With great power comes a LOT of great superhero movies- how this budding genre will take over film fans' lives in the years ahead.
This week, there have been plenty of new announcements regarding the status of superhero films within the future of the box office. Sufficed to say, this ambitious genre of cinema is not leaving us anytime soon, with plenty of blockbuster sequels, prequels, reboots and premieres coming to auditoriums near you in the next few years.
Nevertheless, with all these announcements inevitably comes quite the challenge in trying to keep up with what's coming out, when it releases, which stars appear in it and whether it looks to be worth your time. Our solution? An all-encompassing guide to everything we know about the future of the superhero film genre, featuring every announced movie coming soon along with a few rumoured ones. Let's delve into the not-too-distant future, then:
2013- STILL TO COME...
THE WOLVERINE- First up, next month sees the return of the X-Men movie franchise after two years off of the big screen. This isn't a follow-up to 2011's First Class quite yet, though- instead, The Wolverine is a standalone instalment featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine after the events of 2007's X-Men: The Last Stand. Over in Japan, Wolverine discovers a chance to free himself of his immortality, only to realise that those desperate to have his gift might threaten the sanctity of the entire world! At the very least, don't expect an Origins flop, but we'll have to wait and see whether James Mangold pulls out the goods here. (July 26th)
KICK ASS 2- Fans of cult cinema will undoubtedly remember Kick-Ass, a rather groundbreaking take on the genre back in 2010 that was met with critical acclaim. No pressure on Mark Millar and his team to top it, then, especially now the whole world knows and loves the original instalment. Kick-Ass 2 focuses on Kick-Ass and Hit Girl as they build a team, Justice Forever, to fight the growing legions of real-world super villains- prepare for a battle of epic proportions and nothing short of a filmic masterpiece! (August 14th)
THOR: THE DARK WORLD- Our final superhero outing of 2013 will continue Phase Two of the Marvel Avengers franchise, this time focusing on everyone's favourite Asgardian Avenger. Thor will travel back to Earth to pick up Jane, only to find Asgard left in ruins by the effects of the Battle of New York, forcing Thor and his allies to make the ultimate sacrifice as Christopher Eccleston's Dark Elf Malkeith leads his army to an all-out siege. The original Thor was a surprise hit, so as long as The Dark World can retain some of its predecessor's subtler charms, we may well be in for another shock smasher this Autumn. (October 30th)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER- From one Phase Two outing to another, we're back to modern America for this much-anticipated sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. Here, Cap teams up with SHIELD including Nick Fury and Black Widow to hunt down an old ally-turned-foe, in the midst of a terrorist plot that could destroy everything they love. Expect more Avengers 2 links to arise here, and hopefully a more consistent tone for the sequel to boot. (April 4th, 2014)
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2- The first in a trio of new Spider-Man sequels, this second instalment in the rebooted franchise takes it to daring new territory. Gwen Stacey is placed in the ultimate realm of danger as new villains such as Paul Giamatti's Rhino, Jamie Foxx's Electro and Chris Cooper's Norman Osborn emerge onto the streets of New York. Prepare for Andrew Garfield's Webbed Wonder to reach new limits in what could well be a groundbreaking second outing. (April 18th, 2014)
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST- As if it weren't enough to have a new X-Men outing next month, we're getting another entry in the franchise next Summer! Days of Future Past will combine together the two stands of the saga's mythology, starring actors and actresses from X-Men, X-Men: United, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class in a time-travelling adventure that may by some chance allow 20th Century Fox the first sense of a proper superhero cinematic universe of their own! (May 23rd, 2014)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY- And another Phase Two adventure is just around the corner! Guardians of the Galaxy is the most potentially risky outing in the Avengers franchise yet, focusing on a team of alien warriors joined by a human commander in their battle to stop the evil Thanos. Does that name ring a bell? If so, that's because Thanos was revealed as the secret antagonist to the Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers Assemble's credits, meaning the links to Avengers 2 here may be profound and exciting. (August 1st, 2014)
