Mon
Jul 16 2012 1:00pm

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

One of the hugest announcements at this year’s San Diego Comic Con was Marvel Studios’ revelation (and for the most part, confirmation) of what the movies leading up to 2015’s Avengers 2 will entail, when they will come out, and what they are called.

Shorthanded as “Phase 2,” the 2012 SDCC Marvel Studios panel covered all of these films and, most importantly, revealed what their titles were. But in doing so, they may have inadvertently revealed the overarching storyline that will lead into Avengers 2.

Spoilers ahead, naturally. The theory is based on information just released at San Diego Comic Con, as well as info from the end of The Avengers plus leaks from the set of Iron Man 3. The conclusions drawn from it are all speculation.

Let’s start with the end of The Avengers, specifically the fact that Thanos, the star-faring self-styled devotee of Death was revealed as the head of the Chitauri alien force that attacked Earth and aided Loki in The Avengers. (I swear that sentence made sense while I was typing it.) This post-credits scene was an awesome reveal to comics fans, but a nonsensical reveal to everyone else, and it leaves the future Marvel movies with a big Thanos problem. How do you introduce an unknown character with alien, universe-shattering intentions and still create a realistic, grounded, relatable Avengers 2 film?

Further, how do you do this and lure Joss Whedon back to the franchise? Marvel Studios’ efforts in crafting a believable superhero universe were what put the butts in the seats, but it was Whedon’s direction and script that kept them there (and kept them coming back, honestly). Speaking to SFX Magazine, Whedon considered what he would prefer in a hypothetical Avengers 2:

“[A story that’s] not trying to [go bigger]. By being smaller. More personal, more painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself.”

Sounds good! But how do you meld this desire with a concept as huge as a big purple alien who wants everything in the universe dead? (And isn’t a Dalek.)

I have a theory. Let’s go through Marvel’s “Phase 2” and see how it might work:

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Iron Man 3

Out on May 3, 2013

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

The rumored plot: Tony Stark comes full circle with his beginnings in the very first Iron Man film, as he comes under attack by the Mandarin. According to footage screened at San Diego Comic Con, Rhodey is crafted into a military-use Iron Man dubbed the Iron Patriot and Tony has started developing further abilities that put the Iron Man suit under his mental command. The story is rumored to include many elements of Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” comics storyline, which resulted in Tony effectively internalising the Iron Man suit.

What are the key Avengers 2 elements here?: The continued proliferation of the Iron Man technology and, most importantly, the Iron Patriot. Although footage and panels at SDCC connect Rhodey with the suit, leaked set photos showed another actor, James Badge Dale, inside of it, leading one to speculate that Rhodey loses the suit or is booted from it by the U.S. government in favor of a pilot with a less favorable attachment to Tony Stark.

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Thor: The Dark World

Out on November 8, 2013

The rumored plot: No idea. SDCC revealed that the main cast from the first Thor will return (except for the actor playing Fandral), which means we’ll see Loki get up to more shenanigans. There’s an Infinity Gauntlet hiding in the treasure room of Asgard, as well. A treasure room that Loki knows how to pop in and out of undetected.

What are the key Avengers 2 elements here?: Of all the films in “Phase 2,” Thor: The Dark World will have the easiest time explaining the character of Thanos, his goals, and the huge stakes involved in thwarting his aims. I would not be surprised if Thanos turns up as the main antagonist here, trying to snatch the Gauntlet as a precursor to an invasion of Earth. (Or as a precursor to the end of all things.)

The Asgardian pantheon is larger than viewers yet know, as well. Most tellingly, the Asgardian God of Death, Hela, has yet to be seen on screen. What if Thor: The Dark World opened with Jane Foster in mortal peril and Thor unable to reach her? Would that guilt, that broken promise, send Thor venturing into Hela’s domain to save her? And would he find Thanos there and learn of the Death-courting alien’s intentions for Earth?

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Finally, look at the release dates for the “Phase 2” Marvel Avengers movies. We’re on Earth with Iron Man, then out into fantastic worlds with Thor. Then we’re on Earth with Captain America and then out into fantastic worlds with the Guardians of the Galaxy. There isn’t just one overarching storyline here. There are two, and the 2013 Marvel movies will kick them both off.

