I keep thinking Marvel Studios has outdone themselves and, as always, it seems like they’re only just getting started.
Kevin Feige and crew dropped so many bombshells yesterday that I’m still dumbstruck. I can only process such things by way of lists and rankings. I’m aware hype levels are subjective, but this is the only way I can vent my excitement at the moment so bear with me. (Literally shaking as I type this.) Here are my top five favorite Marvel Studios announcements from Comic-Con 2019:
Wesley Snipes will forever be Blade to me. (You don’t forget an opening like this.) However, Mahershala Ali as the new Daywalker gets me all kinds of excited. Ali went from Luke Cage-villain Cottonmouth to headliner superhero like the baddest hustle I’ve ever seen! It oozes so much potential—principle among them being whether this will be a bloody R-rated affair that the material so clearly deserves. It is vampires, after all – meaning yes, vampires are canon in the MCU. If an R-rated MCU movie seems out of the realm of possibility, consider that Marvel is now juggling Deadpool in the wake of the Disney-Fox merger, where they’d be fools not to continue the merc’s hard-R saga. In any case, I wasn’t expecting Blade to make headlines this weekend. I’m titillated by the prospect of Blade, Black Panther, and Falcon a.k.a. the new Captain America in an Avengers film down the road.
I’m shocked that a Doctor Strange sequel was on the back-burner for so long. I was lukewarm on the Sorcerer Supreme’s origin film, but I knew that a sequel would only catapult the mystic side of the MCU. Alas, not only did we get confirmation on that score, but word that Elizabeth Olsen will co-star as Wanda. (Will she FINALLY get her “Scarlet Witch” moniker in the film?) Chiwetel Ejiofor will play the villain as teased – something the actor hasn’t dabbled in and did so quite deliciously since Serenity and Four Brothers. Multiverse of Madness is also promised to be the MCU’s “first scary film,” which for me is the most interesting tidbit of the whole reveal. Marvel Studios has dabbled comfortably in action, comedy, drama; horror is something they have yet to break ground on. I can think of no greater task for Sinister-maestro Scott Derrickson. Finally.
I’ll never not be surprised at the comic titles Marvel chooses to bank on. Inhumans, by comparison, is far more popular than Eternals. (Eternals, too, is far weirder than Guardians of the Galaxy.) Where I was once mixed on the decision to fast-track this one, I am now fully, utterly on board. Chloe Zhao gets to helm this batshit-crazy odyssey with an impeccable cast list that ought to give Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians a run for their money. Everybody is losing their minds over Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, and Richard Madden officially being part of the MCU—and understandably so, but the biggest get for me *still* is that Marvel nabbed Train to Busan’s Ma Dong-Seok. This thing is STACKED. I hope they don’t let up on the out-of-this-world cosmic potential on this. Eternals is perhaps the best indicator towards the vast, untapped terrain the MCU can explore post-Endgame.
Feige sure pulled a fast one on us. We’ve officially got our Kung Fu master in Simu Liu. How nice is it that they cast an actual Chinese native playing a culturally-inflected title role? (Looking at you, Iron Fist.) Also announced was Awkwafina’s involvement in the martial arts epic, which is kind of a no-brainer given her heritage and recent film roles—most notably The Farewell. Here’s hoping she gets to play more than a “love interest” or comic relief. But the most bonkers news on top of it all is a double-whammy: they’re bringing in Tony Leung (Hard Boiled, Infernal Affairs, Ip Man: The Grandmaster) to play THE REAL Mandarin. How the film will deal with – or not deal with – Iron Man 3’s Mandarin fake-out will certainly be of interest. Already, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is coming along spectacularly. In Destin Daniel Cretton we trust.
By far the most axis-tilting reveal of Marvel’s Hall H panel was that of Natalie Portman joining the cast of Thor 4, or – Thor: Love and Thunder, wherein Jane Foster is set to return… AS THOR. I genuinely thought Marvel was gonna wuss out on this because of the sheer potential for outraged, misogynistic fanboy hatred. (It’s worth noting that Foster also became a Valkyrie for a time, but that too seemed like a pipe dream.) Butthurt fanboys aside, there was plenty of reason to believe Portman had, in fact, concluded her tenure with Marvel Studios. Considering the extent that which Jane Foster was used as a cheerleader girlfriend to Hemsworth’s Thor, I wouldn’t have put it past her either.
It seems Feige and crew are intent on correcting their sin, or perhaps this was in the cards all along? I don’t want to get too ahead of myself and think of the possible long-term ramifications (that next Avengers line-up is already looking mighty glorious) because I’m SO eager to see what Taika Waititi will do with the material. If Jane Foster was deliberately nicked from the action in Ragnarok, then it’s wholly salivating to think of Portman having a witty rapport with Hemsworth and Thompson (and Waititi’s Korg). Or just, you know, for Portman to be given an actual character. Nevertheless, the word is out, and Love and Thunder can’t get here fast enough.
Marvel Studios dropped A TON of Phase 4 news at their Hall H panel. (Black Widow, further details of their upcoming Marvel content on Disney+, and an update on the Fantastic 4 and X-Men reboots—which, thankfully, seems last on the studio’s priority list.) What were your favorite MCU announcements?