This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
When Joss Whedon’s The Avengers hulk-smashed the box office in 2012, studio execs all over the world suddenly took an interest in long interconnecting universes on the big screen. Post-credits stings, cameos, and crossovers are the new currency in Hollywood, and every studio wants to get involved.
Now, three years later, there are nine rival cinematic universes in the works, all vying for a way into the wallets of the world. Fantastical action franchises like Transformers and Star Wars may sort of seem like a logical fit, but the buck doesn’t stop there – comedies like 21 Jump Street and animations such as The LEGO Movie are also being expanded into sprawling cinematic universes.
To help you a little with your inter-universe travel plans, here’s our guide to all the shared universes Hollywood is lovingly preparing for us…
Call Of Duty
Studio: Activision Blizzard Studios
Key films so far: None
What’s coming up? Unknown
Key personnel: People from the Activision/Blizzard company. Possibly in a bid to upstage their competitors UbiSoft (whose Assassin’s Creed movie hits cinemas next year), gaming giant Activision/Blizzard have announced plans for a Call Of Duty cinematic universe under the banner of their new film division Activision Blizzard Studios.
They’re said to be working towards having their first Call Of Duty movie in cinemas in 2018 or 2019. Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III were referenced in the announcement as two of the most cinematic games in the franchise, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily be made beat-for-beat into films.
At the moment, we don’t know which filmmakers Activision Blizzard Studios are looking to recruit to make their planned Call Of Duty cinematic universe a reality. We’ll let you know when we hear more.
Key films so far: None
What’s coming up? The Mummy, UntitledInvisible Man film, Untitled Van Helsing film, Untitled Wolf Man Film, Untitled Van Helsing Film
Key personnel: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Chris Morgan, Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp
Universal is bringing back what many deem the “original” shared universe, by aptly resurrecting the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, Van Helsing, and Wolf Man. Messrs Kurtzman, Orci, and Morgan have brought in screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Aaron Guzikowski to help churn out some screenplays.
The Mummy will drop first in June 2017, starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella as the titular monster. Russll Crowe is also on board as Dr. Henry Jekyll. It’s also been confirmed that at some point, Johnny Depp will star as The Invisible Man in a yet another untitled film written by Ed Solomon.
Universal has several tentative dates, with nothing set in stone. Rumors suggest that Wolf Man, the Creature of the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein’s Monster will all appear in the shared universe at some point. Will keep you posted.
Studio: Warner Bros/DC Entertainment
Key films so far: Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad
What’s coming up? Wonder Woman, Justice League, The Flash, Aquaman, Shazam, Untitled Justice League Sequel, Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps., The Batman, Untitled Man of Steel Sequel, among others (read about them all here).
Key personnel: David S. Goyer, Zack Snyder, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, James Wan, David Ayer
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. have announced an immense amount of films as part of their bid to topple Marvel Studio’s superhero cinematic dominance of the post Dark Knight trilogy years.
The lukewarm critical reception to Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad has done little to alter DC’s upcoming slate of films, and next up is Patty Jenkins standalone Wonder Woman film before we see Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen and Henry Cavill’s Superman on screen together again in a Justice League film. The success of that massive team-up will likely determine if rumored films like a Booster Gold movie ever see the light of day, but we’re for sure getting Rick Famuyiwa’s The Flash and James Wan’s Aquaman films, as they are already well into development.
Key films so far: 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street (also, the 21 Jump Street TV series is still canon, fact fans!)
What’s coming up? 23 Jump Street, Untitled Men in Black Crossover, Untitled Spin-Off
Key personnel: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Rodney Rothman, Neal H. Moritz, Michael Bacall, Lucia Aniello, Paul Downs, Lizzie Molyneux, Wendy Molyneux
We’ve not heard a single complaint about bringing Lord, Miller, Tatum, and Hill back together after the whopping double whammy of 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street. Though a straight sequel was expected, and a Men in Black crossover and a female oriented spin-off were mentioned, we’re not quite sure what’s happening with this franchise.
Originally, we heard, “Well, it’s very, very early on in this crazy fever pitch,” said Miller of the Men in Black idea, “but it’s definitely a really interesting concept that makes you think. Talking about it, developing it with Jonah and Channing and Rodney and the studio, we can’t just do the ‘hey, it’s the same thing again’ shtick because we did that already.”