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Out on April 4, 2014

The rumored plot: We know a few things. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will go in-depth on how Steve Rogers is adjusting to modern life and, presumably, his struggle to continue being a pure American symbol in a century where the concept of America is at odds with itself.

Cap is also still a part of SHIELD after the events of The Avengers and as such, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will contain a lot of SHIELD-related set-up for Avengers 2.

What are the key Avengers 2 elements here?: The title says it all. In the comics the Winter Soldier was a mysterious assassin/terrorist who turned out to be a brainwashed Bucky Barnes, the sidekick of Captain America and the childhood friend of Steve Rogers. (He tried to blow up Philadelphia on the orders of some rogue Russian elements, among other things.)

We saw Bucky die in the first Captain America film. Well, we saw him fall from an impossible-to-survive height. There was never any body seen, and you know what that means. No body, no death.

The important clue here is that the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes came to prominence as the new Captain America after Steve suffered an ignoble defeat in a certain Marvel Comics storyline that pitted friend against friend for the highest stakes of them all:

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Civil War was a crossover storyline in Marvel Comics that pitted heroes against each other in the name of accountability. It begins when a group of untrained superpowered “heroes” (in actuality, they’re filming a reality show) chases a washed up superpowered terrorist towards a suburban school. The terrorist summons one last burst of power to get everyone off his back and the entire school, and everyone in it, is destroyed.

The resulting outrage leads to the creation of the Superhero Registration Act. Anyone who has extranormal abilities must report their abilities, and their secret identities, to SHIELD or face incarceration.

Iron Man spearheads the charge for registration and assembles an army to hunt down any who resist registering. Captain America sees this as a betrayal of the very ideals his costume represents and heads the heroes in hiding. A confrontation inevitably ensues and Cap loses. He’s hauled off to court, but before he can be tried, he is assassinated.

Cap’s death is the final nail for Tony, who steps down from his duties and is eventually replaced by... the Iron Patriot.

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Guardians of the Galaxy

Out on August 1, 2014

The rumored plot: Geez, who knows with this one. In the comics the Guardians are basically an outer space Avengers, comprised of heroes from many different worlds. We do know from the teaser art released at SDCC that the movie’s team will be comprised of five characters: Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

What are the key Avengers 2 elements here?: Drax and Gamora have personal relationships with Thanos. (The former was created specifically to destroy Thanos, the latter was raised by Thanos into an unstoppable assassin before he ended up killing her.) This movie will probably serve to expand the context for this villain.

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Ant-Man

Out when it’s out

The rumored plot: There’s a guy. He can turn really tiny. He is often depicted as an asshole. Edgar “Shaun of the Dead / Scott Pilgrim” Wright and Joe “Attack the Block” Cornish are in charge so it kind of doesn’t matter what the plot is.

What are the key Avengers 2 elements here?: Honestly, there’s a good chance that there aren’t any. The film has barely begun production, as well, so we don’t know if it’s before or after Avengers 2. The only thing that comes to mind is that Ant-Man might be the untrained superhero who ends up causing a tragedy, echoing the start of Civil War.

 

Did Marvel Reveal the Story for Avengers 2 at SDCC?

Avengers 2

Out when it’s out but currently projected for 2015 (fingers crossed)

How it all comes together: Because of the destruction that follows in the wake of individuals simply trying to get at people like Tony Stark, the Hulk, and so on SHIELD will require, or be required, to force anyone with supernormal technology or abilities to work for SHIELD or face incarceration.

The details are certainly yet to be revealed but the important part here is that because of events in the “Phase 2” movies a line is drawn regarding SHIELD, the Avengers, and any other forthcoming “superheroes.” It won’t be a question of “Will Iron Man/Captain America/The Hulk/Thor/etc. help us?” like in the first Avengers film, it’ll be a statement. Do what SHIELD (or whomever) says or be outlawed.

