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The Marvel Cinematic Universe

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a shared fictional universe that is the setting of superhero films independently developed by Marvel Studios, based on characters published in Marvel Comics. The setting is much like the Marvel Universe in comic books. The universe was established by crossing over shared plot elements, settings, cast, and characters.

Development

In 2005, Variety reported that Marvel Studios would start producing its own films and distribute them through Paramount Pictures. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in 2009 initially referred to the shared narrative continuity of these films as the "Marvel Cinema Universe", but later used the term "Marvel Cinematic Universe". Some of the upcoming films will be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, a division of Marvel Entertainment's parent corporation, The Walt Disney Company. The funding will come from a seven-year, $525 million revolving credit facility with Merrill Lynch.

Phase 1

Iron Man (2008)

In April 1990, Universal Studios bought the rights to develop Iron Man for the big screen. Stuart Gordon was to direct Universal's low-budget film. By February 1996, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights from Universal. In January 1997, actor Nicolas Cage expressed interest in being cast for the lead role, and in September 1998, actor Tom Cruise had expressed interest in producing as well as starring in the film debut of Iron Man. Jeff Vintar and Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee co-wrote a story which Vintar adapted into a screenplay. Jeffrey Caine (GoldenEye) rewrote Vintar's script. Director Quentin Tarantino was approached in October 1999 to write and direct Iron Man. With no deal made, Fox eventually sold the rights to New Line Cinema the following December. By July 2000, the film was being written for the studio by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and Tim McCanlies. McCanlies's script used the idea of a Nick Fury cameo to set up his own film. New Line entered talks with Joss Whedon, a fan of the character Iron Man, in June 2001 for the possibility of the director taking the helm. In December 2002, McCanlies had turned in a completed script.

In December 2004, the studio attached director Nick Cassavetes to the project for a target 2006 release. After two years of unsuccessful development, and the deal with Cassavetes falling through, New Line Cinema returned the film rights to Marvel. Screenplay drafts had been written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and David Hayter, but they were not retained. New Line's script pitted Iron Man against his father Howard Stark, who becomes War Machine. In November 2005, Marvel Studios worked to start development from scratch, and announced it as their first independent feature, as Iron Man was their only major character not depicted in live action.

In April 2006, Jon Favreau was hired as the film's director, with Arthur Marcum and Matt Holloway writing the script. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby worked separately, with Favreau compiling both team's scripts, and the script received a polish by John August. Comic book staff Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso, and Ralph Macchio were also called upon by Favreau to give advice on the script.

Favreau had wanted to work with Marvel producer Avi Arad on another film after the Daredevil adaptation. Favreau celebrated getting the job by going on a diet, and lost seventy pounds. The director found the opportunity to create a politically ambitious "ultimate spy movie" in Iron Man, citing inspiration from Tom Clancy, James Bond, and RoboCop. Favreau also described his approach as similar to an independent film, "[i]f Robert Altman had directed Superman", and also cited Batman Begins as an inspiration. He wanted to make Iron Man a story of an adult man literally reinventing himself, and realizing the world is far more complex than he believes. Favreau changed the Vietnam War origin of the character to Afghanistan, as he did not want to do a period piece.

Choosing a villain was difficult, because Favreau felt Iron Man's archnemesis, the Mandarin, would not feel realistic, especially after Mark Millar gave his opinion on the script. He felt only in a sequel, with an altered tone, would the fantasy of the Mandarin's rings be appropriate. The decision to push him into the background is comparable to Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, or Palpatine in Star Wars. Favreau also wanted Iron Man to face a giant enemy. The switch from Mandarin to Obadiah Stane was done after Bridges was cast. Stane was intended to become a villain in the sequel. The Crimson Dynamo was also a villain in early drafts in the script. Favreau felt it was important to include intentional inside references for fans of the comics, such as giving the two fighter jets that attack Iron Man the call signs of "Whiplash 1" and "Whiplash 2," a reference to the comic book villain Whiplash, and including Captain America's shield in Stark's workshop.

The post-closing-credits sequence that introduces Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, was written by comics writer Brian Michael Bendis.

Production was based in the former Hughes Company soundstages in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California. Favreau rejected the East Coast setting of the comic books because many superhero films had already been set there. Howard Hughes was one of the inspirations for the comic book, and the filmmakers acknowledged the coincidence that they would film Iron Man creating the flying Mark III where the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" was built.

Filming began on March 12, 2007, with the first few weeks spent on Stark's captivity in Afghanistan. The cave where Stark is imprisoned was a 150- to 200-yard (150–200 m) long set, which had movable forks in the caverns to allow greater freedom for the film's crew. Production designer J. Michael Riva saw footage of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and saw the cold breath as he spoke: realizing remote caves are actually very cold, Riva placed an air conditioning system in the set. He also sought Downey's advice about makeshift objects in prison, such as a sock being used to make tea. Afterwards, Stark's capture was filmed at Lone Pine, and other exterior scenes in Afghanistan were filmed at Olancha Sand Dunes, where the crew endured two days of 40 to 60 mile an hour (60 to 100 km/h) winds.

Filming at Edwards Air Force Base began in mid-April, and wrapped on May 2. Exterior shots of Stark's home were digitally composited on footage of Point Dume in Malibu, while the interior was built at Playa Vista, where Favreau and Riva aimed to make Stark's home look less futuristic and more "grease monkey". Filming concluded on June 25, 2007 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Favreau, a newcomer to action films, remarked, "I'm shocked that I [was] on schedule. I thought that there were going to be many curveballs". He hired "people who are good at creating action", so "the human story [felt] like it belongs to the comic book genre".

There was much improvisation in dialogue scenes, because the script was not completed when filming began (the filmmakers had focused on the story making sense and planning the action). Favreau acknowledged that improvisation would make the film feel more natural. Some scenes were shot with two cameras to capture lines said on the spot. Multiple takes were done, as Downey wanted to try something new each time. It was Downey's idea to have Stark hold a news conference on the floor, and he created the speech Stark makes when demonstrating the Jericho weapon.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote three pages of dialogue for the Nick Fury cameo scene, with the filmmakers choosing the best lines for filming. The cameo was filmed with a skeleton crew in order to keep it a secret, but rumors appeared on the Internet only days later. Marvel Studios's Kevin Feige subsequently ordered the scene removed from all preview prints in order to maintain the surprise and keep fans guessing.

Favreau wanted the film to be believable by showing the construction of the suit in its three stages. Stan Winston, a fan of the comic book, and his company built metal and rubber versions of the armors. They had previously worked on Favreau's Zathura. Favreau's main concern with the effects was whether the transition between the computer-generated and practical costumes would be too obvious. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was hired to create the bulk of the visual effects with additional work being completed by The Orphanage and The Embassy; Favreau trusted ILM after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Transformers.

The Mark I design was intended to look like it was built from spare parts: particularly, the back is less armored than the front, as Stark would use his resources to make a forward attack. It also foreshadows the design of Stane's armor. A single 90-pound (41 kg) version was built, causing concern when a stuntman fell over inside it. Both the stuntman and the suit were unscathed. The armor was also designed to only have its top half worn at times.[14] The Embassy created a digital version of the Mark I. Stan Winston Studios built a 10-foot (3.0 m), 800-pound (360 kg) animatronic version of the comic character "Iron Monger" (Obadiah Stane), a name which Obadiah Stane calls Tony Stark and himself earlier in the film, but is never actually used for the suit itself. The animatronic required five operators for the arm, and was built on a gimbal to simulate walking.[14] A scale model was used for the shots of it being built.

The Mark II resembles an airplane prototype, with visible flaps. Iron Man comic book artist Adi Granov designed the Mark III with illustrator Phil Saunders. Granov's designs were the primary inspiration for the film's design, and he came on board the film after he recognized his work on Jon Favreau's MySpace page. Saunders streamlined Granov's concept art, making it stealthier and less cartoonish in its proportions. Sometimes, Downey would only wear the helmet, sleeves and chest of the costume over a motion capture suit. For shots of the Mark III flying, it was animated to look realistic by taking off slowly, and landing quickly. To generate shots of Iron Man and the F-22 Raptors battling, cameras were flown in the air to provide reference for physics, wind and frost on the lenses. For further study of the physics of flying, skydivers were filmed in a vertical wind tunnel.

Phil Saunders created concept art for the War Machine armor and said that it was originally intended to be used in the film but was "cut from the script about halfway through pre-production." Saunders said that the War Machine armor "was going to be called the Mark IV armor and would have been weaponized swap-out parts that would be worn over the original Mark III armor," and that it "would have been worn by Tony Stark in the final battle sequence."

Composer Ramin Djawadi is an Iron Man fan, and still has issues of the comic from the late 1970s. Through his older brother, Amir, he is also into heavy metal music since the early 1990s. While he normally composes after watching an assembly cut, Djawadi began work after seeing the teaser trailer. Favreau clearly envisioned a focus on "heavy" guitar in the score, and Djawadi composed the music on that instrument before arranging it for orchestra. The composer said Downey's performance inspired the several Iron Man themes (for his different moods), as well as Stark's playboy leitmotif. Djawadi's favorite of the Iron Man themes is the "kickass" because of its "rhythmic pattern that is a hook on its own. Very much like a machine." The other themes are "not so much character based, but rather plot based that carry you through the movie". Guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, who has a brief cameo in the film as a guard, contributed additional guitar work to the movie's soundtrack.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

At the time of the release of Ang Lee's Hulk, screenwriter James Schamus was planning a sequel, featuring the Gray Hulk. He was also considering the Leader and the Abomination as villains. Marvel wanted the Abomination because he was the most famous enemy, and because he would be an actual threat to the Hulk, unlike General Ross. During the filming of Hulk, producer Avi Arad had a target May 2005 theatrical release date. On January 18, 2006 Arad confirmed Marvel Studios would be providing the money for The Incredible Hulk's production budget, with Universal distributing, because Universal did not meet the deadline for filming a sequel. Marvel felt it would be better to deviate from Ang Lee's style to continue the franchise, arguing his film was like a parallel universe one-shot comic book, and their next film needed to be, in Kevin Feige's words, "really starting the Marvel Hulk franchise". Producer Gale Anne Hurd also felt the film had to meet what "everyone expects to see from having read the comics and seen the TV series".

Louis Leterrier, who enjoyed the TV series as a child and liked the first film, had expressed interest in directing the Iron Man film adaptation. Jon Favreau had taken that project, so Marvel offered him the Hulk. Leterrier was reluctant as he was unsure if he could replicate Lee's style, but Marvel explained that was not their intent. Leterrier's primary inspiration was Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Hulk: Gray (a retelling of his first appearance). He replicated every comic book panel that he pinned-up during pre-production, from the many comics he browsed, in the final film. Leterrier said that he planned to show Bruce Banner's struggle with the monster within him, while Feige added the film would explore "that element of wish fulfillment, of overcoming an injustice or a bully and tapping into a strength that you didn't quite realize you had in yourself". Arad also said the film would be "a lot more of a love story between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross".

