Marvel Predictions

It’s been ages since I posted anything, and my apologies. Things got busy for a while. But my schedule has calmed down, and since I went to Avengers: Endgame last night, allow me to speculate on future Marvel developments.

Note: No spoilers here for Avengers: Endgame. However, I will refer to future Marvel movies that have been announced or described as in development.

So I liked Endgame a lot, but it got me thinking about what might come next. Obviously, there will be a lot more Marvel superhero movies, considering how much money they’ve been making since the first Iron Man. We already know about Spider-Man: Far From Home coming in July, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3 coming in 2022. We can also safely predict Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, and Doctor Strange 2. Marvel has also announced a Shang Chi movie, although I have no idea what they’ll do with it.

But the most interesting future movie is The Eternals, which stars Angelina Jolie (among other people) and is scheduled to start filming in August. The Eternals were invented by Jack Kirby, but they’ve never had a high profile in the Marvel universe. The only Eternal who ever got much play in the comic books was a guy named Thanos. Yes, that Thanos. But his fellow Eternals are almost never seen.

Who are the Eternals? They’re a godlike race created by an even more godlike race called the Celestials. The Eternals were created to look after Earth until the Celestials come back to judge the human race. At that point, the Celestials will decide whether to let humans live or to destroy them because they don’t measure up to the Celestial standards. The Celestials have done this to a lot of other planets, and so far they’ve destroyed them all.

So here’s my prediction: the Celestials will be the unifying threat for the next MCU plot arc, similar to what the Infinity Stones have been in past movies. Over a number of movies, we’ll find out about the Celestials. We’ll get hints that they’re coming to judge us, and eventually they’ll show up. They’ll give us a thumbs down and start destroying the planet. The final Avengers movie of the next arc will be dealing with the Celestials one way or another.

We’ve already seen tidbits of the Celestials. The Guardians of the Galaxy hang out in Knowhere, which happens to be a dead Celestial’s head. The Eternals movie will surely show us much more about them…and of course, if the movie is a success, there will be more Eternals movies to further the plot. Guardians 3 could sow more seeds by showing us a planet that was destroyed by the Celestials some time in the past. Also Black Panther 2 might link in with the Celestials—in the comics, there’s a connection between the Celestials and Wakanda’s vibranium deposits. There’s also a Celestial buried on Earth; it could be discovered in any forthcoming movie, either as a side plot or as a single Big Bad for some movie.

Other predictions: I want to avoid spoilers, but there are plenty of characters available at the end of Endgame to form a new version of the Avengers. You might also add Daredevil, Luke Cage, et al now that their TV series have been canceled. Further characters might be added. For example, Monica Rambeau will almost certainly be showing up sooner or later, since young Monica was introduced in Captain Marvel.

No doubt there will be several Avengers movies before the big one against the Celestials. There might also be a Young Avengers movie. We already have Cassie Lang at an appropriate age and Clint Barton’s daughter could easily become a young Hawkeye instead of the canonical Kate Bishop. Other young heroes would include Spider-Man (obviously), Shuri (obviously), Ms. Marvel (whom I’m sure they’d love to put on the big screen), and possibly America Chavez. They could also bring in one of the Novas. The Guardians have already met the Nova Corps, so it would take very little set-up for a Nova helmet to find its way to Earth.

Then there are the X-Men who are now within the Marvel fold. Marvel hasn’t yet announced what they’ll be doing with the X-Men, partly because they’ve been holding back on all announcements about most upcoming movies, and partly because they don’t want to undermine the forthcoming Dark Phoenix movie by talking about what comes after. But I’m willing to bet Dark Phoenix  will be the last in the current X-Men continuity. Marvel will reboot the X-Men to get them into the MCU, and they’ll do the reboot sooner rather than later.

I have this fantasy about a post-credits scene in the July Spider-Man movie where a new student enrolls in Peter Parker’s high school. Kitty Pryde, anyone? Half the audience would explode. (Although it would also be fun for the new student to be Negasonic Teenage Warhead.)

