sounded awesome. Loki on the run from Captain America does sounds pretty intriguing, especially if it opens the door for Loki eventually returning to the MCU – considering how lame his Infinity War death was, for such a cunning character. It might give us a glimpse at planets and galaxies on the far side of the universe, and it just might explain once and for all why the Space Stone is so vitally important. The Russos did not say whether Tom Hiddleston and Chris Evans would reprise the roles of Loki and Captain America, but it seems likely at this point.

What’s Next For The MCU? Phase 4 Predictions.

The ending of Avengers: Endgame leaves us with a bittersweet taste in our mouths. Things have changed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for better or worse, and now we have to continue on in a world that deals with Endgame‘s ramifications – a world with some new characters we don’t yet know much about, new storylines we’re not yet emotionally invested in: where do we go now, and who can we expect to see more from in the coming years?

Naturally, there are major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I encourage you to go do so – like, now.

You’re back? Good, so let’s talk about what happened, and what happens next. The original Avengers (Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner and Clint Barton) have had their stories concluded in a variety of different ways: Tony is dead, and likely to remain that way; Rogers has now gotten everything he wanted, including his dance with Peggy Carter, and his arc is finished – he’s not dead, but he’s now an old man; Thor has joined the (As)guardians of the Galaxy and seems likely to enjoy a whole bunch of new adventures; Romanoff’s broken body is lying at the foot of a cliff on the planet Vormir, where she sacrificed herself for the Soul Stone; Banner is now Professor Hulk, and his entire story seems to have ended; Barton has returned to his family.

Of these, Thor, Romanoff and Barton are probably going to continue on into the next phase of the MCU.

Thor has joined forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and will presumably be a key player in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which seems likely to focus on an unresolved plot point from Endgame: Star-Lord, the Guardians’ leader, was temporarily reunited with his girlfriend Gamora, but she disappeared at some point afterwards. We see him searching for her at the end of the movie, so it looks like that could be a critical focus of the third Guardians installment. Star-Lord, thankfully, has help from Gamora’s sister, Nebula, who has been more than redeemed by events in Endgame – and from Thor, who has relinquished all of his other duties so he can join his friend Rocket Raccoon here on an intergalactic mission. Certainly Thor’s presence on the team will be welcomed by other Guardians such as Drax and Mantis, both of whom seemed infatuated with him in Avengers: Infinity War, and by Nebula and Rocket, who have now become friends with the God of Thunder. There’s already some tension between Thor and Star-Lord, however, about who gets to be captain. Considering the overwhelming support for Thor, I think Star-Lord’s in for a surprise – I wonder if this might carry through into real life. Star-Lord actor Chris Pratt has been the unchallenged star of the Guardians franchise for two movies now, but Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is a fan-favorite and could easily overshadow the rest of the group. Hopefully, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn, newly reinstated to the franchise, will be able to give all the characters their proper screentime.

Meanwhile, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, seemed to have a definitive conclusion in Endgame, sacrificing herself so that the other Avengers could win the Soul Stone and complete their construction of an Infinity Gauntlet. However, Romanoff is getting her own solo movie next year, and even though Black Widow seems to be a prequel, it doesn’t seem very Marvelous to make the very first move of the next phase be a callback to the past. I’ve speculated before that I feel Black Widow has a major connection to events in Phase 4, specifically the upcoming Eternals franchise, but that’s still just a guess. At the moment, all we know about Black Widow is that she’s dead. Her death, however, could hypothetically be reversed – Captain America returns the Soul Stone at the end of Endgame, which might be enough to undo Black Widow’s sacrifice and bring her back to life. Her movie is set to star Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh and David Harbour (with some outlets also reporting that Emma Watson might still be involved in the project), and is going to be the stepping-stone into the next phase of the MCU. Whether or not Black Widow ends up being linked to the broader Marvel universe, though, it will still be a very interesting foray into an unexplored corner of the timeline, one that involves spies, political intrigue, and (hopefully) the often-alluded-to-but-never-properly-explained incident in Budapest that both Black Widow and Hawkeye remember so differently.

Speaking of Hawkeye, Clint Barton finished out Endgame still very much alive, and very much still the family man he’s always been. At the beginning of Endgame, we saw him and his daughter practicing archery, and now that he’s back he’ll presumably continue his lessons with her. However, everything might not be as happily-ever-after as it seems for Barton, who did a lot of questionable things during the time that his family was snapped out of existence by the Titan Thanos. Aside from renewing his semi-romantic relationship with Black Widow, Barton also adopted a new identity – under the name Ronin – and began systematically killing people across the globe. We even saw him dealing with Japanese criminals in a particularly vicious scene, which saw Hiroyuki Sanada wasted in a seemingly pointless cameo as one of Ronin’s victims. But could karma catch up with Hawkeye in the future? It’s been rumored that he’s getting his own streaming show on the new Disney Plus platform, where we might also see the Hawkeye mantle pass on to Kate Bishop, a comics character who has yet to enter the MCU. Maybe some figurative ghosts from Barton’s bloodstained past come back to haunt him and his family, and he has to team up with Bishop to stop them.

