Two significant bits of Marvel news hit the wires today – with one confirmation and one strong rumour.
The ‘rumour’ aspect is the news that Pedro Pascal (The Last of Us) is being courted to essay the role of Reed Richards in the upcoming Fantastic Four film to be directed by Matt Shakman. It would be good casting, but he’s certainly not the first name to have been in the frame. Played by Ioan Gruffudd in two mid-2000s movies and Miles Teller in the ill-fated 2015 reboot, John Krasinski took the role for the Illuminati sequence in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and was heavily-tipped to keep the role for the feature (perhaps alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt as Sue Richards?). More recently Adam Driver was an off-beat name being discussed and now several reputable sources are saying Pascal is in pole position. There’s no official word as yet and Pascal certainly has a busy slate of projects for the foreseeable, though some sites seem confident enough to say he has the role. The film, due for release 2nd May, 2025 is likely to start filming early in 2024.
The other news is more definitive. Due to several different factors – such the recent strikes, moving dates for other movies and the current legal problems for Jonathan Majors – the release date for Avengers: Kang Dynasty had already been pushed back a year from May 2025 to May 2026 (with the second new Avengers film Secret Wars following around a further year later) and it’s this change that is cited as the main reason that director Daniel Cretton is stepping away from the project – as confirmed today. However it is believed that he will continue to work on a possible sequel for his Shang-Chi film and will also continue in his position as Executive Producer on the Wonder Man series. It is not known whether whoever takes on the directing duties will use the latest draft of the film which was written by Jeff Loveness (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) or start from scratch. It is believed that the plot of Secret Wars will feature the fall-out from the Kang encounter and see the various universes within the larger multiverses fighting for survival due to incursions between them.
The confirmed MCU schedule, as it currently stands – but subject to change – would now seem to also include:
Marvel: What If..? Season Two – will arrive on 22nd December 2023 with one of its nine episodes dropping daily until the end of the year. As before ‘The Watcher’ will act as a guide to reimagining key events from the Marvel timeline and asking what other outcomes may have been possible, but events might also be influenced by that pesky Kang factor.
Here’s the latest trailer
As previously noted, the next Marvel / Disney+ series Echo, starring Alaqua Cox as deaf ex-enforcer Maya Lopez and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk (aka the Kingpin) will arrive on 10th January with ALL episodes available to binge-watch…
Marvel Studios‘ Head of Streaming Brad Winderbaum recently noted that the series (like the Wonder Man series) will go out under the newly-minted Marvel Spotlight banner designed to show that the production doesn’t need a huge amount of mythological MCU knowledge to enjoy: “Marvel Spotlight gives us a platform to bring more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen, and in the case of Echo, focusing on street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity,” said “Just like comics fans didn’t need to read Avengers or Fantastic Four to enjoy a Ghost Rider Spotlight comic, our audience doesn’t need to have seen other Marvel series to understand what’s happening in Maya’s story.”
Not a MCU film per se but a Sony Pictures/Marvel movie as part of the Spideyverse, Madame Web (hitting cinemas on 14th february 2024) is one of a range of productions spotlighting some of the webhead’s supporting cast. The character in the comics was a prescient elderly lady with the ability to predict the future and help Spider-man. The movie version appears to have the same gift of foresight but a much younger incarnation as a troubled paramedic who suddenly gets visions of the future after a near-death experience. But align with the new lease of life she seems to be pursued by a figure that looks like a darker version of a certain web-slinger. The cast includes Dakota Johnson, Emma Roberts (as Mary Parker), Sydney Sweeney, Adam Scott (as Ben Parker) and Tahar Rahim (as Ezekiel Sims)… and some of those character names should more than hint at strong connections to the Spider-man mythos for those who can deep-dive the comics history.
Deadpool 3 is technically another MCU-adjacent venture, but may find itself playing another important part in Marvel‘s current multiversal plans. The fourth-wall-breaking, profanity-spouting R-rated anti-hero will be joined by Hugh Jackman (as a version of Wolverine that looks slightly more akin to the comic’s design) for a chaotic caper of some sort or another. The film was supposed to come out in November 2023 but was delayed and has currently just gone back before the cameras to finish filming. The date shifted first to the spring of 2024 and now to 26th July 2024.
Captain America: Brave New World, the first feature film without Chris Evans in the title role, sees Anthony Mackie take centre-stage – though the actor reprised his character of Sam Wilson for the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It has moved out of a 2024 release window and is now positioned for 14th February 2025.
Thunderbolts – a team-up compromising of several ex-villains, anti-heroes and questionably-motivated characters is now set for 25th July 2025. The cast, are getting ready and include the likes of Harrison Ford, Florence Pugh, Wyatt Russell and David Harbour (once he finishes Stranger Things duties).
The Blade reboot movie, rumoured to be in some trouble according to rumours, is still technically on the schedule. Directed by Yann Demange, it will star Mahershala Ali in the title role, alongside Mia Goth and Delroy Lindo. Production was halted during the recent strikes but should begin again soon. It is scheduled for 7th November, 2025.