Such a mandate would produce differing reactions in all of the movie Avengers. Captain America might fall in line, with Black Widow and Hawkeye behind him, or he might go rogue. Tony Stark might toe the line and argue that if this has to be done then they are the only ones who can do it right. Or he might echo the beginning of Iron Man 2, where he resists any attempt by a government to regulate him as a weapon. Hulk might, well, Hulk out or he might take the safe harbor that the mandate promises him. Thor would probably laugh at the arrogance that any Midgardians could control him and then pity us for losing the honor he attributed to humanity.

Here, Joss Whedon gets the more personal, more painful story he wants. The Avengers came together as something bigger than themselves and now they’re being taken for granted, letting bureaucracy sunder them, or they’re being threatened with replacement by people like the Iron Patriot or the Winter Soldier. Bottom line, if they want to fight this then they have to really question who they are and if the good that they’re doing is worth the upheavel their lives will go through.

How does Thanos work into this? He might not at all. Guardians of the Galaxy might tie up that storyline. Or he might continue to be a looming threat, a warning from Thor that something dark is coming, something that is not being addressed because SHIELD or the U.S. or whomever has the Avengers fighting each other and not the real threat.

And that’s your theory?: For the moment, that’s my theory, that elements from the Civil War storyline will inform the “Phase 2” movies on a personal level while a separate storyline will fill in the approaching cosmic threat of Thanos. And that there will be lots of other stuff that we haven’t even thought of yet and probably we will love it.

The theory is also predicated on the hope that the Marvel movies will build in complexity and that the moniker “Phase 2” will live up to the promise. They succeeded in bringing a thin greatest-hits-ish concept like The Avengers into the world. Now let’s see what else they can pull off...


Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and wasn’t on a plane when he wrote this particular 3000 word Avengers article, but kind of wishes he had been.

28 comments
Jennifer B
1. JennB
This all looks fun. I haven't seen the first Avengers yet, but I am looking forward to it. I have a question for all of you Marvel buffs. I have seen Iron Man 1 and 2 and Thor and plan on watching Captain America soon, what other movies tie directly into the Avengers that I should watch before I watch the Avengers?
Anemone
2. Anemone
I am not a comic book reader, but I know some of the basic stories. I have been following the Avengers sequence avidly, and when I realized that all the previous movies (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, etc.) were going to come together ... that was a beautiful moment. I can't wait to see what happens next! I have not been disappointed so far. Of course, I probably have far more mental flexibility for the storylines than someone who has been invested since childhood. But my husband knows quite a bit of the background stories, and he hasn't complained too much so far. ;-)
Dave Thompson
3. DKT
@JennB: I think Captain America is really the only other one you're missing. (Enjoy, it's a lot of fun.) You could also watch the most recent Hulk, but I don't think it's that necessary.
Heather Waters (redline_)
4. redline_
Very interesting theories here. I don't know much about the comicverse, tbh, but I have heard of Civil War and think that'd be a fascinating direction to go in--I'd love to see Whedon take that on.

I feel like Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers Assemble 2011 (which I recently picked up as a comic newbie), is trying to tell us something too. In the most recent issues, (highlight for spoilers) Guardians of the Galaxy have shown up to help the Avengers (mostly consisting of the MCU Avengers as far as I can tell) defeat Thanos. Wonder how closely that's tied to where the movies are going? Seems like a big coincidence, all these characters being involved, now that we know what's been greenlit, no?/spoilers
Anemone
5. Captain America
Oh God, no! Civil War was a godawful piece of steaming shit. The very last thing we need is a filmed adaptation of it.
Anemone
6. DavidEsmale
@2 I am one of the long-time comic-book readers that can easily begin nerd-raging when the movie studios get things wrong. But the vast majority of the time it's not because the movie wasn't 100% faithful to the tiny details of the original storyline(s) it was adapted from. It's because either 1) The material/character wasn't taken seriously, or 2) they mess up the essence of the adapted storylines.

For issue 1, I think Superman 3 and 4, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin are all great examples of this. It has never been possible for me to watch any of those movies and think that the characters were taken seriously.