Zak Penn, who wrote a draft of the first film in 1996, said the film would follow up Hulk, but stressed it would be more tonally similar to the TV show and Bruce Jones' run on the comic. He compared his script to Aliens, which was a very different film to Alien, but still in the same continuity. He included two scenes from his 1996 script: Banner jumping from a helicopter to trigger a transformation, and realizing he is unable to have sex with Betty. Penn wrote three drafts, before departing in early 2007 to direct The Grand. Norton, who had rewritten previous films he starred in, wrote a new draft, which pleased the director and the studio in establishing the film as a reboot. Leterrier acknowledged the only remaining similarity between the two films was Bruce hiding in South America, and that the film was a unique reboot, as generally audiences would have expected another forty minute origin story. There were previous discussions to set the first act in Thailand. Leterrier felt audiences were left restless waiting for the character to arrive in Ang Lee's film. Gale Anne Hurd noted fans dubbed the film a "requel", a portmanteau of reboot and sequel.

Norton explained of his decision to ignore Lee's origin story, "I don't even like the phrase origin story, and I don't think in great literature and great films that explaining the roots of the story doesn't mean it comes in the beginning." "Audiences know this story," he added, "[so] deal with it artfully." He wanted to "have revelations even in the third act about what set this whole thing in motion". The new origin story references Ultimate Marvel's take on the Hulk, which also had him created in an attempt to create super soldiers. Norton deleted Rick Jones and toned down S.H.I.E.L.D.'s presence. He also added the scene where Banner attempts to extract a cure from a flower and his e-mailing with Samuel Sterns, which references Bruce Jones' story. Norton rewrote scenes every day.Ultimately, the Writers Guild of America decided to credit the script solely to Penn, who argued Norton had not dramatically changed his script. Journalist Anne Thompson explained "The Guild tends to favor plot, structure and pre-existing characters over dialogue." Before either Penn and Norton joined the project, an anonymous screenwriter wrote a draft and lobbied for credit.

Leterrier had to direct four units with a broken foot. Filming began on July 9, 2007. Shooting primarily took place in Toronto, because mayor David Miller is a Hulk fan and promised to be very helpful to the crew when closing Yonge Street for four nights in September to shoot the Hulk and Blonsky's clash at 125th Street. Despite messing the street with explosives and overturned burning vehicles, the crew would clean-up within twenty minutes so business could continue as normal each day. The first action sequence shot was the Culver University battle, which was filmed at the University of Toronto and Morningside Park. The filmmakers built a glass wall over a walkway at the University for when the soldiers trap him inside to smoke out the Hulk. There was also shooting in the Financial District. A factory in Hamilton, Ontario, which was due for demolition, was the interior of the Brazilian factory. The site's underground floors were used for Ross' military command center. The crew also shot part of the Hulk and Blonsky's fight on a backlot in Hamilton. Other Canadian locations included CFB Trenton and a glacier in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Afterwards, there was a week-long shoot in New York City and two weeks in Rio de Janeiro. While there, the crew shot at Rocinha, Lapa, Tijuca Forest and Santa Teresa. Filming concluded in November after eighty-eight days of filming.

The Incredible Hulk joined Toronto's Green-Screen initiative, to help cut carbon emissions and waste created during filming. Producer Gale Anne Hurd acknowledged the Hulk, being green, was a popular environmental analogy, and Norton himself was an environmentalist. Hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles were used, with low sulfur diesel as their energy source. The construction department used a sustainably harvested, locally sourced yellow pine instead of lauan for the sets, and also used zero-or low-VOC paint. The wood was generally recycled or given to environmental organizations, and paint cans were handed to waste management. In addition, they used; cloth bags; biodegradable food containers; china and silverware food utensils; a stainless steel mug for each production crew member; a contractor who removed bins; recycled paper; biodegradable soap and cleaners in the trailers and production offices; and the sound department used rechargeable batteries. The Incredible Hulk became the first blockbuster film to receive the Environmental Media Association's Green Seal, which is displayed during the end credits.

Leterrier cited the motion capture portrayals of Gollum and King Kong by Andy Serkis (from The Lord of the Rings and King Kong) as the standard he was aiming for. Norton and Roth filmed 2500 takes of different movements the monsters would make (such as the Hulk's "thunder claps"). Phosphorescent face paint applied to the actors' faces and strobe lighting would help record the most subtle mannerisms into the computer. Others including Cyril Raffaelli provided motion capture for stunts and fights, after the main actors had done video referencing. Leterrier hired Rhythm and Hues to provide the CGI, rather than Industrial Light & Magic who created the visual effects for Ang Lee's Hulk. Visual effect company, Image Engine, spent over a year working on a shot where Banner's gamma-irradiated blood falls through three factory floors into a bottle. Overall 700 effects shots were created. Motion capture aided in placing and timing of movements, but overall key frame animation by Rhythm and Hues provided the necessary "finesse [and] superhero quality". Many of the animators and Leterrier himself provided video reference for the climactic fight.

Dale Keown's comic book artwork of the Hulk was an inspiration for his design. Leterrier felt the first Hulk had "too much fat [and] the proportions were a little off". He explained, "The Hulk is beyond perfect so there is zero grams of fat, all chiseled, and his muscle and strength defines this creature so he’s like a tank." Visual effects supervisor Kurt Williams envisioned the Hulk's physique as a linebacker rather than a bodybuilder. A height of nine feet was chosen for the character as they did not want him to be too inhuman. To make him more expressive, computer programs controlling the inflation of his muscles and saturation of skin color were created. Williams cited flushing as an example of humans' skin color being influenced by their emotions. The animators felt green blood would make his skin become darker rather than lighter, and his skin tones, depending on lighting, either resemble an olive or even gray slate. His animation model was completed without the effects company's full knowledge of what he would be required to do: he was rigged to do whatever they imagined, in case the model was to be used for The Avengers film. The Hulk's medium-length hair was modeled on Mike Deodato's art. He originally had a crew cut, but Leterrier decided flopping hair imbued him with more character. Leterrier cited An American Werewolf in London as the inspiration for Banner's transformation, wanting to show how painful it was for him to change. As a nod to the live action TV series, Banner's eyes change color first when he transforms.

Leterrier changed the Abomination's design from the comics because he felt the audience would question why he resembled a fish or a reptile, instead of "an über-human" like the Hulk. Rather, his hideousness is derived from being injected multiple times into his skin, muscles and bones; creating a creature with a protruding spine and sharp bones that he can use to stab. His green skin is pale, and reflects light, so it appears orange because of surrounding fire during the climactic battle. The motion capture performers, including Roth, tried to make the character behave less gracefully than the Hulk. They modeled his posture and the way he turns his head on a shark. The character also shares Roth's tattoos. A height of eleven feet was chosen for the character. Leterrier tried to work in the character's pointed ears, but realized the Hulk would bite them off (using the example of Mike Tyson when he fought Evander Holyfield), and felt ignoring that would make the Hulk come across as stupid.

Leterrier had planned to use prosthetic makeup and animatronics to complement the computer-generated imagery that was solely used in the previous film. The make-up artists who worked on X-Men: The Last Stand were set to portray Blonsky's gradual transformation, which Zak Penn said would portray Blonsky "not [being] used to having these properties. Like he's much heavier, and we talked about how when he walks down the sidewalk, his weight destroys the sidewalk and he's tripping. [It's all about] the humanization of these kinds of superhero characters, showing the effects physics may actually have on [them]." Tom Woodruff, Jr. of Amalgamated Dynamics (who created all the costumes for the Alien films since Alien 3) was in negotiations, and created two busts of the Hulk and prosthetic hands to act as stand-ins for the character. A full animatronic was never created as it was decided it would complicate production to set up shots for a puppet and then a computer graphic. An animatronic was used for Sterns' mutating head though.

Destruction was mostly done practically. A model of a bottling machine was smashed through a wall for when the Hulk escapes with the factory. The filmmakers used steam and dry ice for the gas used to smoke out the Hulk, and they destroyed a real Humvee by dropping a weight on it when shooting the Culver University battle. Pipes blew fire for when the Hulk strikes down the computer-generated helicopter. When Banner falls from the helicopter to trigger the Hulk into fighting the Abomination, Norton was attached to a surface held by a bar which turned 90 degrees while the camera was pulled to the ceiling to simulate falling. Leterrier felt making Norton fall that distance would obviously render him unable to act.

Craig Armstrong was the arranger for Massive Attack, a band Leterrier was fond of and had collaborated with on Unleashed (2005). Armstrong was his first choice, which surprised Marvel, not knowing if he had scored an action film (he did compose 2001's Kiss of the Dragon). Even the temp track consisted of Armstrong's work and similar music by others. The Hulk, alongside the Green Lantern, was one of Armstrong's favorite comics as a child, although he did not see Ang Lee's Hulk.

Armstrong began composing in his home in Glasgow, Scotland with three sequences; the Hulk and Betty in the cave; the Abomination and the Hulk's alley fight; and Bruce and Betty's reunion. The majority was composed in a few weeks in Los Angeles, California, which was very intense for the director and composer. The score was recorded over four days during late 2008 in a chapel in Bastyr University, located in Kenmore, Washington. Pete Lockett played ethnic instruments in the score, which were recorded in London and mixed together with the orchestra and electronics. The score was orchestrated by Matt Dunkley and Tony Blondal

The Hulk and the Abomination both have two themes, representing their human and monstrous forms. The Hulk's theme was meant to be iconic and simple, like Jaws (1975), with string glissandos on a base C note. Banner's theme is tragic and includes parts of Joe Harnell's "The Lonely Man" theme from the television series. Armstrong played the piano for one scene featuring that piece. Blonsky has a dark theme, which becomes aggressive when he transforms. Armstrong inter played the Hulk and the Abomination's themes during their battle, and found scoring the action sequences similar to a dance. There is also a suspenseful theme, and a love theme.

Leterrier suggested the score be released on two discs, which Armstrong believed to be a joke. Only when he compiled the album – and Marvel asked why they were only given one disc – did he realize they were serious.


Iron Man 2 (2010)

Jon Favreau said it was originally his intent to create a film trilogy for Iron Man, with Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) becoming Iron Monger during the sequels. After a meeting between Favreau and various comic book writers, including Mark Millar, Stane became the main villain in Iron Man. Millar argued the Mandarin, whom Favreau originally intended to be the main villain, was too fantastical. Favreau concurred, deciding, "I look at Mandarin more like how in Star Wars you had the Emperor, but Darth Vader is the guy you want to see fight. Then you work your way to the time when lightning bolts are shooting out of the fingers and all that stuff could happen. But you can't have what happened in Return of the Jedi happen in A New Hope. You just can't do it."

Favreau discussed in interviews how the films' version of Iron Man's comic book nemesis the Mandarin "allows us to incorporate the whole pantheon of villains". He also mentioned that S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue to have a major role.

During development, Favreau said the film would explore Stark's alcoholism, but it would not be "the 'Demon in a Bottle' version". Downey said, while promoting the first film, that Stark would probably develop a drinking problem as he is unable to cope with his age, the effects of revealing he is Iron Man, as well as Pepper getting a boyfriend. Before filming began, Downey revealed that while the film was not an adaptation of the '"Demon in a Bottle" storyline from the comic book series, it was more about the "interim space" between the origin and the "Demon" story arc.

