With a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend, I think we can all agree that there will be a sequel to The Avengers. Even better: most people I know want a sequel to the super hero team-up. It feels germane to the film for there to be a second one, instead of another chapter that is simply tacked on. We have a long road to travel before we get to a second Avengers film, but we can pontificate what a sequel might be like based on what we’ve seen, and where we know the separate franchises are going.
What follows is my speculation on what we might see in from The Avengers 2. In order to thoroughly flesh out some of these ideas, I have touched upon some minor spoilers for The Avengers as well as some of the individual character movies. Proceed with caution if you haven’t seen Marvel’s latest picture (although, let’s be honest: with a $200 million opening, the odds of someone not seeing it are much more rare than usual).
Captain America will play a bigger role: While the star-spangled hero was far from marginalized in The Avengers, some of the focus for the character had to deal with incorporating him into the world of the other heroes since his own movie took part mostly in the past. There is no doubt we will get another Captain America picture before Avengers 2, which will help solidify Cap’s contemporary role as a hero. This means the de facto leader of The Avengers will be much more confident the second time around, instead of having to deal with time-separation issues. (Odds: pretty high, especially considering director Joss Whedon’s statement that a lot more was filmed about Cap that was left on the cutting room floor)
Nick Fury will join in the action: It’s been great seeing Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, especially with his involvement getting bigger with each subsequent picture. His role definitely grows to a peak with The Avengers but I’m surprised at how far removed Fury is from the action within the movie. He’s more of a facilitator than a hero. I can’t imagine Jackson – he who carried a purple lightsaber – is fully satisfied with how Fury has played out. Jackson likes being the bad-ass, and a deskman simply isn’t bad enough, right? Besides, the rule of a sequel is that it has to be bigger than the original, so Fury can’t keep calling the shots from a distance – he needs to get into the action. I would expect to see more from Fury in the future, showing us just why he is the man calling the shots for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Odds: even, especially since I haven’t actually seen Jackson say anything about wanting Fury to be more involved in the action)
More Avengers will join the team: One of the interesting things about The Avengers is that it didn’t have a lot of Easter eggs. There were so many characters to play with already that shoving in references to other people or introducing new characters wasn’t really an option. Still, the fan cries over the lack of Henry Pym (Ant Man) and his girlfriend Janet (The Wasp), both of whom were original members of the Avengers in the comic books, were far too audible to be ignored. There is already an Ant Man movie in development, although it was being approached with a more humorous approach than with a tone in line with the other hero movies. I would expect Marvel to be reassessing that project very soon in order to get the characters into The Avengers sequel. (Odds: likely, but whether the characters would get their own movie or serve as background characters more developed in the sequel – like Black Widow and Hawkeye here – is debatable)
Those characters won’t include Spidey or Wolverine: Sorry true believers, but even though the wall-crawler and berserker have appeared in the Avengers lineup from time to time in the comics you can pretty well rule out seeing them in the films. As cool as it would be to integrate the entire Marvel Universe, the film rights are still divided up, with Spider-Man residing over at Sony Pictures (who are clearly still actively using the character) and the X-Men mutants set up at Fox. This also complicates the use of other characters like the Silver Surfer or Galactus. Although Disney is slowly reclaiming the characters (The Avengers is a Disney-released movie even if it does still have a Paramount slate on the front of it), don’t expect Fox or Sony to give up their respective golden geese anytime soon. (Odds: slim to none in seeing them, even in a passing reference,)
Thanos will be the new big bad: If you stuck around through the end credits for the first stinger (or the only one offered overseas), you saw The Other having a conversation with another alien, commenting that to go up against the united heroes was to tempt death itself. The other alien turns, revealing a familiar purple visage to comic book fans – Thanos, the Mad Titan. The appearance is apropos considering the dialog, since Thanos’s name is derived from Thanatos, the Greek personification of Death. The alien is certainly an enemy worthy of Earths Mightiest Heroes, particularly if he gets his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, a device of epic power that just happened to be seen in the background of the vault in Thor. (Odds: Likely, particularly if we see him in one of the individual movies, which brings us to…)
The lead-in films will be even more important developmentally: One of the best things The Avengers does is use the resources of its lead-in movies, although it plants enough information here to help people who didn’t see those films. Loki was developed over the course of Thor while the tesseract at the heart of the story was a plot device from Captain America. Assuming Thanos is the big bad for the Avengers reunion, expect him to pop up elsewhere first – most likely in Thor 2 so he can make a play for the aforementioned gauntlet (or, at the very least, expect the gauntlet to be used in some capacity in Thor 2 so its better established for The Avengers sequel. Meanwhile, some of the relationships that developed over the course of The Avengers will probably develop further in the individual films as well, particularly with Black Widow and Hulk, both of whom are played by actors who have signed multi-picture deals like Samuel L. Jackson. (Odds: Highly likely, although expect solid writing to continue keeping The Avengers 2 self-sufficient like the first one)
There will be more hero-versus-hero battles to come: With the ending of The Avengers the respective teammates all seem to be in a much better place as far as working together. Expect some of that to unravel as they have their own adventures. In particular I would expect to see another feud between Iron Man and the star-spangled hero as Captain America’s confidence grows. I would also expect to see another tangle with Hulk, because we can’t have Banner able to control the beast for too long (that would just be boring). Add in an injection of new blood and it’s possible to have even more rifts between the would-be teammates. (Odds: Likely. Fans love seeing heroes take on heroes, but Marvel wants to avoid a feeling of too much “been there, done that.”)
Someone will die: Part of the reason Joss Whedon is a perfect fit for The Avengers is because he knows how to work with an ensemble and piece together all of their quirks and foibles. If you look at his body of work, however, he also really likes killing off characters to mess with his heroes. We definitely see that in The Avengers with a death I don’t think any of us saw coming, and I would expect to see it the sequel for the same reason: death motivates even the most selfish characters (ahem… Tony Stark) to rise up to a more noble cause. Not only would I expect there to be a death next time around, but I’d expect it to be a more substantial character – remember, in the comic book world, anyone is expendible, mostly because anyone can be brought back from the dead with a little creative license. (Odds: Even, although they increase if Whedon is involved in the sequel).