So this isn’t a post like my usual ones. No politics, no philosophy, no ethics: just a couple of predictions about two upcoming superhero stories:

1: Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War might turn out to be a little too similar

Even though Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie won’t be released until November, we already know a little bit about the plot. For example, Screen Crush has reported that the film will involve a search for three Mother Boxes, immensely powerful artifacts that come from Apokolips, the planet ruled by Darkesid. In Justice League, there are three Mother Boxes on Earth: one in the care of the Amazons, one in the care of the Atlanteans, and one in the care of humans.

Not that this should surprise anyone who has seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it turns out that Cyborg is the third mother box. In BvS, we see Vic Stone taken over by a Mother Box in a video from the cache of information on metahumans that Bruce Wayne sends to Diana. In the video, we see that there is very little of Vic’s human body left—just his head, torso, and the remnants of some of his limbs. So not only does the Mother Box give him his powers; it also keeps him from dying. And because Cyborg is (to steal a line from Obi Wan Kenobi) “more machine now than man,” he raises interesting questions about what it means to be human.

What that suggests is that part of the drama of Justice League will involve the threat to Cyclops’ life as Steppenwolf (and possibly Darkseid?) tries to recover the Mother Boxes.

Sound familiar?

For years Marvel has been laying the groundwork for Thanos’ pursuit of the Infinity Stones—relics from a primordial, pre-Big Bang past that possess almost unimaginable powers. As established in the comics, the stones (or gems) grant godlike powers to their possessor when they’re assembled.

And in Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of those stones (the Mind Stone) brings to life the Vision—an android whose existence raises questions about what it means to be a person and whose life (presumably) depends upon the Mind Stone. Which means that as with Justice League, part of the drama of Infinity War will involve the threat that Thanos’s ambitions pose to Vision. If the Mad Titan is going to take possession of the Mind Stone, no doubt it will be at the cost of Vision’s life.

For me this isn’t a question of whether DC is copying Marvel or vice versa (though if we’re honest, Marvel has been laying the groundwork for Infinity War for a lot longer than DC has for Justice League). The problem is what it means for superhero movies if it turns out that Justice League essentially has the same plot as Infinity War. Those of us who see the importance of superheroes also recognize that the genre will last only if it the creators prove that they can tell a wide variety of stories about superheroes. So too much similarity between Justice League and Infinity War doesn’t bode well—either for DC or for the genre as a whole.

One reason for optimism is that in spite of similar plot points and themes, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice managed to tell very different stories with different tones. So here’s hoping . . .

2) Secret Empire will reveal another hero (or more heroes) who have been made into Hydra sleeper agents by Kobik

Okay, so this one is more a hope than a prediction.

Hope? you ask.

Well, I’m pretty sure that I’ve made my reservations about the Hydra Captain America known on this blog. Now that I’ve come around to the story (simply because the storytelling is so good), I desperately hope that Secret Empire doesn’t end with Cap completely disgraced and hated by the entire Marvel Universe.

As odd as this sounds, one thing that might make the outcome of Secret Empire more bearable would be the revelation that Steve isn’t the only one who has been turned. Captain Marvel would be a good candidate, since her secretly being a Hydra agent might explain what many have called her out-of-character behavior in Civil War II.

If it turns out that Steve is the only one who has been transformed into a Hydra agent (besides Eric Selvig), then the chances of the whole truth coming to light and exonerating him seems low to me. But if what Kobik has done turns out to be something larger, something that involves other heroes besides Cap, then it might be more likely that the truth about Kobik will come to light. The larger a plot is, the harder it is to conceal.

That might be wishful thinking, of course.

But the other reason I’m making this prediction now is simply that revealing other heroes to have been transformed by Kobik (perhaps many of them; it’s called Secret Empire, after all) would be one way for the story to reach the level of drama and shock that the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers managed last year.

Either way, Secret Empire is going to be a painful ride.

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