To set up another fantasy, I’ll note that Hugh Jackman is finished playing Wolverine. Therefore the new Wolverine could be played by any actor. We might know in advance that Actor X plays an unspecified part in some movie (just as we knew Jude Law was in Captain Marvel, but we had no idea who he played). Actor X may seem like a mere background character until at a crucial point in the movie, SNIKT, and the claws come out. That would be an awesome moment; I’d love it if Marvel took us by surprise like that, and it could happen in any of the upcoming movies.

Speaking of Wolverine, I’d love if Dafne Keen returned as X-23. However, I don’t think it will happen. Logan is just too far out of continuity for Keen to make the jump. Of course, a different X-23 might well appear somewhere. We can hope.

So there are some predictions and fantasies. I have no idea if any of these speculations will come to pass, but it’s always nice to lay down a marker so that I have a chance of saying, “I told you so.”

Sharing, February 26, 2019

Stuff I’m doing:

Fixing a cataract: I’ve had a slow-growing cataract in my left eye for at least three years and it’s finally reached the point where (perhaps) it’s time to get rid of it.

My cataract is almost certainly just a symptom of age. The way I understand it is that the lens in your eye is made of transparent fibers which should lie tightly side by side. As you get older, the fibers loosen up enough to allow small gaps between them. Not only does the lens have more difficulty focusing, but light can get in through the gaps which has various effects. In my case, if I look at a single point of light, I see three points (or sometimes six, depending on the size of the original point).

Luckily, my right eye is still good, and with my glasses, it’s 20/20. This means I can still see fine for driving. However, I’d love to have two working eyes again. As it happens, eye surgeons prefer not to deal with cataracts until they’re bad enough—cataracts can develop very slowly, in which case there’s no reason to jump the gun. At long last, though, my optometrist says that it’s time; so I now have an appointment with an eye surgeon to see if he agrees.

What I’m reading: The Mister Miracle graphic novel by Tom King. Mister Miracle is a lesser known DC “superhero” created by Jack Kirby. I put “superhero” in quotes because MM doesn’t fight crime, and he seldom gets involved in standard superhero shenanigans.  Instead, he’s the greatest escape artist of all time.

The graphic novel is essentially about MM having an extended bout of depression. It’s not played for laughs (although there are plenty of humorous moments). It’s very human and highly recommended.

What I’m playing on the computer: Dragon Age: Inquisition. I don’t know why…but on the weekend, when I looked at the list of games I have on my computer, DA:I is the one I clicked on. (I’ve played DA:I from start to finish at least four times. I guess I might be making it five.)

What I’m writing: In the mornings, I’m working on the novel I’ve designated PROJECT TECH-BRO. In the afternoon, I’m working on a short story I’m tentatively calling “The Red Wolf Canto” (although that might change). It’s a combination of Little Red Riding Hood and Dante’s Inferno. Because they belong together.

(Seriously, on the very second page of Dante’s Inferno, Dante meets a wolf in a dark forest. So hey, it’s a gimme.)

What I’m Reading: December 7, 2018

I always have a number of books on the go for one reason or another. Why not share?

Fiction: At the moment, I’m reading superhero comic books (gee, I wonder why?) and I’m mostly making use of my Marvel Unlimited account. (It’s a bargain, providing access to almost all of Marvel’s backlist for only $69 (U.S.) a year!) Right now I’m working through November 2014, so that means the “Axis” and “Spider-Verse” events (among others).

Other comic series I follow devotedly: The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis, and Giant Days by John Allison.

Bathroom reading: Beyond Weird by Philip Ball, a book on quantum theory whose aim is to get past the “Wow, isn’t this weird!” stage and to work on demystification…to the extent that quantum theory can be demystified.

