Heroic Movie Age:
After Iron Man 2, What's Next?
originally posted 5/11/2010
After watching The Incredible Hulk,
I resigned myself to all the Marvel movies being one long
epic story, with each "episode" focusing on different characters.
It's a comic book storytelling trope which seems a no-brainer
for movies, yet it also has huge risks. Each individual chapter
should still be able to stand on its own though enticing moviegoers
to get the next issue.
pushed back a year,
that's time for some more pieces to fall into place...
While Iron Man 2 may not have quite hit the mark
there, its box office proves that audiences are ready to
commit to the Marvel Universe. Most won't walk out geeking
out and speculating about what every clue means. Sorry,
people, but I'm still betting that the post-credits tag
that caused me to give a whoop of joy would cause headscratching
among 70 or 80 percent of the audience - if they hadn't
already left as soon as the AC/DC music swelled.
However, this piece is for those who joined me in that
whooping. For you, my fanboy brothers and sisters, I want
to talk about where this might all be going. I could be
100% wrong. I probably am. But I want to start a geeky discussion,
right here, right now, and hope to high heaven that someday
I'll get to do the same thing about the onscreen DC Universe.
If you haven't yet seen Iron Man 2,
just bookmark this page and come back later. There might
be SPOILERS AHEAD!
Nick Fury: Aside from signing a
nine-picture contract and having a life's goal of beating
Nicolas Cage at wedging himself into every modern mythos
possible (see: Star Wars, Astro Boy), Samuel
L. Jackson has said that The Avengers will really
be his movie. Actually, I'd rather see Nick Fury have a
solo outing, or perhaps do something along the lines of
Brian Michael Bendis' Secret War, doing something
really, well, secret with the superheroes. An Avengers movie
needs to be big, loud and very very public.
What we get about Nick Fury in Iron
Man 2 is that he's old, at least older than anyone thinks.
He knew Howard Stark (John Slattery) very well, and reveals
that the Stark pater familias was one of the founders
of SHIELD, an organization, by the way, that almost nobody
knows about. From newspaper clippings about Anton Vanko,
father of Whiplash, we can place SHIELD's origin at about
roughly the same time that it happened in comic book history
- in the mid-60's at the height of the Bond craze.
Fury by any other name...
To have had a friendship with Stark Senior,
Fury had to have been already highly regarded, which means
that he must have been some sort of war hero previously,
as in the original Marvel Comics continuity. The Ultimate
Marvel Universe, which introduced Nick Fury in the likeness
of Jackson instead of David Hasselhoff, posits Fury as a
We haven't yet seen Fury do anything overtly
superpowered, but it makes sense. He'll appear in Captain
America, and we already know that a lot of that film
will take place during World War II. Controversially, but
firmly established, Marvel retconned a black super-soldier
in the mini-series The Truth, the lone survivor of
a program before Steve Rogers received the Super-Soldier
They might not give him the name change
- though let's face it, Nick Fury does seem too perfectly
a code name - but I'll just lay money down now that Nick
Fury is Isaiah Washington, without the later baggage
they gave the character.
Captain America: In Iron Man,
the shield sat on a bench in the background of Tony Stark's
workshop. Annoyingly, Iron Man 2 has to put a neon
sign around that easter egg by having Agent Coulson (Clark
Gregg) pick it up and ask incredulously, "do you know what
this is?" The Marvel Movie Universe loses points on subtlety.
But the question does remain, what IS this
doing here? Again, Director Jon Favreau spilled the beans
that Howard Stark will be a character in Captain America,
and if Tony has the shield, that means that Howard either
made the original or was working on a way to improve it
when Cap disappeared at the end of World War II.
is Captain America without his mighty shield?
(and this is a fan-created image of Chris Evans,
not an official photo)
From Iron Man 2, we also get that
Howard Stark liked playing around with new elements and
alloys, a subconscious influence, no doubt, upon his son's
life as Iron Man. Add that up with a SHIELD hotspot map
that appears near the end of Iron Man 2, highlighting
a small kingdom in Africa, and it's no big leap for Marvel
Zombies to guess that Howard was trying to work with Vibranium.
Yet my question is, why doesn't
Tony seem to recognize the significance of the shield? Is
he just messing with Coulson (completely plausible)? Whether
or not that's the case, why would he be tinkering with it
in its iconic form if the idea of being a superhero occurred
after his capture in the Middle East? (The implication
has been that the shield was on the workbench before
he left on that fateful trip.)
