Marvel's Black Panther has wowed and Avengers: Infinity War is incoming on 26th April. But the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been shrouded in mystery following the release of 2019's untitled Avengers sequel... Until now.
The climax of the fourth Avengers epic is set to usher in the studio's much-discussed Phase 4 period, and with it comes a slew of (as yet untitled) movies that are set to keep blockbuster fans busy for the forseeable future.
Three dates (1st May 2020, 31st July 2020 and 6th November 2020) are already reserved for currently unnamed titles. Now we're presented with an additional six (via Exhibitor Relations), which are as follows:
- May 7, 2021
- July 30, 2021
- November 5, 2021
- February 18, 2022
- May 6, 2022
- July 29, 2022
As you can see, that currently equates to three a year, mirroring 2017's strategy in which Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok all hit our screens.
The news comes as the global release date of Avengers: Infinity War is brought forward to 27th April, matching the day of release in the UK. It seems Marvel, in the year the MCU marks its 10-year anniversary, wants the entire world to celebrate its (hopefully) game-changing new blockbuster at the same time.
Already confirmed in 2019 are the Brie Larson-starring Captain Marvel and the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. However, director James Gunn has confirmed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will move to 2020, so that could be among the proposed Phase 4 slate. But what about the others?
One of them surely has to be the Black Panther sequel: Ryan Coogler's critically praised movie is now on course to be one of the biggest in the studio's history with takings of more than $700m at the box office. Audiences are clearly hungry for more, and development of Wakandan leader T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as a character will no doubt slot in nicely following the events of the next two Avengers films.
Given the equality and diversity conversations that are currently engulfing Hollywood, we might expect another to be the Black Widow movie. Marvel has been criticised for stalling on the proposed Scarlett Johansson spin-off, and the currently hazy landscape of Phase 4 may allow the character to define herself away from the showboating likes of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).
There's also scope for both a Captain Marvel sequel and a Doctor Strange sequel starring Benedict Cumberbatch, plus a third Paul Rudd Ant-Man movie following this summer's Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Even so, this is all just speculation at this stage - we're yet to find out who will make it out of Infinity War and its follow-up alive. Studio chief Kevin Feige has already told Vanity Fair (somewhat ominously): "There will be two distinct periods... Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after."
This ties in with contractual agreements: as of the end of 2017, Downey Jr., Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) each have two more movies left on their docket. According to Den of Geek US, that would make Avengers 4 the final contractually obligated movie for all of them.
Their stories have already been completed in various trilogies, meaning the way is open for relatively newer characters to step forward in Phase 4. However, Hemsworth says he'd be willing to make Thor 4, saying of his previous collaboration with Ragnarok filmmaker Taika Waititi: "We might have a conversation if there's another great script that comes along. But at the moment that's it."
What movies do you want to see featured in Phase 4 of the MCU? Let us know @Cineworld.