In between strutting the halls and slapping the lunch trays out of the hands of other, lesser comic-book monopolies, Marvel asserted its dominance at Comic-Con not only with a showy, goofy Iron Man 3 panel where Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle made implicit dick jokes, but even more so with the announcement of "Phase Two." It's an overarching project title that encompasses a lot of second acts after the big show-stopper of The Avengers—most importantly, the first sequels for Captain America and Thor, which now bear the subtitles The Winter Soldier and The Dark World, respectively. While Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige didn't offer too many details on either, speculation has already been fueled by the implication that, as in the comics, Winter Soldier could refer to a return for Captain America's sidekick Bucky Barnes, as well as a recent Collider interview in which Feige said that the next Thor film would explore his relationship with Natalie Portman's Jane more deeply. So obviously The Dark World refers to the realm created by the love of two people, which remains shrouded in darkness by the fact that they've only known each other for like three days.
Feige was slightly more forthcoming on the other arguable meaning of "Phase Two"—namely, that it involves moving on to some of the far more second-tier titles on the Marvel shelves. We've known about these for a while, though the prospect of Ant-Man seemed to become a little more concrete this weekend, with Edgar Wright showing up to screen that rumored test footage, and Simon Pegg suggesting via Twitter that Wright would start shooting next year. (And if you can't trust Simon Pegg's Twitter feed, etc. etc.) Feige also presented the above concept art for Guardians Of The Galaxy, confirming that the film—which comes after the release of Captain America 2—would feature characters from the more recent incarnation of the team, including Feige's "personal favorite, Rocket Raccoon." And thus, Guardians either marks the beginning of an exciting, more experimental future of Marvel movies, or the comic-book breaking point where the world realizes it's now watching a talking raccoon and a giant tree battle aliens, and staggers out of the theater in search of the nearest bleak arthouse drama.
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