So now that we're at the other end of the day and a full slate of editorial pieces about what to expect from the movies announced today as part of the Marvel Phase Three plans, I'd like to offer up a few thoughts about today's stories.
First, I am not surprised to hear that “Thor: Ragnarok” was officially announced as the title of the new film. It was an even more apparent choice than “Captain America: Civil War.” The last film ended with an apparently-dead Odin and with Loki sitting on the throne of Asgard. That seems like a really bad idea, and at the end of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron,” I'm guessing Thor is going to have to go deal with whatever it is that Loki's been up to, since Kevin Feige confirmed today that “Ragnarok” is going to pick up mere moments after “Age of Ultron” ends.
I was surprised that they haven't cast Doctor Strange yet. They may well be in talks with Benedict Cumberbatch already, but they aren't far enough along in those talks for Feige to announce the actor today. They're getting close to the start of production, and they've had a few false starts already, so I would imagine they've got to be very determined to nail down a lead as soon as possible. Marvel is aware that there is public perception, and then there is the truth of how things work, and they're not necessarily the same. They have a public perception issue right now on “Ant-Man,” for example, because of the highly-covered way they had to replace Edgar Wright after he left the movie over rewrites he was unhappy with, but the film seems to be working pretty well in the version they decided to make, something that they will start trying to communicate to audiences next year.
I'm excited to see them finally call the shot about when they're going to bring everything together for “Avengers: Infinity War,” and breaking that into two films will be fine as long as they are telling a story that justifies that approach and it's not just a cash grab. By setting a date for when they want to conclude this story, they're doing the same thing that happens when a TV show announces its end date… they're creating an urgency in the storytelling that should pay off well. Say what you want about an event where Marvel announced nine films, but they are building these movies based on story and character, and I can't get too upset about serialized storytelling when it's actual storytelling and not just an excuse to stick numbers at the end of movie titles.
This is an exciting time if you're a fan of these characters. I've been writing about this stuff all day, and honestly, the thing I want to do now, more than anything, is call my kids, who are hardcore Marvel fanatics, so I can talk to them about what they can expect between now and Toshi's sophomore year in high school.
Wait… that's crazy. Alright, Marvel. You announced it. Now it's time to make good.
“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” opens in theaters May 1, 2015.