By MICHAEL SMITH
Marvel's plan for a serialized series of movies was an old- fashioned one, but the execution was unique: 2008's "Iron Man" would feature a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, a spy telling Tony Stark that he was part of something larger (other superheroes are out there, and they might someday be needed to team up). Through this appearance, a link was formed.
In a show of synergy, Jackson would show up again in "Iron Man 2," "Thor" and "Captain America." Postcredits teaser scenes for each movie would get fans buzzing about how one movie was setting up the next edition.
Doesn't everyone now know you don't leave the theater for a Marvel movie without watching until the last second?
Ultimately, the team-up movie brought Iron Man, Nick Fury and all of these heroes -- and a villain, of course -- together.
"The Avengers" assembled for 2012's No. 1 movie, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was complete.
But that was just Phase 1, we have learned. Are you ready for Phase 2, as the Marvel masterminds have termed their plan for continued world (box-office) domination? It begins Friday with "Iron Man 3," the first of a five-movie plan that leads up to the gang getting together again.
"Iron Man 3"
Release date: Friday
It all started with Robert Downey Jr. creating the geniusbillionaire- playboy-philanthropist that is Tony Stark, and now fans are buzzing about whether this is the last "Iron Man" movie. The speculation is that as Downey talks of "retiring" Tony Stark, it must mean that Iron Man will die in the "Avengers" sequel (Downey is under contract for that one). It all sounds like excellent marketing, but stay tuned.
"Thor: The Dark World"
Release date: Nov. 8
Chris Hemsworth has gone from relative unknown in 2011's "Thor" to now being one of Hollywood's hottest properties. The god of thunder is again partnered with his Earth love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who he must protect and even bring to Asgard when revenge-seeking primeval villain Malekith targets her and threatens to turn the galaxy to darkness.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier"
Release date: April 4, 2014
Marvel knew it had a solid product in 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger" -- before it was released, the screenwriters were already working on this sequel, in which Steve Rogers' best pal from World War II, Bucky Barnes, has been brainwashed into playing the role of an assassin.
Our hero is joined in the present day not only by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), but also Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie.
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
Release date: Aug. 1, 2014
As all of the movies are, this is based on a Marvel comic-book series, but one that Marvel producer Kevin Feige says offers the opportunity to do a "big space epic." Yes, with characters named Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot and Rocket Raccoon.
Yes, it's a raccoon. Without the star-power of householdname "Avengers" heroes, this is Marvel's biggest gamble yet, and it's the film it has most tightly under wraps.
The untitled "Avengers" sequel
Release date: May 1, 2015
Following this slate of films and the introduction of new characters, who knows who might join the core of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America in the all-star sequel. The story?
Top secret. The best news to report is the return of writer- director Joss Whedon, who turned "The Avengers" into a critical darling and a box-office behemoth, earning $1.5 billion worldwide.
Marvel's plans already include a November 2015 release for "Ant- Man," based on the character who invents a substance allowing him to change his size, and a future release of a film based on Doctor Strange, the comics' neurosurgeon-turned-sorceror who protects our planet against the more mystical threats.
Beyond that is the future of the franchise, whether that be with characters like Thor or the Hulk, or new characters - Marvel just reclaimed the rights to the character Daredevil. There's always the chance that the distant future could result in reboots of the most successful characters.
Tulsa's point man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Jeremy Latcham, the Union High School graduate who has become an executive with Marvel Films, has risen from associate producer on "Iron Man" to co-producer on "Iron Man 2" to being executive producer and essentially the on-set manager of "The Avengers."
He is only 32, but he's one of the key players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 2: Latcham is executive producer on "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the "Avengers" sequel.
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Originally published by MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer.
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