Panther: Vibranium means Wakanda. Wakanda means T'Challa.
Nobody has said anything about Wakanda yet, nor, apparently,
is it clear if Marvel Studios retains the rights to the
Black Panther, or if that got lumped in with the Fantastic
Four package that Fox owns. (Nor, by the way, am I positing
that they're going to make a Marvel Zombies movie.
It's a nickname, people.)
We know she's there, even if they never name her. We know
she's a member of the Avengers, because Fury says she is.
Will there be room for a Black Widow movie? It's
been off and on for years, and I wouldn't be surprised if
Scarlett Johansson's husband Ryan Reynolds told her to grab
on to a superhero franchise and hold on for dear life.
The Mighty Thor: Every time either
Fury or Coulson appears in Iron Man 2, they make
a reference to trouble in the American Southwest. In the
tag, Coulson drives a car with New Mexico plates - "the
Land of Enchantment."
So much of what will happen in Kenneth
Branagh's film of Thor takes place at the same time
as the events in Iron Man 2. Not surprisingly, the
government would be covering up the sudden appearance of
gods on Earth, so actually Tony Stark's escapades with Whiplash
and War Machine would be a welcome diversion for the public's
armor forged by Odin...
does happen? We've seen a leaked image of the Destroyer
armor standing in a desert setting (thanks to Latino
Review for that). Obviously, the movie needs a big climactic
battle, so that one's a no-brainer. Though we know Branagh
cast a lot of potential bad guys for the film - likely The
Enchantress, Skurge the Executioner and of course, Loki
- the Destroyer might just be important for an even bigger
The Incredible Hulk: While Marvel
doesn't really need Edward Norton, it sure would
be nice. The ending of his movie implied that Bruce Banner
was gaining control over his monstrous alter ego, and maybe,
just maybe, would be able to use his powers only for good.
Or for his own selfish ends, which could also be a logical
character arc - Favreau and Downey have no problem with
Tony Stark being a twit, why wouldn't Banner finally let
also know from Iron Man 2 and the tag of The Incredible
Hulk that those two films take place at roughly the
same time. Tony Stark is firmly an advisor to the Avengers
Initiative when he approaches General Ross (William Hurt).
Hmmm... this means it also all takes place at the same time
This one's a wild card, though, because
although Norton is a fan, he's somewhat cantankerous before
his time. The Hulk was a founding member of the Avengers,
but he's still not really necessary to the whole thing in
a time when anyone walking into a comics shop wouldn't see
him in the current line-up, or indeed any line-up for the
past thirty years or so.
Pym: Another wildcard, but talk has been heating up
over Edgar Wright doing his proposed Ant-Man movie.
No clues have been dropped at all about the character,
but he's a potential linchpin to my next supposition.
Jarvis: Tony Stark has built at
least five fantastic war machines. Impressive, yes, but
no one seems to have noticed that he's conquered another
frontier in robotics. He has an apparently sentient computer
system called Jarvis that attends to his every intellectual
whim and helps him fabricate his armor and create a new
Voiced by Paul Bettany, it's possible but
improbable that Jarvis is an actual human being. Another
possibility is that he's just an extension of Tony's unconscious
mind - I have to watch Iron Man again, but in Iron
Man 2 nobody but Tony ever hears Jarvis. While that
would be a cool direction to explore in Iron Man 3,
it's still unlikely.
No, I'll stick with Jarvis being an advanced
artificial intelligence. He knows way too much, thinks way
too independently - he actively questions Tony on the purpose
of experiments - and is just a little too overtly
subservient to be absolutely trustworthy.
not saying I'm right...
In no version of Marvel continuity is Jarvis
an artificial intelligence. However, the Avengers do happen
to have an enemy that is.
Marvel movies don't introduce Hank Pym, a scientist almost
as brilliant as Tony Stark, there's still a logical combination
of elements that would make this work.
Jarvis in the shell of the Destroyer, perhaps at the manipulation
of Loki, and you have an incredibly powerful combination
of mystical might and technological know-how, the kind of
foe that requires the same sort of combination of heroes.
short, you have Ultron.
a whisper has been breathed in this direction, but it's
an easy leap to make, stitching the various movies together
in a completely unexpected way. I'm not saying this is where
they're going, but I am saying…
You're welcome, Kevin Feige.