With "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" now out worldwide, it's time to talk about where the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes from here following the events of that film.
SPOILERS AHEAD - DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER"
Whilst doing press rounds for the film, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige answered some spoiler-related questions and his answers are now being published following the release of the film in North America.
First up - the name dropping of Stephen Strange (aka Doctor Strange) as a target of Project Insight. Asked about the reference, Feige tells Crave Online:
"Well, 'we' know what it means and where we want to head with it, but we were comfortable with keeping it in there and leaving it in there because there are a few different ways to interpret it.
The whole thing, what Agent Sitwell's saying is, this algorithm is going to predict if you're going to become a problem for Hydra or not. So you don't have to just be Tony Stark, actively plotting to save the world. You could be a kid whose SAT scores and whose essays have indicated that you're going to be a problem one day.
So is Stephen Strange the Sorcerer Supreme? Probably not at that point. Is he an unbelievably talented neurosurgeon who's opinionated and kind of arrogant? Probably. That might put him on the list."
Then there's the question of where is Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) which a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent actively asked in the film. We'll get the answer to that in next year's "Avengers: Age of Ultron":
"We will discover, later, the answers to that question. But it really came down to how many players can you have on the field at this time? We really wanted to bring in Falcon, we really wanted to team [Captain America] up with Black Widow, we really wanted Fury to have more of a part than he's ever had in any of the other movies before. We wanted, ever so briefly, to introduce Sharon Carter. And we had a fun place for Maria Hill to be involved.
So we didn't want to just have, 'Hey, I'm Hawkeye! Hey, I'm Iron Man!' We want to avoid the brief cameos of the week. Not every character from every movie is going to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron, for sure. But Joss (Whedon) is excited and, for the characters you haven't seen since the first Avengers - like Hawkeye, like Hulk - there's a reason for that, and that gets showcased quite prominently in Avengers: Age of Ultron."
Then of course, there's the biggest change of the entire film - the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of its infiltration by H.Y.D.R.A. - which will have a major impact on both the TV series and "Avengers: Age of Ultron":
"One of the first people I ever pitched that idea to was Chris Evans, on the set, on the very last day of production of Avengers 1... The TV show didn't exist when we were starting this. But they were well aware of what was happening, because I said 'This is what we're doing.'
The other thing that we thought would be fun was using this to change the dynamic for The Avengers, so that the safety net - if you can call it that - of a giant government organization with massive resources, of which they were just sort of the front, or the A-Team at the head of that organization... take all that away. So when they come together in the next movie it's just them."
Finally the end credits scene where its suggested Baron Von Strucker has been using Loki's sceptre in experiments that have killed all but a pair of twins (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch) who survived and scored their super powers from it in the process. It has been speculated that the stone in the sceptre is actually one of the infamous Infinity Stones. Feige says:
"Well, it's certainly pure speculation at this point. I'm not even sure if we even recognize Loki's scepter [as an Infinity Stone], but that's a big hint as to what will be causing them trouble in the next movie."