What to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in 2017

By ·February 15, 2017 11:16 am

For the better part of a decade now the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated Hollywood, and since Phase Two began in 2013 they have released two blockbuster films per year. The studio shows no signs of slowing down for Phase Three, in fact the opposite is true. 2017 will see the MCU release a record three films, including Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. Likewise, they plan to continue this schedule for the next few years into Phase Four and presumably beyond.

Fan interest in superheros as well as related media and memorabilia continue to grow exponentially, and Marvel characters can be spotted nearly everywhere you turn. 2017 is certainly no exception, and below we’ll explore the MCU films hitting cinemas this year and highlight some of the details we know so far.

This list will focus specifically on films being released by, or in collaboration with, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (owned by Disney), and excludes Marvel Studios rapidly growing list of television series. Additionally unrelated titles will be omitted, which are owned and released by other studios, such as Deadpool, The X-Men franchise and Fantastic Four, among others. That’s a complicated topic in and of itself, perhaps to be explored another time. Be advised that all of the details ahead have been officially revealed by the cast and crew for each film, but may be considered minor spoilers by some.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Official poster for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Release date: May 5, 2017

Director: James Gunn

Writer: James Gunn

Cast:  Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Chris Sullivan, Dave Bautista, Elizabeth Debicki, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell, Nathan Fillion, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Flanagan, Bradley Cooper

Official synopsis: Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.

What to expect: Easily a fan favorite Marvel film, the first installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise will be tough to follow. Writer and director James Gunn has indicated that he’s been given the freedom to operate outside of the MCU continuity, so Thanos and the infinity stones he seeks, as well as The Collector and other Marvel characters are not expected appear in this film, and fans can anticipate a sequel that will stand entirely on it’s own. However, the Guardians are still expected to appear in the forthcoming The Avengers: Infinity War film.

The core cast are returning along with some new additions, which include Star-lord’s celestial father, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). Additionally, the film will feature comic character Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), Tullk (Tommy Flanagan), and a new character named Brahl (Stephen Blackehart). Sylvester Stallone reportedly has a cameo as an undisclosed but crucial role, and Stan Lee and Howard the Duck are also expected to have cameos. Groot (Vin Diesel) will return in baby form, but will not retain any of the memories of his former identity. Nebula (Karen Gillan) will switch sides and her relationship with sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana) will be explored further. In general the film is expected to have a heavier focus on female characters. Yondu (Michael Rooker) will also be joining the Guardians, causing discord among the Ravagers. It’s also anticipated that Drax will have a much larger role this time around.

Although the film is expected to have more of a sci-fi feel to it with longer and grander action sequences, it will reportedly have a more intimate focus that explores the characters and their dynamics more thoroughly. At its core, the film is primarily about family. In the literal sense in that Peter is searching for his father, and in the figurative sense in that the characters which comprise the Guardians were once more or less loners who have grown into a close knit team. Chris Pratt told digitalspy that James Gunn’s pitch for Vol. 2 brought tears to his eyes and stated that it was “remarkable”, which certainly indicates that this will be a heartwarming cosmic journey set to what is sure to be an epic soundtrack.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland as Spider-man/Peter Parker in Spider-man: Homecoming.

Release date: July 7, 2017

Director: Jon Watts

Writers: Jon Watts, Chris McKenna, Christopher Ford, Erik Sommers, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Cast: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Glover, Kenneth Choi, Laura Harrier, Logan Marshall-Green, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, Michael Keaton, Michael Mando, Jon Favreau

Official Synopsis: A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man, who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark. Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What to  expect: Spidey fans have longed for his inclusion in the MCU for some time, and they finally got their wish with his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Tom Holland’s performance of the web-slinger was well received fans and critics alike, paving the way for a reboot of the Spider-man franchise thanks to a collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios. Bridging the gap between the Spider-Man franchise and the MCU, Tony Stark/Iron Man will be serving as a mentor to Peter after the pair formed a strong bond during the events of Civil War.

In addition to the Golden Avenger, the film will also include characters that haven’t previously been featured on the big screen, several of which will be familiar to comic fans, including Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), Liz Allan (Laura Harrier), May Parker (Marisa Tomei), Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton), Phineas Mason/Tinkerer (Michael Chernus), Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine), and Nightwatch (rumored). The film will also include new characters, most notably Peter’s classmate named Michelle (Zendaya).

