As Marvel's Avengers: Endgame is poised to become the biggest movie of all time at the box office, we've got more than a few questions. Namely, what is going to happen in phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? What possible new characters and storylines are going to be unleashed?
As we now know, Endgame doesn't close the book on phase three of the MCU. That responsibility instead falls to Spider-Man: Far From Home, released on 2nd July. As Tom Holland's wall-crawler prepares for his second solo adventure, the latest trailer teases a live-action Spider-Man 'multi-verse', of which Jake Gyllenhaal's character Mysterio is a representative.
While phase four remains something of a mystery, Disney have been unveiling their slate of (as yet untitled) Marvel movies. In a press release, they confirmed MCU movies stretching to 2022, which begins with two dates (1st May 2020 and 6th November 2020) currently reserved for unnamed titles.
You'll notice the gap there between the release date of Far From Home (2nd July 2019) and the first untitled movie (1st May 2020). That's the longest gap between MCU titles since Avengers Assemble (April 2012) and Iron Man 3 (April 2013).
You'll also notice in 2020 that we'll only be getting two MCU movies – that hasn't happened since 2016, when Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange were released in top and tail fashion in April and October. No doubt Marvel will be using the breathing space to properly plan and bed in new properties, which already includes the Eternals movie and Shang-Chi, which aims to be the first Asian-American-led comic book movie.
The full MCU schedule is as follows:
- 1st May 2020
- 6th November 2020
- 12th February 2021
- 7th May 2021
- 5th November 2021
- 18th February 2022
- 6th May 2022
- 29th July 2022
Logically, we can expect at least one of the 2020 titles to be the Black Widow movie. It begins shooting this June, finally allowing Scarlett Johansson's character Natasha Romanoff her time in the spotlight. The impressive supporting cast includes Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour.
Will the second 2020 title be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? The movie has had a troubled birth, with original writer-director James Gunn fired over insensitive tweets and then re-instated. In the interim, Gunn signed on to make DC's Suicide Squad sequel, and he's still contracted to do so – in fact, he will make the movie for the rival studio before embarking on Guardians 3. Will his crowded schedule mean the latter stands a chance of a 2020 release date?
In all likelihood, a 2021 release date is more plausible for Guardians. Taking its place is likely to be the Eternals movie, an origin story of ancient celestial beings directed by The Rider's Chloe Zhao. Maleficent star Angelina Jolie has already been linked to the project and it's now being reported that Bodyguard's Richard Madden is being courted for a role.
Beyond that, we can surely expect the likes of Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Doctor Strange 2 and Ant-Man 3 to fill in the gaps. Variety quotes Disney CEO Bob Iger as saying there are "huge opportunities" and "many different directions" as to the future of the franchise. He also confirmed that the Disney+ TV shows, beginning with Elizabeth Olsen's WandaVision, "will be intricately linked and tied to the storytelling".
Iger also says the official phase 4 MCU slate will be released this summer – speculation points towards Disney's D23 Expo that takes place from 20th to 25th August.
What movies do you want to see featured in Phase 4 of the MCU? Let us know @Cineworld.