Entertainment

Marvel unveils huge slate of new superhero films

LOS ANGELES: Marvel unveiled plans Tuesday for a slate of new superhero films, expanding its already wildly successful comic book universe — and breaking ground with its first solo black and female hero movies.

In a surprise announcement, the studio revealed there will be a new two-part “Avengers” sequel in 2018-2019 — on top of one already scheduled for next year to follow the record-breaking 2012 original.

And it confirmed a release date for the sequel to the quirky summer smash “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which is so far the top-grossing film of 2014.

The studio named its first African American solo lead actor — Chadwick Boseman, who will play the title role in “Black Panther,” due out in 2017.

“I’m blessed to be part of this Marvel Universe and I look forward to making magic together,” Boseman told the crowd at an event at Hollywood’s famed El Capitan Theatre, according to industry press.

The 37-year-old Boseman is best known for playing groundbreaking baseball star Jackie Robinson in “42” and soul singer James Brown in this year’s biopic “Get On Up.”

The character will be introduced in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016 before a solo outing the following year, Marvel said.

Casting was not revealed for “Captain Marvel,” the studio’s first solo female superhero movie.

The studio also did not name the actor tapped to play “Doctor Strange”. British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been widely rumored to be tipped for the role.

Here is a list of the nine Marvel movies announced Tuesday, in chronological order based on release date:

– “Captain America: Civil War” – May 6, 2016

– “Doctor Strange” – Nov 4, 2016

– “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” – May 5, 2017

– “Thor: Ragnarok” – July 28, 2017

– “Black Panther” – Nov 3, 2017

– “Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1” – May 4, 2018

– “Captain Marvel” – July 6, 2018

– “Inhumans” – Nov 2, 2018

– “Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2” – May 3, 2019

– Money-makers –

So-called “tent pole” films — big money-making movies that are often sequels to tried-and-tested blockbuster franchises — are increasingly important to studios as the movie-watching experience fragments with online viewing.

“With superhero flicks being the biggest money-makers for cinemas right now, Marvel is doing exactly what’s expected of them: delivering content,” said Jeff Bock, analyst at box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The first “Avengers” movie and last year’s “Iron Man 3” are among the top five grossing films ever, together earning more than $2.7 billion worldwide to date, according to Marvel.

“The Avengers” — in which a band of superheroes helps save Earth from mythical prankster Loki and an alien army — opened in North America in May 2012 with a staggering $207.4 million in ticket sales — the biggest US debut of all time.

“Avatar” remains the biggest grossing film of all time worldwide, with some $2.8 billion in takings, followed by “Titanic” on $2.2 billion and “The Avengers” on $1.5 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

It remains to be seen if any of Marvel’s new offerings could top James Cameron’s 2009 spectacular.

“Could ‘Avatar’ be dethroned by one of these titles? Doubtful,” said Bock. “But cracking the billion dollar mark is nearly guaranteed for half of these films.

“And that’s no chump change,” he added. -AFP

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