Marvel Studios’ Phase Four is sure to be just as successful as the previous three, and will almost assuredly rake in just as much, if not more, money for the studio and legendary producer Kevin Feige. So I don’t doubt that, no matter how much bad publicity may plague Phase Four right now, everything will work out just fine for Marvel and Disney: it always does. That being said, bad publicity is so rare for the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I think we should take a moment to acknowledge that, for the time being, the studio certainly seems to be experiencing some difficulties when it comes to crafting their next big master-plan, and piecing together dozens of converging subplots and story-threads. Just recently, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness director Scott Derrickson quit the project over “creative differences” and concerns that he wouldn’t be able to meet his deadlines. Tonight, the Hawkeye series on Disney+ is the latest Marvel project to experience setbacks, as it has been put on the back-burner and shifted off the studio’s busy production schedule, despite earlier reports that it would begin filming in July.
No official reason has been given for the series’ delay, but it looks like Disney is trying to make room for alleged star Hailee Steinfeld to fulfill her current commitments to Apple TV before joining the superhero streaming series that will (supposedly) see her suit up as Hawkeye’s young protege, archer extraordinaire Kate Bishop. According to other sources, Disney is determined to win Steinfeld, but also isn’t afraid to move on from her, if she can’t work out her own schedule to accommodate both Hawkeye and her zany historical-fiction comedy Dickinson.
It is not being reported, but some fans are already speculating that the delay is in part caused by star Jeremy Renner’s own personal scandals, which erupted into the spotlight several months ago, leading to widespread concern (or excitement, depending on how you feel about the actor) that Renner would be recast, or written off the series, with the entire focus being redirected on his younger costar. This is not something that has come up since, but it’s still worth keeping in mind.
And, if the delay drags on with no start-date in sight, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D star Adrianne Palicki already has an idea for a substitute: the actress posted on her social media that Marvel has her phone number, and should take this opportunity to contact her with the intention of writing a streaming series based around her S.H.I.E.L.D character, Bobbi Morse a.k.a Mockingbird. I’ve speculated in the past that Morse, who has a strong connection to Kate Bishop in the comics, could be a fun supporting character on the Hawkeye series, especially played by Palicki – but I have to admit, Palicki’s own suggestion sounds even cooler (I’ve never really been a fan of Hawkeye himself, to be honest).
Considering that the series premise has only had a lukewarm reception so far, even with the casting of Renner and Steinfeld, it doesn’t look like anyone is going to be biting their nails in breathless anticipation, waiting to see when the show will finally go into production – but when it does, I’ll be sure to report on it.
How do you feel about the delay, and do you think Mockingbird should get her own series instead of Hawkeye? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
Disney+ is speeding towards its launch date on the 12th of this month, and people are already eager to finally have the streaming service and its boatload of content, both old and original, at their fingertips. But those of us who are Marvel fans, and have thus already watched all of the Marvel films that will be on Disney+ about ten times over, are looking much further ahead to when we will finally have original Marvel content to stream on the platform. There are eight Disney+ exclusive miniseries in the works, but all of them are still a long way off. So here I am to tide you over, while you wait, with all the latest updates on Marvel’s venture into the world of streaming.
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: first up is the series which will follow Sam Wilson (“The Falcon”) and Bucky Barnes (“The Winter Soldier”) as they fight evil in the name of the late great Captain America. Rumors suggest that the duo will face off against one of Marvel’s most controversial villains – US Agent John Walker, a Southern conservative who receives the title of Captain America from the US Government after the powers that be decide that Falcon, a black man, isn’t fit to carry the Captain’s shield and legacy. Created in the Reagan era as a warning against hyper-patriotism, Walker is an interesting character to explore, especially given the current political climate. Baron Zemo, first seen in Captain America: Civil War, will also serve as an antagonist in the show, and one of the central plot elements is rumored to be a killer virus that Falcon and Winter Soldier will have to stop from spreading across the United States – it’s unclear what the virus will be, but the Russo Brothers originally planned to use a similar storyline for Civil War, in which Captain America would have to stop the spread of the Madbomb virus, which turns people into mindless, bloodthirsty berserkers: Madbomb could be brought back for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and would make for a pretty compelling story. Thankfully, we only have to wait until next Autumn to find out how the two superheroes will deal with that onslaught of dangerous threats: the show is currently filming in Atlanta, Georgia.