Justin Theroux signed to write the script in July 2008, which is based on a story written by Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. Theroux co-wrote Tropic Thunder, and Downey recommended him to Marvel. Genndy Tartakovsky storyboarded the film. Shane Black gave some advice on the script, and suggested to Favreau and Downey that they model Stark on J. Robert Oppenheimer, who became depressed with being "the destroyer of worlds" after working on the Manhattan Project. Adi Granov returned to supervise the designs for Iron Man's armor. Filming primarily took place at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach, California.

Don Cheadle was cast as Rhodes, replacing Terrence Howard from the first film. Howard said, "There was no explanation, apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren't worth the paper that they're printed on sometimes. Promises aren't kept, and good faith negotiations aren't always held up." Entertainment Weekly stated Favreau did not enjoy working with Howard, often re-shooting and cutting his scenes; Howard's publicist said he had a good experience playing the part, while Marvel chose not to comment. As Favreau and Theroux chose to minimize the role, Marvel came to Howard to discuss lowering his salary – Howard was the first actor hired in Iron Man and earned the largest salary of the cast. The publication stated they were unsure whether Howard's representatives left the project first or if Marvel chose to stop negotiating. Theroux denied the part of the report stating "the role of War Machine was scaled back and then beefed up". Cheadle only had a few hours to accept the role and did not even know what storyline Rhodes would undergo. He commented he is a comic book fan, but had not previously participated in comics-themed films due to the lack of black superheroes. Cheadle said he thought Iron Man was a robot before the first film came out.

Mickey Rourke was cast as Ivan Vanko, a physicist and ex-convict who builds his own arc reactor-based weapon to exact vengeance on the Stark family. The character is an amalgamation of Iron Man villains Blacklash (originally known as Whiplash) and the Crimson Dynamo, and is the son of impoverished Soviet physicist Anton Vanko, the original Crimson Dynamo in the comics. Downey offered Rourke the part during a roundtable discussion with David Ansen at the 2009 Golden Globes, and Rourke met with Favreau and Theroux to discuss his character's role. Rourke almost dropped out of the role due to Marvel's initial salary offer of $250,000, so the studio chose to increase the deal. Rourke researched for the part by visiting Butyrka prison. He suggested half of the character's dialogue be in Russian. Rourke suggested the addition of tattoos, gold teeth and a fondness for a pet cockatoo, paying for the teeth and bird out of his own money. Rourke explained he didn't want to play a "one-dimensional bad guy" and wanted to challenge the audience to see something redeemable in him. Not knowing anything about computers himself Rourke described pretending to be tech-savvy as the hardest part of the role.

Sam Rockwell was considered for the role of Tony Stark in the first film, and he accepted the role of Hammer without reading the script. He had never heard of the character before he was contacted about the part, and was unaware Hammer is an old man in the comics, whereas in the film he is closer to Stark's age. Rockwell says his character is "plucky comic relief, but he's got a little bit of an edge". Scarlett Johansson was cast as Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff after a scheduling conflict, a previous commitment to Gulliver's Travels forced Emily Blunt to drop out of the part. Samuel L. Jackson initially balked at the salary Marvel offered and was unsure about reprising the part of Fury until reaching a deal that would entail his appearance in up to nine films as the character.

Actress Olivia Munn said she had been given a different part than originally and that reshoots involving her scenes had taken place: "Actually, they just gave me another role in the film. I had to re-shoot all of my scenes.... as they started to edit they realized it was becoming darker than what they'd expected and what my scenes had allowed for. My parts were lighthearted and comedic. Jon Favreau called and was like, 'I've got good news and bad news: This is what's happening in editing but we all really like you.' Marvel and Jon had to add another character from the Marvel universe to keep me included".

Principal photography began April 6, 2009, at the Pasadena Masonic Temple. The fake working title was Rasputin. Filming also took place at Edwards Air Force Base.

A post-credits scene depicting the discovery of a large hammer was filmed on the set of Thor, and some of it was reused in the film. Jon Favreau revealed that the scene was filmed with anamorphic lenses to match Thor.

Janek Sirrs was the film's visual effects supervisor, and ILM again did the bulk of the effects, as it did on the first film. ILM's visual effects supervisor on the film, Ben Snow, said their work on the film was "harder" than their work on the first, stating that Favreau asked more of them this time around. Snow described the process of digitially creating the suits:

On the first Iron Man, we tried to use the Legacy [Studios, Stan Winston's effects company] and Stan Winston suits as much as we could. For the second one, Jon [Favreau] was confident we could create the CG suits, and the action dictated using them. So, Legacy created what we called the "football suits" from the torso up with a chest plate and helmet. We’d usually put in some arm pieces, but not the whole arm. In the house fight sequence, where Robert Downey Jr. staggers around tipsy, we used some of the practical suit and extended it digitally. Same thing in the Randy's Donuts scene. But in the rest of the film, we used the CG suit entirely. And Double Negative did an all-digital suit for the Monaco chase. ILM created 527 shots for the film, using programs such as Maya. Perception worked on over 125 shots for the film. They crafted gadgets, such as Tony Stark's transparent LG smartphone, and created the backdrops for the Stark Expo as well as the computer screen interfaces on the touch-screen coffee table and the holographic lab environment. In total, 11 visual effect studios worked on the film.

In January 2010, IMAX Corporation, Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures announced that the film would receive a limited release on digital IMAX screens. It was not shot with IMAX cameras, so it was converted into the format using the IMAX DMR technology. The film underwent reshoots in February. Olivia Munn's original role was cut, but she was given a new role during the reshoots.

A soundtrack album featuring AC/DC was released by Columbia Records on April 19, 2010, in at least three different versions: basic, special and deluxe. The basic edition includes the CD; the special edition contains a 15-track CD, a 32-page booklet and a DVD featuring interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and music videos; and the deluxe includes a reproduction of one of Iron Man's first comic book appearances. Only 2 songs on the soundtrack actually appear in the movie. Although not included on the soundtrack album the film includes songs by The Average White Band, The Clash, Queen, Daft Punk, 2Pac and Beastie Boys.

The film score was released commercially as Iron Man 2: Original Motion Picture Score on July 20, 2010, featuring 25 songs. John Debney composed the score with Tom Morello.


Thor (2011)

Sam Raimi originally envisioned the idea for Thor after making Darkman (1990); he met Stan Lee and pitched the concept to 20th Century Fox, but they did not understand it. Thor was abandoned until April 1997, when Marvel Studios was beginning to expand rapidly. The film gained momentum after the success of X-Men (2000). The plan was for Thor to be made for television. UPN was in talks for airing it; excited by the prospect, they pushed for a script and approached Tyler Mane to play Thor. In May 2000, Marvel Studios brought Artisan Entertainment to help finance it as a film, but Thor by June 2004 the project still had yet to be patronised by a studio. Sony Pictures Entertainment finally purchased the film rights, and in December 2004 David S. Goyer was in negotiations to write and direct. In 2005, though there were talks between Goyer and Marvel, it was revealed that Goyer was no longer interested, though at this point the film was still set to be distributed through Sony Pictures.

Mark Protosevich, a fan of the Thor comic book, agreed to write the script in April 2006, and the project moved to Paramount Pictures, after it acquired the rights from Sony. That year the film was announced to be a Marvel Studios production. In December 2007, Protosevich described his plans for it "to be like a superhero origin story, but not one about a human gaining super powers, but of a god realizing his true potential. It's the story of an Old Testament god who becomes a New Testament god". In August 2007 Marvel Studios signed Matthew Vaughn to direct the film. Vaughn then rewrote Protosevich's script in order to bring down the budget to $150 million, as Protosevich's first draft would have cost $300 million to produce. He intended to start filming in late 2008 and after the success of Iron Man, Marvel Studios announced that they intended to release Thor on June 4, 2010, with Iron Man 2 being used to introduce the character of Thor.

Vaughn was released when his holding deal expired in May 2008, at which point Marvel set Protosevich to work on a new draft and began searching for a new director. By September 2008 D. J. Caruso had been discussing taking on the project, though he did not read the script. Later that month, it was revealed that Kenneth Branagh had entered into negotiations to direct, and in December 2008, Branagh confirmed that he has been hired. He described it as "a human story right in the center of a big epic scenario." Branagh stated that he hoped to begin filming in January 2010 and Marvel Studios set back the release date of the film from its scheduled July 16, 2010 date to June 17, 2011, almost a full year later. They later moved the release date to May 20, 2011, to distance the film's release from that of Captain America: The First Avenger, another Marvel Studios film that was scheduled to be released on July 22, 2011. In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson, who had briefly portrayed Nick Fury at the end of the film Iron Man, signed on to reprise the role in Thor as part of an unprecedented nine-picture deal with Marvel Studios.[77] However, in an April 2010 interview, Jackson stated that he would not be appearing in Thor. When asked why not Jackson explained, "I have no idea. I'm not in charge of making those kinds of decisions. I thought I was; they said I was in the trades, and I was like, 'Ooh! I got a job!' I called my agent he said, 'Naw, you're not in it.' I was like, 'Well shit, they need to pay me if they're gonna put my name in it.'" Later in a February 2011 appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jackson revealed that he would be filming a scene for Thor to serve as "connective tissue" for The Avengers.

In February 2009, a casting call went out looking for actors with certain physical attributes to audition for the role of Thor. In May 2009, Chris Hemsworth was in negotiations to portray the title role after a back-and-forth process in which the 25-year-old actor was refused early on, then given a second chance to read for the part. The next day, Marvel announced that Tom Hiddleston, who had worked with Branagh before and had initially been considered to portray the lead role, had been cast as Loki. Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios confirmed in June of that year that both Hemsworth and Hiddleston had signed on. Feige mentioned that the film would take place on both modern day Earth and Asgard but Thor's human host, Dr. Donald Blake, would not be included.

With Hemsworth and Hiddleston in place, the rest of the cast began to fill out. In July, Marvel announced that Natalie Portman would portray Jane Foster. Jaimie Alexander and Colm Feore were reported to have joined the cast in September, with Alexander portraying Sif and Feore's role unrevealed, though it was thought to be a villain. In an interview with Swedish news site Ystads Allehanda, Stellan Skarsgård stated that he had joined the cast, though he did not specify his role. By late October Anthony Hopkins had been cast as Odin in the film. The following month, Marvel announced that they had cast the Warriors Three; Fandral was to be played by Stuart Townsend, Hogun was to be played by Tadanobu Asano and Volstagg was to be played by Ray Stevenson. Idris Elba was announced to have joined the cast, portraying Heimdall. Natalie Portman revealed that Kat Dennings would be involved in the project, portraying Darcy, a coworker of Portman's Jane Foster.

In December, Rene Russo was cast as Frigga, Thor's stepmother and Odin's wife.[46] Later that month, actors Joseph Gatt, Troy Brenna, and Joshua Cox had been cast in the film, though none of their roles were revealed. In January 2010, Adriana Barraza had joined the film's cast, in a supporting capacity. Only days before filming began, Stuart Townsend was replaced by Joshua Dallas as Fandral, citing "creative differences". When Spider-Man 4's production stalled, Paramount and Marvel Entertainment pushed up the release of Thor by two weeks to the then vacated date of May 6, 2011.