BIG HERO 6- As if Disney couldn't find enough ways to take advantage of their Marvel ownership, now we've even got a daring anime film entry in the works. Big Hero 6 takes a Japanese comic-book franchise and turns it into a fully-fledged animated motion picture. There's potential for this project to go either way, but for most diehard fans Big Hero 6 should definitely be worth your time...(November 7th, 2014)
THE FANTASTIC FOUR- Make no mistake, this is going to be a tricky one. 20th Century Fox have already tried to bring Fantastic Four to box office success on multiple occasions, and while 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer managed to rank in the Top 15 Top Grossing Films of All Time, the critical reception to these two underwhelming instalments was colossally negative. The Fantastic Four is a reboot that may fit in with Fox's intended expanded universe along with X-Men, but we're still waiting on casting news, so we can't assert whether to be even cautiously optimistic right now. (March 26th, 2015)
THE AVENGERS 2- Here's the big one, then. This follow-up to Avengers Assemble will likely feature all of the stars of the previous Avengers movie against a new intergalactic threat in the form of Thanos. On top of that, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are entering the fray, hopefully shaking up the team's status quo in a major manner. We do know that Loki won't be appearing this time around (Joss Whedon doesn't want "Puny God" deja vu to fuel the whole film). Robert Downey Jr will be back though, both here and in Avengers 2. With plot details scarce, it's difficult to know whether Whedon can top his past success, but it should be an amazing ride nevertheless! (May 1st, 2015)
ANT-MAN- It seems that when it comes to Marvel's Avengers franchise, they really do not want to wait for new entries. Take Ant-Man, the first instalment in Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Three that will release mere months after The Avengers 2 wraps up Phase Two! This origins story looks at how Henry Pym becomes the titular miniscule hero, and is directed by none other than Edgar Wright, making it an essential new viewing experience come the end of 2015. (November 6th, 2015)
DOCTOR STRANGE- Although this isn't 100% confirmed, given that Kevin Feige has been emphasising his interest in making Doctor Strange for months now, it seems inevitable that the new origins adventure will form the second instalment of Avengers Phase Three. Expect many more details to arrive at ComicCon as to how this will feed into future Avengers films, and then be prepared for a truly cosmic outing that continues the intergalactic tone of Guardians in the days ahead. (May 6th, 2016)
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 3- With any luck you won't be getting sick of the new Spider-Man's big screen adventures by this point, as the Webbed Wonder is back for yet another web-swinging adventure. Naturally, with just under three years between now and its release, details on the storyline are scarce, but it's confirmed to introduce Mary-Jane Watson after the demise of Gwen Stacey likely takes place in the 2014 second instalment. Don't be surprised, either, if Chris Cooper now inherits the role of Green Goblin fully and indeed Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn begins to have conflicts in his relationship with Peter and his father. There could be some great moral conflicts here, then, so get excited! (June 10th, 2016)
UNTITLED MARVEL FILM- We've got even more Phase Three action coming in 2016, although ComicCon will have to be where we discover the truth on the matter. Potential films that could fill this slot are Black Panther, Thor 3 or Captain America 2- Iron Man 4 isn't a big runner as Robert Downey Jr's new deal only covers two new fully-fledged Avengers ensemble movies. (July 8th, 2016)
THE AVENGERS 3- Again, it's not 100% confirmed that The Avengers 3 will fill up this slot in 2017, but we do know that this third instalment in the hit team-up franchise is on its way. If Thanos doesn't have a starring role in The Avengers 2, then perhaps he'll turn up here, only that seems like a rather over-long way to stretch out a potential trilogy. Maybe a whole new villain lies in wait...? (May 5th, 2017)
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 4- Sony Pictures are begging you not to be bored of Spidey by this point. If your interest is sustained as far as this prolonged fourth instalment, then expect a new villain to be introduced as well as an all-new story arc that moves on past the 'Untold Story' missing parents narrative of the original reboot trilogy. (May 4th, 2017)
JUSTICE LEAGUE/MAN OF STEEL 2- What with Man of Steel having made something of a big impact for DC Studios and Warner Bros this past fortnight, you can be sure that the companies are hard at work planning their next motion pictures. Justice League and Man of Steel 2 are both the most likely prospects, but given that the former project has been struggling to get off the ground for years, doing so even now could be easier said than enacted. (TBC)