Kitchen reading: I always have a book in my kitchen for when I take a snack break during writing, or when I’m waiting for water to boil, or for all those other times when I’m in the kitchen with a few minutes to fill. At the moment, I’m reading Plant Biology by Alison M. Smith et al, because I don’t know nearly enough about botany. (Everybody should ask themselves what they don’t know enough about and then start correcting that omission.)

Sharing: November 23, 2018

More things I like:

Used first-year university textbooks
I live within fifteen minutes of two universities: the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. Both have stores where you can buy used textbooks for under $10 each. The books that go for such low prices aren’t the latest editions—they may be around five years old. But even in 2018, the introductory principles of various disciplines don’t change much in five years. If you buy a slightly old textbook, you still have an amazing resource as a starting place for learning a subject.

So I’ve bought first-year textbooks in dozens of fields, from anatomy and economics to Italian and microbiology. Wikipedia is certainly great for quick-and-dirty fact finding, especially when I already know the basics of a subject…but when I want to learn something from scratch or in depth, I love textbooks. They’re designed to teach topics in some rational order, where one thing builds on another. So I strongly recommend that everyone should make a trip to the nearest university campus and see what gems you can get for a surprisingly low price.

By the way, let me add one way that I use such books: I keep one in my kitchen. Whenever I’m taking a break from writing and go for a snack, I can read a few paragraphs while I’m munching. Also, when I’m cooking and waiting for water to boil or something like that, I can also read a bit. I like having something to read that I can pick up and put down without too much angst.

 

The Comics trilogy by Scott McCloud
I’ve long been aware of Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud’s 1993 book on how comic books work. (The book also covers comic strips, manga, graphic novels, etc.) If you haven’t read it, rush out to your library and grab a copy now.

I was also aware of the follow-up, Reinventing Comics, published in 2000. It was McCloud’s attempt to nudge the creators of comics to aim higher and be more ambitious.

But I only recently discovered that he’d written a third book in 2006: Making Comics. I have no idea how I missed it…but I’m reading it now, and it’s full of great insights on how to create comic books that work. Highly recommended.

Excelsior!

In response to the recent death of Stan Lee, I’d like to say some things about Stan, and superhero comic books in general.

I’m old enough to have started reading comic books pre-Marvel: back when Batman was lighthearted (but not as silly as the 1960s TV show), and when Lois Lane was Superman’s girlfriend even though I can’t remember a single romantic moment between them. (Occasional issues had them getting married, but it always turned out to be fake or imaginary. Back then, they never kissed or even went out on dates. Later, their relationship became much richer; these days, I like it a lot. But when I first started reading comics, Lois only existed to get Superman in trouble.)

Then Stan Lee started Marvel, and the industry changed. He injected two priceless innovations into superhero comics: soap opera, and the soapbox.

By modern standards, Stan moved comic book characterization from zero-dimensional to one-dimensional. There was nothing subtle about Ben Grimm agonizing over his hideousness or Peter Parker smacked down by yet another horrible piece of bad luck. Most villains were complete numskulls; so were most police, army officers, politicians, and religious leaders.

But still, Stan Lee’s characters were more complex than elsewhere in the industry. We’d never seen anything like them. Not in comic books.

Characters actually had emotions and relationships. Sometimes, they got mad; sometimes, they were depressed; sometimes, they fell in love and actually did something about it.

Ben Grimm went over to Alicia Masters’ place on a regular basis—they ate dinner together and talked. Peter Parker went out on honest-to-goodness dates with Gwen Stacey and Mary Jane Watson. Sue Storm got ticked off with Reed Richards because he took her for granted, so she nearly had a fling with Prince Namor. (Maybe eventually, she did have a fling with Namor. I can imagine her looking into the camera and saying, “Whether I did or didn’t, it’s none of your business.”)

The characterization wasn’t subtle, but it was more than punching out bad guys. And it set the stage for decades of further evolution, in which comics did get subtle, at least sometimes.

