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Marvel Comics news: "Avengers NOW" with Falcon as Cap, and the new film schedule

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"Avengers NOW!" is the editorial push du jour with a new Cap, Thor & Iron Man!

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For the past several years now, Marvel Comics' annual editorial push of relaunches and reboots has taken on a hip new slogan centering around the phrase, "Marvel NOW!". Last year it was "All-New Marvel NOW!" and this year it is "Avengers NOW!", reflecting how essential this franchise (which was playing third fiddle behind the X-Men and Spider-Man from the 90's until roughly a decade ago) is to the entire company. To this end, as revealed to ICv2 and Entertainment Weekly, Marvel will be rebooting their "Avengers" comic in the fall with a mix of old and new team members. Those team members will also benefit from fresh relaunches with fresh "#1" issues starting in October.

Some of these announcements reflect the confirmation of older stories and rumors from previous weeks. Last week, it was revealed that a brand new heroine would take over the mantle of Thor in a relaunch of the thunderer's series. And back at the start of July, it was rumored that Sam Wilson - usually known as the Falcon - would be taking over the mantle of Captain America in the near future. Marvel's chief creative officer Joe Quesada revealed on "The Colbert Report" that Wilson would officially become Captain America (again) in October's 25th issue. After Steve Rogers has had the super soldier serum drained from his body due to the attacks of an enemy (for at least the third time in publication history), it is up to his longtime partner Sam Wilson to hurl his mighty shield. Thankfully, Wilson will don a red, white, and blue costume and while he won't be a super soldier himself, he'll combine his own flying abilities to his efforts as Capt. America; the elder Rogers will still act as a mentor and tactician for him.

Meanwhile, Marvel's editors have had to work quickly to figure out the replacement for writer Kieron Gillen on "Iron Man" after his abrupt exit. To this end they have taken some inspiration from Dan Slott's "Superior Spider-Man" to relaunch the title as "Superior Iron Man" in November. Written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Yildray Cinar, this relaunch will see Tony Stark once again return to using the techno-organic virus "Extremis" (created during the Warren Ellis run at the start of the decade) as his core armor as he shifts his base of operations to San Francisco. Instead of being possessed by a super villain's mind (as "Superior" Spider-Man was), Tony will instead regress to his younger and far more egotistical persona. This is vaguely similar to the events of "The Crossing" in the late 90's when the elder Tony Stark was replaced by a teenage version of himself from an alternate timeline via a complicated series of battles against Kang the Conqueror. This time, Tony's regression into his id and ego will take place after the upcoming "Axis" event. Meanwhile, former "Spawn" character Angela will be revealed as the long lost sister of both Thor and Loki in the mini series "Thor & Loki: the Tenth Realm" as written by Jason Aaron ("Thor") and Al Ewing ("Loki: agent of Asgard"). Via some sort of business deal with co-creator Neil Gaiman ("1602"), Angela was formally introduced into the Marvel Universe at the conclusion of "Age of Ultron" and has since appeared in "Guardians of the Galaxy".

All of this will culminate into a new roster for the iconic "Avengers" team from 2014-2015. The teaser poster (as seen to the left) features eleven characters that mix new and old. Older Avengers members Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and (superior) Iron Man will be joined by the new Thor, Sam Wilson as Cap, Angela, Winter Soldier, Inhuman queen Medusa (and her fellow Inhuman Inferno), and Deathlok (who has risen to prominence via an appearance on the ABC show, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.". In an interview, editor in chief Axel Alonso revealed that this new push rose from the suggestions of three writers and rests on the publisher's ability to "shake things up", even if some of the shakes are hardly new moves (Sam as Cap, or a teenage Iron Man). Considering the end goal - mass media attention - has largely succeeded, this is already a win for Marvel Comics.

Marvel Studios establishes film schedule from 2015 to 2019!

Marvel Studios continues to line their ducks in a row by announcing (or confirming) the latest schedule of feature films over the next four years. Every year seems to offer two films a year, aside for 2017, in which three films (none of which are titled) are set. 2015's box office roster is well known; "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" on May 1st and the much maligned "Ant-Man" on July 17th. Things get trickier in 2016, with "Captain America 3" still scheduled to director compete against Warner Brothers' "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" on May 6th with another film set for July 8th the same year. Variety seems set to claim that film will be "Doctor Strange". Untitled films are scheduled for May 5th, July 27th and Nov. 3rd, 2017 as well as July 6th and Nov. 2nd, 2018. Only one film is currently scheduled for 2019 (May 3rd), but it is amazing that Marvel Studios is projecting so far ahead.

Probable films which are set to fill some spots are "Avengers 3" and "Thor 3", with sleepers being a sequel for "Guardians of the Galaxy" (if it does well) or perhaps a third stab at a solo "Hulk" film. Women throughout the Internet, comic book shops if not the world are clamouring for a lady led film during this span of time, either for "Black Widow" or "Captain/Ms. Marvel". This schedule does not include any Marvel franchises adopted by Disney/Pixar animation, with "Big Hero 6" set to debut in November. As for pitting "Cap 3" against "Batman v. Superman" (or, were WB honest, "Justice League Prelude"), a point made in April still stands. Although both rival studios would love for their own films to break records and do well, Warner Brothers has far more to lose if "Batman v. Superman" bombs or underwhelms due to competition than Marvel Studios does if "Cap 3" stumbles. The entirety of WB and DC Entertainment's superhero film scheme relies on "Batman v. Superman" being a monster, record setting hit that at least reaches the levels of the later two Chris Nolan Batman films. In contrast, Marvel Studios may be pleased with the success of their "Captain America" film franchise (especially after the sequel proved to a smash hit of the spring and helped set the tone for the summer), the studio could spare "sacrificing" its' box office potential if it meant spiting their rival. This is a game of chicken with billions at stake, and it would actually be wiser for WB to blink first and shift the date before it is too late.

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