Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Phase Three: The Wish List

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Phase Three: The Wish List

In 2016, Marvel will officially kick off Phase Three of their cinematic universe.  Their most ambitious yet.  In Phase One, Marvel successfully introduced their heroes in standalone franchises then united them in The Avengers.  With Earth’s mightiest heroes assembled, they began Phase Two with expanded standalone stories and introductions to new Avengers.

Read my complete recap of Phase Two: The Road To Infinity Wars

Throughout the first two phases, Marvel skillfully introduced new corners of their universe and connected everything together through six powerful objects.  The Infinity Stones.  The puppet master Thanos, has finally begun his quest to possess the stones and rule the universe.

The stage is set.  The seeds have been planted.  Old favorites will return and new franchises will emerge.  It all leads to the two part Infinity War in 2018 & 2019. A cinematic event unlike anything the world has ever seen on the big screen.

What can we expect in Phase Three?  Lots of surprises.  While it may be difficult to predict, I compiled my personal wish list for Marvel’s new film slate.

10. The Hulk’s whereabouts explained

When we last saw The Hulk he was flying a quinjet alone far away from his friends.  Bruce Banner struggled with the fallout from his actions as the Hulk.  The damage he caused was unbearable.  His choice to disappear was interesting because it wasn’t Bruce who hung up on Natasha.  It was The Hulk.

That fact alone creates a new level of character depth and shows Bruce has at least some control over the ‘other guy’.

So where is he heading?  Back into hiding?  When will he return?  I’m sure you can safely bet that he will be part of the Infinity War.  My prediction?  He will be absent from Part 1 and face Thanos one on one in Part 2.

Will we see Hulk before then?  There are several films that could shed light on the Hulk’s whereabouts.  The most obvious being Captain America: Civil War.  Mega Producer Kevin Fiege has gone on record saying Hulk WAS part of Civil War but has since been written out.  That doesn’t mean his location won’t be a hot topic in the film.

Black Widow will surely be looking for Bruce and let’s not forget the central issue of the film.  The world has grown tired of the damage superheroes have caused.  Specifically, The Battle of New York, Thor’s portal driven melee in London and Ultron’s meteor AKA Sokovia.  The Hulk was front and center for two of those events with a third coming thanks to his South African rampage.

He may not be present but his presence will be felt.

There are many theories out there that Hulk will appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 in 2017.  The odds aren’t great as Director James Gunn has repeatedly stated Hulk will not be dancing to Awesome Mix oldies anytime soon.

It doesn’t appear likely he will appear in Thor: Ragnorok and that just leaves the new franchises.  They have their own stories to tell.

What if The Hulk misses out on Phase Three altogether?  Will Marvel really make fans wait until 2020 (minimum?) to see him again?  I can’t see that happening.

The Prediction: Hulk is mentioned in Civil War.  Bruce returns in Infinity War Part One and is subdued immediately by Thanos before he turns green.  The big green guy returns in Infinity War Part 2.

[UPDATE] It’s now confirmed that Hulk will appear in Thor: Ragarok! (I was way off!)

9.  Catastrophic (and irreversible) damage to Earth

The Infinity Gauntlet comic series was an epic event.  With possession of all six infinity stones, Thanos unleashed unimaginable destruction throughout the universe.  Earth was no exception.  The majority of that event takes place in space but I believe Thanos will set foot on Earth in the cinematic adaptation.

The damage he should will cause will be devastating.  In the comics, the majority of the U.S West Coast is wiped out.  However, thanks to the power of the infinity stones, everything was made right in the end.

What if Phase Four begins with the aftermath of such a cataclysmic event?  How would the world react?  One of my favorite aspects of Marvel’s universe (Film & Television) is how often The Battle of New York, London and now Sokovia are referenced.  Can you imagine the implications if an event occurred that trumped all three combined?

8.  New characters with BIG impact

Phase Three will introduce us to the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, Doctor Strange and reintroduce us to Spider-Man.  That doesn’t include secondary characters and the new stable of villains that will come along for the ride.

