Marvel vs DC: Comparing the slates

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Right up until 2020, DC has announced a slew of superhero movies to rival Marvel Studios’ own output, and soon after, Marvel released their own extensive slate, itself running to 2019. We here at Flickreel are going to be taking a brief look at all of these planned films; what they may be about; what names are attached; and if we think they have potential. There are some omissions to what we previously expected to see: Iron Man 4 is nowhere to be found, despite Robert Downey Jr himself claiming it was happening; while Mark Ruffalo still doesn’t have a standalone Hulk movie. There are also some surprises in the form of a new Green Lantern film, and the fact that the third Avengers film will actually be split in two: Infinity War – Part I and Part II. But what is on both slates is really exciting – so let’s explore them now.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release: March 25th, 2016
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Ezra Miller (unconfirmed), Jason Momoa
The lowdown: Having been pushed back from its original spot in 2015 – a year so crowded with tentpoles it may not have had the desired impact at the box office – March 25th, 2016 will now see two of the world’s best-known superheroes duke it out. Ever since lines from the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns were read at the comic-con at which it was first announced, it’s rare to see fan hype this charged, even only a few years since the last incarnation of the caped crusader. Snyder has a lot to prove with this one. With half the cast of the Justice League already assembled (ahem) in this movie, it’s difficult to see it as anything other than a warm-up for the JL movies (yes, plural ‘movies’. Read on to discover just how).

Captain America: Civil War
Release: May 6th, 2016
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Robert Downey Jr
The lowdown: After Ant-Man officially kicks off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ‘Phase Three’ series of movies, the next up will be Captain America’s third solo outing. The ‘Civil War’ subtitle is extremely enticing; it looks like this film will be based on one of the Marvel comics’ most beloved storylines, in which fellow superheroes face off against each other in the wake of the Superhero Registration Act, a US government-issued decree forcing heroes to reveal their identities. This sort of political conflict is perfectly suited to Cap, as The Winter Soldier so effectively showed us, but the biggest change-up here is something that may split the Avengers for good: Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, is dead set against Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, and his civil liberties, and will essentially play the villain – we hope. And even though Spider-Man was a big player in the comic’s storyline, he still belongs to Sony, not Marvel Studios – but after the apparent talks they went through recently, could this be Spidey’s first appearance alongside his other Marvel heroes, and will it be Andrew Garfield’s incarnation of the character?

Suicide Squad
Release: August 5th, 2016
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling
The lowdown: Now that director David Ayer has finished blowing up tanks in his WWII movie Fury, he’s free to move on to his next project: The evil Justice League. Taking a leaf out of Sony’s book, who are planning their own bad guy-team up Sinister Six, DC have snagged a hugely talented cast for Suicide Squad. Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and Jared Leto have all been announced as Deadshot, Rick Flag, Harley Quinn, Boomerang and The Joker respectively. Made to do the dirty jobs the government don’t want to tackle themselves, Suicide Squad could definitely be an interesting movie – it’s just that the overload of characters, before we even get to Justice League, is rather worrying.

Doctor Strange
Release: November 4th, 2016
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch
The lowdown: With Benedict Cumberbatch now announced as the lead in Doctor Strange, this movie just got a whole lot more interesting than it already was. While we’re looking forward to seeing Sherlock with a ‘tache, the movie itself is shaping up to be a real departure for Marvel: whilst Thor pushed the boundaries in terms of fantasy, Kevin Feige has declared that Doctor Strange will go more down the supernatural route. While Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe are all being courted for the role of The Ancient One, the film is being prepped by director Scott Derrickson, the man behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, who we hope will inject some horror into proceedings – but don’t expect to see any jump scares in a Marvel movie just yet.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Release: May 5th, 2017
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista
The lowdown: The overwhelming success of this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy makes a sequel no surprise whatsoever. Marvel’s first full-on expedition into outer space melded comedy, drama and action into a pop culture melting pot, with a staggering box office load behind it. While no plot details have as yet been revealed, rumour has it that this movie will, at least in some part, follow Star-Lord (Pratt) in his search for his father. What we can expect, however, is another galaxy-hopping, laugh-a-minute oddity from the brain of James Gunn, whose mixture of practical special effects and sly humour introduced the MCU to a whole new level of fun.