WandaVision: a direct tie-in to Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which will release in the summer of 2021, WandaVision will explore the life of Wanda Maximoff after the events of Avengers: Endgame, as she descends into insanity and constructs an elaborate alternate reality for herself and a resurrected version of her dead lover, the Vision. A new rumor suggests that when Vision is brought back to life in the series, he will appear as the White Vision, an alternate version of the character that became very popular in the 1980’s – basically just Vision, but without any human emotions or memories of his past life. The series is also apparently looking to cast two babies, which strongly implies that Wanda Maximoff’s twin children from the comics, the heroes Wiccan and Speed, will make their MCU debuts in this show. WandaVision will probably begin filming fairly soon. Randall Park and Kat Dennings will reprise their roles as comedic relief characters Jimmy Woo and Darcy, respectively, while Teyonah Parris joins the series as Monica Rambeau, whom we last saw as a child in Captain Marvel.
Hawkeye: an upcoming Marvel project that has generated some controversy already is the Hawkeye miniseries which will focus on the current Hawkeye, Clint Barton, and the future one, Kate Bishop. Jeremy Renner, who plays Barton in the MCU, has been the target of a whole bunch of allegations from his ex-wife recently, accusing him of physical and emotional abuse. There’s still no official word on whether or not Renner will remain as the star of the series, though reliable sources have hinted that Disney has considered recasting the actor if the allegations are true. According to Marvel executive Trinh Tran, one major element for the series will be explaining Barton’s origins: presumably his time as a circus performer, and then as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. – maybe even another tantalizing reference to the infamous Budapest incident. The series doesn’t have a production start date, but will release in Autumn of 2021. Hawkeye is just a boring character in general, though (at least, in my opinion), so no one is really too upset that we have to wait a little longer for this series. Just sayin’.
Ms. Marvel: speaking of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a prominent member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team could be joining the MCU through the Ms. Marvel series. The show, which will start production in April of next year, has just hired Krista Husar, the casting director from the ABC TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, leading to speculation that Ms. Marvel might be looking to cast actress Chloe Bennet, who plays Inhuman heroine Daisy Johnson on S.H.I.E.L.D., in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: it could be a stretch, but it would make sense story-wise, since Ms. Marvel is already rumored to include multiple Inhuman characters, including the Royal Family of Attilan, and, of course, Ms. Marvel herself. Marvel is currently looking for an actress to play the shape-shifting teenager, and is now casting her entire family, including her parents Yusuf and Muneeba, and her brother Amir. A villain is also reportedly being cast for the series – and here’s where I want to take a moment to just admire the fact that, if the rumors are reliable, then Disney+’s roster of characters will be weirder than anything we’ve seen from the MCU before: because apparently the villain that Marvel is looking to cast is none other than (bear with me here) The Inventor – a clone of legendary genius Thomas Edison who, due to an accident with his DNA, ends up becoming an anthropomorphic bird-man hybrid who operates out of Bayonne, New Jersey. Between that and Ms. Marvel herself being a walking rubber-band, this series is shaping up to be…interesting, to say the least. Even Ms. Marvel’s original creator, G. Willow Wilson, is afraid the lead character will look “really creepy” in the live-action format.
Moon Knight: finally, the Moon Knight series is also getting off to a good start, with casting underway for a Jewish actor to portray troubled antihero Marc Spector, the former CIA mercenary who becomes the unwitting servant of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu (these premises are crazy!). And a recent rumor indicates that Marvel is looking to adapt another absolutely bonkers villain for the small-screen story: Stained Glass Scarlet, the psychic, crossbow-wielding ninja nun/vigilante/former prison guard who kills her own son after he turns to a life of crime, and forms a telepathic bond with Spector through his dreams, is apparently destined for a place in the series as a lead antagonist. In the comics, she has something close to a redemption arc, in which Spector learns to pity her, and eventually allows her to escape from the police. How much of that will be transferred over to live-action is still unclear.
At this point I can only imagine what the casting calls will be like for series’ such as She-Hulk or Loki. It looks like Disney+ will be home to some of the wackiest heroes and villains from the Marvel Comics, and I hope to hear of more in the near future: from the reality-bending antics of WandaVision to the polymorphous weirdness of Ms. Marvel, it looks like there’s plenty of room for more insanely unique storylines on the small screen.
So what do you think? Share your own thoughts and theories in the comments below!
I had already made up my mind to write a follow-up post to all the Spider-Man drama last night, after some new updates on a rapidly evolving story. But I was blindsided by just how dramatic some of these updates would be. Let’s dig in and discuss.