As for issue 2, I point at X-Men 3 as a great example of this. The 'Dark Phoenix' saga is one of the classic, most beloved storylines in the X-Men comics.

The details can change and I'm ok with that. In the comics, the Phoenix is a cosmic entity that can be a force for destruction or rebith, and which latches on to Jean Grey. In the movie Jean has a multiple personality problem, with the Phoenix being a very destructive nasty side of her psyche. I am totally ok with that.

But here's where the problem comes in. (Spoiler Alert...even though everyone should probably know this already.)

In the comics the storyline is ultimately it is resolved through self-sacrifice due to the love between Cyclops & Jean. She realizes she is a danger to everyone she loves, since if she loses control she could literally obliterate the universe, and chooses to die instead. She fights against this monstrous thing inside of her, and wins.

In the movie...she kills Cyclops in what feels like the first 5 minutes of the movie, and then Wolverine ends up killing her at the end of the movie. She never really has the big struggle and victory against the monster inside her. It's just taken out of her hands.

I would also point to the recent Green Lantern movie and how they terribly mucked up Sinestro's origin.

Details can be changed. But the movies perform so much better when they are faithful to the essence of the characters and story that the comic book fans loved to begin with.
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
Heavens forfend, please don't let it be Civil War. That...ugh. What an offensive mess. A bunch of Staw Men punching each other? Just like one long Godwin argument. Not to mention, you know, everyone acting out of character so badly that the only solution was to pretend half of 'em were shapeshifters. No thank you.

Guardians of the Galazy I am super excited for, though; introduce Thanos there. & besides that, look at all of those movies: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Ant Man, whatever else. Just have all of them have a b-plot involving some "Tesseract" like MacGuffin-- an Infinity Gem-- & then kick off The Avengers with Thanos going for it.
Anemone
8. Syllabus
The fact that we're getting Rocket Racoon on film? WhatisthisIdon'teven-*brainexplodes*

Bloody awesome, is what it is.
Anemone
9. azume
As your speaking about "civil war" I wanted to know if we will ever see spiderman enter the cast. I heard that sony own the franchise, do someone know if the contract will end or if it's even possible to see spiderman join the other super ?
Anemone
10. Lsana
@9,

I've heard that a big part of the reason for the Spiderman reboot this summer was because Sony needed to make another Spiderman product so they could hang on to the rights. If that's true, then I don't think Sony is letting Spidey out of their paws anytime soon.

As to whether or not Spidey might sneak into an Avengers movie even with Sony holding the rights...I defer to those who know more about Hollywood's workings than I do.
Liz J
11. Ellisande
@9 They have plans for two more Spider-man movies at least at Sony,so Spidey will definitely not be available for Avengers 2. Beyond that though, I don't know.

Daredevil is about to lapse back to Marvel, IIRC, unless its rights holder makes a new film, like, today. But that's the only one of its outsourced properties that's likely to revert any time soon. People tend to forget how very bankrupt Marvel was at one time, and how many stupid decisions they made trying not to collapse altogether.

@10 No, definitely not 'sneak.' Spidey's Sony's marquee property right now, and I don't think helping out Disney is high on their agenda... maybe with heaps of cash being exchanged for the privilege.
Anemone
12. Earl Rogers
The New Warriors were not "untrained". Vastly out of character and being used as cannon fodder by Millar, that's what they were.
Anemone
13. Earl Rogers
I should also note that both Civil War and Secret Invasion were shameless, serial-numbers-filed-off rip-offs of Kurt Busiek's earlier (and far superior) Astro City story, "Confession".

A fact that Millar, Bendis, and Marvel have never confessed or apologized for.
Anemone
14. Juhan
Um, the introduction of Thanos was Joss Whedon's idea. He specifically pushed for it. So having Thanos wouldn't be a problem when we're talking about Joss returning to helm Avengers 2.
Chris Lough
15. TorChris
@JennB. In regards to what to watch before Avengers, we've got that covered in a handy-dandy manner right here.

@redline_ Ooh, nice addition. Very interesting timing, that.