Interestingly, Hawkeye wouldn’t be alone on Disney Plus: Scarlet Witch, Vision, Loki, Winter Soldier and Falcon are the Marvel characters currently confirmed to be getting their own streaming shows. Scarlet Witch and Vision will be starring in the oddly-named WandaVision, which will see actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their roles as the telepathic mutant (they’re allowed to use that word now, due to the FOX merger), and the deadpan android. Very few details are known about their show so far, except that it might take place in the 1950’s – which is confusing, to say the least, since neither Scarlet Witch nor Vision have shown any interest in time traveling previously, and Vision is actually dead at the moment. The Loki show, aptly titled Loki, could potentially explore one of Endgame‘s most intriguing moments – where Loki, in an alternate timeline, manages to escape with the Space Stone after the Battle of New York. This timeline, unlike others, might not have been affected by Captain America returning the Infinity Stones to their proper timelines at the end of the movie. This means we could see Loki on a wild, galaxy-hopping adventure through space and time in his own show: who wouldn’t be down for that?

Falcon & The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, is by far the most easy-to-understand of the three confirmed shows: at the end of Endgame, we saw Steve Rogers pass the title of Captain America to Falcon, who accepted it with the silent blessing of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, who stood nearby. A new Captain America means (most likely) more trouble with organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA, which can’t ever seem to get their act together. We’ll see Falcon and Winter Soldier team up against a new threat to American freedoms and values, while also coming to terms with what it means to be Captain America. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have such fantastic chemistry, both onscreen and off-screen, that I think this show will be a big hit.

Not everything is so simple, though. On the big screen, the MCU is going to continue getting larger and more complex, with the addition of the Eternals, a divine race of superhumans who will show up in theaters in late 2020, ushering in what could be Marvel’s most ambitious goal yet: a cosmic phase. It’s long been speculated that, after Endgame, things are going to get crazier in the MCU, with the addition of more out-there concepts such as Eternals, Deviants and Celestials, or characters like Galactus and the Silver Surfer. If that is what they’re doing, The Eternals is the perfect place to start this: the members of this ensemble team are relateable enough that they might be able to sell some of these strange new ideas to audiences, especially with the help of confirmed stars Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani. The film looks to be a crowded one, with rumors of five female leads and three male leads, including Marvel’s first openly gay male lead, and a female lead of color. This project is one that I’m highly anticipating.

After The Eternals, though, the MCU doesn’t look to be diving into otherworldly and galactic storylines: instead, we’ll probably first be returning to the tranquil African nation of Wakanda, where Black Panther and his sister Shuri will face some new, as yet unknown, threat to the throne. There are very few details about this eagerly-awaited sequel to the 2018 cultural phenomenon that was Black Panther, but you can be sure that the film will go into production as soon as possible.

Another sequel that has yet to be officially confirmed is Captain Marvel 2. Air-force pilot Carol Danvers flew higher, further, faster at the box-office this year, proving that a female superhero is more than capable of carrying her own franchise. While there is no word on when such a sequel might be released, it’s probably only a matter of time. Carol got her comics-accurate haircut and sash in Avengers: Endgame and looks like she’s ready to take on her undefeated foe from her solo movie, the Kree Supreme Intelligence, or possibly even her former mentor Yon-Rogg, who was allowed to escape unharmed at the end of Captain Marvel. The alien race of Skrulls, villains in the comics, were portrayed in a more sympathetic light in the MCU, but that doesn’t mean all of them are benevolent – I’ve already questioned whether one character established in Captain Marvel might walk down a dark path in a future movie. Endgame teased the appearance of several new female superheroes, including Valkyrie as the new Queen of Asgard and Ant-Man’s daughter Cassie Lang: it’s possible that, in a nod to the A-Force storyline from Marvel comics, we could see these heroines team up under the leadership of Carol Danvers to take on some cosmic threats.

But while battle rages among the stars, the earth itself might be threatened by more mystical forces – Doctor Strange, who became one of the Avengers’ most crucial players in Infinity War, is now unprotected by the Time Stone. This could leave him and the Sanctum Sanctorum open to attack by characters such as Karl Mordo, or even Dormammu. Magic is still pretty new to the MCU, and doesn’t yet have any clearly-established rules, so it will be interesting to see what director Scott Derrickson chooses to do with it here, in Doctor Strange 2, which will presumably see the Sorceror Supreme dealing with the fallout from Endgame. Hopefully we see him team up with the Scarlet  Witch, assuming she isn’t permanently relegated to Disney Plus.

Beyond even that, Marvel is already planning for its first film headed by an Asian lead – an origin story for the martial-arts master and spy Shang-Chi, whose appearance in the MCU doesn’t seem to have been foreshadowed by anything we’ve seen so far: unless it might be that the Japanese criminals from Endgame that Ronin killed were somehow associated with Shang-Chi’s infamous father, the crime syndicate Zheng Zu (previously known by the racist moniker Fu Manchu). Marvel’s president Kevin Feige has been surprisingly willing to discuss this particularly project, but there are still no concrete details.

And that’s all in the future. Only a few months away now is the last installment in Marvel’s Phase 3 – that is, Spider-man: Far From Home, which will pit the web-slinger Peter Parker against a reality-bending villain named Mysterio. While this isn’t officially part of Phase 4, according to Kevin Feige, it will still be an entertaining and exciting epilogue to the events of Avengers: Endgame, a much needed respite after huge battles and intergalactic politics, where we can sit back and enjoy some smaller-scale conflict for the safety of Spider-man’s neighborhood.

Which Phase 4 movie are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments. Considering the fast pace at which projects like The Eternals, Black Widow and Black Panther 2 are being rushed along, it seems likely we’ll get more details about these and other movies sooner than later.