So, for all of you new to the story: last night, Sony Pictures and Disney Studios supposedly ended the deal they’ve had since 2015, whereby the character of Spider-Man is jointly owned by both companies, with creative control largely belonging to Disney (and specifically Marvel Studios), and the vast majority of box-office returns flowing straight into Sony’s treasure hoard. This apparently came about due to a disagreement over money: Disney is fed up with having to satisfy Marvel by agreeing to this deal, and so pressed Sony to allow for a 50/50 co-financing agreement, which would effectively impoverish a studio whose only big franchise is Spider-Man. Sony backed away from the new deal and took Spider-Man with them. That was how things looked at first.
Then, just after I had posted my initial response to the news, some more headlines started popping up. It was all just a false alarm, blown out of proportion: deals were apparently still ongoing: theories started emerging that it had all been a hoax, that the details had been leaked by Disney as a publicity stunt to gather support. They might have; we don’t know yet. But a closer look at those headlines revealed that they were little more than unsubstantiated rumors and speculation. But for a moment there, it looked like both sides had reached an uneasy ceasefire. Sources were saying that Sony executives were trying to reach out and explain to the press that this was all hypothetical.
That was until Sony themselves took to social media to explain what had happened, leaving no doubt that they weren’t messing around here, a deal had not been reached, talks were not ongoing, and no, Disney, you can’t have Spidey back yet. Their official statement placed the blame squarely on Disney, and characterized Marvel Studios and Marvel president Kevin Feige as the main victims of this terrible offense: “We are disappointed,” read the press release, “but respect Disney’s decision not to have [Feige] continue as a lead producer of our next live-action Spider-Man film.”
Ouch. That hurts. Especially because Feige is caught directly in the middle of this studio warfare, and is now being used by both sides to justify their actions, but has no ability to actually work out a deal on his own. And at this point, it’s become Disney’s problem just as much as it is his – Disney is currently building an entire Marvel theme park in which the main attraction will be…a Spider-Man ride. That was truly a brilliant idea, deciding to cash in on the character before even settling the question of whether they could.
The shame and blame tactics didn’t stop there, as Sony suggested that Disney would now try to pamper Feige into submission with a whole bunch of new toys obtained during the Disney/Fox merger: “We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own.”
Even The Hollywood Reporter is using the word “divorce” to describe this situation, and it’s no surprise – this whole situation sounds very hostile, and very risky. Disney can back down and allow Spider-Man to slip back into Sony’s vaults, or they can wise up and offer a more fair and balanced deal, one that doesn’t involve them stealing half the profits of a franchise that’s not actually theirs. Maybe losing some of the marketing rights to the character wouldn’t hurt either, since Disney has clearly run rampant with them. Feige can’t do much at all, and any actions he does take will look like he’s being moved around by Disney, unless he tries to negotiate a deal behind their backs – which, you know, probably isn’t a great idea. At the moment, Sony president Amy Pascal is in the position of power: she can smash a gaping hole in Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, rob the franchise of one of its most iconic characters, and also wreck Disney’s new Marvel Land theme park.
Spider-Man star Tom Holland has been silent on the whole situation, but his Avengers co-star Jeremy Renner hasn’t, publicly stated that Sony should give back the character to Marvel, imploring the studio to remember that Spidey was Stan Lee’s favorite character. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who hasn’t actually entered the MCU yet, seemed dismayed that he wouldn’t be able to join a Cinematic Universe that didn’t include the Webslinger.
If a deal is reached, it should come before Disney’s D23 event (at which they’re expected to officially announce the Marvel Land park, and possibly some upcoming Marvel movies). That’s…the day after tomorrow.
Do you think Sony and Disney will settle this dispute? Is it too late for that? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Marvel’s Phase 4 announcements at last night’s San Diego Comic-Con presentation didn’t just include a detailed outline of the movies they will be releasing over the next few years – all of their Disney Plus streaming shows were also officially announced, and even received logos and some casting announcements. There’s so much to go over in this post. Let’s start with the simplest stuff.
So Falcon And The Winter Soldier is coming to Disney Plus in Fall of 2020, and will bring with it a newly redesigned version of the villain Baron Zemo, still played by Daniel Brühl, but no longer looking quite as…dare I say, boring…as he did in Captain America: Civil War. This time around, he’s sporting a comics-accurate mask, and promises to be much more physically intimidating as well. That show looks promising, but there wasn’t much to talk about. Emily Van Camp, who will star alongside Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, was not present at last night’s panel, so that presentation mostly consisted of the two leads passing around Captain America’s shield for a minute or two.
