5 Announcements We Could Get At Today's Mystery Marvel Event

On Friday afternoon, the movie press received an e-mail with the header "MARVEL STUDIOS INVITES YOU TO A SPECIAL EVENT" with the above invite. A mystery Marvel event, what could it be?

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I've heard some speculate that Disney is trying to give Marvel their own special presentations, kind of like how Apple announces their new products. But San Diego Comic Con has always served this purpose in the past, and even Disney has tried to turn their D23 Expo into the mouse house version of the Apple keynotes. You sometimes don't know whats true in the comic book speculation circles, so this could just be a theory someone is trying to propagate.

The obvious guess to what will be revealed is...

Avengers: Age of Ultron title card

1. The Avengers: Age of Ultron Footage Preview and Q&A

At first I thought it had to be a big push for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. As you can see on this site, the first time we are allowed to post some of the interviews we conducted on the set of the film was this morning. The Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser trailer was originally set to premiere tonight attached to Agents of SHIELD, but an early leak forced Disney to post the teaser early. The result is that tonight's Agents of SHIELD will now feature new footage from Avengers 2.

So surely the Marvel Event will include a preview of this footage along with a Q&A with some of the cast/crew of the film. Disney (and most of the big studios) are obsessed with getting a ton of news coverage for one film on one particular day. I'm not sure if its just to spike social trends, to make the movie appear like a huge event, or likely both. I've wondered why they don't instead spread out the material to get more consistent play — but I am no marketing expert and I don't have the numbers that Disney has probably paid marketing research films millions for to find out the best possible results.

So my first thought is the event will be entirely Avengers focused — why diversify and hurt that huge Avengers 2 spike Disney's marketing department has been planning for so long? Wouldn't additional announcements pull the spotlight away from Avengers 2? Or maybe Disney doesn't care about just this one film — Marvel is now a brand that is stronger than any of its parts, and their announcements can too stand strong together as one.

Disney has sent confirmed press members confirmation e-mails which promises that WIFI will be available at the event. This is unusual because the event is taking place in an old movie theatre, and seems to suggest that press should bring their laptops and iPads — and why else? Because there will be breaking news of some sort... right?

Again, the event could just be a preview of the Avengers: Age of Ultron footage that will premiere tonight on Agents of SHIELD — but like any real geeks, we love to speculate. So if its something more than Avengers: Age of Ultron, what could it be?

Doctor Strange

2. Doctor Strange Announcement

Marvel was scheduled to make the Doctor Strange casting announcement at San Diego Comic Con International 2014, but Disney was unable to get Joaquin Phoenix to sign on for the film as they had hoped. We've also heard from some that Marvel had planned to give a small presentation for the film in San Diego. Could Marvel be bringing whatever was planned for this Summer today?

Yesterday it was reported that Benedict Cumberbatch is in final talks to play the Doctor, and Cumberbatch could easily make a surprise appearance in Hollywood this morning.

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3. Spider-Man Comes Home To Marvel For Civil War

As you probably know, Sony owns the film rights to Marvel's Spider-man universe, which prevents the Spider-man/Avengers big screen crossover that would be oh so cool. Earlier this month we heard that Sony and Disney might possibly be in talks to bring Spider-man home to the Marvel movie universe, or at very least, allow Spidey to play in the connected Marvel Studios universe we all love. No one I've talked to has been able to explain to me how this would work — I doubt Sony would give up the rights to the Spider-man films, but its possible a deal could be great for both parties.

We've also recently heard that Robert Downey Jr will be a big part of Captain America 3, which will kick off a whole new phase for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — an adaptation of The Civil War — the popular comic book storyline which centers around the Superhero Registration Act, which requires anyone with superpowers to identify themselves to the U.S. government and effectively work as a police force for the authorities.

The controversial legislation pits Tony Stark against Steve Rogers, with the former supporting the program and the latter arguing it threatens civil liberties. Eventually, Rogers and other superheroes are forced to go on the run to avoid arrest. Effectively, this makes Tony Stark the villain of Captain America 3. The meaty premise also gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe plenty to work with over the next several films leading up to Avengers 3 and 4, as various characters find themselves dealing with the fallout or grappling with the thorny issues raised by the Superhero Registration Act.

The problem with adapting the Civil War storyline for the big screen is that secret identities aren't a big thing for the main Avengers cast — Tony Stark spontaneously announced that he was Iron Man at the end of the first film. And Spider-man being unmasked was always a huge aspect of the comic book storyline. So if Marvel is in fact going for the Civil War storyline in Phase three, Spider-Man would be a great character to include in the films.

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4. Marvel Announces Their Upcoming Slate / Phase 3

A couple weeks ago Warner Bros made a huge announcement of their upcoming film slate, which included ten new DC comic book movie adaptations dated 2016 to 2020. It is possible that Disney also wants to lay claim to some more dates and project announcements.

Marvel has claimed dates for May 5th 2017, November 3rd 2017 and May 4th 2018, but none of them officially have titles attached.  Marvel has been developing Thor 3 and Black Panther (which many have pointed out the Wakanda connections in the Age of Ultron teaser), so those are real possibilities. Many expect May 4th 2018 to be the third Avengers film, which fits with the schedule of the previous installments.

We've also heard rumors that The Avengers 3 could be split into two parts, and more recently we've heard that Captain America 2 and 3 directors Joe and Anthony Russo might be in line to direct the Avengers two-parter.

Here is a full look at the entire Superhero movie release date calendar as it stands now. I'm not sure if Disney really needs to combat Warner Bros' recent DC film announcements — but in Hollywood its all about appearances and a show of strength will go a long way in the trades.

Paul Rudd Ant Man

5. Ant-Man Footage

Ant-Man has been filming for a couple months now, and Marvel definitely has some footage in the can if they wanted to make a preview. They showed an early test at Comic Con this year, and following the controversial departure of fan favorite director Edgar Wright, they might want to again push their tiny original superhero as the test footage seemed to impress the comic book crowd in San Diego. Ant-Man still has something to prove, even in a world where Guardians of the Galaxy can make over $750 million worldwide without any big Avengers crossovers or name brand characters. 

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/Film's Russ Fischer and Peter Sciretta will be live at the Marvel Event today. Check back on /Film starting at 11am pacific time, 2 pm eastern time as we hope to have whatever news that breaks online as soon as possible. You can also follow me on Twitter at @slashfilm for up to the minute micro updates.