THE TOP TEN: What ARE Marvel’s Mystery Movies…?

In this top ten list (well... top twelve) we take a look at Marvel Studio's upcoming slate to figure out what's really coming out in 2014.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Unusual news today came with Marvel Studios’ announcement that they will be releasing two movies in 2014, without actually telling us what those movies are. It’s possible that Marvel’s just staking out their territory before they know for certain what will be ready in time, but it’s more likely that they know exactly what they’re doing but don’t want to announce those projects until talent has been attached or, just as likely, until The Avengers raises the visibility of some side characters like Hawkeye or Nick Fury. Looking at the long list of rumored projects we’ve put together a list of possible Marvel movies for 2014, in order of likelihood. We’re betting on at least one sequel or spin-off for that summer, and probably one new franchise to keep their momentum going as a production company.

What will it be? Find out now as we ask ourselves, What Are Marvel’s Mystery Movies…?



Talk of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie started up again last week, and while it’s not exactly the jewel in Marvel’s crown, a spacefaring science-fiction epic could be just the thing the company needs to keep their properties feeling fresh. It’s a tricky proposition though, since space operas aren’t exactly tearing up the box office lately (if they come out at all), and none of the characters in any version of The Guardians of the Galaxy are readily identifiable by the Average Joe. Marvel Studios would have almost zero audience awareness of the property before the movie came out, so if Guardians of the Galaxy gets made at all it’s going to be a bit of a long shot. We imagine that this will only come out if Marvel manages to introduce some really sci-fi elements in The Avengers (which is rumored to be about a Skrull invasion), possibly introducing a Guardians of the Galaxy character or two. We’d love to see this movie, but as a potential franchise it feels like a bit of a long shot to us.



With Bruce Banner making a comeback in The Avengers, Marvel Studios might want to take this opportunity to make yet another Hulk movie, this time promoting Mark Ruffalo as The Jade Giant. But we kinda doubt it. If Ruffalo makes a great impression in The Avengers then maybe we’ll start hearing talks, but the last two Hulk movies represented wildly different takes on the character and neither film broke the box office over their knees. Plus, where else could you take the character? His rogue’s gallery is pretty limited. The Incredible Hulk set up The Leader as a potential sequel villain, but we’re guessing most audience members barely remember that. Another Hulk movie is likely somewhere down the line, but we seriously doubt Marvel Studios is making it a priority.



Edgar Wright’s supposedly been working on an Antman movie for years now, but with higher-profile characters under Marvel’s wing it’s simply fallen by the wayside. But Wright revealed at Comic Con 2011 that he’s just submitted a new draft to Marvel Studios, so this tale of a man who can shrink and… does things while shrunk… could be the new project that Marvel trots out in 2014 to complement whatever sequel or spin-off is likely to take the other slot. But without a big hit under his belt – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was critically acclaimed but a financial disappointment – he’s probably not Marvel’s “Go-To” guy right now, and Antman just isn’t the most dramatic character in the studio’s arsenal. In short: probably not.



One of the more beloved new series Marvel’s put out in the last decade, The Runaways could add some much-needed variety to the Marvel movie pantheon with an all-teen cast… a demographic sorely missing from the studio’s output so far (even though all their films have an obvious teen appeal, they don’t actually appear on-screen very much). This clever story of a group of kids who learn that their parents are supervillains and then, you guessed it, run away was an astoundingly smart series with a perfect movie pitch. But without any brand recognition it might not be what Marvel wants to do right now (they’ve been developing the film for years but we haven’t heard any updates in a very, very long time). Choice cameos from an Avenger or two might take the curse off the project, though.