Loki arrives in the spring of 2021: Tom Hiddleston, who returned to Comic-Con to thunderous applause, will also be returning to the iconic role – Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed that the Loki we see in the show will indeed be the one from the past who escaped with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, leaving open the possibility of a return – maybe, somehow, Loki will find a way back into the current timeline.
A Hawkeye series was also confirmed last night, and it was revealed that archer, and sometimes Avenger, Clint Barton will be training Kate Bishop, a character who was rumored to appear in Endgame but turned out to be Barton’s daughter. There was no clue as to who would be playing Bishop, but Jeremy Renner will return to the role of Hawkeye – that will be in fall of 2021.
In one of Marvel’s more unusual panels of the night, a What If? animated series was confirmed for the summer of 2021 – Jeffrey Wright will star as The Watcher, a cosmic entity who observes the world’s history. Many of the Marvel stars will be joining the show for voice-acting work, starting with Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans in an episode which will explore what would have happened if Peggy Carter had taken the Super Soldier serum. It sounds…decent. But it will presumably feature the concept of the Multiverse, and that’s where things get interesting.
WandaVision is the Disney Plus show I’m most looking forward to, and we can expect that to drop in spring of 2021 – it will star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany as the android Vision (Vision kind of died back in Avengers: Infinity War, and Bettany gave no indication of how he will be returning). The show will be set in the 1950s and have a corresponding retro flair (no explanation for that either), and it will also star Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. That’s right, the sweet little girl from Captain Marvel, whom we last saw in the 1990s, will now be an adult…in the 1950s. If you’re confused now, prepare to be even more baffled as time goes on: Olsen said that this show is “weird”.
Is it any wonder, then, that the events of WandaVision will apparently lead directly into the most bizarre, freaky movie of the next phase – Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. With a title like that, the film is already promising some seriously trippy weirdness, but apparently it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the MCU – Benedict Cumberbatch came onstage to talk about how this film will stray near, or over, the boundaries of what can be done in a PG-13 film. Apparently it will be Marvel’s first real horror film, and will feature Nightmare as the villain. And, just as many of us had hoped, Scarlet Witch will also be in the film, presumably because of something that happens in WandaVision – possibly, she gets targeted by Doctor Strange’s nemesis Baron Mordo, whom we last saw embarking on a mission to kill magical beings across the world.
Oh yeah, and the title suggests that the whole concept of a Multiverse is real – in Spider-man: Far From Home, we thought we had seen the last of that idea when Quentin Beck revealed that his scriptwriter had made it all up. Looks like that scriptwriter knew a little more than he let on to Beck, because Doctor Strange is about to set out into the Mad Multiverse. This opens so many other possibilities, it’s hard to even think about right now.
Which of these upcoming projects interests you the most? Are you excited that the Multiverse is real? Do you like the idea of Maximoff and Strange teaming up? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
There’s a lot of news to cover on this front: I would have posted much earlier, when there was a report that Ray Winstone had joined the cast of Marvel’s Black Widow solo movie, but I suspected that a bombshell report would drop in a few days more, so I waited patiently – and I was rewarded.
Black Widow is currently filming in the city of Budapest – an iconic locale in Marvel lore, having been mentioned as the site of some huge battle/catastrophic event by Black Widow herself, and fellow spy Hawkeye, multiple times throughout the Marvel movies. While some maintain that the city is probably being used simply as a stand-in for Russian locations, it gives us at least a little glimmer of hope that we will finally see the origins of this oft-mentioned, never-explained anecdote.
Whether or not we do, we will undeniably see the origins of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff – the movie is rumored to be a prequel, exploring Natasha’s years working as a KGB assassin and then as a rogue agent defecting to S.H.I.E.L.D. While this might seem disappointing to fans who want to see the character in the present timeline, you can expect the film to drop all sorts of hints and clues about things that will be very important to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Marvel president Kevin Feige made this very clear, while also being very vague, when he said, while being interviewed, that, even though he can’t say whether it’s a prequel or not, “there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before”. He actually said quite a few interesting things: I recommend you check it out for yourself here.
Those “things we never knew before” might include all sorts of things – events, big battles, encounters with other superheroes. And that’s what leads us back to Budapest for a minute, just so we can take a look at some very interesting details that might have been inadvertently (or deliberately?) revealed in behind-the-scenes images.
