marvel phase 3 theory

We’re all curious to see just what Marvel has planned for the next couple films in its current cycle, and then for the nine-film Phase Three. And we’ve resisted learning too much about Avengers: Age of Ultron, so we’re happily in the speculation camp with most of you. And for those who haven’t been Marvel Comics fans for a long time, the films announced this week might seem like a disparate bunch of stories. How do all these movies tell one unified story thread?

My friend Jackson is a comic book writer, an editor, and screenwriter, and he’s got a pretty compelling vision of what Marvel might have planned. After I read his unified theory of Marvel’s Phase Three plan I showed it to Peter, and he loved it enough that we’re presenting it to you now.

Nothing that you’ll find below is confirmed — this is speculation, but well-informed speculation. If you already know these comics and characters, take it as a jumping-off point for your own discussions about what Marvel might be doing. If you don’t consider this a second-level primer as to what Marvel might be up to. 

from the assumption-making mind of Jackson Lanzing

NOTE: The following plot speculation is based on nothing but my own insane thought process following Marvel’s event, plus previously available information. I know nothing you don’t. I am almost certainly wrong about all of this. But in the event that I am not… SPOILER ALERT. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner and Thor looking defeated in the Quinjet


Tony Stark believes – as a futurist and a man who just went through the events of AVENGERS and IRON MAN 3 – that superheroes have great potential but also invite terrible consequences. This is backed by the emergence of the superpowered “inhuman” Maximoff twins, who’ve somehow gained power from Strucker’s infinity gem experimentation. As a result, Stark creates the peacekeeping robot ULTRON as a way for the Avengers to no longer be the world’s shield. This backfires, Ultron destroys massive massive amounts of the planet’s population, strikes at the heart of the previously-isolationist nation of Wakanda, sets off the Hulk (maybe throws him to space), banishes Thor irrevocably to Asgard. Iron Man / Captain America find a way to shut it all down, but at the expense of their collaboration. Iron Man, disillusioned with superheroes trying to fix things, retires fully. Cap begins his own new team of heroes, but they are rag-tag, underfunded, and include the unstable Maximoffs and strange robotic Vision. The Avengers are asunder. Superheroes are hated. Definitions are changing. Grey areas abound.

 Agents of Shield Season 2

AGENTS OF SHIELD (this season)

Coulson and his team discover that the Maximoffs are not the only “inhumans” out there. A strain of alien DNA runs through our collective humanity from ancient times – some kind of Kree experimentation. It threatens to turn our world inside out if the gene is ever activated, there are so many who would become empowered (including Skye).

Coulson and his team seek to stop this from happening… and succeed. The world is safe from the chaos of inhumanity… for now. Maybe Skye gets powers. The show can go and tackle anything after that. They can move away from Coulson’s weird alien visions. The seeds have been planted.

 Paul Rudd Ant Man


In the chaotic aftermath of Age of Ultron, super science is becoming a massive and dangerous black market. A scientist (Pym) and a thief (Lang) team up to steal the Pym Particle suit (which belonged to SHIELD, cause copyright, making Pym incredulous). While they don’t mean to become heroes, they end up saving the world – especially since there’s a genuine lack of superheroes post-Ultron. That also makes them kinda-still-criminals, since Tony Stark is working on a bill that will register all superheroes under government supervision.

Maybe by the end, Cap shows up to offer them a place in the Avengers… and they turn it down. After all, they have each other. Who needs those self-righteous assholes?

Captain America: Civil War 


Stark’s new non-Iron Man governmental position sees him trying to make up for his past recklessness – and thus sees him hunting down and imprisoning superpowered individuals. When he captures Bucky (and/or one of the Maximoffs), Cap realizes that history is repeating – Tony is working out of fear, not hope. Cap assembles a team of Avengers to save his friends, while Stark assembles one of his own to fight them.

One of the battlegrounds: Wakanda – where the superpowered Black Panther is revealed and forced to take a side (against his country’s isolationist position). T’Challa basically becomes the Peter Parker of this story, torn between sides. Ultimately, Tony has to put his suit on one last time and fight his friend.

Cap and Iron Man both fall – one dead and the other into the lonely darkness of exile. I’m guessing Tony dies and Cap puts down the shield. Again… the world is left with fewer heroes than it started with. Maybe Bucky steps up to take the shield, putting together a new team of heroes to stand against the next threats.

Continue Reading Theory: How The Marvel Cinematic Story Might Connect Through Phase 3 >>

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