We’ve heard rumblings of an Iron Fist movie since Ray Park attached himself to the project years ago, but although Marvel’s been holding on to the character there haven’t been any updates in a while. He’s got his fans though, so this story of a business tycoon’s son with an unexpected connection to mystical martial arts could make its way to theaters eventually. It’s got a simple hook, a relatively inexpensive scope for a superhero flick, and it could be a great introduction to some of the more “street level” Marvel superheroes that Marvel’s going to have to delve into now that their Avengers cast is complete. If we see an Iron Fist movie, a Luke Cage movie is soon to follow. Unless…



It’s probably more likely that we’ll see a Luke Cage movie before an Iron Fist one. A breakout character in recent years, the invincible hero-for-hire Luke Cage offers a no-nonsense approach to the superhero genre with a distinctly different point of view than most of his other Marvel Studios brethren, and if we can speak on an industry level for a moment: a black superhero would bring in a fresh demographic for Marvel Studios. Frankly, it’s pretty sad when the biggest black superhero movies anyone can think of are Meteor Man, Blankman and Steel. A Luke Cage movie could change all that and could very well be a priority for Marvel Studios, unless…



Unless they want to do Black Panther first, and if they absolutely have to make a choice between this and Luke Cage, we’d completely understand if Black Panther won out. As the king of the highly advanced African nation of Wakanda, it would be easier to tell a bigger, summer-friendly story with The Black Panther, possibly dealing with political espionage or even all-out war between nations. Once again, fresh blood to both the Marvel movie universe and its audiences are a factor here, but frankly The Black Panther is just such a cool character by himself that we’re hoping Marvel makes it just because we’re big, big fans.



Recently rumored as one of Marvel’s next big projects, Doctor Strange is a natural fit for the silver screen. His ironic origin and supernatural slant – fairly unique for a Marvel movie so far – could make an excellent movie that stands out from the other Marvel properties that have already been successfully adapted. Plus he’s an Avenger in the comics, so Marvel would be investing in the future of more than one property with this adaptation. Assuming the rumors are true, we’re fairly confident that Marvel Studios will be whipping out a Doctor Strange movie sooner than later.



It’s a little odd that Marvel has had Samuel L. Jackson under contract for like a billion movies but they’ve never made one just about his character: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. There hasn’t been much talk of this project in a while, but they’ve got a popular actor in the role and his visibility in the Marvel movies is only about to go up with The Avengers. There’s a hundred different ways to handle this movie, from a flashback showing Nick Fury rising through the ranks to become a Colonel to a present-day story showing S.H.I.E.L.D. taking on terrorist organizations like A.I.M., Hydra or (less likely) U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. And we’d pay to see it. It’s not an unreasonable bet.



Marvel Studios isn’t run by dopes: they know they’ve got superstar-in-the-making Jeremy Renner (who has both Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Bourne Legacy coming up) under contract and they probably have big plans for him. Hawkeye might not be the most popular character in the Marvel pantheon but he’s definitely expected to be a breakout character in The Avengers. The key word there is “expected,” so it makes some sense that if Marvel Studios is trotting out a Hawkeye feature film in 2014 they might want to hold off a bit on the official announcement until audiences know to get excited about it. We’d love to see Hawkeye acting as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and taking down The Taskmaster. Get on that, Marvel.



It’s also a little early to be talking about The Avengers 2, since the ambitious project is still something of an unknown quantity. Everyone’s expecting big, big things from the project but anticipation hasn’t quite hit a fever pitch yet, so not announcing the sequel yet makes perfect sense. A two-year turnaround seems pretty swift to us, but given the context it makes perfect sense: with a sizable cast of reasonably big stars, Marvel’s probably already thinking about the next time they’ll be able to schedule everyone for a follow-up, and sooner is better than later. (Note how long it’s taken to get Star Trek 2 together if you’re skeptical.) The earlier they put The Avengers 2 into production the more viable the franchise will be, and – almost as important – the cast will have less of an opportunity to age, gain weight or alter their look for other movie projects. We’re going to be hearing about The Avengers 2 sooner or later, and 2014 is definitely soon and late enough to be plausible.



We’re going to put money on this one: Captain America 2 is almost definitely coming in 2014. This summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger was a financial and critical success that prompted immediate sequel talk, and the screenwriters have already talked up their ideas for a follow-up. Three years is a perfectly reasonable length of time to prepare Captain America 2: frankly, any longer could actually put the potential franchise in jeopardy. Chris Evans may be young but he’s not getting any younger. It’s still speculation at this point, but if Captain America 2 is coming in 2014 we will definitely say we told you so.