What’s Marvel got in the can, in production, or in active pre-production? Two sequels and a debut that will round out Phase 3 and kick off Phase 4.
Release Date: March 6, 2019
What We Know: Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, a 1990s-era fighter pilot who comes into contact with Kree technologies – or the true nature of Walter Lawson (Jude Law), a disguised Kree also known as Mar-Vell. When her DNA gets fused with Kree abilities, she becomes the only superhero around: Captain Marvel. Her activities attract the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. and lead her out into space, where she becomes involved with ongoing tensions between the Kree Empire and a race of aliens known as the Skrulls.
How It Fits in the MCU: Briefly teased at the end of Infinity War, Captain Marvel is known to former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who returns as a full co-star in the MCU prequel. Clark Gregg also reprises his role as Agent Phillip J. Coulson, as do Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou, who return as their Guardians of the Galaxy characters Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer. The film will also presumably explain why Fury kept Marvel in reserve for nearly 30 years and why the Skrulls have not appeared in any modern MCU film.
Release Date: May 3, 2019
What We Think Might Happen: Following the Snap that eliminated half of all life in the universe, Captain America and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) will presumably have to work past their issues and unite the remaining heroes on Earth and in space to make one last stand against Thanos (Josh Brolin) and restore the lives he took at the end of Infinity War. Presumably, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) will have prominent roles.
How It Fits in the MCU: Despite Infinity War’s marketing, this is the film everything has been leading up to since Iron Man. In the grand tradition of event comic-book crossover storylines, long-standing issues will be resolved, some will make supreme sacrifices, and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) will quip about feeling better. But since the MCU has mastered the structure of the ongoing comic book storyline pioneered by Marvel Comics in the 1960s, the film will also introduce the Phase 4 theme, if not its principle antagonist.
Release Date: July 5, 2019
What We Think Might Happen: According to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, the film will be our “first taste” of the Phase 4, post-Avengers 4 MCU. What this really means for Spidey (Holland) is difficult to say. Will he go back to Queens after experiencing life and death on Titan? (Given the Holland recently revealed the title could be Spider-Man: Far From Home, we suspect he won’t spend much time in his bedroom.) Will he be content to fight bad guys like Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine) or Scorpion (Michael Mando) after glimpsing the infinite stars? With Jake Gyllenhaal in talks to play Mysterio, and word that Michael Keaton will return as Adrian Toomes, it is possible Spider-Man will finally face some version of the Sinister Six — a supergroup of villains dedicated to Spidey’s destruction — on screen? If nothing else, it must resolve how Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) dealt with her nephew being Spider-Man. Also, the latest reports indicate Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders will appear as Nick Fury and Maria Hill, suggesting Peter may some extra supervision wherever he ends up.
How It Fits in the MCU: Now a full-fledged Avenger, Peter may be able to call upon the expertise of others to aid him in his fight with the as-yet unrevealed antagonist. Maybe he and Shuri (Letitia Wright) will become friends. And now that we know Mysterio will appear, it is possible he will stage some sort of alien incursion like the character (retroactively) staged in Amazing Spider-Man #2, causing some to believe the Chitauri or Thanos have returned.
Despite their legendary veil of secrecy, Marvel Studios has acknowledged a handful of films are currently in development. Some seem certain while others await a good script. With nine(!) release dates reserved for unannounced films between the Spider-Man sequel’s 2019 release and July of 2022, it is only a matter of time before some of these projects slot into those dates. Here are the untitled releases, and what we think they may be.
Release Date: May 1, 2020
What We Think Might Happen: While still not officially on the schedule, the strong implication from Feige and just-fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn suggests the third “volume” in the film series will follow the Spider-Man sequel. Feige already suggested Phase 4 will have a stronger cosmic theme, with the third Guardians offering a sort of preview. There’s also the Vol. 2 mid-credit stinger with that cocoon. Many believe it contains Adam Warlock, a character who almost keeps appearing in Marvel Studios productions and ends up with the Infinity Gauntlet in Marvel Comics’ cosmic epics. Of course, the abrupt firing of Gunn at the end of July may send the entire project to the back of the line. In June, Gunn claimed he finished a draft of the script, but it is unclear if Marvel was ready to give it the green light before Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn terminated Gunn. With fans attempting to get him reinstated, it is possible Vol. 3 will proceed as planned. Or, it is possible a replacement director will work from Gunn’s script. Until Marvel decisively cancels or postpones Vol. 3, we’ll leave it as our May 2020 guess.
How It Fits in the MCU: Between characters from the first film appearing in Captain Marvel and a fallout from that film’s Kree and Skrulls conflict, the Guardians may prove to be the most important line of defense between the impossibly powerful forces out in the cosmos and tiny old Earth. Also, the love affair between Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must continue.
Release Date: July 31, 2020
What We Think Might Happen: Depending on the outcome of Infinity War, the film might very well center around Shuri, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and Okoye (Danai Gurira), which would suit director Ryan Coogler’s intentions just fine. Recently, he said a film about the women of Wakanda would be a great endeavor. Although, his comments were directed toward a spinoff of Black Panther and not necessarily a sequel. Presuming King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns from the dust, a sequel would no doubt follow up on his decision to let the world know more about Wakanda, with M’Baku (Winston Duke) either firming up his ties to the King or attempting to take the throne for himself.
How It Fits in the MCU: Since Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa has been a popular figure in fan circles, but the stunning success of Black Panther suggests there will be more Wakanda throughout the MCU. As mentioned above, Shuri and Peter Parker could be fast friends, while the embassies and outreach programs T’Challa proposed at the end of Black Panther open for business in other films.