Unleashing new characters opens up limitless possibilities for Marvel.  But I’m not interested in throwaway characers.  Guardians of the Galaxy proved that Marvel is willing to take risks in order to tell a compelling story.  I have no doubt the new franchises will take similar risks.  Whether or not they pay off is a different story but that’s no what concerns me.

These characters need to impact the larger narrative.  Ant-Man made an ant sized dent in Phase Two.  My fear is he will end up relegated to amusing comic relief in Civil War.  What I’d like to see is Lang (and Pym?) contribute.

Spider-Man is pretty much guaranteed to play a central role in Phase Three and beyond.  Black Panther, Captain Marvel & Doctor Strange deserve similar treatment.

7. The final Infinity Stones revealed

It took nearly a decade and 12 films to introduce four of the six infinity stones.  The Mind Stone is currently stuck in Vision’s head.  The power stone is being guarded by the Nova Corps.  The Space Stone is presumably hidden in Asgard.  The reality stone was last seen in the hands of The Collector.

That leaves the Time Stone and the Soul Stone.  I think the Soul Stone will first appear in Doctor Strange.  The mythical side of the MCU deserves a stone of its own after all.  Steven Strange will encounter it on his inter dimensional travels.

As for the Time Stone?  Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a prime target for its first appearance.  The Guardians have seen the power stone in action and will be quick to act if another stone surfaces.  Thor: Ragnorok is equally primed for a Time Stone battle.  Especially now that the stones themselves are on Thor’s radar.

My prediction?  The majority of Phase Three will be spent moving pieces in place and revisiting the stones we’ve already encountered.  There is too much story to be told to wait until Infinity War for Thanos to make his move.  He will DEFINITELY possess several stones before those films begin.  I believe he will have all but TWO when the Infinity War begins.

During Part 1? He will retrieve the Time Stone and we will witness it’s power for the first time.  The cliffhanger for Part 1?  Thanos completes his gauntlet by gaining possession of the Mind Stone, killing Vision in the process.

6. Guardians & Avengers Collide

Infinity War is already a monumental event given the cast it already boasts.  Is there even room for The Guardians of the Galaxy?  Or will their contributions to Phase Three end when GotG Volume 2 is released in 2017?

Fans have long speculated that an Avengers/Guardians cross over is inevitable but we won’t be satisfied with a cameo.  Peter Quill and his lovable losers will have to play a pivotal role if they are to appear in Infinity War.

Yet, Marvel has always shown great restraint and devotion to the long game.  Many people assumed Thanos would be the villain of Avengers 2 but he wasn’t.  Perhaps they have larger plans for the inevitable (and it is inevitable) team up.

My prediction?  A TON of story related to Thanos and the Infinity Stones will be told in Guardians 2.  This will lead them to Earth (perhaps through Adam Warlock?) where a warning must be issued.  Thanos is coming.

It’s easy to assume if this scenario plays out, that Star Lord will want to return to his home planet to help.  Drax will follow having sworn to kill Thanos himself.  Gamora plays a central role in the comics.  I suspect her role won’t quite be the same but she has to come.  Thanos is her adoptive father after all.  As for Groot and Rocket?  You can’t just leave them behind!

I think the crossover happens in Phase Three.  The Guardians could come to Earth.  Or maybe an Avenger could venture into space and unite with the team.

More likely?  A final showdown on Sanctuary.  Thanos and his minions vs The Avengers & The Guardians.  The final act of Infinity War Part 2.

5. Thanos in action BEFORE The Infinity War

So far we’ve seen Thanos turn his head slightly and smile. (Avengers) We’ve seen him threaten to bathe the star ways with Ronan’s blood.  (Guardians of the Galaxy) We’ve seen him in a few holograms here and there too.  Finally, we’ve seen him enter a vault and put on his Infinity Gauntlet. (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

It’s time to see Thanos in action.  But when?  When will Marvel finally unveil the full power of a villain three phases in the making?  Obviously, he will factor heavily in Phase Three.  There’s no sense holding back now.

First up, Captain America: Civil War.  There will be an end credit sequence featuring Thanos completely focused on Earth.  The conflict there is exactly what he needs and then he sees Vision and the Mind Stone.  Or perhaps they use the scene to set up Dr Strange and the soul stone?

