Marvel is setting the wheels of change in motion on its cinematic and comic book universes expanding, changing and diversifying. They are churning up the soil that contains some of their oldest roots. Both the cinematic and comic book Marvel universes are changing rapidly and are showing no signs of stopping any time soon. The comic book side of the cult giant continues to plough on through with its talented writers and artists bringing vibrant heroes and villains to life, forever finding new ways to keep ancient characters fresh and exciting, however that does not mean that they aren’t changing things or taking any risks. Marvel comics have recently revealed that there are some huge changes coming to two of their biggest characters, possibly two of the characters most synonymous with Marvel comics, Captain America and Thor. For the first time in the main universe Captain America is black and Thor is a woman. This is an interesting development, which I personally believe is a good thing, there are many characters of various ethnicities throughout the Marvel Universe and yet the extremely famous top tier characters are for the most part white. It seems Marvel have realised this and the need to have a variety of gender and race in their superheroes which is why there has been this change around. Therefore the people of Marvel have devised narrative reasons for this change to the costumed heroes; Steve Rogers’ super soldier serum has worn off, he is ageing at an accelerated rate , now that he has become an old man he is taking a back seat and giving up the shield to Sam Wilson formerly known as The Falcon. The story arc that brings Mjolnir to a new Thor is that the original Thor has been disgraced and is therefore no longer worthy to hold the title of God Of Thunder, again the original character is still around he is just no longer the one swinging the hammer.
However, it isn’t just the comic book Marvel universe that is changing, there are big developments coming for Marvel studios. Recent revelations in relation to Marvel’s planned film projects have far reaching implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the Avengers films blew every other previous superhero film out of the water, thematically they were similar to previous Marvel movies in that the superheroes all get their powers from some alien force, serum, accident, mutation or they have no powers at all and are either in possession of cutting edge technology or are highly trained in martial arts. However, over the coming years Marvel will expand this established universe of extraordinary costumed individuals into unknown territory. For once in the Marvel Cinematic Universe we will see the whole galaxy and the array of interesting and odd characters that live there. We are not used to seeing superheroes in the form of talking raccoons, however when Guardians Of The Galaxy is released this week we will find out what a Marvel movie is like in deep space with tree aliens and inter-galactic thieves. Guardians’ is shaping up to be fantastic, it has found critical acclaim and the footage released so far looks very promising. The more details come out, the more I feel they are doing this film right, it will be an unorthodox film compared to the previous films in the canon. What will be most interesting is how it plays out when this team is seen on the silver screen alongside the Avengers. It has been hinted that at some point the two will crossover, it may only be in the form of cameo appearances however there is reason to believe this is not the case. As it was revealed at Comic Con that Josh Brolin who is portraying Thanos will appear in Guardians’, as we know from the comics Thanos is one of the Avengers’ main villains and will be the big bad behind of the Marvel Universe as the stories unfold, this might lead to a team up in the final battle with Thanos, either way it will be interesting how the tone and feel of the films change with the entrance of these unique characters alongside the more serious heroes.
There is also the Ant-man movie in production, due for release July 2015 which is according to attendees of the Ant-man Comic Con panel going to be more of a adventurous caper with some very comedic but no doubt exciting action scenes. It is still open for debate as to whether or not Ant-man will eventually join the Avengers permanently. If Ant-man does join the team it will be interesting to see how battle scenes play out with him as a member, how will Ant-man factor into equations like the fight scene in New York in the first Avengers movie?
It goes without saying that the possible Doctor Strange movie will transform the franchise in a huge way. Never before in a Marvel Universe movie have we explored the mystic realm. Previously the Marvel films have explored extraordinary people on Earth or other planets who have gained abilities through a variety of incidents, fighting off others like them or threats from outer space, the introduction of other realms of existence and magic will be a big surprise to many viewers. Scott Derrickson is reportedly in the running to direct Dr Strange, this is interesting as Scott Derrickson is a director of a good few horror films and a writer of even more, he most notably directed Sinister this may bring an edge to the MCU, providing a possibly scary, supernatural film but based in the Marvel Universe. However different from the rest of the franchise Dr Strange may be it will hopefully not be completely separated from it. In the comics Dr Strange is a member of the Avengers, this could allude to him joining them in a later film. He may even become one of the characters who has their own solo sequel in each phase before the big Avengers team up just like Thor and Captain America. If this does happen, again it will be interesting to see the change he makes to the Avengers films, as the tone of the Dr Strange movies will be very different to that of the Avengers films and the films of each individual member. Seeing Dr Strange on screen floating in the air with a sorcerers cape flowing behind him creating spells will be odd alongside the Hulk smashing through one building into another crushing waves of enemies but seen as it will be Marvel Studios there is no doubt it will be absolutely fantastic, particularly if Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige are still involved as anything they touch turns to pure gold.