The Science & Entertainment Exchange introduced Marvel Entertainment, Kenneth Branagh, "the screenwriter, and a few people on the design and production side of things" to three physicists (Sean Carroll, Kevin Hand, and Jim Hartle), as well as physics student Kevin Hickerson, to provide a realistic science background for the Thor universe. The consultation resulted in a change in Jane Foster's profession, from nurse to particle physicist, and the terminology (Einstein-Rosen bridge) to describe the Bifrost Bridge.

In October 2008, Marvel Studios signed a long term lease agreement with Raleigh Studios to photograph their next four films - Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers - at Raleigh's Manhattan Beach, California facility. Production Weekly reported that filming on Marvel's Thor was scheduled to begin in Los Angeles mid-January, then move to Santa Fe, New Mexico from March until late-April. Principal photography began on January 11, 2010. A few days after filming began, it was reported that Clark Gregg had signed on to reprise his role from Iron Man and Iron Man 2 as Agent Coulson. In February, Paramount Pictures entered negotiations with Del Mar, California to use of 300-yard stretch of beach to film a scene for Thor involving six horses running down the terrain. Paramount said this coastline was ideal because its gradual slope of sand down to the waterline creates excellent reflective opportunities on film. On March 15, 2010 production of Thor moved to Galisteo, New Mexico, where an old-fashioned Western movie town was extensively modified for the shoot.

Branagh, a fan of the comic book since childhood, commented on the challenge of bridging Asgard and the modern world: "Inspired by the comic book world both pictorially and compositionally at once, we've tried to find a way to make a virtue and a celebration of the distinction between the worlds that exist in the film but absolutely make them live in the same world. It's about finding the framing style, the color palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different.... The combination of the primitive and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern, I think that potentially is the exciting fusion, the exciting tension in the film".

By April, the prospect for filming parts of Thor in Del Mar, California had fallen through. Paramount Pictures sent a letter informing the city that it has instead chosen an undisclosed Northern California location to film a beachfront scene for the film. The letter cited cost concerns with moving production too far away from its headquarters.

The film ended principal photography on May 6, 2010 and entered the "post-production" phase. It was reported in February 2010 that France-based BUF Compagnie would be the lead visual effects house working on the film. Digital Domain worked on the visual effects as well. Branagh stated that BUF, who developed the effects for the race through space was much inspired by Hubble photography and other images of deep space. Branagh stated he sent paintings from classic studies by J. M. W. Turner to Digital Domain when creating Jotunheim.

The film was released in a 3-D version. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Branagh stated that the 3-D process initially made him cringe but "We came to feel that in our case 3-D could be the very good friend of story and character for a different kind of experience". Although 2-D was used for principal photography, producer Kevin Fiege stated that the "special effects for the film were conceived and executed from the beginning in 3-D".

In October 2010, casting calls went out for bit players to appear in an undisclosed number of reshoots.

In March 2011, scenes involving Adriana Barraza were removed from the theatrical cut of the film during the editing process. Kenneth Branagh sent a letter of apology explaining the reasons for the cut and desire to work with Barraza again in the future. In response Barraza stated, "It saddens me because the movie is great and because I was acting alongside some tremendous actors that I admire very much, but I understand the nature of films, and it's not the first or last time that scenes will be cut". Barraza appears in only one scene in the film's theatrical cut. In that same month, Douglas Tait revealed that he preformed for motion capture of the Frost Giants. On his hiring, Tait said "I am 6'5" and have a lean, athletic build, and they hired guys who were 6'7" and taller, and weighed over 250 pounds. When the film was being edited, they wanted to make them even bigger and move faster. They auditioned people again and Kenneth Branagh chose me to perform the motion capture movements of the Frost Giants".

In April 2011, the IMAX Corporation, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment announced that they have finalized an agreement to release the film on digital IMAX 3D screens. The release marked the continuation of the partnership between the companies, which started on Iron Man 2.

The post-credits scene in which Skarsgård's Erik Selvig comes face-to-face with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury was directed by Joss Whedon, who is directing The Avengers (2012).

In March 2011, Buena Vista Records announced the details for the soundtrack. The album includes Patrick Doyle's original score from the film and it was released in some European territories at the end of April.

In April 2011, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that the music of the Foo Fighters was added to the film. The song "Walk" plays during a scene in which Thor, stripped of his powers and marooned on Earth, retreats to a New Mexico roadhouse to drink away the night with boilermakers and carouse with Stellan Skarsgård's character. The track plays again over the closing credits. Feige stated:

It was literally one of those things that came together in a matter of weeks, and if you asked two months ago if we would have a Foo Fighters song in this movie, I would have said I don't think so, but we heard the song and it just has these eerie appropriate lyrics and themes. The song wasn't written for the movie, obviously, it's on their new album, but we almost couldn't believe it when we heard it. Ken in particular just loved it with these lyrics about learning to walk again and the way that fit the themes of the movie about redemption, learning to be a hero. The song starts off talking about being a million miles away from home and yearning and being separated by vast distances, and it's no secret that Thor and Jane are from different worlds.


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

In April 1997, Marvel was in negotiations with Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn to produce Captain America, and Larry Wilson and Leslie Bohem were set to write a script. In May 2000, Marvel teamed with Artisan Entertainment to help finance the film. However, a lawsuit arose between Marvel Comics and Joe Simon over the ownership of Captain America copyrights, disrupting the development process of the film. The lawsuit was eventually settled in September 2003. In 2005, Marvel received a $525 million investment from Merrill Lynch, allowing them to independently produce ten films, including Captain America. Paramount Pictures agreed to distribute the film. Originally, the film would stand alone; producer Kevin Feige said "about half" the movie would be set during World War II before moving into the modern day. Producer Avi Arad said, "The biggest opportunity with Captain America is as a man 'out of time', coming back today, looking at our world through the eyes of someone who thought the perfect world was small-town United States. Sixty years go by, and who are we today? Are we better?" He cited the Back to the Future trilogy as an influence, and claimed he had "someone in mind to be the star, and definitely someone in mind to be the director". In February 2006, Arad hoped to have a summer 2008 theatrical release date. Jon Favreau approached Arad to direct the film as a comedy, but he chose to make Iron Man instead. In July 2006, David Self was hired to write the script. He explained that Captain America was his favorite superhero as a child because "my dad told me I could one day be Captain America". Joe Johnston met with Marvel to discuss directing the film.

Captain America was put on hold during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. However, in January 2008, Marvel Entertainment reached an interim comprehensive agreement with the Writers Guild of America that would put writers immediately back to work on various projects that were under the company's development. On May 5, 2008, (after the success of Iron Man), Marvel announced the film The First Avenger: Captain America (the working title) for release in May 6, 2011 (before being pushed back to July 22). Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk, viewed some of the concept art being created for the film and was impressed enough to offer his services, but Marvel turned him down. Johnston finally signed on in November 2008, and he hired Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to rewrite. Feige cited Johnston's directorial work on October Sky and The Rocketeer and his special effects work on the original Star Wars trilogy to explain why he was an appropriate choice. Raiders of the Lost Ark was an influence on the film, because they hoped the film would not feel like a period piece.

When asked whether anti-US sentiments would affect the film's box office, Feige said, "Marvel is perceived pretty well around the world right now, and I think putting another uber-Marvel hero into the worldwide box office would be a good thing. ... We have to deal with much the same way that Captain America, when thawed from the Arctic ice, entered a world that he didn't recognize," similar to the way Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reintroduced the character in the 1960s. Likewise, Arad noted, "Captain America stands for freedom for all democracies, for hope all around the world. He was created to stop tyranny and the idea of stopping tyranny is important today as it was then. So I think that we will have some interesting challenges but at the end of the day if the movie is terrific and the movie talks to the world, it's not about one place, it's about the world and I think [on] that basis it will be very successful." Later, after the election of US President Barack Obama, Feige commented, "The idea of change and hope has permeated the country, regardless of politics, and that includes Hollywood. Discussions in all our development meetings include the Zeitgeist and how it's changed in the last two weeks. Things are being adjusted".

In December 2009, director Joe Johnston indicated that he planned to start filming in April 2010. In a separate interview that month, he described the film's pre-production: "Rick Heinrichs is production-designing and we're set up down in Manhattan Beach, California. ... We have eight or ten really talented artists, and we all just sit around all day and draw pictures and say, 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could do this?' It's that phase of the production where money doesn't matter: 'Let's put all the greatest stuff up on the wall and [then later] see what we can afford.'" The film, he said, will begin "in 1942, 1943" during World War II. "The stuff in the '60s and '70s [comic books] we're sort of avoiding. We're going back to the '40s, and then forward to what they're doing with Captain America now." In February 2010, Johnston stated that the World War II-era super team the Invaders will appear in "the entire second half" of the film, though in November he refuted speculation that the Sub-Mariner, an Invaders team-member in the comics, would be included. He later explained that "the Invaders" had been discussed simply as a possible name for the squad of commandos Captain America leads in the film. The design as a whole tried to create technology that could be built in the 1940s, though with the added Cube technology in HYDRA's case. Abandoned Nazi projects or actual vehicles from the period were used as inspiration - for instance, the Red Skull's car was based on two Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the 1930s, the 540K and the G4.

Variety reported in March 2010 that Chris Evans was cast as Captain America and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. In April 2010, Sebastian Stan, who had been mentioned in media accounts as a possibility for the title role of Captain America, was cast as Bucky Barnes. Stan is contracted for multiple films. Also in April, it was announced that Hayley Atwell had been cast as Peggy Carter, and that the film's name had been changed from The First Avenger: Captain America to Captain America: The First Avenger. The next day it was reported that Joss Whedon would be rewriting the script for Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger as part of his negotiation to write and direct The Avengers. However, the extent of Whedon's polish on Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's script remained unknown. Whedon later clarified in an August interview that "I just got to make some character connections. The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit – and some of the other characters – and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be. And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit". Samuel L. Jackson revealed in an interview that he would reprise his role as Nick Fury in the film. Kevin Feige later confirmed that Fury's elite special unit of US Army Rangers, the Howling Commandos, would appear. Screenwriter Markus later explained that the unnamed group of commandos that Rogers leads was "called the Howling Commandos in the script, but no one says that out loud." Director Johnston said the group was once to have been called the Invaders, leading fans to speculate that the Marvel superhero team of that name would appear in the film.

In May 2010, Marvel Studios confirmed that Hugo Weaving would play the Red Skull. Toby Jones entered final negotiations to play Arnim Zola. Iron Man director Jon Favreau said a younger Howard Stark would appear in the film, played by Dominic Cooper. Hayley Atwell revealed that Tommy Lee Jones would have a role in the film. By June, Neal McDonough was in talks to play Dum Dum Dugan. Four days later, he confirmed he was taking the part. On the same day, Stanley Tucci joined the cast as Dr. Abraham Erskine, the scientist who created the super-soldier serum.

