Batman and Superman are often considered the World's Finest superheroes, but right now, they're also a little tardy.
Late last week, Warner Bros. announced the surprising decision to move Zack Snyder's untitled "Man of Steel" sequel from its original July 2015 release date, to nine months later on May 6, 2016. It's a notable move for a few reasons, not the least of which being the complete absence of DC Entertainment movies on the calendar until at least 2016. The other big reason: DC is going directly against Marvel Studios, which also has an unannounced picture scheduled for May 6, 2016.
With Warner Bros. positioning Batman and Superman as gladiators against Marvel Studios' second scheduled Phase Three film, it's worth asking the question: Which movie should Marvel slot for May 6, 2016? Does the house that Iron Man built have a trick up its sleeve powerful enough to topple the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader? We think it's certainly possible — and here are some of the films that could do the trick.
"Iron Man 4"
It's highly unlikely we'll see a standalone Shellhead movie before "The Avengers 3," since Robert Downey Jr. is currently only signed for the next two "Avengers" films and nothing more. But if Marvel wants to compete against Batman and Superman, there are few surer bets than the Armored Avenger.
"Captain America" and "Thor" Sequels
Two's a party, and three's an even bigger party, at least where movies are concerned. Trilogies are all the rage in Hollywood, and with just one more film to go in each series before hitting that magic number, you can bank on "Captain America" and "Thor" sequels hitting as part of Marvel's third phase of films. Putting either one of these movies against Batman/Superman could be the way to go.
He was the breakout character in Joss Whedon's "The Avengers," but there are still no announced plans for another standalone "Hulk" movie. Mark Ruffalo is game, and audiences would likely flock to a two-hour engagement with his Jade Giant. (That sounds wrong for so many reasons.) Could Hulk smash Batman and Superman? It's a fight we'd love to see.
If Marvel doesn't announce "Captain Marvel" as part of their Phase Three plans at Comic-Con this summer, there is something wrong with the world. "Captain Marvel," if cast right, could blow audiences away, and give viewers the female superhero movie they've waited far too long for. "Captain Marvel" is a lesser-known quantity than Batman and Superman, sure, but it's got the brand right there in the title. Hard to go wrong.
If Marvel thinks "Captain Marvel" is a little too risky for a Batman/Superman battle, but still wants to release the first female-led superhero flick before Warner Bros. realizes what they should have done with "Wonder Woman" oh-so long ago, then "Black Widow" would be a great consolation. By that point, Scarlett Johansson will have held starring roles in four Marvel movies, but not one of her own. Change that with a "Black Widow/Winter Soldier" team-up, throw Hawkeye and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the mix, and you have yet another mini "Avengers" movie in the vein of the coming "Captain America" sequel. Time to find out how all that red got in Natasha's ledger.
The world is waiting for Wakanda, even if it doesn't know it yet. For years, T'Challa has been rumored as one of the next big-screen Marvel heroes, though there's been no official movement on that front. There's so much opportunity in "Black Panther," from a compelling lead character to the Vibranium-rich mythology of Wakanda. It needs to be on Marvel's radar for Phase Three, and pitting the film against the powerhouse of Batman/Superman would be a huge show of confidence.
He's an unknown character to the public at large, but there's at least one very easy way to fix that. Even if Johnny Depp doesn't step in as the Sorcerer Supreme, there are several other notable actors out there that could make the mystic arts a more compelling engagement than the "Man of Steel" sequel.
"The Avengers" Again
Marvel, please don't push "Age of Ultron" a full year in order to compete with Batman and Superman. That would be horrible for everybody. That being said, it would also be kind of hilarious — but there's a better way to do it: Come out the gate with a third "Avengers" movie, one year after "Age of Ultron." Back-to-back years filled with Earth's mightiest heroes? That prospect does not suck.
If you were in charge of Marvel, which movie would you position against Batman and Superman? Weigh in with your ideas in the comments below!