HOLLYWOOD - The El Capitan Theater is packed with press and fans alike for a special Marvel media event. No one's exactly sure why we've been called here this morning, but there's been plenty of speculation. Will they announce Doctor Strange officially? Will they confirm the title of "Captain America 3"? Are we going to see more footage from "Age Of Ultron"?
Whatever the case, I'm here to live-blog it for you as long as the El Capitan's wifi holds out, and we'll be digging deeper into this morning's announcements as the day progresses.
If you've never been to the El Capitan in Hollywood, it's Disney's flagship theater, ornate, restored to resemble a classic movie palace, complete with live organist. He's been playing since we started arriving at 10:00 this morning, and he's still cooking along now with not just Disney music but all sorts of classic movie themes. He knows how to play the nerd crowd, getting a big reaction for the theme from "Empire," among other highlights.
At 11:05, they're still trying to fill in seats with the fans who are outside and weren't able to get in. Marvel's packed the house, so I hope whatever they're doing today is the sort of thing that will play well with the crowd. It can't just be title treatments and a cast announcement, right? If they're putting this much effort into getting us all into the theater, then hopefully they're going to show us something fun. It would be a kick to see a real "Ant-Man" trailer, for example, or some footage from the movie, which is a little more than halfway through production at this point.
Finally, about ten minutes late, the organist launches into "Hooray For Hollywood," which is the signature closer for him during the regular pre-show entertainment here at the El Cap. The organ sinks into the stage, and it's time to get things going.
Curtains up, which is a production unto itself at this theater, and Kevin Feige takes center-stage. First up is the "Age of Ultron" trailer on the bigscreen. Looks and sounds amazing, of course, and then Feige comes out to discuss the film some more and to introduce Joss Whedon in the crowd, saying this is the wrap-up to Phase Two.
Feige talks about the box-office success of the first ten films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, taking particular pride in the way "Guardians Of The Galaxy" landed. Day 50 of photography on "Ant-Man" is underway today.
"But we didn't bring you here to tell you things that you already know..."
Today is about Phase Three. First up, "Captain America: Serpent Society," on May 6, 2016.
Then we get the title card for "Doctor Strange," which Feige has been talking about as long as he's been at Marvel Studios. The Russos are here, as is Scott Derrickson. Jon Spaihts is at work on the script right now, telling the story of the "arrogant surgeon who is in a car crash that ruins his hands, leading him on a journey that eventually brings him to the Ancient One, allowing him to tap into the supernatural, which involves everything from quantum mechanics to string theory, all of which you can manipulate with your hands and your thoughts."
That's November 4, 2016. Then on May 5, 2017, James Gunn will be back in theaters with the entire cast of "Guardians Of The Galaxy 2." They are moving it up from the July date they originally announced. That leaves open the July 28, 2017 date, and now they've moved another film onto that date. That's right... it's "Thor: Ragnarok." Feige confirmed that Loki will be returning, and that this is a major piece of the puzzle for the Phase Three films. This is going to be important to not just his story, but the rest of the Marvel Universe as well, picking up directly after the events of "Age Of Ultron."
November 3, 2017 is finally going to see the release of "Black Panther," which means Marvel isn't content letting DC go first on anything. Kevin gave a very subtle confirmation that the glimpse we got of Andy Serkis in the "Ultron" trailer is indeed Hugo Klaw.
He's skipping May 4, 2018 at first, going to July 6, 2018, when "Captain Marvel" gets her own movie, and it will be Carol Danvers. He refers to her as one of the most powerful characters in the entire Marvel universe. How to set her up properly, though?
November 2, 2018 is the 20th film Marvel will release, and "The Inhumans" will open the floodgates for new characters, according to Feige. He talked about what a huge opportunity "The Inhumans" presents.
Meanwhile, there is still that May 4, 2018 date, which he calls the culmination of everything that has come before. "Legend tells us one thing, history another. Every now and then, we find something that belongs to both." This is it. This is the moment that all of the legwork they've done so far comes toether, and the trailer they cut, using clips from everything we've seen so far, is a very effective way of summing up how far they've gone to lay this groundwork. The final shot of Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet on his hand, along with the title "Avengers: Infinity War," with part one in May 2018 and part two in May 2019 is indeed the biggest throw-down they could make today.
Finally, there was a full scene from "Age Of Ultron," a different one from what will premiere during "Agents of SHIELD" tonight.
"Earth's mightiest heroes... and they pulled us apart like cotton candy." It's a short, tense conversation between Tony and Steve... and sure enough, the seeds of dissent in that clip lead to the reveal that the "Serpent Society" title was a fake. The film will indeed be called "Civil War."
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans came out to introduce Chadwick Boseman, who is officially set to play Black Panther, and he talked about feeling blessed to join the team.
Considering how big the game plan is, he's going to be busy for a long time.
That concludes the presentation part of the morning. There's a Q&A for the press that's going to be starting now, but we'll cover that in a separate piece. We wanted to share the main event with you as it unfolded, and there were plenty of big surprises that were part of the reveal. I am thrilled with the Boseman casting. I think he's a star on the rise, and it's a great get for Marvel.