Marvel Films' "Thor" hits theaters this weekend and by all accounts, including, surprisingly enough, our own, the Kenneth Branagh-directed film is apparently a consistently entertaining ride worth watching (this writer will be the first to admit, he thought it looked like gash, but is happy to hear otherwise). So what's next?
Playlist West Coaster Leah Zak sat down with Marvel Films' co-chief Kevin Feige this weekend to talk "Thor" and Marvel and while the usually-open film exec is pretty direct about Marvel's plans, he really wouldn't say anything definitive other than the next batch of Marvel Film announcements -- presumably the 2013 and 2014 slate -- will arrive, "Later, towards the end of the summer we'll announce what it is."
So does that mean, no Comic-Con announcement? The event takes place July 21-24 which is arguably not quite the end of the summer, but maybe that's all just relative (last year there was no major announcement other than revealing the final cast of "The Avengers," which everyone knew at that point; secrets are hard to keep these days). And "what it is," does that mean there's only one film to announce and not several? Boy, are we getting geeky today. There were no answers, but as usual, there were lots of options.
First and foremost, perhaps the most interesting was the talk that "The Avengers" characters Hawkeye (as played by Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (as played by Scarlett Johansson) could be potential solo films. A "Black Widow" film has been mentioned before, but to hear it from Feige, those discussions are active and they're going on with the actress as well.
"There's no definitive plans, but we have started talking and talking with Scarlett about what a Widow movie could be," he said. "Internally we've also started thinking what a 'Hawkeye' movie could be, how we could continue to explore the organization [which Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury leads] S.H.I.E.L.D, which has a pretty big part in 'Thor,' smaller parts in the two 'Iron Man' films and has a giant part in 'The Avengers.' [So it's like], what would a stand-alone "S.H.I.E.L.D." be like? It all goes back to the comics. Sometimes the answer is -- when looking at a certain run of issues -- 'no way' and sometimes the answer is 'maybe, let's continue to explore it' and certainly with Hawkeye and Black Widow those are two that we're exploring."
Feige touched upon pretty much every character in Marvel's current movie universe including the hopes of more "Thor" and "Captain America" films and sequels, but he cautiously said almost each and every film is dependent on how "Thor" and "Captain America" do this summer.
So what could be announced this summer? Take your pick. Feige was non-committal, but did mention -- as we all know -- possibilities like "Doctor Strange," "Black Panther" and Edgar Wright's long-gestating take on "Ant-Man" which the exec called, "an outside-the-box, surprising-type story for us to do." While Feige did not mention by name "Power Man," "Iron Fist" or the "Power Pack" -- does that mean they're not ready development-wise? We'll leave that speculation to you -- but he did say "Black Panther," was something "they were playing with recently." Screenwriter Mark Bailey was hired to pen that script earlier this year.
We even asked about Captain America's "Invaders" group that appears in his WWII storyline, but Feige said it doesn't sound like there's much of a plan there at all despite a small pocket of fans who would love to see that era revisited. "We sort of [pause], touch-upon them in 'Captain America,' he said somewhat gingerly, "So right now, there's nothing yet. We'll see how Cap does," he smiled.
Does Marvel worry about managing Marvel overkill? "You always have to be careful about overkill, I guess, but what you really have to be careful about is bad movies," he said. "People have been asking me about this since 2002 and clearly a decade later, audiences said, 'Keep 'em coming!'"
"Thor" hits theaters this weekend. "Captain America" arrives in theaters on July 22. More from "Thor" with the cast and crew later this week.