@Captain America. I have to be honest and say that I stared at your comment for a long time, thinking, "Wow Captain America did not like Civil War!"

@DavidEsmale. Well said. That's the impression I get from these Phase 2 movies, that they're trying to set up the essence of conflict that was brought about in the Civil War and Winter Soldier comic storylines.

@mordicai. You know what would be crazy? If every post-credits sequence in the 5 Phase 2 movies involves Thanos obtaining another Infinity gem. COUNTDOWN!

@9 & @10. I would love for Spider-Man to show up in the Avengers universe, but they don't need him to, even if they do take some elements from Civil War. I do love that Oscorp Tower was almost in The Avengers, though.

@Earl Rogers. I agree, although killing them as part of the kick-off event of Civil War was a cheap twist of the knife too delicious for me not to admire from a structural standpoint. It generated a feeling of disgust and unjustness towards Millar, but you carried that feeling through the story, which is exactly the tone he was trying to evoke. You weren't mad at the thing he wanted you to be mad about, but you were still mad, so the story ends up sitting in your mind with a greater heft.
Anemone
16. AlBrown
Marvel has done such a fine job to date that they have earned a good deal of trust regarding their future projects.
The only potential problem I see with wrapping the Civil War storyline into the buildup to an epic alien invasion is that there might be too many ingredients going into that soup. Although, that same Civil War story line, and Captain America standing up against the Superhero Registration Act was one of his finest hours, especially since so many folks expected him to take sides with law and order.
The return of Bucky was also a great turning point in the overall Marvel mythos. And I can't wait to see Rocket Racoon and his pal the living tree: "Groot! Groot! Groot!"
So much for a fan to be excited about here!
Anemone
17. MyHandisaChainsaw
I can't see them going the Civil War route. Part of the only thing that made that fun (and there was plenty that DIDN'T) was the VAST number of heroes that had to "choose" a side (including Spiderman and the Fantastic Four, neither of which Marvel has the movie rights for). And so it would be like a 3 on 3 battle? The whole ideas of the Superhero Registration Act was because there were too many heroes to keep track of, they were popping up all over the place and major damage could occur as a result of it. That's not how the Marvel movie-verse is currently constructed.
Anemone
18. huntece
You know what kinda disappoints me about this line up (not that Im not super excited about all of them coming out) is that not one of these franchise movies is adding in a female super hero as a main character. I read one of the previous articles about female avengers and it got me kind of excited that that could be a possibility.
Anemone
19. Kartikeya GS
Wow! This all sounds terribly awesome! But. Please. No Ant-Man. For the love of the believable.
Mike Skalski
20. Plushdamentals
Cool theories, gonna nerd out a bit, but I think the civil war might be too big for a single movie and there were way too many heroes involved in it to make into one movie considering it involved more then just the avengers.
Anemone
21. Abstrax
I prey and hope Wolverine, The Amazing Spiderman and The Silver Surfer make the Avengers because thats all we really need and want. Or they just need to hurry up and spawn the Marvel, DC Crossover. I cant waits na more! (Dreaming arn't I...)
Anemone
22. BrosammittySam
Marvel needs to regain therights to its superheroes. the heroes who need to be in the Avengers (mainly Wolverine and Spiderman) are the best ones. Wouldnt mind Deadpool either, seeing as how he has a similar smarta** approach to everything.
Anemone
23. 23
I think that spiderman might have a chance of appearing in avengers 2, but with the new movie " the amazing spiderman" sony might continue with this serie instead of going back with marvel for the avengers 2. Also x-men made enough money and now they're going back with the origins of the x-men team
Anemone
24. James Farnell
Okay, I don't know much about the whole "Civil War" storyline for Avengers 3, if fact, I would say it more unlikely than it is likely. There are still many supervillians and villian groups to choose from that made The Avengers such a popular story and they need to be utilized before the "civil war". Villian organizations/groups such as Hydra (Still need an appearance from Baron Zemo, and the betrayal of Black Widow would make for a great Avengers 3), A.I.M (Which is known for the murderous machine known as M.O.D.O.K), the infamous Krees (Who produce Ms. Marvel), the Skrulls (Although I would like to see these guys as the main villain(s) for the Fantastic 4 reboot), and let's not forget about the Masters of Evil.

