And the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands...
While we're going to be treated to several different films coming out over the next few years with major Marvel characters, there will be several that make cameos so as to gauge the interest of fans for possible new tent poles. Several minor characters will get their own, lower budgeted films. Shorts will be another way to get these unknown or relatively unknown characters before the public. But in the major films like "Iron Man" and more importantly, the Avengers we're slowly getting introduced to a continuing character that threads many of these plot lines.
Now, that isn't just to introduce him. It's to introduce who he works for: S.H.I.E.L.D. We've seen this organization work in the world of Tony Stark and soon the world of Thor will encounter it as well. Then in two years we'll get to experience it even further in the Avengers. Now, that film is THE big film for Marvel right now, but it's also an introduction. A starting off point for this organization. And if the powers that be get their way, it's going to be simply a doorway into another franchise with that secret organization. Kevin Feige has a nice interview over at MTV's Splash Page that has an interesting quote:
"I think the answer is yes," said Feige. "I think S.H.I.E.L.D. could be it's own franchise. I think, frankly, 'The Avengers' is going to be told from that point of view more so than any of the other films at that point, so we're going to get an inside look [at how S.H.I.E.L.D.] operates."
As we mentioned in the post: "Shielding Disney," there are those that have been looking at characters in the Marvel library that really want to play up this concept into a fully blown franchise. Of course, all depends on how Earth's Mightiest Heroes do at the box office. If they slay it, then the development process that is already going on will move into fast gear. But don't expect to see a movie about this secret spy organization before 2014 even if it is greenlit. Now, the animation series on the other hand could come sooner if everything holds together. But when you see all the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and technogadgetry that will be on display, don't think it's just there for background purposes.
It's there as a greeting card...