Stan’s other innovation was the soapbox. Starting early in Marvel’s history, every comic had a page giving news about Marvel, and that page included Stan’s Soapbox: basically a monthly editorial column. Some of those columns are now legendary, denouncing racism and sexism, or urging kids and parents to have conversations about drugs.

Those editorials were far from revolutionary by modern standards—today we realize that racism and sexism are deeply systemic problems, not just overt misbehavior by people who are clearly “bad”—but at the time, Stan was applauded for going out on a limb. And remember, at the time, comics were still regarded as books for children.

But to me, the soapbox page was important for another reason: the page talked about comic book creators. I was old enough to know that superheroes weren’t real, but I hadn’t quite realized that the stories were made up by people. The soapbox page talked about the writers and artists as actual human beings making a living by inventing everything on the page.

Comics didn’t just happen—people made them. Sometimes there’d be photos of Stan, or Jack Kirby, or Steve Ditko, or Marie Severin working away at their desks. People made these books. Stan just sat down and invented new stories about Spider-Man. In fact, he invented the characters themselves (in conjunction with the artists, of course, but that’s a whole other topic).

The point is I realized that making up a stories was a thing you could do. Wow! And for that amazing revelation, let me thank the one and only Stan Lee.

[The image at the top of this post is excelsior.]

Sharing: July 18, 2018

More things I like:

Anime: Darling in the FRANXX
A lovely story about teens slowly discovering how to live, love, and be honest with each other. Oh, and sometimes they get into giant robots and kill monsters on behalf of a vague yet sinister government agency.
A few of the details are offputting—there is some problematically gratuitous sexual stuff, like the doggy-style set-up for piloting the mecha—but the overall story is sweet and honest about the confusions and joys of adolescence.
Comic book: The Wicked + The Divine
Every 90 years, 12 classical deities are reborn as the darlings of their age: perhaps poets, perhaps warriors, perhaps socialites, but always celebrities. They live for at most two years before dying. In our modern age, they’re rock stars…and like many beautiful people, they make terrible life choices. The latest divine incarnations may drag the world down with them.
Movie: Ant-Man and the Wasp
Complete fluff, but fun…with a lot of inventive applications of shrinking/growth powers. (Yes, I’ve thought a lot about shrinking/growth powers. Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

 

Sharing: July 8, 2018

More links to stuff I like:

Comics: Marvel Unlimited
For $69 (U.S.) a year, Marvel Unlimited gives you all-you-can-read access to thousands of Marvel comics including much of their back list: all the way back to Fantastic Four #1 and even some earlier comics (from before they called themselves Marvel). When I first subscribed in 2013, I went back ten years and started reading everything Marvel had published beginning in 2003. I’m now on October 2014.

I should note that Marvel Unlimited doesn’t include comics from the most recent six months, so if you want the newest comics, you’ll have to buy those on your own. Or else, just wait six months and they’ll show up for free. (Well, for $69 a year, but that’s almost free, right?)

Role-Playing Game: Geist, the Sin-Eaters (Second Edition)
This is another Onyx Path game, set in the world of the Chronicles of Darkness. In this one, you play someone who dies but comes back to life by making a deal with a powerful archetypal ghost. This may sound grim, but the game actually evokes an atmosphere like Mardi-Gras or the Mexican Day of the Dead: hey, since you’ve already died, nothing worse can happen. So why not live life like a party? On the other hand, you gain fabulous supernatural powers based on the kind of things ghosts do in ghost stories.

Right now the game’s second edition is going through a Kickstarter, so it’s a good time to sign up and get goodies relatively cheap.

Podcast: Revolutions
This is another history podcast, dedicated to revolutions (duh). It’s now in its eight season, where it’s dealing with the revolution that killed the Second French Empire in 1870. Previous seasons have dealt with the English revolution (Oliver Cromwell et al), the American revolution, the French revolution (i.e. the biggie), the Haitian slave revolt, and more. The host, Mike Duncan, does a great job of making history accessible, even when the action gets messy (and of course, during revolutions, things can get very messy indeed).