For the past decade, Marvel movies have tended to be dependable. Dependably money-making, dependably enjoyable, dependably...square. With only a few very rare exceptions, they were about white guys named Chris saving the world, with a little help from the good old United States military. But now that Endgame has finally (finally!) brought the Avengers saga to a close, the studio will launch a new slate of superhero projects, and we are tentatively excited. Here are the biggest takeaways from San Diego Comic-Con:
1. Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek Will Play Goddesses or Something
Ask your local comic book guy to explain how The Eternals fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because we're not sure and frankly we're not too hung up on it. All we need to know is that Angelina Jolie plays Thena and Salma Hayek plays Ajak, two...immortal godlike beings. Rounding out the cast are our supporting-actor favorites Bryan Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani and Richard Madden. Premiering in November 2020 (literally the Friday after the presidential election), The Eternals will be helmed by Chloe Zhao. It's an admirable and a savvy choice; we love to see a woman of color take the reigns of a major project, and Marvel movies need the Chinese market, so bringing a Chinese director on board makes sense for a studio with international appeal.
2. Mahershala Ali as Blade
The reboot you saw coming from a mile away. Just try and match Brian Tyree Henry's excitement.
Though, Marvel did not actually bother whether Ali will be getting his own Blade movie or where, exactly, the character will premiere.
3. The sequels we deserve
At long last, Black Widow is getting her own movie, and recent successes like Captain Marvel* and *Black Panther are getting the franchise treatment. And before you ask whether these characters can sustain a multi-film arc, please be reminded that there were no less than three Iron Man movies, and Iron Man is just a guy in a robot.
4. Natalie Portman is Thor
Natalie Thortman. Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok, will bring his humorous sensibility to Thor: Love and Thunder, co-starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, but most importantly starring Portman reprising her role as Dr. Jane Foster who will, somehow, become the god of thunder herself. Though, the storyline has previously played itself out in the comic books, so it's not completely unexpected.
5. Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie Will Be the MCU's First Openly Queer Hero
Though a reference to Valkyrie's bisexuality was reportedly cut from a previous film, Love and Thunder will address her sexuality, according to Marvel brass. She's now a king, and will apparently be looking for a queen. Previous rumors had indicated that The Eternals might include an openly gay Asian male character, but Marvel did not confirm that nugget over the weekend.
It's not exactly risky arthouse filmmaking (nor need it be!). Bankable stars in recognizable roles. But dear lord does all of this look more fun than the super soldier stuff. And Natalie Portman with a big-ass hammer? Dare we say...marvelous.