Wonder Woman
Release: June 23rd, 2017
Director: Michelle MacLaren
Cast: Gal Gadot
The lowdown: Before Marvel gets its own female solo movie onto our screens in 2018 with Captain Marvel, DC will beat them to it with Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot has been cast as Diana Prince – AKA Wonder Woman – for a while now, and the Amazonian superheroine will actually hit screens in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice first. Early set visit reports from that movie have hinted at a set being built that resembles Themyscira, the mystical island paradise Diana originates from, so there’s good reason to expect Wonder Woman to shrug off any origin-story shackles and get right to the action. But the best factor of this movie? DC have found a female director in the form of Michelle MacLaren, who has directed some excellent TV shows such as Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

Thor: Ragnarock
Release: July 28th, 2017
Director: Unknown
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston
The lowdown: During the Phase Three announcement, Kevin Feige stated that Thor: Ragnarock, the third solo picture for everyone’s favourite Nordic thunder god, would shake things up considerably for every movie to come. With a title like Ragnarock, which literally means the End of the World, that’s not too much of a shock. Chris Hemsworth will return as Thor, while Tom Hiddleston has already been announced to come back to star as Loki, who is perhaps – if the fangirls are anything to go by – the most beloved screen villain in recent years. A considerable number of people voiced the opinion that Thor: The Dark World was the worst of the Phase Two films – but with pieces falling into place in a pleasing manner already, who’s to say Ragnarock may not end up as one of Phase Three’s best?

Black Panther
Release: November 3rd, 2017
Director: Unknown
Cast: Chadwick Boseman
The lowdown: About to funk up our screens as soul pioneer James Brown in Get On Up, Chadwick Boseman is now set to star as Black Panther, the royal leader of a tribe who earns magical new powers. Very little is known about what kind of story Black Panther could have; it probably won’t be an origin tale, as Boseman’s five-film contract with Marvel will actually begin with Captain America: Civil War. So we can look forward to watching a fully-formed Black Panther pouncing around already – but will he take Cap’s side, or Stark’s, and will this solo flick be an urban-set crime thriller, a mystical good-versus-evil battle in Africa, or a bit of both? The more important fact regarding Black Panther, of course, is that it will be the MCU’s first film with a black lead. Let’s hope it spruces things up in terms of storytelling, too, for Marvel’s third-act destruction formula will definitely have run out of steam by then.

Justice League: Part One
Release: November 10th, 2017
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller
The lowdown: Five years after Marvel Studios threw down the gauntlet with Avengers Assemble, DC will finally bring us its own superhero team-up. What’s a genuine surprise, however, is the fact that it will be split into two parts – what could this mean? Perhaps this movie’s storyline, and indeed it’s cast, will be too epic in both scope and literal size to be contained in one measly two-hour film. It’s exciting, but also slightly baffling, to think about just how huge Justice League will be, especially considering that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a mini-Justice League anyway, with possibly five or six JL members set to appear.

The Flash
Release: March 23rd, 2018
Director: Unknown
Cast: Ezra Miller
The lowdown: Even though a new Flash TV series has just started, DC are still going ahead with another version – starring a different actor – for the big screen. Details are few and far between at this point, except that Ezra Miller will be on board to become the fast-footed and fast-mouthed hero. Miller starred as the eponymous character in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and was also the tender, idiosyncratic Patrick in The Perks of Being a Wallflower: both awards-worthy performances. But with the MCU already featuring the similarly powered, lightning-fast Quicksilver in not just the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, but also in Marvel’s other superhero hit X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re worried that we might have already tired of this type of character by the time DC’s rolls around in 2018. But if anyone can do it, Miller can.

Avengers: Infinity War – Part I
Release: May 4th, 2018
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast (unconfirmed): Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth
The lowdown: With Avengers: Age of Ultron not even unleashed on the world yet, it’s a stretch to imagine just how epic the third team-up movie will be. Here’s a hint: the mad titan Thanos, glimpsed in the first Avengers movie and becoming a bigger presence in each subsequent solo Marvel movie, will finally take centre stage as the main villain. The Infinity War storyline is big deal in the comics, where Thanos finally comes into possession of all the Infinity Stones, and becomes the lord and master of the universe. The ensuing struggle against Thanos is, naturally, a big ‘un – so much so, that the studio has apparently decided to split it into two films, Part I and Part II. Is this a reaction to DC splitting the first Justice League movie in two? Probably not, but it will turn up the heat in the battle of longest, biggest and fattest movie clashes. The storyline involves many of the Avengers dying, which is always an unlikely factor in a franchise like the MCU – but in order to raise the stakes as high as possible, some collateral isn’t entirely out of the question. But the real question is this: Will Joss Whedon return to direct not just a third time, but a fourth time as well? Or will the Russo Brothers, who were behind the camera on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, step up like they’ve been rumoured to do so?

Captain Marvel
Release: July 6th, 2018
Director: Unknown
Cast: Unknown
The lowdown: With the MCU finally getting its first solo female movie – after years of speculation surrounding a Black Widow picture – it gives Marvel Studios the chance to do a lot of different things. After Guardians of the Galaxy opened up the cosmos for the studio, we’ll be witnessing Carol Danvers’ space-bound adventures on the big screen as she battles evil across the stars. As one of the most powerful characters on the Avengers roster, it’ll be interesting to see how she fits in with her less superheroic team members such as Hawkeye, or yes, even Black Widow. If she first turns up in Avengers: Infinity War – Part I is anyone’s guess at the moment, but expect her to play a big part in what we increasingly feel will be a rather cosmic Part II.

