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A Breakdown of Marvel’s Phase Three, Part 1

Are you buckled in for more superheroes movies? Because you better be. There are a ton on the horizon. We’re talking most of the summer movies from here until the 2020s (the 20s? Can we start staying that?). Anyway, in keeping with that revelation, Marvel recently announced their movie lineup until 2019, starting with Phase 2 movies Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man and finishing with their entire Phase Three lineup.

The Phase Two movies are pretty straight forward. We have a trailer from one and an official image from the other. There’s not much mystery there, no real surprises. No, the real shockers came from the announcement of what would be included in Phase Three.

Sure, you have the obvious ones like the third Captain America and Thor movies, but now we’re getting a few properties that might be relatively unknown to mainstream audiences like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. So in the interest of those who may not know, I’ll go through each one and let you know what you should be excited for and why.

Anime fans already know

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

Civil War is a pretty big contender for Marvel’s most successful crossover comic event ever. After a horrible superhero-caused tragedy, a push is made to register superhumans with the government. The entire comics universe then turns on itself, hero against hero, with Captain America’s side pitted against Iron Man’s. In the end Civil War culminated in a series of (if often temporary) massive changes to the universe, including Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the world and, more importantly, the death of Steve Rogers.

The Civil War storyline has been asked for by fans since Captain America and Iron Man first inhabited the same movie universe, and indeed the conflict has been brewing between the two for a while. It started in the first Avengers movie, where, at best, they came to a mutual respect. Now the clues continue in Age of Ultron.

First there’s a clip from the movie wherein Tony and Steve have a heated discussion about what I assume is Ultron. Tony talks about how he thought the goal of the Avengers was to get the world to a point where they could ultimately disband the team. Steve retorts, echoing the themes of The Winter Soldier, that trying to win a war before it starts always ends in the deaths of innocents. Secondly, Iron Man appears to have a Hulkbuster suit ready to go. This seems to mean that Iron Man doesn’t really trust anyone and has taken steps to put them down if need be. Keep in mind that in the MCU Tony and Bruce are good friends. At the end of The Avengers, Bruce is even revealed to have finally controlled The Hulk. Still Tony has built an armor specifically to stop him.

The most interesting part of this is that it’s the first movie of Phase Three, one that I feel will set the tone for the rest of the movies. The team will be in shambles, and the heroes set against themselves. This is the universe’s low point. They’ll soon be facing their gravest threat (I’ll get to it) and they’re worse off then ever.

Will Captain America die? There’s a good chance. After Steve dies at the end of Civil War, Bucky — now free of The Winter Soldier — takes up the mantle of Captain America. We have all those pieces ready to go in the MCU. Honestly though, I’d rather he died. I like Chris Evans in the part, I do, but the MCU needs deaths. It needs weight. There hasn’t been a significant death yet in the MCU (though it may change in Age of Ultron) and I think it suffers a little for it. They want us to take this universe seriously but they don’t want it to change.

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

So this was pretty much confirmed for a while. At least since Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Stephen Strange was named dropped. I think most people expected it eventually. Still, it’s inclusion in the rest of Phase Three surprises me. Doctor Strange is the best introduction audiences could have to the magic side of Marvel, but there are no other movies on here that have a magical aspect. So why included Doctor Strange at all?

“S-Stephen? What, uh, what’re you up to, buddy?”

I think, perhaps, we’ll be getting a half-commitment on the whole Magic thing. A “just because it cannot be explained by your science does it mean it is not apart of nature” type of thing. Not really Thor‘s “OUR SCIENCE IS MAGIC”, just wishy washing you-can-control-the-laws-of-physics-and-here’s-how.

More importantly, I think Doctor Strange allows you to really delve into the Infinity Stones (Infinity Gems in the comics). We’ve had some vague McGuffin talk in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians, but so far only nerds know that they have special powers (mind, soul, time, power, et all) and that they form the Infinity Gauntlet when brought together. The MCU really needs to delve into the mythology of them before Infinity War (I’ll get to it). Luckily there’s no better place to get into mythology than magic stuff.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017

This is actually bumped up from it’s original date to get into theater’s sooner. I’m not really sure what they’ll do with this one exactly. Perhaps something with The Collector. Maybe more Elders of the Universe. Adam Warlock will probably be in it so they could debut the Soul Stone or whatever they’ll call it. I hope they have Nova Prime in this, tough. So much.

In fairness, I would assume they’d use this time to get more into Thanos. The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie got into him a little, but he was still very much a background character. Again, this would be a great chance to introduce this big huge piece of Infinity War before we get there. I’m not saying Thanos should be the main villain of Guardians 2, but I wouldn’t mind.

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017

Continuing the Phase Three theme of endings and destruction, we have Thor: Ragnarok. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the end times when the world is destroyed and remade. In it all your favorite Norse guys die in weird, very Viking ways. There have a few times in the comics when Thor and Asgard has fallen. Some of those times they are actually killed, only to be brought back again.

In fact, in the early 2000s Asgard went through a type of Ragnarok brought about by resetting Marvel’s time line (don’t ask). In it, Thor goes on a grand quest that eventually results in Asgard being ripped from a cycle of death and rebirth. Oh and Thor gains the Odinforce. OH and he goes into Hibernation. He’s later revived by Thor’s former mortal persona Donald Blake and brought back to Earth. Oh and Loki was a lady for a bit (don’t ask).

Just look

I’m not sure how much of this would play into the movie. After all, The Dark World wasn’t a huge part of Thor: The Dark World. Plus, they’ve already set things in place. What with Loki posing as Odin and everything. They could just be using the end of the world framework for their own big climatic finish.  Will Thor be out of commission after this? Could be. It’d fit with the comic arc. Not to mention there’s a rumor going around that the roster for the third Avengers movie will be different from the past two.

Now, there is a second option. In the comics, after Thor disappears, Tony Stark and Reed Richards of Fantastic Four fame clone Thor from his hair and infuse the body with a bunch of Stark Tech, making a kind of cyborg Thor clone. That cyborg’s name? Ragnarok. Now, yes, this does sounds really goofy. How would that even fit in?

Here’s how. Ragnarok was a major player in the Civil War arc, working for Tony, posing as Thor, and fighting against the anti-registration heroes. Perhaps we could see a version of this in Thor 3, who knows. If the effects of Captain America: Civil War are felt over the rest of Phase Three, we shouldn’t count it out.

Also this happens

So there’s the first part of Marvel’s Phase Three. Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below and keep an eye out from the second part of my Phase Three breakdown.

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