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Marvel revealed a lot in today’s big announcement. But perhaps even more important were the things the company didn’t mention.
Sure, it was full of big news: A Doctor Strange movie dated for 2016, a standalone Black Panther movie with Chadwick Boseman for 2017, Marvel’s first solo superheroine movie Captain Marvel, and the introduction of the fan-favorite Inhumans for 2018.
But here’s five things missing from today’s event.
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
He’s reported to be close to signing a deal to play Doctor Strange and yet the announcement of a movie about the Sorcerer Supreme omitted any mention of who will play the lead character. Asked about Cumberbatch, Marvel president Kevin Feige said, “If it were confirmed, we would have introduced him today.”
2. Scarlett Johansson
The Black Widow was the first female character introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we’re getting a different heroine-led movie first. Black Widow appeared in multiple Marvel films, including Iron Man, Captain America and Avengers. She’s a beloved character in the comics whose history goes back to the 1960s. It would be easy to imagine a spinoff movie featuring her and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) or a Cold War thriller-type movie with her and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). But there was no mention of Black Widow or Johansson. Instead Marvel will give fans Captain Marvel, a character unfamiliar to moviegoers, as its first female hero to lead her own film. Johansson is a huge international star now that her Lucy has grossed $400 million worldwide, so perhaps she is too expensive? Did the company think the character had run its course? Is Johansson, a new mother, sick of the burden of playing a superhero?
3. Anthony Mackie
Mackie’s portrayal of the Falcon was arguably the best surprise from this summer’s Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. He brought wit, swagger and panache to the role and had real chemistry with Chris Evans‘ Captain America. The Falcon has a long history in comics, co-starring in a book with Captain America, as a member of the Avengers and in his own stand-alone series. He’s a natural for a solo movie. Yet Mackie was nowhere to be found, and there was no mention of him or his character. Mackie’s got four movies in production, and beyond that the Oscar-bait Jesse Owens biopic, so it’s not as if he’s hurting for work. But the Falcon seemed like a more natural choice to lead Marvel’s first stand-alone film with a black hero. Instead, the company chose the Black Panther, an African prince turned crime-fighter, for the honor.
4. Whither the Hulk?
After two failed starts (with Eric Bana and Edward Norton), Mark Ruffalo finally turned the Hulk/Bruce Banner into a thing with his appearances in The Avengers and Iron Man (his scene with Thor in Avengers was perhaps the single best moment of the movie). Fans have been clamoring for a Hulk solo movie ever since, and the character has proven it can work onscreen (see: the beloved ’70s TV series). When asked about the Hulk, Feige said fans would see the Hulk in the team movies but demurred on a solo flick.
Ok, this was a long shot. Rumors have been circulating that Sony might be willing to sell the rights to the Webslinger back to Marvel after a worse-than-expected performance from Amazing Spider-Man 2 and uncertainty about the launch of spinoff Spidey movies. Marvel certainly wants him. Feige’s long-term goal is to bring back into the fold as many of the Marvel rights as he can (X-Men and Fantastic Four are at Fox). If Feige had announced a return of the Spider-Man rights, the crowd at the El Capitan would have gone nuts. No dice today. But maybe someday.
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