Production began on June 28, 2010. On the same day, Marvel confirmed that Tommy Lee Jones had been cast to play US Army Colonel Chester Phillips. The next day Marvel confirmed that Dominic Cooper would portray the younger version of Howard Stark, the character played by John Slattery in Iron Man 2. It was announced that the film would shoot in London, England, in late July and was expected to include scenes featuring key London landmarks. War scenes were filmed in September at the former Royal Navy Propellant Factory in the Welsh village of Caerwent. Filming was scheduled to take place that month in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, England, where parts of the 2004 film Alfie and the 2009 Sherlock Holmes had been shot, followed by the Stanley Dock area of Liverpool, both doubling for the period's Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York. Further scenes were scheduled to be shot in Liverpool's Albert Dock.

In July 2010, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said that both this film and Thor would be released in 3-D. Johnston did a one-day test shooting with a 3-D rig, rather than shooting in 2-D and converting, and found it "a nightmare" due to bulky gear, calibration issues and restricted filmmaking options. Nevertheless, he said he believes 3-D is "a new challenge and it's exciting". Feige insisted that the conversion would not compromise the film's image quality, as the decision to release the film in 3-D was made early in development, and that "an unprecedented amount of time" would be devoted to the conversion process, to render all the film's visual effects in true 3-D.

In November 2010, Stanley Tucci stated that he had completed filming his scenes and that the rest of the production would wrap in about three weeks. In February 2011, it was announced that Alan Silvestri had been chosen to compose the film score. In March 2011, CraveOnline reported that Captain America: The First Avenger would be undergoing reshoots in the United Kingdom and in Los Angeles in April 2011. A scene was also filmed in New York City's Times Square on April 23, 2011.

The film features nearly 1,600 visual effects shots, which were split between thirteen different companies. To achieve the appearance of the skinny, pre-serum Steve Rogers, director Joe Johnston stated that he used two major techniques:
"Most of the shots were done by an L.A. company called LOLA that specializes in digital "plastic surgery." The technique involved shrinking Chris in all dimensions. We shot each skinny Steve scene at least four times; once like a normal scene with Chris and his fellow actors in the scene, once with Chris alone in front of a green screen so his element could be reduced digitally, again with everyone in the scene but with Chris absent so that the shrunken Steve could be re-inserted into the scene, and finally with a body double mimicking Chris's actions in case the second technique were required. When Chris had to interact with other characters in the scene, we had to either lower Chris or raise the other actors on apple boxes or elevated walkways to make skinny Steve shorter in comparison. For close-ups, Chris' fellow actors had to look at marks on his chin that represented where his eyes would be after the shrinking process, and Chris had to look at marks on the tops of the actor's head to represent their eyes. ... The second technique involved grafting Chris's head onto the body double. This technique was used mostly when Chris was sitting or lying down, or when a minimum of physical acting was required...."
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Captain America's shield, which serves as both a defensive tool and a weapon, came in four types: metal, fiberglass, rubber, and computer graphics (CG). Prop master Barry Gibbs specified that "We had the 'hero shield,' which was made of aluminum, for our beauty shots [and] close-up work. We then created a lighter shield that was aluminum-faced with a fiberglass back, for use on a daily basis. ... And then we had a stunt shield made of polyurethane, which is sort of a synthetic rubber ... and we made an ultrasoft one we put on [Evans'] back, so that if there were an accident, it wouldn't hurt him." Visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend said Evans "would practice swinging the practical shield so he knew the arc and the speed at which he should move. We would take the shield from him and shoot the scene with him miming it. Then we would add in a CG shield".

Hugo Weaving, who portrayed the Red Skull, wore a latex mask conceived by prosthetic makeup designer David White. The visual effects team had to manipulate his face considerably, as the mask was bulky and they wanted to make it look like tight skin wrapped around a very bony structure. They thinned out Weaving's cheeks and lower lip, hollowed out his eyes, and removed his eyelashes and nose to make him appear more like the Red Skull character.

Closing credits were created by visual effects firm Rok!t by means of 3-D and stereoscopic processing that used iconic American propaganda images from World War II, such as James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam recuitment poster and Rosie the Riveter.

In June 2011, Walt Disney Records announced the details for the soundtrack release of Captain America: The First Avenger. The album includes the original score by Alan Silvestri, and the original song "Star Spangled Man" composed by Alan Menken to lyrics by David Zippel. The soundtrack was recorded at Air Studios in London and released on July 19, 2011.

The Avengers (2012)

Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Studios, first announced plans to develop the film in April 2005, after Marvel Enterprises declared independence by allying with Merrill Lynch to produce a slate of films that would be distributed by Paramount Pictures. Marvel discussed their plans in a brief presentation to Wall Street analysts; the studio's intention was to release individual films for the main characters—to establish their identities and familiarize audiences with them—before merging the characters together in a crossover film. Screenwriter Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk (2008), was hired by Marvel Studios to write the film in June 2007. Penn confirmed his involvement but said he did not believe work would begin soon. In the wake of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Marvel negotiated with the Writers Guild of America to ensure that it could create films based on its comic book counterparts, including Captain America, Ant-Man and The Avengers. After the successful release of Iron Man (2008) in May, the company set a July 2011 release date for The Avengers. In September 2008, Marvel Studios reached an agreement with Paramount—an extension of a previous partnership—which gave the company distribution rights for five future Marvel films.

Casting began in October 2008 with the signings of Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle, who would reprise their Iron Man 2 (2010) roles as Iron Man and War Machine, respectively. Despite previous reports, Cheadle denied such statements in an interview with MTV News, saying that he would not appear in The Avengers. At the same time, two major prospects occurred for Marvel; Jon Favreau was brought in as an executive producer for The Avengers, and the company signed a long-term lease with Raleigh Studios to produce three other big-budget movies—Iron Man 2, Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)—at their Manhattan Beach, California complex. Lou Ferrigno, who voiced Hulk in The Incredible Hulk, stated that he would be involved in the film. In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel Entertainment to play the role of Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and other films, acting as a vehicle for characters such as Captain America, Thor, the Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. In September 2009, Edward Norton stated that he was open to returning as the Hulk for The Avengers. The next month, executive producer Jon Favreau stated that he would not direct the film, but would ". . . definitely have input and a say". Favreau also expressed concerns, stating, "It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man, and Iron Man is very much a tech-based hero, and then with Avengers you're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor. . . . [Mixing] the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the reality that we've created". In March 2009, actress Scarlett Johansson replaced Emily Blunt in portraying Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2, a deal that subsequently attached her to The Avengers. An earlier draft of the script, written before Johansson's involvement, included the female superhero Wasp. The following day Marvel announced that the release date for The Avengers had been pushed back to May 4, 2012, almost a full year later. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston joined the cast of The Avengers in June, returning as Thor and Loki, respectively.

In July 2009, Penn talked about the crossover process, stating, "My job is to kind of shuttle between the different movies and make sure that finally we're mimicking that comic book structure where all of these movies are connected. . . There's just a board that tracks 'Here's where everything that happens in this movie overlaps with that movie'. . . I'm pushing them to do as many animatics as possible to animate the movie, to draw boards so that we're all working off the same visual ideas. But the exigencies of production take first priority". The following month, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige stated he would introduce more characters into The Avengers and that the Hulk would factor in the film.

In January 2010, Kevin Feige was asked if it will be difficult to meld the fantasy of Thor with the high-tech science fiction in Iron Man and The Avengers. "No," he said, "because we're doing the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee/Walt Simonson/J. Michael Straczynski Thor. We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-of-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library Thor. And in the Thor of the Marvel Universe, there's a race called the Asgardians. And we're linked through this Tree of Life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The 'Thor' movie is about teaching people that". In March it was reported that Penn had completed the first draft of the script, and that Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Avengers comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis had received copies. Also in March, Chris Evans accepted an offer to play the role of Captain America in three films including The Avengers. In April 2010, Variety reported that Joss Whedon was close to completing a deal to direct the film, and to rework Penn's script.

Joss Whedon, a fan of the Avengers comics, was announced as the director of the film in July 2010, a notion that was first hinted by Arad and comic co-creator Stan Lee. Arad stated: "My personal opinion is that Joss will do a fantastic job. He loves these characters and is a fantastic writer. . . It's part of his life so you know he is going to protect it. . . I expect someone like him is going to make the script even better". Whedon stated at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, that what drew him to the movie is that he loves how "these people shouldn't be in the same room let alone on the same team—and that is the definition of family".

The casting process continued into much of 2010, with the additions of Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Clark Gregg.Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton, who declined the role of the Hulk due to creative reasons."We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers," stated Kevin Feige, Marvel's president of the production team. "Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Samuel, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks." In response, Norton's agent Brian Swardstrom decried Feige's statement, calling it "purposefully misleading" and an "inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light".

In August 2010, it was reported that Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios were planning to start shooting in February. Simultaneously, it was declared that the film would be shot in 3D, although Mark Ruffalo later tweeted that this was not the case. In October 2010, Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York and the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York City, were announced as filming locations, with set construction slated to begin in November, but as Whedon later explained, "Originally we were supposed to be in Los Angeles, then for a short period we were supposed to be in New York, and then somehow we ended up in Albuquerque." Also that October, The Walt Disney Company agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. The deal also allowed Paramount to continue to collect the 8 percent box office fee it would have earned for distributing the film and a marquee credit — placement of the company's logo on marketing materials. As a result, the onscreen production credit reads "Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures" though the film is solely owned, distributed and marketed by Disney. Paramount's Epix retained pay TV rights.

In December 2010, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Marvel Studios Co-president Louis D'Esposito announced The Avengers would film primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with principal photography scheduled for April through September 2011. Parts of the film were also scheduled to be shot in Michigan, but a plan to film in Detroit ended after Governor Rick Snyder issued a budget proposal that would eliminate a film tax incentive. Three months later in March, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced before Mayor Frank G. Jackson's State of the City address that The Avengers would film in Cleveland. Concept illustrator and designer of Iron Man's Mark VII armor Phil Saunders stated that "Joss Whedon was looking for something that had the 'cool' factor of the suitcase suit [from Iron Man 2], while still being a fully armored, heavy duty suit that could take on an army in the final battle." To that end, Saunders borrowed ideas that had been proposed in Iron Man 2 as well as some ideas that had been abandoned in Iron Man and merged them together in a modular suit that has big ammo packets on the arms and a backpack. The Science & Entertainment Exchange also provided science consultation for the film.

Casting reached its final stages the following year. In February 2011, Cobie Smulders acquired the role of Maria Hill, after participating in screen tests conducted by Marvel for the role of a key member of S.H.I.E.L.D., who Samuel L. Jackson described as Nick Fury's sidekick. Over the successive months, The Avengers cast expanded to include Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Bettany and Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow was cast at Downey's insistence; prior to this, Whedon had not intended The Avengers to include supporting characters from the heroes' individual films, commenting, "You need to separate the characters from their support systems in order to create the isolation you need for a team."