Marvel studios president Kevin Feige revealed to birthmoviesdeath that the film will be a coming-of-age high school tale reminiscent of John Hughes films (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty In Pink, Weird Science). What this indicates is that fans can expect a heavy focus on supporting characters and the interpersonal relationships between them, as well as a good balance of drama and comedy. That’s not to say that there won’t be plenty of action, as the footage released so far looks to be eventful and exciting.

Thor: Ragnarok

Official Thor: Ragnarok logo.

Release date: November 3, 2017

Director: Taika Waititi

Writers: Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle, Stephany Folsom

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Jaimie Alexander, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch

Official synopsis: Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

What to expect: Though still popular, the previous instalments for the Thor franchise haven’t been quite as well received as some of the other Marvel films. This is likely due to their drier tone and style, however Ragnarok is guaranteed to be something altogether different and magical. Any fans who were flummoxed by the absence of Thor and Bruce Banner/Hulk in Captain America: Civil War will get their fix here, as the film is based on the Thor Ragnarok storylines from the comics, as well as Planet Hulk and will feature both characters. It’s improbable that all aspects of the aforementioned comic will make it into the film, as there is simply too much content to cover. Nevertheless the film will undoubtedly borrow and adapt key elements into the narrative, including the two Avengers squaring off as gladiators. How that ensues is anyone’s guess at this point, as details about the plot remains minimal at this point. It has been revealed however that the majority of the film will occur in space, though what little transpires on earth has been all but confirmed to include Doctor Strange as he presumably aids the Asgardians in locating the missing Odin, who is evidently alive and well living on the streets of New York.

In addition to those previously mentioned, the only characters expected to reprise their roles are Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander). The film will feature several new additions, including The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Hela (Cate Blanchett), Skurge (Karl Urban), and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), all of which are characters from the comics.

One of the most notable aspects of the film is the addition of New Zealand director Taika Waititi. Though virtually unknown, his films Boy, What We do in the Shadows, and the hilariously endearing Hunt for the Wild People (which my colleague named as his favorite film of 2016), have all received critical acclaim. In addition to directing, Waititi is also a writer, actor, artist and comedian, and will bring something fresh and truly unique to the MCU. Fans can expect a similar tone to the Team Thor short film released last fall, as well as Team Thor: Part 2, which were also directed by Taika and adored by fans. He disclosed during an AMA on reddit that he made an effort to ignore the fact that there are other Thor films, as well as the rest of the universe. While many fans anticipate that Ragnarok will likely set up Avengers: Infinity War by introducing the final Infinity Stone, these comments seem to bring that into question. One thing remains certain, Thor: Ragnarok will likely be an extraordinary addition to the MCU, and I for one can not wait to see what Waititi brings to the franchise.

That being said, of the Marvel films being released this year, Spider-man: Homecoming is easily the one I’m anticipating the most. The previous attempts at bringing Spider-man to life have mostly felt underwhelming, and I genuinely enjoyed Hollands portrayal of Peter Parker in Civil War. Not to mention I am a lover and defender of all things Tony Stark, so it goes without saying that I’m looking forward to more interactions between the two characters. Throw in some iconic characters and villains and this film looks to be an instant classic. Which of the MCU films being released this year are you anticipating the most? Let us know in the comments below!

The remaining films announced for Phase Three include Black Panther (February 16, 2018), Avengers: Infinity War (May 4, 2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018), Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019), Untitled Avengers Sequel (May 3, 2019), Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 (July 5, 2019).

Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

Image credits: Marvel Studios, Sony

H/T: digitalspy, birthmoviesdeath, screenrant, reddit

Written by Jennifer Izykowski

Lead Writer

Jennifer is currently a stay a full time homemaker residing in the Adirondack region of upstate New York with a background in business management. At present, she provides care for disabled family members.

Hobbies and interests include homesteading, self defense and tactical training, hiking, photography, writing, reading, drawing, painting, television, comics, and film.

Specialty subjects include television, film, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and The Walking Dead comics and television series.

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