WARNING: this might be considered a spoiler to some, so if you don’t want to know any of the characters who might be in the film, you should go now! Also – Avengers: Endgame spoilers!
The image in questions shows Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double (maybe, we’ll get to that in a moment) riding a motorcycle at dangerously high speed through the streets of Budapest, sporting a long red braid – still no sign of the iconic short red bob-hairstyle that would definitively mark this as a prequel. Her hair still looks very much like how she wore it in her latest appearance in Avengers: Endgame. She’s not alone on the motorcycle: behind her, with arms wrapped around Natasha’s waist, is another woman, with a blond ponytail. She could be anyone, right?
Well, it could be – except those two women on the motorcycle are apparently stunt dummies, not even stunt doubles. In other words, they’re basically pre-packaged mannequins: who come in packages. Which would necessarily be marked with the name associated with the mannequin inside the package. See where I’m going with this?
Yep, Twitter user @bestofwidows shared pictures of the boxes which apparently carried those dummies – one marked Natasha, the other marked…Yelena.
And the reaction from the general audience is probably similar to Thanos’ when he encounters Scarlet Witch in Endgame – “I don’t even know who you are.”
Oh, but you will. Yelena Belova is one of only a handful of well-known characters from the Black Widow comics – a dangerous assassin in her own right, equal to Romanoff in strength and agility, and a student of the Red Room program. Belova has been both a villain and an antihero in her comics appearances, but her most notable run has her initially working against Romanoff, only to team up with her and bring about the defeat of the Red Room. She is virtually a clone of Romanoff in every way, and even uses the moniker “Black Widow”, except that her hair is typically blond. Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson supposedly had her character dye her hair blond in Avengers: Infinity War as an homage to Yelena Belova – which, naturally, has now begun sparking some rumors that the Black Widow in Infinity War actually was Yelena Belova, and that in this prequel we’ll discover that there never was a Natasha Romanoff or something like that. It’s a cool premise, but highly implausible: more likely is that a young Yelena will be introduced in this upcoming movie and will then make an appearance in the present timeline soon after – similar to how Captain Marvel’s prequel origin film ended with a startling post-credits scene of her arriving at Avengers HQ after the events of Infinity War.
There’s still the slim chance that this movie isn’t, in fact, a prequel: why haven’t we seen Natasha’s classic hairstyle? Why does she seem to be dressed in civilian attire in all the behind-the-scenes photos, such as she wore throughout Avengers: Endgame, rather than her black outfit? I can’t answer those questions yet, but I can propose a theory. Two, in fact.
My first theory relies on the movie being a prequel: I suspect that Budapest is not serving, at least in this case, as a stand-in for a Russian city. I think what we see here is a young Natasha Romanoff rescuing Yelena Belova from the clutches of their KGB captors, trying to bring her into S.H.I.E.L.D custody with her: something will go wrong, and Yelena will not be saved. In this scenario, we might also see Natasha’s friend and lover, Hawkeye, and maybe a team of S.H.I.E.L.D agents attempting to assist the Russian rogues. Ming-Na Wen of the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has already expressed her wish to be in the Black Widow movie, portraying a younger version of her character, Agent Melinda May. This would be the perfect place to have her appear: and with the recent cameos of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actors Clark Gregg and Patrick Brennan in Captain Marvel, plus James D’Arcy of the TV show Agent Carter appearing in Avengers: Endgame, it seems like Marvel has begun to embrace its outlying spinoffs for the first time since Avengers: Age of Ultron.
My other theory, while much more unlikely, has basically the same premise, but the setting is now sometime in the post-Endgame universe. Here, Natasha would be brought back to life (there are dozens of theories on how this could be achieved), and would go on a search for her father, Ivan, whose identity was finally revealed to her after years of searching in Endgame, shortly before her death. As one of the last things Natasha would remember, it would make sense for her to try and find her father and any living family members, after being resurrected – this hunt would take her to Russia, where she would run into Yelena Belova and a similarly-resurrected Red Room. It’s unlikely, but still worth mentioning.
Either way, we now know that Yelena Belova is indeed going to be in the Black Widow movie – most likely portrayed by Marvel newcomer Florence Pugh, whose likeness the blond stunt-dummy apparently carries, and who recently arrived in Budapest.
The last bit of news concerning the movie comes from a small, blurry photograph of the film’s first official logo:
Prepare yourselves for May 2020, folks. We’re in for a ride.
You can also watch my video review of this news story on YouTube!