I believe he will appear in Doctor Strange next.  He’ll be a part of the end credit sequence and he will destroy… something.  It’ll be a short tease but it will directly set up the next film on Marvel’s slate: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.  That’s when fans will truly see him in action.  He may not factor into the main plot directly but you can bet there will be scenes featuring the Mad Titan.

My prediction?  His scenes will feature the Collector.  We will finally find out which side Tanaleer is on.  (If any) Will he give Thanos the Reality Stone?  Something tells me it won’t be that easy.

I’m assuming Thanos will skip Spider-Man.

Thor: Ragnorok will feature Thanos heavily.  Somebody has to fight him before the Infinity War starts.  Who better than Thor?  Thanos could be a major villain in the film. He may not be the main villain but I’d love to see him go one on one with Thor before he gathers too many stones.  Thor will be defeated and Thanos will gain the Space Stone hidden in Asgard.

Then the Infinity War begins!  I think Thanos will appear in a post credit sequence at the end of Captain Marvel but once Thor 3 arrives, it’s nothing but Infinity for Marvel’s big bad.

4. An Epic Civil War

Civil War is a Captain America film at its core.  It may appear to be Avengers 2.5 but it is still the concluding chapter of a trilogy.

What concerns me about this film is the potential for it to come across as a Mortal Kombat tournament.  We’ll get epic one on one battles featuring match ups fans have wanted for years.  I’m hoping for something bigger.

I want five on five.  Obviously, there has to be one on one battles in order to satisfy the emotional part of the story.  Iron Man vs Captain America, Black Widow vs Hawkeye etc…  I’m hoping for huge action set pieces featuring ALL of the cast.

Towards the end of the film, when the central conflict is over and the two factions unite to defeat the REAL enemy, we will get our first glimpse at what the Infinity War could look like on the big screen.

3. The most elaborate final battle of all time!

The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 will signal the end of an era.  It will conclude a narrative that took more than a decade to set up.  The payoff has to be big.  They’ve already announced that Infinity War will make history shooting entirely in IMAX format.

Marvel knows this is the BIG ONE.  It could take another decade to set up enough plot threads to merit another event like Infinity War.

As a result, the final act of Part 2 has to be enormous.  Thanos will definitely leave a trail of bodies behind him after Part 1.  Whoever is left will be on-screen together.  It will take every hero to stop him.

There is too much at stake to mess it up.  I predict the final battle will be the most expensive sequence in the history of film.  It’s gonna take a lot to take down Thanos.  I can’t wait to see it.

2. Major Character Deaths

It’s difficult to make a villain scary if he/she is never presented as a formidable foe.  Thanos will dominate the majority of Phase Three.  Major character deaths are imminent.

Clearly, Vision is on the chopping block but his death could be reversed if the Mind Stone is replaced.

I think if Steve Rogers survives Civil War, he will meet his end in Infinity War Part 1 only to return in Part 2 to save the day.  However, it’s more likely he will perish in Civil War.  His death will most likely end the War and bring all of Marvel’s heroes back together.  United by a common cause.  Will Bucky pick up the shield when Cap’s gone?

You can discuss the fate of every single character in the MCU but nothing will hurt more than Captain America going down.  He embodies the very meaning of the word good.

Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll survive.  If he doesn’t die another major character will.  It’s the only way to truly raise the stakes.

1. Phase Four Seeds Planted

We didn’t meet Thanos until The Avengers united for the first time and defeated Loki and the Chitauri army.

I don’t think Marvel can wait another Phase to set up the next big threat to the universe.  Realistically, they will unveil Phase Four until the conclusion of Infinity War to avoid spoilers.  That means we will have to wait minimum four more years for a glimpse at what’s to come.

Marvel has the attention of movie fans around the world.  At some point, they will have to establish a new threat to take over once Thanos is defeated.   Which direction they go is anyone’s guess.  But the slate will be wiped clean and anything is possible.  A new long game will begin and the first seeds will be planted when Phase Three begins in 2016!

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