Principal photography began on April 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In June, stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald injured his head while attempting a stunt involving a 30-foot fall from a building after getting hit by an arrow. A Marvel spokesperson later told TMZ.com that despite the injury, Fitzgerald recovered and continued working on set. The following month, secondary filming took place about an hour outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Butler area. A chase sequence was also shot in Worthington, Pennsylvania at Creekside Mushroom Farms, the world's largest single-site mushroom farm, which provided 150 miles of abandoned limestone tunnels 300 feet below the ground for filming.

Production relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011, where filming transpired over a period of four weeks. The city's East 9th Street was chosen as a double for New York City's 42nd Street to be used in climactic battle scenes. Army Reserve soldiers assigned to the Columbus, Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion provided background action during the battle scenes in Cleveland. Staff Sgt. Michael T. Landis stated the use of real soldiers made the scenes more realistic and helped portray the Army in a more positive light, explaining that, "It's easy for us to make on-the-spot corrections to tactics and uniforms, the director actually took our recommendation on one scene and let us all engage the enemy as opposed to only the gunners in the trucks engaging". Filming also took place in the large vacuum chamber at the NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky, Ohio. The station's Space Power Facility was used to portray a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility. A series of explosions were filmed at the Chevrolet powertrain plant in Parma, Ohio as part of the battle sequence that began in Cleveland. Scenes from the film were also shot on Public Square and the Detroit–Superior Bridge. The southwest quadrant of Public Square was turned into Stuttgart, Germany, for filming.

Principal photography concluded in New York City, where filming occurred over two days. Filming locations in New York City included Park Avenue and Central Park. For scenes taking place in Manhattan, visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison shot aerial footage for over three days to use as background plates, elaborating that his main objective was to "get as much aerial work in as possible for the audience to see the big expanses, the wide establishing shots, while also making sure that the effects work doesn't look too computer generated"; "We're getting much better at making entirely computer-generated environments," Morrison explained, "but there is no substitute for starting with a real image and adding what you need."

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey stated that he composed the frame with an 1.85:1 aspect ratio to cope with the varying heights of the main characters, explaining that "shooting 1.85:1 is kind of unusual for an epic film like this, but we needed the height in the screen to be able to frame in all the characters like Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow, who is much smaller. We had to give them all precedence and width within the frame. Also, Joss [Whedon] knew the final battle sequence was going to be this extravaganza in Manhattan, so the height and vertical scale of the buildings was going to be really important." The film was McGarvey's first venture shooting with a digital camera; the Arri Alexa. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D digital SLR cameras were used for some shots, and high-speed shots were captured on 35 mm film with the Arriflex 435. About his visual approach, McGarvey remarked "Joss and I were keen on having a very visceral and naturalistic quality to the image. We wanted this to feel immersive and did not want a 'comic book look' that might distance an audience with the engagement of the film. We moved the camera a lot on Steadicam, cranes and on dollies to create kinetic images; and we chose angles that were dramatic, like low angles for heroic imagery."

In December 2011, Disney announced that the film would be converted to 3D. Said Whedon, "I'm not a big fan of extreme long lens, talky movies — I like to see the space I'm in and relate to it, so 3D kinda fits my aesthetic anyway. And the technology has advanced so far in the past couple years." Whedon also said that "there definitely are movies that shouldn't be in 3D" but "The Avengers isn't obnoxiously 3D. There's no, 'Oh look, we're going to spend 20 minutes going through this tunnel because it's in 3D!' And no one is pointing at the screen the entire time. But it's an action movie. Things tend to hurtle toward the screen anyway". In January 2012, it was reported that The Avengers would be digitally remastered for IMAX 3D and open in IMAX theaters on May 4, 2012, the same day it opens in regular theaters. The IMAX release of The Avengers follows Marvel's release of Iron Man 2 and Thor on IMAX screens.

In a May 2012 interview, Whedon said that it was his decision to include Thanos in a post-credits scene, although the character is not identified in the film. "He for me is the most powerful and fascinating Marvel villain. He's the great grand daddy of the badasses and he's in love with Death and I just think that's so cute. For me, the greatest Avengers [comic book] was Avengers Annual #7 (1977) that Jim Starlin did followed by Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977) that contained the death of Adam Warlock. Those were some of the most important texts and I think underrated milestones in Marvel history and Thanos is all over that, so somebody had to be in control and had to be behind Loki's work and I was like 'It's got to be Thanos.' And they said 'Okay' and I'm like 'Oh my God!'"An additional coda involving the Avengers eating shawarma was shot on April 12, 2012, a day after the world premiere. (Sales of shawarma in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Boston reportedly skyrocketed in the days following the film's release.)

The Avengers contains more than 2,200 visual effects shots completed by 14 companies: Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, Scanline VFX, Hydraulx, Fuel VFX, Evil Eye Pictures, Luma Pictures, Cantina Creative, Trixter, Modus FX, Whiskytree, Digital Domain, The Third Floor and Method Design. ILM, who previously worked on Ang Lee's Hulk, was the lead vendor and shared responsibility for creating many of the film's key effects, including the Helicarrier, the New York cityscape, digital body doubles, Iron Man and the Hulk. To create the on-screen Hulk, Ruffalo performed in a motion-capture suit on set with the other actors while four motion-capture HD cameras (two full body, two focused on his face) captured his face and body movements. Jeff White, ILM's visual effects supervisor, said, "We really wanted to utilize everything we've developed the last 10 years and make it a pretty spectacular Hulk. One of the great design decisions was to incorporate Mark Ruffalo into the look of him. So, much of Hulk is based on Ruffalo and his performance, not only in motion capture and on set, but down to his eyes, his teeth, and his tongue."

ILM digitally recreated the vast majority of the New York cityscape used in the film. In total, ILM artists rendered an area of about ten city blocks by about four city blocks. To do this ILM sent out a team of four photographers to take pictures of the area in a shoot that lasted 8 weeks. Disney and Sony agreed for OsCorp Tower from the The Amazing Spider-Man to be included in the film, but the idea was dropped because much of the skyline had already been completed.

Weta Digital took over duties for animating Iron Man during the forest duel from ILM. Guy Williams, Weta's visual effects supervisor, said, "We shared assets back and forth with ILM, but our pipelines are unique and it's hard for other assets to plug into it. But in this case, we got their models and we had to redo the texture spaces because the way we texture maps is different." Williams said the most difficult part was re-creating Iron Man's reflective metal surfaces.

Scanline VFX completed the reveal shots of the Helicarrier, from the moment Black Widow and Captain America arrive on the carrier deck to the point where it lifts off. Evil Eye Pictures composited digital backgrounds into shots filmed against a greenscreen for scenes taking place inside the Helicarrier. Colin Strause of Hydraulx said, "We did the opening ten minutes of the movie, other than the opening set-up in space" including Loki's arrival on Earth and subsequent escape from the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Luma Pictures worked on shots featuring the Helicarrier's bridge and incorporated the graphic monitor displays that were developed by Cantina Creative. Fuel VFX completed shots taking place in and around Tony Stark's penthouse at Stark Tower. Digital Domain created the asteroid environment, where Loki encounters The Other. Method Design in Los Angeles created the closing credits for The Avengers. Steve Viola, creative director at Method Design, said, "This piece was a two-minute, self-contained main on end sequence created entirely in CG. For each of the shots in the sequence, we designed, modeled, textured, and lit all of the environments and many of the foreground objects. We received assets from Marvel to include in the piece, then heavily re-modeled and re-surfaced them to create a post-battle macro sequence. We also designed a custom typeface for the Main Title of The Avengers as well as 30 credits set in-scene."

In November 2011, Marvel announced that Alan Silvestri, who scored Captain America: The First Avenger, would write and compose the score for The Avengers. Silvestri said, "I've worked on films where there have been a number of stars and certainly worked on films where there have been characters of equal weight in terms of their level of importance and profile in the film, but this one is somewhat extreme in that regard because each of these characters has their own world and it's a very different situation. It's very challenging to look for a way to give everyone the weight and consideration they need, but at the same time the film is really about the coming together of these characters, which implies that there is this entity called the Avengers which really has to be representative of all of them together." Silvestri developed the score with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London, England. Whedon said, "The score is very old-fashioned, which is why [Silvestri] was letter-perfect for this movie because he can give you the heightened emotion, the [Hans Zimmer] school of 'I'm just feeling a lot right now!' but he can also be extraordinarily cue and character specific, which I love."

In March 2012, American alternative rock band Soundgarden announced through their official Facebook page that they had written a song to be included on the film's soundtrack, entitled "Live to Rise". Additionally, Indian rock band Agnee released a music video for their single "Hello Andheron", which serves as the theme song for the Indian release of the film. The following day, Marvel revealed the details for the soundtrack, which was released on May 1, 2012, the same day as the score.

Phase 2

Iron Man 3 (2013)

After the release of Iron Man 2, a conflict between Paramount Pictures, which has distribution rights to certain Marvel properties, and The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Entertainment's new corporate parent, clouded the timing and the distribution arrangement of a possible third film. On October 18, 2010, however, Walt Disney Pictures agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. Disney, Marvel, and Paramount announced a May 3, 2013 release date for Iron Man 3. Favreau said in December 2010 that he would not direct Iron Man 3, opting to direct Magic Kingdom instead. He remained an executive producer of director Joss Whedon's planned spin-off film The Avengers. Shane Black is scheduled to direct Iron Man 3, from a screenplay by Drew Pearce. In April 2012, Ben Kingsley entered negotiations to play a villain in Iron Man 3. The following week, Feige said Iron Man 3 would begin shooting in North Carolina "in five weeks" and that it "is a full-on Tony Stark-centric movie ... very much inspired by the first half of 'Iron Man ... [H]e’s stripped of everything, he’s backed up against a wall, and he’s gotta use his intelligence to get out of it. He can’t call Thor, he can’t call Cap, he can’t call Nick Fury, and he can’t look for the Helicarrier in the sky." Later in April, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment announced an agreement to co-produce Iron Man 3 in China. DMG will partly finance, produce in China with Marvel, and handle co-production matters. DMG will also distribute the film in China in tandem with Disney. Guy Pearce has entered final talks to play Aldrich Killian, a character who is featured in the "Extremis" comic book story arc. Jessica Chastain was in discussions for a role in the film but bowed out due to scheduling conflicts. Rebecca Hall was cast in her place. A post-credits scene directed by Edgar Wright may be in production, where Ant-Man confronts Chen Lu.

Filming began in Wilmington, North Carolina on May 23, 2012 at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. From June 4 through June 6, filming took place in Cary, North Carolina at the Epic Games headquarters, with a large Christmas tree set up on the front lawn. A scene was also shot at the Wilmington International Airport. On set photos in North Carolina featured an actor wearing armor similar to the "Iron Patriot" suit from the comics. It was later reported to be the War Machine armor painted in red, white and blue. Another picture appeared online showing a building with a sign saying AIM, Advanced Idea Mechanics. In late June it was reported that the large water tank in the EUE/Screen Gems Studios was being used to film a scene in which Stark's Malibu mansion would be destroyed and fall into the ocean. It was also reported that Andy Lau had turned down the role he was negotiating to play, due to the birth of his first child on May 9. With Lau out, other actors in consideration for the role included Chen Daoming and Wu Xiubo. Chinese actresses reportedly contacted for separate roles included Yao Chen and Fan Bingbing.

