Marvel Studios' shared cinematic universe, already home to a wide range of characters, continues to expand with each new installment.
Last year's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduced a new villain (Kurt Russell's Ego) and added another heroine (Pom Klementieff's Mantis) to the universe — as well as Ayesha (Elizabeth Dobecki), her golden race of people known as the Sovereign, and a slew of never-before-seen characters like Starkar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) and Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames) — while Spider-Man: Homecoming brought in high-flying bad guy Vulture (Michael Keaton) and Peter Parker's high school classmates.
The universe got even bigger with Thor: Ragnarok, bringing in Thor's villainous sister Hela (Cate Blanchette), the redeemable Executioner (Karl Urban), the enigmatic Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), the ass-kicking Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and fan-favorite aliens Miek and Korg (Taika Waititi).
Black Panther will see the premiere of an entire nation — the technologically-advanced and tucked-away Wakanda — and its people, stepping into the spotlight to make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Even more brand new characters make their way to the screen in this year's Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, before 2019 sees the MCU add its newest heroine to its ranks (Brie Larson's Captain Marvel).
Dr. Bill Foster
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) boards the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Ant-Man and the Wasp as Dr. Bill Foster, who in the Marvel Comics was a brilliant scientist that adopted operated as super-sized superhero Goliath.
Foster — former assistant to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who created the astonishing Ant-Man technology and its subsequent growth shrinking and expanding abilities — can be spotted in the first Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer that was released last month.
A long-time Marvel Comics reader, Fishburne said he "imagined and dreamt and fantasized" he would one day "be lucky enough to be in the Marvel Universe." That day will come July 6th.prevnext
Janet van Dyne
The heroine operated as the bit-sized hero alongside Pym's Ant-Man until she sacrificed herself in the line of duty, disappearing into the mysterious and incomprehensible Quantum Realm. Seemingly lost forever, her supposed death lead to decades of regret for Hank Pym.
Janet's daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), has since stepped into her mother's wings to become the modern day Wasp, making her superhero debut after entering the scene in 2015's Ant-Man.
Leading man Paul Rudd opened up about his legendary co-stars and called the veteran actress "absolutely tremendous," saying it was a "thrill" to work with Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer, who praised the first Ant-Man for its "great sense of humor" and "unusual tone," said the sequel boasts the same qualities and is nicely written. Fans got their first look at Pfeiffer on set in October.prevnext
Marvel Studios continues to up their female villainess game.
Avengers: Infinity War will see Earth's mightiest heroes square off against Proxima Midnight, a brutal alien warrior and daughter of ultimate villain Thanos (Josh Brolin).
Set photos have revealed actress and Avengers: Infinity War stunt coordinator Monique Ganderton as providing the physical motion-capture performance for the computer-generated villain, who has been spotted only briefly launching her spear towards Captain America (Chris Evans) in promotional material.
With her ties to Thanos — and, it can be presumed, to Thanos' adopted daughters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) — the fierce-looking warrior should make for an intriguing and formidable opponent come her arrival to Earth in Infinity War, out May 4th.prevnext
Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson has the honor of being the first actress to lead her own Marvel Studios movie, Captain Marvel, where she stars as Air Force pilot-turned-superhero Carol Danvers.
The fan-favorite comic book heroine, who has ties to the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will make her big screen debut alongside Walter Lawson / Mar-Vell (Jude Law) as well as the shape-shifting alien race known as the Skrulls.
Fans got their long-awaited first look at Larson suited up late last month in set photos revealing the actress in a green and black Kree-inspired super suit.
"This movie is everything I care about, everything that's progressive and important and meaningful, and a symbol I wished I would've had growing up," the actress said of the role.
Larson will debut in Captain Marvel, in theaters March 8, 2019, before assembling alongside her superhero colleagues in Avengers 4, out May 3, 2019.prevnext
T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is king of Wakanda and the badass superhero known as the Black Panther, but his 16-year-old sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is his techie benefactor — like a much prettier Tony Stark, who Black Panther Nate Moore says is outclassed by the Wakandan inventor in the brains department.
24-year-old actress Wright, who is receiving rave reviews for her role, said she was drawn to the role because Shuri is "so far from the stereotypes that we see all the time."
"She likes science and she's super cool as well. I really liked the fact that she was smart and different; she can be an inspiration," Wright said. "In the comic books, she becomes a Black Panther. She's a queen in her own right. It's just a phenomenal part."
Shuri bursts into the spotlight in Black Panther, in theaters Thursday.prevnext
Also making her Marvel debut is The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira, who plays fierce Wakandan warrior and Dora Milaje member Okoye.
"Wakanda forever," she shouts, a rallying battle cry for the ages — one she's likely to repeat as she defends her homeland on the frontlines alongside Avengers like Captain America and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers: Infinity War.prevnext
Erik "Killmonger" Stevens
Michael B. Jordan has called Black Panther his shot at superhero movie redemption, and by all accounts he's succeeded: the actor is also on the receiving end of near-universal high praise, with critics praising his character as one of the all-time great Marvel Cinematic Universe villains as well as "a top tier villain for Marvel or otherwise."
Reviewers even have the "unexpectedly emotional" Killmonger surpassing even Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is often widely regarded as Marvel Studios' finest and most complex villain.
Jordan said he strived to have his character follow in the footsteps of Heath Ledger's Joker and Michael Fassbender's Magneto, explaining the best villains are "the ones that you can empathize with, you kind of know where they're coming from, you can see their point of view."
Several audition tapes have surfaced online for the role, which seemingly re-imagines Gwen as a foreign exchange student hailing far from Peter Parker's home Queens, New York.
Homecoming re-imagined much of Peter's long-time comic book supporting cast — Liz, Flash, Ned, and Betty all differed from their comic book counterparts — so it shouldn't come as a surprise Gwen, too, will undergo some modern tinkering, especially after Emma Stone made her mark on the character in Sony's since-retired pair of Amazing Spider-Man films.
Marvel's Spider-Man sequel swings into theaters July 5, 2019.prevnext
The four-armed creatures can be seen invading Wakanda and doing battle with Black Panther and his army as well as the assembled forces of Earth's mightiest heroes.
Cannon fodder they very well may be, but the alien creatures are a mix of worker bee and the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz — and they're mindlessly loyal to Thanos.
The Outriders just might overwhelm our heroes in Infinity War, but we're guessing they're no match for the assembled forces of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.prevnext
A more formidable match for the united front of heroes is Thanos, who first popped up in the post-credits scene of 2012's The Avengers.
Thanos would lay dormant until 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, where he made an extended cameo and was played for the first time by Josh Brolin, before showing up again in the mid-credits scene of 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron.
"Fine. I'll do it myself," he said as he donned the Infinity Gauntlet, putting the entire MCU on notice.
Audiences will finally get to know Thanos in Infinity War when the Mad Titan makes his long-awaited visit to Earth, where he'll stand opposed Earth's mightiest heroes, assembled for the first time.
The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and his Wakandan army — it's going to take everyone to stand against the purple-skinned would-be conqueror in what is officially described as the "ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time."prev