Release Date: November 6, 2020
What We Know: Feige recently revealed a film based on the Eternals comic book and concept is in development. Based on characters and situations imagined by Jack Kirby, the Eternals are a race of fantastically powerful proto-humans engineered by the Celestials (more on them in a moment) to harness vast amounts of “cosmic energy.” Generations of infighting and wars against another Celestial experiment, the Deviants, followed. According to reports, the film will center on an Eternal named Sersi with the powers of flight, strength, immortality, and molecular manipulation.
How It Fits in the MCU: Because the Eternals and the Celestials are old and powerful — the Celestials are some of the oldest creatures in the universe — they run into just about everyone. When the Kree happened to learn about the Eternals, they tried duplicating the Celestial experiment and created Inhumans on Earth. In Marvel’s 616 universe, Thanos is himself related to the Eternals thanks to their colonization of Titan in the distant past. Meanwhile, the Celestials have already appeared in passing during both Guardians films. In the first film, one appears in a hologram during The Collector’s (Benicio Del Toro) explanation of the Power Stone. And in the second film, Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father Ego (Kurt Russell) self-identified as a Celestial. Whether or not this means Ziran the Tester will feature in Eternals or any other MCU film remains to be seen.
Release Date: May 7, 2021
What We Think Might Happen: Because of the first Captain Marvel film’s late Phase 3 placement, some believe the film will also set up an ongoing Phase 4 thread while introducing Carol to the world. The sequel could continue to play on the tensions between the Kree and the Skrulls – a war famously covered in the pages of The Avengers. Beyond that, Carol may have to return to Earth and explain why she disappeared 30 years ago and has, presumably, not aged a day.
How It Fits in the MCU: The ongoing thread that some speculate may occur in Phase 4 is the MCU take on the 2008 Marvel Comics event storyline Secret Invasion, in which characters like Elektra were replaced by Skrulls at some previous point in time to aid their long-term invasion plans and foil Earth’s secret elite. If Marvel Studios uses this concept, Captain Marvel could be key in weeding out of the Skrulls thanks to her Kree powers.
Release Date: July 31, 2021
What We Think Might Happen: First revealed in January with Jac Schaeffer writing the script, Black Widow could revolve around Natasha Romanov’s (Scarlett Johansson) origins as a deep cover Russian operative and the organization which trained her. Her flashbacks in Avengers: Age of Ultron allude to the trauma of those days. Alternatively, it could revolve around what she does when not minding the Avengers on their silly adventures. Or it could just be her own spy adventure, something the character excels at. In any event, the film will be directed by Lore’s Cate Shortland, who signed on to direct in mid-July.
How It Fits in the MCU: Setting aside her long-standing friendships with the marquee Avengers, her training ties back to ideas explored in the short-lived Marvel television series, Agent Carter, in which a Soviet-trained deep cover agent is assigned to eliminate Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Investigating the operative, Peggy discovers the brutal facility charged with creating these sleeper agents using methods teased in Black Widow’s Ultron flashbacks. Perhaps Peggy was involved in turning Nat from the left-over Soviet agency to the side of S.H.I.E.L.D. – an idea which could be explored in the potential film.
Release Date: February 18, 2022
What We Think Might Happen: Feige also recently revealed an appearance by Ms. Marvel is in the works. Created by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona in 2013, Kamala Khan is a Pakistani teenager living in New Jersey who admires the exploits of Captain Marvel when a Terrigen bomb activates her Inhuman cells, turning her into a shape-shifter with increased strength and other skills. When asked about the character making the leap to the MCU, Feige said plans were “definitely” in the works to introduce her into the universe. It is unclear if this means she would be introduced in Captain Marvel 2 or her own film, but Feige said it was important for Captain Marvel to be firmly established before they can introduce Ms. Marvel.
How It Fits in the MCU: Besides the connection to Captain Marvel, Kamala’s Inhuman DNA links her back to the Kree, the Celestials, and the Inhumans. The latter concept is on shaky ground with the failure of Marvel’s Inhumans television show and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. moving away from an Inhuman emphasis. But Ms. Marvel might be the best person to reintroduce the concept into the MCU with a strong fan following to buoy her once Marvel is ready to commit to making her a live-action star.
Of course, any of the films lacking a release date could shift in the schedule. Inhumans was once meant to be a Phase 3 feature before Marvel and Sony agreed to share Spider-Man. Black Panther and Captain Marvel also shifted their release dates to accommodate the web-head’s MCU debut. Additionally, a Runaways film was once in development, but fell off the schedule as Phase 2 plans firmed up. Nonetheless, this roadmap is the beginning of Marvel Studios’ continued march into space and box office domination in the decade to come.
July 6, 2018 – Ant-Man and the Wasp
March 8, 2019 – Captain Marvel
May 3, 2019 – Untitled Fourth Avengers Movie
July 5, 2019 – Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel
May 1, 2020 – Untitled Marvel Movie 1
July 31, 2020 – Untitled Marvel Movie 2
November 6, 2020 – Untitled Marvel Movie 3
May 7, 2021 – Untitled Marvel Movie 4
July 31, 2021 – Untitled Marvel Movie 5
November 5, 2021 – Untitled Marvel Movie 6 (we think it’s Doctor Strange 2, but Marvel is strangely quiet about his next adventure)
February 18, 2022 – Untitled Marvel Movie 7
May 6, 2022 – Untitled Marvel Movie 8
July 29, 2022 – Untitled Marvel Movie 9