5 Things to Expect from Marvel Studios Fan Event

In the volley of superhero announcements that’s broken out between Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment and Disney’s Marvel Studios, it’s now Marvel’s time to serve.

The company is expected to unveil elements of its Phase 3 of movies that will start to be released after “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” next summer.

While Marvel has been quiet on just what it will discuss at a fan and press event today, starting at 11 a.m. PST inside Disney’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, sources tell Variety the one-hour event could involve the following:

New Film Announcements: Marvel has six dates that it’s planted its flag on, but has yet to announce what movies it will release in those spots through 2019, so it’s likely to start filling in some of those blanks. “Doctor Strange” already is being eyed for July 8, 2016, and that date could be made official today.

Robert Downey Jr.: Robert Downey Jr. could appear on stage with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to discuss his role as Tony Stark in “Captain America 3,” which would make him an antagonist to Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers.

Civil War: Variety first reported that the Civil War storyline from Marvel’s comicbooks will be introduced in “Captain America 3,” and Feige is expected to discuss that element and how it fits into his plan for Marvel’s movies over the next seven years.

The Avengers: Age of UltronAfter being forced to release a trailer for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out in theaters May 1, 2015, after it leaked online ahead of its debut during ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” Marvel may show additional footage for Joss Whedon’s sequel that could play at the end of tonight’s “SHIELD.”

Benedict Cumberbatch: After a long search and years of development, Feige finally gets to make his “Doctor Strange” and introduce a mystical element to his Marvel universe. A number of actors were considered to play the neurosurgeon-turned-Sorcerer-Supreme, including Joaquin Phoenix, but Benedict Cumberbatch is now in negotiations to take the role. Today will prove just how far along those talks are, especially if Cumberbatch is conjured up on stage.

Marvel certainly has a lot to celebrate this year, with “Guardians of the Galaxy” having launched a new franchise with its $753 million worldwide haul, and “Captain America: The Winter Solider” earning $714 million, doubling the take of the first film.

Time Warner used an investors day conference in New York, on Oct. 15, to make its own superhero announcements, revealing for the first time the films it plans to make based on its DC characters through 2020. Those include standalone movies for Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Cyborg.

But with its Comic-Con like presentation today, Marvel wanted to open it up to the fans, giving away passes to the presentation through Facebook and other social media channels. The move is a clever one, a more embracing one of its fans, that is clearly meant to make it seem more welcoming than its DC rival. Yet at the same time, filling the El Capitan with its target audience will instantly flood the Internet with a buzz of reactions.

And that should win some points for Marvel — at least for today, until DC decides to serve up a new round of news again.

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