Saturday night, Marvel Studios, the company that pioneered Hall H spectacle at San Diego Comic-Con, will take the stage to talk about upcoming projects. The expected attendees include the casts of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Ant-Man."
But when has Marvel ever stopped at what's coming out next year?
No, that's not the Marvel way, and it's unlikely to be the case at this Comic-Con. No one who saw Marvel's announcement of their release dates between now and 2019 took its timing as a coincidence. There will very likely be some movies officially confirmed by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and more than a few surprise guests.
If the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con is going to knock the fans' Captain America-themed socks off, these are some of the things it could include.
1. Ultron In Action
The Entertainment Weekly cover was certainly a good start for one of Marvel's most storied villains. Ultron looks like Ultron, which may seem like faint praise, but for comic fans that know and love the maniacal robot, that is essential. Last year, Marvel did the impossible by showing off a "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer 13 days into shooting that included fully rendered CGI creatures, Groot and Rocket. Since "Age of Ultron" has been shooting for months now, it's fair to expect some action featuring a motion-captured James Spader at the Hall H presentation.
And speaking of Spader, please let us hear Ultron talk!
2. The Doctor Is In
After "Ant-Man" and "Captain America 3," the Doctor Strange movie is the farthest along Marvel Studios project. It has a director, Scott Derrickson, but no cast. That could all change, however, on stage in San Diego. A casting announcement in front of Comic-Con would be a big deal for the studio, since most of its hires come from trade reports and official releases. If Marvel managed to keep the Strange casting a secret until Hall H, that would be a monumental showstopper for the convention.
3. 2016 and Beyond!
You don't announce the release dates for six yet-to-be-announced projects exactly a week before your San Diego Comic-Con panel without naming a few of them in Hall H. At SDCC 2012, Marvel revealed the subtitles for the sequels to both "Captain America" and "Thor," in addition to announcing "Guardians of the Galaxy," complete with really cool concept art of the team. If they follow that example, expect an official title for the next Steve Rogers movie ("The Death of Captain America"?) and ideally a slew of new, unannounced titles.
4. Captain Marvel
If early leaks about the Warner Bros. panel are correct, the rival studio will announce a Wonder Woman movie mere hours before Marvel Studios takes the stage in Hall H. Calls for a female-led superhero movie have been so passionate that for Marvel to show up empty-handed would be a major missed opportunity to re-establish itself as the premiere comic book movie studio. There are already often-repeated rumors of Carol Danvers a.k.a. Ms. Marvel a.k.a. Captain Marvel making cameo appearance in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." If there's any truth to this rumor, that means an actress has already been cast. Bring her out! Announce her standalone movie! It's time for a different kind of superhero.
5. Avengers: The Infinity Gauntlet
Am I getting greedy here? A little. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is still more than nine months away. Would Marvel go as far to name their next event movie that early? Why not? Everything since the first "Avengers" has pointed toward a conflict with Thanos. Many expected him to be the villain of the second team-up — that honor went to Ultron, obviously — and now that it's known that his appearance in "Guardians of the Galaxy" is a little more than a cameo, it's clear that Marvel has bigger plans for the Mad Titan.
Even if the Infinity Gauntlet storyline is not going to play out on the big screen, the only reason to not announce a subtitle for a third "Avengers" movie would be to not steal thunder from the one already on the way. That could be a good enough reason, but we can hope.
6. Something Cool That We Can't Even Think Of
One of the major downsides of ubiquitous social media as a comic book movie fan is that eventually everything leaks. The internet knew about Batman and Superman's plan to meet up hours before Zack Snyder walked into Hall H last year. Marvel's big announcements in years past have been able to pull off some minor surprises, but film announcements, like "Guardians of the Galaxy" in 2011, tend to come as half news, unconfirmed but expected. What would be truly impressive is if Marvel Studios announced a standalone movie for a character that fans haven't even heard discussed recently. That would have to be something like Nova or The Runaways. This is a true long shot, but Comic-Con has surprised us before.