It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been a pretty busy week for comic book movie news, partially because Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been doing interviews in advance of next week’s Captain Marvel release, as well as walking the red carpet at the Oscars, where he was nominated for producing Black Panther.
But first, there’s some news from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, who dated the sequel Aquaman 2 today, setting a release of December 16, 2022. That’s almost four years exactly since the James Wan-directed superhero movie swam into theaters last December. Having grossed $1.14 billion worldwide, including $332 million in North America, that makes Aquaman one of DC Entertainment’s biggest hits to date, at least internationally. In North America, that’s still below the $412.5 million made by Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman in 2017.
The DVD and Blu-Ray for Aquaman is released in March, and it’s presumed that recent birthday boy James Wan will return to helm the sequel. In fact, with four years to develop and make that movie, Wan could theoretically make at least one more movie in between.
So let’s bounce back to Marvel for a bit and some of the quotes given by Kevin Feige on Marvel Studios’ upcoming projects. As you may already know, the studio hasn’t announced any movies after April’s Avengers: End Game. (A few weeks back, I did a little conjecture about what might be planned, which you can read here.)
Collider spoke with Feige out of Marvel’s Captain Marvel junket, and asked specifically about the plans for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. Director James Gunn was unceremoniously booted from the project by Disney due to some inappropriate Twitter comments, so he moved over to DC to write (and presumably direct) The Suicide Squad sequel.
Feige has confirmed that Guardians 3 is pushed back from its presumed May 2020 release date, but they will still be using James Gunn’s script. That makes sense since so much was set-up in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, everything from the introduction of Adam Warlock to the return of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.
Feige’s direct quote about the movie is:
“I mean, when it was pushed back, it was pushed back. Meaning the release date, because it’s not coming out—although we’ve never announced a release date actually, but it was gonna happen sooner rather than later, initially of course. Outside of knowing that we’re gonna use [James Gunn’s] draft, [we have] been focusing on other projects.”
That last bit is only daunting, because it means that we might have to wait more than three years for the sequel to Vol. 2, but that doesn’t mean the project is dead just yet. Marvel just needs to find a suitable director to continue what Gunn started.
The other thing Kevin Feige was asked about was The Eternals movie being developed by The Rider director Chloe Zhao, and it looks like that will be a part of Phase 4 that tries to introduce new characters, in this case Jack Kirby’s mythic gods from the Marvel Universe, who really have not been used very much even in the comics. (The Celestials have played a large part in a recent Avengers story arc, and have even cameo’d in the movies.)
“We like the idea of introducing an ensemble, doing an ensemble movie from the start, as opposed to building up as we did with the first Avengers,” Feige told Collider, “More like Guardians, not tonally, but in terms of introducing a new group of people … Jack Kirby did an immense, amazing epic with Eternals that spans tens of thousands of years, and that’s also something we haven’t really done, which is why that among many other things post-End Game, we find appealing.”
The Eternals will be part of Marvel Studios’ initiative to break away from the same-old Marvel movies that have become a little de rigueur where some have commented that many of them look or feel the same as others.
“Everything after End Game, and after Spider-Man: Far From Home, will be different and be unique, as we try to make every film,” Feige said. “But seeing returning characters is certainly something we’re gonna do and want to do. But also introducing characters that the majority of the world has never heard of, much like Guardians, much like Avengers before we made Avengers. And there are lots of them.”
Let’s go back and give DC and Warner Bros’ a little more time with a few quotes from Warners CEO Kevin Tsujihara — and yes, it is a little odd that two of the biggest cinematic superhero universes right now are both led by men named “Kevin.”
The CEO of Film and TV at Warner Bros. spoke to The Los Angeles Times for an extended interview. Of course, a small portion of that interview would be dedicated to the DC Expanded Universe, and he felt optimistic about its future after Aquaman‘s success:
“The upcoming slate, with “Shazam,” “Joker,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Birds of Prey,” feels like we’re on the right track,” he says in the interview. “We have the right people in the right jobs working on it.”
“The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago,” he continued, openly backtracking about the changed plans after Justice League didn’t do as well as hoped. “You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.”
“What Patty Jenkins did on “Wonder Woman” illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman,” he responded when asked what finally clicked. “Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman, but “Aquaman” is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.”
Hopefully, both Kevins will have more to say about the future of their respective superhero universes, but at least Warner Bros. seems to have some concrete release dates for their next few projects. We’re now just waiting for Kevin Feige to confirm some of the dates and titles that Marvel Studios has on its roster.
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.