The Marvel Cinematic Universe is easily one of the most ambitious undertakings in cinematic history; the organisation required to weave together several different productions into one coherent whole is not easy; just look at how DC's continual attempts to get a Justice League movie off the ground do nothing but sputter. Phase One of the MCU proved a huge success, with Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America building a world that climaxed with Joss Whedon's phenomenally successful (and simply phenomenal) superhero smash hit The Avengers. Of course, the Thanos cameo at the end of The Avengers made it clear that the filmmakers had already been long thinking about how Phase Two of the MCU might kick off, and what direction it might take through to the third (and presumably final) phase. With the firm foundation already built, here are our predictions for what is to come, a mixture of conjecture and deduction from set images. Here's what we expect from the 10 next movies in the MCU...
1. Iron Man 3
Given that it releases in less than 3 months, we already know quite a bit about Iron Man 3; The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is the primary villain, and the film appears to adopt a far darker tone than the previous films, somewhat in line with the fashionable grit that Christopher Nolan has seemingly forced everyone to employ. Still, expect all the wise-cracks and charm that Robert Downey Jr. can't help but bring to the role. In addition to that, expect the following: Bruce Banner cameo: how could they resist after the superb chemistry Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. had in The Avengers? Even if it's just a brief intermission between the action, it'd be a fun scene, though of course it would instantly raise the question of why the Hulk doesn't help his buddy out when the chips are down. Either Pepper Potts or Happy Hogan dies. Given how rumours persist that Potts might be pregnant in part 3, and how Jon Favreau is probably looking to depart the franchise now he's not directing (and there's a brief image of a wounded Hogan in the new teaser), expect him to go out in a blaze of glory this time around. Wasp may very well be introduced prior to her joining The Avengers. The Illuminati should make an appearance in some form if they want to get the ball rolling on the rumoured Hulk banishment storyline; Reed Richards and Charles Xavier almost definitely won't show up, so count on Doctor Strange being the likely figure to turn up if any (though he is slated for Thor 2 already). Ant-Man cameo after the credits? Or is that just wishful thinking?
Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at] gmail.com.