From July 19 to August 1 filming took place on Oak Island, North Carolina, to "film aerial drops over the Atlantic Ocean". In late July, it was reported that Stephanie Szostak had been cast in the film. Filming took place in Rose Hill, North Carolina in early August 2012. On August 14, actress Dale Dickey said she had been cast in the film, and was currently shooting her scenes. Despite erroneous early reports Cobie Smulders would be in the film, Smulders wrote on her verified Twitter page that this was not so. Production was delayed on August 15, 2012, when Downey's ankle was injured in a stunt. Shooting had resumed by August 24. In early September, it was reported that Wang Xueqi had been cast as Chen Lu, the role Lau had been up for.

Cast and crew are set to begin arriving in Florida on October 1, to shoot scenes on Dania Beach and around South Florida. Shooting is also scheduled to take place in China.In early October, scenes were shot at a replica of the Malibu restaurant Neptune's Net, and filming took place on location at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. A flashback scene of New Year's 1999/2000 was being filmed at the Miami Beach Resort, Miami Beach, FL on October 10 and 11, 2012. Shooting is also scheduled to take place in China.


Thor: The Dark World (2013)

In April 2011, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige stated that following The Avengers, "Thor will go off into a new adventure." Kenneth Branagh director of Thor responded to his comments, saying, "It is kind of news to me. Here's what I would say to that: It's that I'm thrilled they're that confident. I shall wait for the audience to tell us whether there should be a second one, and then if that's a nice conversation to be had [among] all of us, that'd be thrilling. But I've got too much Irish superstitious blood in me to assume that Thor 2 will happen. But if Marvel says so, then I guess it must be true". Feige later explained that Marvel Studios would gauge how well Thor did at the box office before announcing sequels, but stated, "Don Payne is working on story ideas for a part two. We've got various options with Ken [Branagh] to discuss coming back, but right now the focus is on the first one. Don is, slowly but surely, thinking about where to take the character next should we be so lucky".

In June 2011, Walt Disney Pictures set a July 26, 2013 release date for Thor 2 with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the title hero. Branagh is not returning as director but will likely be involved in some producing capacity. The Los Angeles Times cited the marathon devotion required for a major visual-effects epic and the urgency to have the script process underway as reasons for Branagh's departure, although the director was initially enthused by the prospect of a sequel. The following day, Marvel formally hired Payne, one of the credited writers of the first film, to script the sequel.

In August 2011, Brian Kirk entered early negotiations to direct Thor 2 for Marvel Studios and Disney. The film would mark Kirk's directorial debut on a major Hollywood production, after having directed HBO, Showtime and BBC drama series, including the fantasy-adventure Game of Thrones. Idris Elba, who portrayed Heimdall in the first film, stated that he had plans for Thor 2.

In September 2011, Tom Hiddleston confirmed he would return in the sequel, speculating that in Thor 2, "[Loki will] have to take responsibility for what he’s done". Patty Jenkins, the director of Monster and the pilot episode of AMC's The Killing, entered early negotiations with Marvel Studios and Disney to direct Thor 2, after Kirk had passed due to creative and financial sticking points that arose during negotiations. The same month, Fiege stated the sequel would "take Thor literally to other worlds" and would "primarily be the journey of that character, of he and Jane Foster and how the new dynamic with his father is working out, as well as what are the broader stakes for The Nine Worlds".

In October 2011, Joshua Dallas, who portrayed Fandral, stated he plans to return to Asgard in Thor 2. On October 13, 2011, Disney moved the release date for Thor 2 to November 15, 2013. The same day Marvel confirmed that Jenkins would direct the sequel and Natalie Portman would return to star.

In December 2011, Jenkins exited the project, citing "creative differences". She stated, "I have had a great time working at Marvel. We parted on very good terms, and I look forward to working with them again." Three days later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Marvel is looking at Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan as prospect directors to replace Jenkins. THR also reported that Marvel is in the midst of hiring a writer to rewrite Don Payne's script and the shortlist of possible writers consists of John Collee, Robert Rodat, and Roger Avary. At the end of the month, Alan Taylor, best known for directing episodes of the HBO fantasy series Game Of Thrones, was chosen to direct the sequel.

In January 2012, Tom Hiddleston stated that filming is expected to begin in London in the summer of 2012. Also in January, it was reported that Marvel Studios hired Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat to rewrite Thor 2. The following day, Jaimie Alexander who portrayed Sif, stated, "I've had few discussions about Thor 2. I'm definitely going to be a part of it so that will be fun. And we just got Alan Taylor from Game of Thrones to direct so we're really excited. I'm excited to see what he brings".

In April 2012, Hemsworth confirmed that filming is scheduled to begin in August 2012, in London, England. In an April 2012 interview, Feige said "while the relationship between Loki and Thor certainly has changed [after the events of the movie The Avengers] and has progressed, a lot of 'Thor 2' is picking up where it left off in terms of Jane, who you just saw for a moment on a computer monitor, and also what’s been going on in the nine realms without the Asgardians being able to use the Bifrost." Feige also said that while Loki has a part, "...there will be a different villain, another big villain. But you can’t do a Thor movie without Loki". Later in the same month, it was reported that Ray Stevenson would return in Thor 2.

In May 2012, Mads Mikkelsen began talks to play one of the villains in Thor 2. The same day, Deadline Hollywood reported that Anthony Hopkins, who played Odin in the first film, was committed to returning in the sequel. At the end of the month, Disney moved up the release date for Thor 2 a week ahead of the previous date to November 8, 2013.

In June 2012, Joshua Dallas announced that he will not be reprising the role of Fandral due to his commitment on the television show, Once Upon a Time. The same day, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Marvel was eyeing Zachary Levi to replace Dallas. Levi was originally up for the role in the first film but had to bow out due his commitment on Chuck. Levi later confirmed his involvement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Also in June, Stellan Skarsgård confirmed that he would be returning, stating "I will try to combine Thor 2 which starts in August and goes to the end of December with the new Lars Von Trier film".

In July 2012, Mads Mikkelsen stated in an interview that he will not be appearing in Thor 2 due to prior commitments, "That's not happening unfortunately. I had a meeting with [the filmmakers], but it was a bit too late and then Hannibal came in...It's just not happening". At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that the film would be titled Thor: The Dark World. In August of that same year, Christopher Eccleston entered final negotiations to play Malekith the Accursed. Also in August, it was reported that the film will shoot in Iceland, where Alan Taylor shot parts of Game of Thrones. Also in August, it was reported that Kat Dennings would reprise her role as Darcy Lewis. The following day, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was cast as Algrim the Strong / Kurse. At the end of the month, film crews for Thursday Mourning began set construction at Stonehenge near Amesbury, England.

Principal photography began on September 10, 2012 in Bourne Wood, Surrey. Thor co-creator, Stan Lee stated at the 2012 Comikaze Expo that he has a cameo appearance in the film. A few weeks later, Clive Russell was cast as Tyr, and Richard Brake was cast as an Einherjar captain. At the end of the month, Jaimie Alexander was injured on the London film set, after she slipped while walking in the rain. In October 2012, production moved to Iceland with filming taking place in Dómadalur, Skógafoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur and Skeiðarársandur. Iceland Review described the shoot as being among the most extensive film projects to have ever taken place in Iceland. Also in October, Disney announced that the film would be released in 3D.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus said in April 2011 that they have been writing a sequel for Marvel Studios. In a June 2011 interview, they said, "The story will likely be in the present day. We're experimenting with flashback elements for more period World War II stuff. I can't say much more than that but we made it baggy enough to refer to more stories in the past". In September 2011, Chris Evans said that a sequel may not be released until 2014. In January 2012, Neal McDonough mentioned that a sequel would likely be filmed after the completion of Thor: The Dark World, which would likely be before the end of 2012.

In March 2012, it was reported that Marvel has whittled down a field of ten directors to three potential candidates; George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau), F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) and brothers Anthony and Joseph Russo (Community) to helm the sequel. In April 2012, Walt Disney Studios announced that it will release the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger on April 4, 2014. Disney stated, "The second installment will pick-up where … The Avengers leaves off, as Steve Rogers continues his affiliation with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. and struggles to embrace his role in the modern world." Later in April, it was reported that F. Gary Gray withdrew his name from consideration, choosing instead to direct the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton for New Line Cinema. In June 2012, the Russo brothers entered negotiations to direct the sequel. It was also reported that Samuel L. Jackson would return as S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury. At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that the official title for the sequel will be Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In July 2012, Anthony Mackie entered negotiations to star as the Falcon alongside Chris Evans in the sequel. Sebastian Stan was also reported to be reprising his role as James "Bucky" Barnes. In August 2012, the New York Post reported that Anna Kendrick, Felicity Jones, and Imogen Poots were front-runners for a leading role in the film.

In September 2012, Chris Evans stated that filming would begin in March 2013. Evans also stated that Rogers' adjustment to the modern world, which was originally set to be included in The Avengers, would be better suited for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. At the end of the month, The Greater Cleveland Film Commission announced that Captain America: The Winter Soldier would film in Cleveland after the production was approved for a $9.5 million tax credit. It was also reported that portions of the film would be shot in California and Washington, D.C. In October, Deadline reported that Emilia Clarke, Jessica Brown Findlay, Teresa Palmer, Imogen Poots, and Alison Brie were being considered for Rogers' love interest in the film. It was also reported that Scarlett Johansson would be reprising her role as Black Widow in the film. It was also reported that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is in the running for the female lead and that Nikolaj Coster Waldau and Josh Holloway are being considered for roles in the film. In late October, Frank Grillo was reported to be testing for the role of the villain Crossbones in the film.[24] By the end of the month, Grillo closed a deal to portray the character and Cobie Smulders signed on to reprise her role as Maria Hill from The Avengers.

In January 2013, Hayley Atwell, who played Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, confirmed that she will not appear in the sequel. Also in January, Marvel Studios announced that the film will be released in 3D. Later that month, Toby Jones, who portrayed Arnim Zola in the first film, said that he will reprise the role in the sequel.

