By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 16, 2012 at 10:01AM
Phase One of Marvel's comic book movie plan was one of the most ambitious movie projects ever undertaken. After the success of "Iron Man," the comics company-turned-film studio, who had started financing their own films, started putting together a four-year-plan that would see an "Iron Man" sequel, as well as introductions to "Thor" and "Captain America," that would lead into team-up movie "The Avengers." And boy, did it pay off. All the films were hits individually, before "The Avengers" became a phenomenon this spring, taking nearly $1.5 billion worldwide to date, making it the third-biggest-grossing film of all time.
The studio already has work underway on their post-"Avengers" plans. "Iron Man 3" is in the midst of production, for a release next summer. But, in case you had any doubt, the company used their panel on Saturday at Comic-Con to fully unveil what they call Phase Two -- their films for the next few years, which are expected to lead into "The Avengers" sequel a few years down the line (though nothing's official on that yet). After "Iron Man 3" hits next May, "Thor: The Dark World" will follow in November, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in April 2014, new property "Guardians of the Galaxy" in August of that year, and Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man" will arrive down the line too.
So what did we learn about the projects from the presentation and unveiling in Hall H? And what can we guess and hypothesize from the bare hints on display? We've delved into all five upcoming films to tell you what the announcements mean, and what to expect from the movies between now and 2015. Read on for more.
Marvel's next picture, and the furthest along, has already had quite a few details leak out so far, but the biggest news came in the confirmation (long-assumed), that Ben Kingsley would be playing Tony Stark's arch-nemesis The Mandarin in the film. Hinted at since the first film, some had assumed the character wouldn't figure after director Shane Black dismissed him as a "racist caricature," but clearly a new take has been found, with Kingley's voice ominously narrating over the promo footage: "Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes. There is no such thing. As you cry out for mercy, you will be silenced."
In the comics, the character was born into a wealthy family in pre-Revolutionary China, but his parents died soon after his birth, and he was raised by a bitter aunt, who trained him in science and technology. Stripped of his inheritance by the Communist authorities, he discovered the skeleton of a long-dead alien, and studied the technology left behind, including ten rings with mysterious powers, which along with his genius and powerful strength, led him to try to take over the world, clashing with Iron Man countless times over the years.
We imagine the character will be more down to earth in the film version, and it's not yet clear how he'll fit into the rest of the plot. Black confirmed that Guy Pearce is playing the role of Aldrich Killian, and Rebecca Hall is Maya Hansen, both characters who featured in Warren Ellis' "Extremis" run in the comics, which focused on nanotechnology. But a few brief shots aside (along with a confirmation that War Machine's new armor is red, white & blue, modelled after the Iron Patriot character), that side of things wasn't really developed. We're sure more will be revealed before too long -- expect a trailer around Thanksgiving to give a bit more away.