Release: July 27th, 2018
Director: Unknown
Cast: Jason Momoa
The lowdown: A character not many thought would be translatable to the screen, it seems we’re getting Aquaman whether we like it or not. Like Wonder Woman, the grizzly seafaring superhero will make his debut in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, played by Jason Momoa. Momoa has already shown his acting chops as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, making the muscular dunderhead someone we ended up caring about; we’re certain he’ll work the same magic here. A checklist of his powers: Able to swim really fast? Check. Able to breathe underwater? Check. Able to talk to fish? Erm… check. Once Justice League: Part One hopefully puts his power-base to good use, we’re confident DC will excel with a character the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently has nothing like (unless they introduce Namor, of course).

Release: April 5th, 2019
Director: Unknown
Cast: Dwayne Johnson
The lowdown: Now this one could be interesting. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson had been teasing us with the promise that he’ll play one of two roles in an upcoming DC movie – either Shazam!, or Black Adam. Now officially cast as the latter, seeing The Rock as a supervillian is one terrifying prospect – but we’re more intrigued by the movie itself. The superhero was first published the year after Superman, and shares much of the same powers, and even the Man of Steel’s likeness – but with added charisma. Upon saying the word ‘Shazam!,’ he is granted the powers of Olympic gods: an intriguing idea indeed, but we’re worried this may go over younger viewers heads, as Shazam! is mainly remembered from the Golden Age of comics. Whether the movie version will skew explosions for a more kitschy style remains to be seen, but we’ll be first in line to see if that ends up being the case.

Release: November 2nd, 2018
Director: Unknown
Cast: Unknown
The lowdown: This is rather clever thinking on Kevin Feige’s part: kickstarting a new superhero team franchise right before ending another. But whether Avengers: Infinity War – Part II really will be the end of the current Avengers storyline is pure conjecture right now, although it’s not crazy to imagine Inhumans kicking off right before it – to use an extremely rough analogy – as grabbing onto one branch, while letting go of another. As the MCU’s 20th movie, it will introduce a whole host of new characters, and although there’s nary even a plot synopsis at this point, Inhumans is set to be another mega-franchise for Marvel.

Avengers: Infinity War – Part II
Release: May 3rd, 2019
Director: Unknown
Cast (unconfirmed): Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth
The lowdown: Just before DC unleash the second part of the first cinematic version of the Justice League, Marvel Studios will be releasing their own second chapter to Avengers: Infinity War. What will happen is entirely unknown, including how it will differ from Part I – but expect the biggest conclusion imaginable to Phrase Three. Will the Avengers’ line-up have shifted dramatically, if not by the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, then by the end of 2018’s film? What will their circumstances be like? We can only assume very, very dire indeed, as this will be the showdown to end all showdowns as they assemble – for the final time? – to fight Thanos, and stop him taking over the universe.

Justice League: Part Two
Release: June 4th, 2019
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot
The lowdown: Bravely coming only a couple of weeks after the concluding chapter of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War – Part Two, Zack Snyder will also reveal the second of his Justice League saga that will technically begin with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Due to the project’s size, is it likely that the JL will face multiple villains instead of one? What role will the Suicide Squad play, if at all? At this stage, the cast presented here is still unconfirmed. Will any of the characters meet their doom in Part One? It’s probably safe to say no – what studio would kill of their cash cows so soon? – but Justice League: Part Two will seriously need to up the stakes in order to rival the close of Marvel Studio’s Phase Three.

Release: April 3rd, 2020
Director: Unknown
Cast: Ray Fisher
The lowdown: The big question raised by a solo Cyborg movie: will the character, played by Ray Fisher and introduced four years before in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, be enough of a smash with audiences to warrant a solo outing? He is by far the least-known of the core Justice League troupe, which leads us to surmise that DC are expecting Fisher to become a star. The superhero, altered by cybernetics to become DC’s own Iron Man (but at least Tony Stark can leave the suit), first showed up in the comics as part of the Teen Titans, a Justice League for kiddies – does this mean we’ll eventually see a Teen Titans movie, too?

Green Lantern
Release: June 19th, 2020
Director: Unknown
Cast: Unknown
The lowdown: Here’s where we enter murkier waters. With not even a name yet attached to star, our best guess is that this won’t be a continuation of the much-maligned 2011 Green Lantern, but an entirely new reboot. We’ll be sad to see Ryan Reynolds not return (we’ll probably see him end up taking the lead in Deadpool, anyway), but DC will likely learn by that film’s mistakes, and be much better for it. But will they be able to make the Lantern’s power, which is the ability to create anything with pure energy from a magic ring, an interesting cinematic wow factor, or just more CGI-heavy mess?

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