In February 2013, Emily VanCamp entered negotiations to play the female lead in the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige first mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film during an interview at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, stating, "There are some obscure titles, too, like 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' I think they've been revamped recently in a fun way in the book."[4] In a September 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Feige reiterated that sentiment, going on to say, "There's an opportunity to do a big space epic, which Thor sort of hints at, in the cosmic side of the [Marvel] universe." In June 2012 Marvel filed eleven trademark applications for Guardians of the Galaxy, covering a variety of consumer products, from video games to cosmetics. This was shortly followed by rumors that the film had been greenlit, and would involve the supervillain Thanos as a potential lead-in to an Avengers sequel. Variety chimed in, stating that a script for the film, which the studio was high on, had been written by Nicole Perlman. The film was officially announced as being in active development at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International Marvel Studios panel by Feige, with an intended release date of August 1, 2014. He stated that the film's titular team would consist of the characters Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon; while two pieces of concept art were displayed, one of Rocket Raccoon, and one featuring the full team. In August 2012 Marvel Studios hired writer Chris McCoy to rewrite Perlman's script. Later that month James Gunn entered talks to direct the film, beating out other contenders, including Peyton Reed and the duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who signed a deal to creatively consult on all of the films leading into The Avengers sequel, including Guardians of the Galaxy, was enthusiastic about the selection of Gunn to direct, saying "James [Gunn] is what makes me think it will work... He is so off the wall, and so crazy, but so smart, such a craftsman and he builds from his heart. He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon... He has a very twisted take on it, but it all comes from a real love for the material. It's going to be hard for [the human characters] to keep up."  On September 18, 2012, Gunn confirmed in a post on his official Facebook page that he had signed on to direct the film and rewrite the script. In November, it was reported that Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess, Lee Pace and Eddie Redmayne signed deals to test for the role of Peter Quill / Star-Lord. A week later Pace confirmed that he was auditioning for the role. Other actors who were reportedly considered for the role included Thor: The Dark World's Zachary Levi, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Rosenbaum. In February 2013, Chris Pratt was cast in the role. Victoria Alonso, an executive producer on the film, said that filming would begin in June. Filming was set to take place at Shepperton Studios in London, England, and Marvel Studios announced that the film would be released in 3D. In an interview published in a March 2013 issue of SFX, Kevin Feige discussed Guardians of the Galaxy in relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "It’s much more of a standalone film," said Feige. "It takes place in the same universe. And when we’ve been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what’s happening out there at this time." Feige also stated that 95% of the film would take place in space. In mid-March, Dave Bautista was signed to play Drax the Destroyer. Other actors who had been considered for the role included Isaiah Mustafa, Brian Patrick Wade and Jason Momoa. A week later it was reported that sculptor Brian Muir, who sculpted Darth Vader's mask for the Star Wars films, was working on the film.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

In October 2011, producer Kevin Feige said during the New York Comic Con, "Iron Man 3 will be the first of what we sort of refer to as phase two of this saga that will culminate, God willing, in Avengers 2". In March 2012, Joss Whedon stated that he would want a sequel to be "smaller. More personal. More painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself."[234] At the premiere of The Avengers, Feige said they have an option for Whedon to direct The Avengers 2 when and if the time comes. In May 2012, after the successful release of The Avengers, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel was in development.

At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Joss Whedon said he was undecided about Avengers 2, stating, "I have not come to a decision on directing Avengers 2. I am having too much fun with this [Firefly reunion] now". However, in August 2012, Iger announced that Whedon will return to write and direct The Avengers 2 and develop a Marvel TV show for ABC. Later in the same month, Disney set a May 1, 2015, release date.

Phase 3

Ant-Man (2015)

Edgar Wright plans to direct an action film for Marvel Studios with some humorous elements, insisting that Ant-Man will not be a comedy like Fantastic Four or a spoof. The script has been written by Wright and Joe Cornish, who plan to include Henry Pym and Scott Lang as major characters, with Pym as Ant-Man in the 1960s in Tales to Astonish style, and a flashforward to Lang as Ant-Man's successor in modern day.

On February 9, 2007 Wright said that the project was in "a holding pattern" while the script was revised, with casting yet to begin. The director reported that he would have news about the film in a few months. He has been researching nanotechnology for the film. As of March 2008, Wright told Empire magazine that a second draft of the script is being written. Known for being a comedy writer, the director noted that the film would not be overtly comedic, but that it would be "more of a full-on action adventure sci-fi film but with a comedic element."

On February 9, 2010 Stan Lee, the co-creator of Ant-Man, met with Wright for lunch, and Lee soon recounted the meeting on his Twitter feed: "To make up for my previous grievous error, here's a little item that may have escaped you. Marvel is prepping a movie starring-- Ant Man!" Lee continued in a further tweet, "I had lunch with the cool, young director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and, as you'd imagine, we had fun discussing the tiny hero."

On February 11, 2010, Edgar Wright told MTV News, "Because that character isn't one of their biggest properties, it’s not like a tentpole deadline. It’s more like me and Kevin Feige saying, 'Let's make a really good script.' We've always agreed on that — 'Let's make a good script that works, that’s all about a great genre film, and that isn’t necessarily relying on anything else.'"

At the San Diego Comic Con in 2010, Wright confirmed that his script is an origin story, and that doesn't work for Marvel's chronology to include Ant-Man in The Avengers. Wright stated in January 2011 that he resumed writing the script for the film. During a Q and A at SXSW for Cornish's movie Attack the Block, Wright and Cornish stated that they had been recently rewriting the script. While attending Kapow-Con in April 2011, Cornish revealed that Wright and he had delivered the second draft to the studio. Then on July 2011 Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish delivered a third draft and some concept art to Marvel Studios. A source says that the film has now getting a Greenlight.

In May, 2012, a "teaser" image of the movie was presented via Twitter by writer and director Edgar Wright. Feige stated as well that the movie was "as close as it’s ever been".

On June 28, 2012, Wright directed a test reel for the film. Rumors also surfaced that Wright will be directing a post-credits scene for Iron Man 3 in which Ant-Man confronts Chen Lu.

Wright appeared at San Diego Comic-Con on July 14, 2012 to confirm Ant-Man as his next project and to show his test footage. Simon Pegg announced on his Twitter that Edgar will shoot Ant-Man next year. Marvel producer extraordinaire Victoria Alonso said that the studio are planning to release the test reel from comic con.

On October 15, 2012, Marvel and Disney announced that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man would hit theaters on November 6, 2015.

Captain America 3 (2016)

By January 2014, Anthony and Joe Russo had signed on to return to direct a third installment, which they confirmed in March 2014, with Chris Evans returning as Captain America, Kevin Feige producing, and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely returning to write the screenplay. The re-hiring of the directors, three months before the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, came as a result from impressive test screenings with Marvel executives. Markus and McFeely revealed that they began working on the script for the film in late 2013. Director of photography Trent Opaloch will also return for the third film. The film is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2016.

Doctor Strange (2016)

A movie version of Doctor Strange was initially listed as being in pre-production in 1986, with a script by Bob Gale. For unknown reasons the film never went further into production, but by December 1992, Wes Craven signed to write and direct, with Savoy Pictures distributing. The film was set for release in either 1994 or 1995.[52] However, Savoy went bankrupt and Columbia Pictures purchased the film rights. David S. Goyer had completed a script in 1995. In April 1997, Jeff Welch was working on a new screenplay, with Bernie Brillstein and Brad Grey producing.[54] Michael France was then commissioned to write a script. Despite interest from Chuck Russell and Stephen Norrington as directors, Columbia dropped Doctor Strange entirely.[55] By June 2001, Dimension Films acquired the film rights with Goyer back on board as writer and director. Goyer hinted scheduling conflicts might ensue with a film adaptation of Murder Mysteries,[56] and promised not to be highly dependent on computer-generated imagery.[53] By August 2001, Miramax Films acquired the film rights from Dimension,[57] but by March 2002, Goyer dropped out of the project.[58] A 2005 release date was announced in March 2003,[59] while in June 2004, a script still had yet to be written. Avi Arad was in search of an A-list writer.[60] In April 2005, Paramount Pictures acquired Doctor Strange from Miramax, with a planned budget of $50–$165 million.[61] Guillermo del Toro was attached to direct in February 2008, approaching Neil Gaiman to write the script.[62] In June 2010, Marvel Studios hired Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to write Dr. Strange.[63] While promoting for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, actor Patrick Dempsey indicated he was lobbying to play the title character.[64] In January 2013, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that Dr. Strange would appear in some capacity as part of "Phase Three" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[65]

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)

In July 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman confirmed that Gunn would return to write and direct the sequel. The film will be released on July 28, 2017.

The Incredible Hulk 2

Samuel Sterns, played by Tim Blake Nelson, was introduced to set him up as a villain in a future film, where he would become the Leader. Aaron Sims, the lead designer on The Incredible Hulk, also took time to work on concepts for the Leader. Nelson is signed on to reprise the role. Gale Anne Hurd noted because the Leader is a cerebral villain, it would allow them to reinterpret the Hulk himself. Ty Burrell wants to portray the superpowered Doc Samson faithfully to the comics. Norton said, "The whole thing was to envision it in multiple parts. We left a lot out on purpose. The Incredible Hulk is definitely intended as chapter one." Leterrier made the film's final shot of Banner ambiguous; the thought being if there is a sequel, it would mean Banner finally masters control over his anger; if there is not a sequel, the shot indicates instead that in the scheduled 2012 feature The Avengers, he becomes a menace. Leterrier had also intended for a scene in the credits showing Blonsky, human once more, imprisoned and chained in a box.

Leterrier and Roth are contracted to return. Leterrier also stated Norton was not signed on, but in October 2008, Hurd stated that Norton was contracted to reprise the role. The film has outgrossed its predecessor and Universal indicated interest in a sequel. However, by July 21, Leterrier believed a sequel would not be made because of the film's box office return. Leterrier is confident that the character will appear in The Avengers, even if Marvel does not ask Norton to fulfill his contract. Kevin Feige said the film met Marvel's expectations and that Hulk will return, but after the crossover. Hurd is not concerned that a sequel may not be produced until at least 2012, citing the positive reception to the film and having produced the Terminator series, the second and third film of which had a 12-year gap. Tim Roth confirmed that Marvel has signed him for three more films. Leterrier, after having previously said he did not want to direct a sequel, said in late 2009 he had changed his mind and was now amenable. In 2012's The Avengers, Mark Ruffalo begins his role as Banner/Hulk. In April 2012, despite Ruffalo is on board to play the Hulk in the sequel, Feige confirmed to Collider that Marvel has "no plans right now to do another Hulk [movie]. Hulk might be just the special guest in Avengers movies, who knows?" However in a Q and A session, Feige and Ruffalo have confirmed that discussions are underway to produce another Hulk movie due to positive audience response of Ruffalo's performance in The Avengers. However, it was later announced that a sequel would be released in 2015. Kevin Feige has suggested that it would not come out until after the sequel to The Avengers is released and that "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" could be used as possible story lines. Josh Trank, director of Chronicle, had interest in directing the future sequel. The short film The Consultant elaborates on Tony Stark's meeting with General Ross which took place in The Incredible Hulk.

Trivia

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe beat Warner Bros.' Batman series as the highest-grossing superhero film franchise.
  • Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger were each distributed by Paramount Pictures. The Incredible Hulk was distributed by Universal Studios. The Avengers was distributed by Marvel's parent group Walt Disney Studios, with Paramount's logo appearing on merchandising as part of the deal between the two companies, as with Iron Man 3. All subsequent films starting with Thor: The Dark World will be distributed by Disney and bear the Disney logo.
  • This is the 4th highest-grossing film franchise of all-time. It is beaten by Star Wars, James Bond, and Harry Potter.
  • Two great world leaders are mentioned in the universe: Genghis Khan (who ruled most of Asia) by Raza in Iron Man and Adolf Hitler (who ruled most of Europe) by the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger.

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