Then recently, Jonah Hill casted doubt on the whole crazy scheme, saying that the MiB crossover, “probably won’t happen.” We won’t totally cross this one off the list (like Sony’s proposed Ghostbusters universe) but the prospect has grown dark.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Key films so far: The LEGO Movie
What’s coming up? The LEGO Batman Movie, Ninjago, The LEGO Movie Sequel, Billion Brick Race
Key personnel: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Jason Segel, Drew Pearce, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Seth Grahame-Smith, Jason Stern, Chris McKay
Before its release, even the staunchest anticipator of The LEGO Movie couldn’t have predicted it would go this well. Lord and Miller’s hilarious animated triumph was a big hit with the box office, critics, and (from the ones I know) families, too.
With that holy trinity of approval, it’s no surprise that a universe is being built (arf) on the foundation brick (arf again) of The LEGO Movie. Before we get straight sequel, we’re being treated to the spin-off movie for Will Arnett’s Batman, featuring a stellar supporting cast consisting of Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl, Zach Galifianakis as The Joker and Michael Cera as Robin. Then will get another spin-off focusing on LEGO’s Ninjago characters (not seen in the first film). After the Rob Schrab directed, proper Lego Movie sequel, we’ll be delivered a film called Billion Brick Race. The latter of those is from Jason Segel and Drew Pearce, who will write and co-direct together. We don’t know what it’s about yet, besides some sort of race.
Studios: Paramount and Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures
Key films so far: Possibly G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, although that hasn’t been confirmed
What’s coming up? An unspecified amount of movies based around the toy lines G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM: SpaceKnight
Key personnel: Brian Goldner of Hasbro
Given the financial success that Hasbro and Paramount have found with their Transformers movie franchise (more on that later) and – to a lesser extent – their G.I. Joe films, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that they’re now developing a wider shared universe incorporating several of their toy lines.
Presumably leaving the Transformers to do their own thing in a separate universe, Paramount and Hasbro (via their Allspark Pictures offshoot) will thread together a massive multi-movie narrative involving G.I. Joe, the Micronauts, the Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM: SpaceKnight.
We don’t know yet how many films they’re planning, or who will make them. We also don’t know if the G.I. Joe movies from 2009 and 2013 are considered canonical. We’ll update this article when we hear more.
Key films so far: None
What’s coming up? Bloodshot, Harbinger, Bloodshot 2, Harbinger 2, Harbinger Wars
Key personnel: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski, Jeff Wadlow, Eric Hessier, Matthew Vaughn, Jason Kothari
In lieu of their plans for a Spider-Man universe of intertwining spin-offs (which have been put on hold for the time being, if not forever), Sony has picked up the rights to some Valiant Comics properties instead. In a ballsy move, they announced five films straight off the bat.
Among these is Bloodshot, about a former soldier with a wiped memory who gets injected with nanites that give him advanced techo-wizardry, healing abilities, and shape shifting powers (he’s the grey one in the image above). We’ll also be getting Harbinger, about a team of delinquents on the run led by evil telekinetic type Toyo Harada (the yellow-eyed one at the front of the picture).
Each of these films will get a sequel, and then a big crossover will follow, called Harbinger Wars. Here, Bloodshot will fight Toyo’s Harbinger gang. The involvement of John Wick duo David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, as well as Kick Ass alumni Matthew Vaughn and Jeff Waldlow (they’re all working on Bloodshot, in some capacity) has us anticipating plenty of violent action. Eric Heisserer is working on the script for Harbinger, and the plan is to release that picture first, with Bloodshot introduced in the film as the villian.
Key films so far: Star Wars Episodes I-VI, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (The Clone Wars TV show and film, and Star Wars: Rebels, are also canon)
What’s coming up? Star Wars Episode VIII, Star Wars Episode IX, Star Wars: Rogue One, Untitled Han Solo film
Key personnel: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Lawrence Kasdan, Bryan Burk, Gareth Edwards
So, after decades of wondering whether George Lucas would ever make a follow-up to Return of the Jedi, Disney have now swooped in, bought the rights and fast tracked a new series of films. In fact, they’ve got two series in development. There’s straight sequels in the form of The Force Awakens, Episode VIII, and Episode IX, plus an additional series of spin-offs under the unofficial banner of Star Wars: Anthology.
