It seems there’s always new and exciting news coming out from Marvel Studios, whether it be new shows or movies, or big casting news about those shows and movies, or maybe even just what beloved character will be added to the screen universe next. As it turns out, Spider-Man is the big beloved hero to next become part of Marvel’s intertwining mega-franchise, with an appearance to be made in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and his own dedicated movie in 2017. This we already knew, but now we also know that Tom Holland (and no, not Tom Hollander) is set to play the web-slinger, and relative unknown Jon Watts is set to direct.
This is perhaps not quite as exciting as Marvel’s recent announcement that the Spider-Man comics will now be following the adventures of Miles Morales rather than Peter Parker, but still pretty exciting. We’ve learned a lot from Marvel these past few years as they’ve built up their universe, stretching their story from Earth and beyond – including knowing exactly what we’re doing on certain specific dates for the next three years of Marvel movie releases. Let’s take a moment and reflect on what this knowledge tells us.
1. Not only can the Spider-Man franchise be rebooted a mere five years apart, but that it can be rebooted in the middle of a reboot.
Not that I mind a fun reboot every now and then – even in the currently reboot obsessed Hollywood – but this is honestly a little ridiculous. Everyone kind of thought it was too soon after the Sam Raimi trilogy to do yet another trilogy of origin stories, but to re-reboot Spider-Man without even finishing the trilogy feels a little distracted – like maybe the greenlight person is attracted to shiny objects or perhaps has short term memory difficulty. Not only that, but it looks like they might do yet another origin story. Do they not know that the comics move beyond those formative years? Do they think we don’t know the origin story? Maybe even forget Peter Parker and go with Miles Morales, make that Donald Glover-as-Spider-Man dream a reality. All I’m saying is that you don’t get anywhere by treading water.
2. Female lead storylines still don’t matter.
So we do have some pretty strong female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – like Black Widow…okay, mostly Black Widow – with some strong narrative involvement and firm independent agency. But take a look at the line-up of Marvel movies for the next three years, or even at the last seven years. There is exactly one female lead movie among twenty-two films and it has yet to even be made. Thankfully, Marvel does have a Captain Marvel movie in the works – and truth be told, they couldn’t have chosen a better heroine for their first female superhero film. To be fair, you have to start somewhere and at least they have started. Plus, they do have the female lead series Agent Carter and are producing the Netflix series A.K.A. Jessica Jones. Maybe female lead storylines are scarce now, but it looks like Marvel is starting to get on board.
3. Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch exist together in all possible universes.
The eternal pairing of Freeman and Cumberbatch came to us first in Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s modern day Sherlock Holmes adaptation for the BBC. Sherlock, with its wit and style and unmatched chemistry between its two leading actors, quickly became a phenomenon upon it’s release. Since then, of course, we’ve had two further series of Sherlock, but also the epic journey that was The Hobbit trilogy – in which Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins and Cumberbatch plays Smaug the Dragon. While they won’t be in the same movie, Freeman and Cumberbatch are now both a part of the Marvel Universe too, with Freeman playing an unknown role in Civil War and Cumberbatch playing the title role in Doctor Strange. One almost feels that if any franchise or series went long enough, that they’ll eventually both end up making appearances. There simply cannot be a just universe where they do not exist together.
4. Marvel really did do a Hulk movie and they actually didn’t just forget about it.
Another bit of casting news lately reveals that William Hurt will be reprising his role as General Ross from The Incredible Hulk in Captain America: Civil War. This will be the first thing in a long time that ties The Incredible Hulk to the Marvel Universe, and its honestly pretty easy to forget that it was a Marvel movie in the first place. The only thing that really screams “Marvel” about it is Robert Downey Jr.’s cameo as Tony Stark in the middle of the movie, the rest seems somehow off-beat from the rest of the cinematic universe. I mean, even the actor portraying Bruce Banner has changed, so the only other thing besides Stark connecting this movie to the rest of the universe is now General Ross. Way to bring the black sheep back into the fold, Marvel.
5. Captain America: Civil War is way beyond a standalone Captain America movie.
Other sources have already pointed out the ridiculous cast list for Captain America: Civil War and noted that this goes way beyond the Cap. If sharing the screen with Iron Man wasn’t enough, there will also be appearances by Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Vision, Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Crossbones, Falcon, War Machine, Baron Zemo, and Spider-Man. If the list of superheroes/villains wasn’t enough, just remember all the actors who play these characters and pause in wonder. This movie is huge – like almost Avengers level huge, and it will be universe altering in a way that we haven’t yet seen. If you know the Civil War story arch from the comics, you know that nothing in the Marvel Universe will ever be the same again. Regardless of how it plays out on screen, there is no escaping the enormity of this storyline. Get ready for some major readjustments to your cosy universe.
6. Watching DC scramble to create the same level of interconnected cinematic universe in a handful of random movies that Marvel took years to build is kind of sad and hilarious.
To be fair, no one has ever created anything like what Marvel is doing with movies right now, and it’s kind of hard to follow up. And the really sad part is, that if DC really took their time to establish a collection of characters and a universe they all live in the way that Marvel has, I would be all about that DC Universe even harder than Marvel – because, lets be honest, that universe has Batman. But what it looks like from the outside is that DC is making a collection of random movies that do nothing to create an interconnected storyline. I get how Superman connects to Superman vs. Batman, but how does Suicide Squad of all things further the storyline or open up that universe or help lead up to Justice League? Not to mention a couple of really questionable casting choices and some major difficulties getting projects into production in the first place. I want so bad for it to be awesome, I just don’t have much hope that it will be.