But if Marvel continues to make the movies around just a single villain (not counting the original X-Men movies), then there is the ever popular Ultron to contend with (Which can't be done without Ant-Man as he is the brains of Ultron... Literally. So all you Ant-Man haters, you can wish him away, but then you'll be missing out on one of the greatest Avenger villians), and then there is my personal choice for the 3rd Avengers movie, Kang (Whom, if used in Avengers 3, would easily set up the Kree/Skrull war for Avengers 4).
Anemone
25. Xander
The worst way to introduce Thanos would be to do it without the Surfer/Thanos chat. Avengers 2? What else did Tony find out about with his device planted on the SHIELD computer? Who comprises "The Council" and didn't they throw a nuke a NYC? My guess is, Avengers 2 will answer most of these questions, not all of them. Thanos and Gauntlet are BIG stories, too big to end in a second act. Second assuming there will be a 3rd. Downey is getting crusty and there is a huge roster still to explore in Avengers. Wonder Man, Vision, Black Panther, Miss Marvel, and Luke Cage are some of the most important members that are not tied to other licenses.

The Civil War concept doesn't fit for 2 reasons;
1) Why introduce new characters that serve only to make the heroes fight each other? (waste not, want not)
2) Why use a decent reboot plot for the 2nd act with only 6 heroes introduced?

Internal struggle is good but that struggle doesn't have to be global. How do you fight Thanos when you just pissed off the world with a battle over ideologies?

Avengers 2 must include most if not all of the characters previously mentioned. They are the Avengers so the threat has to be BIG. Ant-Man and the Ultron/Vision connection would make for a great part 2.

But, all of us comic book fans must realize that we can't have our cake and eat it too. We can't expect an audience to fully understand these characters, concepts and situations without properly building up to them. They made 5 movies before they made Avengers.

They are making 5 more, hopefully adding better characters. Before Civil War, Cap and Iron Man were relics. Before Dark Reign, Hawkeye was too. Black Widow is Daredevil's backdoor girl and Hulk was put in a rocket and left for dead by a majority vote of Marvel's finest. Thor, well, Tony said it best in Avengers, he is a tourist.

The team they have now is not THE TEAM. And sorry, Wolverine and Spiderman being drafted in Avengers shows you how lame the Avengers really are as a book, or how lame the writers are with plugging an obvious gimmick to sell more books. So please, no more Wolverine/Spidey in Avengers movies ideas, you don't jump the shark until you absolutely have to.

(I mean seriously, continuity issues aside, how many places can 2 characters be in a comic book universe on a monthly basis?)
Anemone
26. Xander
And if I am not mistaken, It's Hank Pym who removes the shards of metal in Tony's chest. Ooops!, but seriously, if you have read up on any of this stuff, some of this will be no surprise when it comes out.
Happy hunting on that fact, I believe I read it in one of those Marvel Hanbooks from the 80's. Keep that in mind with some of these plot, that and Joss Whedon being one of the few who has actually written comics before making live action versions of this. All I can say about that is, Disney made the only choice to helm the Avengers franchise.
Anemone
27. DeMara
Thanos will be the major villain. Anyone who has faithfully followed Joss Whedon's career knows that everything he places in the story has a specific purpose and will be utilized. Since Avengers Assemble ends with Thanos, Thanos will play a central role in Avengers 2. It's that simple.

As a side note, I hope they bring in Mockingbird, although I know it's unlikely at this point.
Anemone
28. Trev
They won't do Civil War - so far, there's only 4 superheroes (with powers) in the Marvel big-screen universe & it looks like the only one they'll be adding, any time soon, is Ant-Man!

I think audiences will learn more about Thanos in Guardians Of The Galaxy rather than Thor - in fact, I can't think of any other reason to have a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie! The Infinity Gauntlet seen in Thor was probably no more relevant than Captain America's shield showing up in Iron Man! Besides, I thought the villain for Thor 2 was going to be Malekith!

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