J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan wrote The Force Awakens, which followed on thirty years after Return of the Jedi, bringing back Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker, alongside a new cast of youngsters consisting of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupito Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson. among others, succesfully launching a new chapter in the Star Wars saga.
Just before Christmas 2016, Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One, the first Anthology film, will be released. It will focus on the rebel mission to steal the first Death Star plans. December 2017 will see the release of Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII, and a Han Solo standalone prequel, starring Alden Ehrenreich as the young smuggler and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian will arrive summer 2019 before Episode IX (penned by Rian Johnson) closes the new trilogy out. After that, we wouldn’t expect Disney to stop making Star Wars movies, if everything’s gone well. Everything from Obi-Wan stories to Joss Whedon-directed standalones have been suggested, so expect plenty more adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
Key films so far: Transformers – Transformers: Age Of Extinction
What’s coming up? Transformers: The Last Knight
Key personnel: Akiva Goldsman, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, Robert Kirkman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinker, Zak Penn, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Steven DeKnight, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
That list of key personnel should be enough to tell you that Hasbro and Paramount are planning to roll out (geddit?) a hell of a lot of Transformers films in the coming years. It will start with Transformers: The Last Knight on June 27, 2017, which sees Michael Bay once again directing mark Wahlberg, with apparently as many as 10 films within the Transformers mythos rumored after that.
Paramount’s approach is interesting. They’ve assembled a writing room with a pooled-together CV that includes The Walking Dead, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim 2, Lost, Fringe, Netflix’s Daredevil, and Black Hawk Down. Writer/producer Akiva Goldsman of A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend, and I, Robot is leading this pack.
“All of the writers will come away from this exercise with a movie treatment to write, including Goldsman. Those writers will then have first crack at writing the scripts for treatments that meet the approval of Paramount, [Michael] Bay, [Steven] Spielberg, Hasbro, and the producers,” according to Deadline. This impressive collection of talent could be an interesting way to rejuvenate a franchise that has become increasingly based on explosions and not much else, despite its unstoppable skills as the box office.
Studio: Disney/Marvel Studios
Key films so far: Marvel’s Phase 1 (Iron Man up to The Avengers), Marvel’s Phase 2 (Iron Man 3 up to Ant-Man). Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter and the Netflix Marvel Universe (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the upcoming Iron Fist and The Defenders series) are canon, as well
What’s coming up? Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming (shared with Sony), Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Captain Mar…actually, just go read about them here.
Key personnel: Confirmed for phase 3 – Kevin Feige, James Gunn, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Scott Derickson, Amy Pascal
And finally, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is showing no signs of slowing down, as you’ve surely come to expect. In fact, the third phase of Marvel movies will be the biggest yet, with two Avengers movies and more cosmic adventures planned.
Expanding and enhancing the world even further, Doctor Strange will introduce us to the mystical Marvel realm, Thor: Ragnarok is likely to feature an Asgardian apocalypse, Black Panther will see Marvel’s first African-American headliner, Captain Marvel will be Marvel’s first female-fronted movie, and folks, Spider-Man is home where he belongs.
Marvel’s small screen adventures are growing, too – there will be more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the addition of Iron Fist to Marvel’s Netflix roster, followed by a big Defenders crossover.
It looks like everyone else will be playing catch-up for quite a while. We’ll keep this article updated with any more cinematic universe news.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Key Films So Far: X-Men – X-Men: Apocolypse, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, Deadpool
What’s coming up? Logan, Deadpool 2, Legion (FX series said to be cannon) and plenty more rumored projects (get the details at the link).
Key personnel: Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, James Mangold, Jeff Wadlow, Josh Boone, Rupert Wyatt, Dan Harris, Michael Dougherty
The other Marvel universe featuring everyone’s favorite team of mutants and the other superpowered folks they encounter. After appearing in six X-Men flicks and a pair of Wolverine movies, Hugh Jackman will be back as the clawed one for a final time in Logandue March 3, 2017. The monstorous surprise success of Deadpool ensured Ryan Reynolds will be back as the Merc with a mouth in a sequel, and there are so many other characters in the X-Men wing of the Marvel universe, Fox could play in this sandbox for years. Now with the X-Men universe spreading to TV next year with Legion, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be neck deep in mutant stories for quite some time.