What’s Marvel got in the can, in production, or in active pre-production? Two sequels that will round out Phase 3 and kick off Phase 4.
Release Date: April 26, 2019
What We Know: While Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) makes a seemingly doomed attempt to get home from Titan, Captain America (Chris Evans) assembles the remaining heroes for one last stand against Thanos (Josh Brolin) to restore the lives he took at the end of Infinity War. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) returns with a new costumed identity, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) finds his way out of his Ant-Man and the Wasp cliffhanger and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) answers Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson)page..
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 Know: Peter Parker returns to his high school milieu for a summer trip to Europe. He intends to leave Spider-Man at home and spend more time with MJ (Zendaya), but a mysterious group of elemental monsters – and the surprising return of Nick Fury – quash his vacation plans. Meanwhile, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) makes his long-delayed cinematic debut. The most recent trailer sees him fending off the monsters, but that could all be an illusion. He is quite good at making those.
How It Fits in the MCU: Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige promised long ago that the film will be our “first taste” of the Phase 4, post-Avengers: Endgame MCU. But other than Nick Fury’s return to leading covert missions, it is unclear how much of Phase 4’s status quo will matter to the story. As some have pointed out, certain shots in the trailer indicate a world still repairing itself from the destruction caused by Thanos’s Snap. Considering Spider-Man: Homecoming’s more grounded look at the fallout from the first Avengers film, Far From Home may offer a similar look at the world after Endgame.
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 summer 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: First revealed in January of 2018 with Jac Schaeffer writing the script, a Black Widow film emerged as Marvel’s fastest-track project with Lore’s Cate Shortland signing on to direct in July of last year. More recently, Fighting with My Family’s Florence Pugh was said to be in talks to play Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlet Johansson) rival in the spy game. Of course, it is unclear if their rivalry takes place in the present day or reverberates back to Nat’s time as a Soviet operative. Her flashbacks in Avengers: Age of Ultron allude to the trauma of those days. The film could take us back to the latter part of the Cold War or revolve around what she does when not minding the Avengers on their silly adventures.
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: July 31, 2020
What We Know: In April of 2018, Feige revealed a film based on the Eternals comic book and concept is in development. The project appears to be on the fast track now that The Rider’s Chloe Zhao has agreed to direct the film. 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: November 6, 2020
What We Think Might Happen: Depending on the outcome of Endgame, the film might very well center around Shuri (Letitia Wright), 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. 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: May 7, 2021
What We Think Might Happen: In March, Short Term 12’s Destin Daniel Cretton emerged as the director a film based on Marvel’s 1970s comic book The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu . In the comics, Shang-Chi was the son of legendary villain Fu Manchu. Learning the truth about his dad’s business, he used his martial arts prowess against his father and any other Marvel baddie ready to go against his mighty hands. But considering Fu-Manchu is one of the few IPs not owned by the Walt Disney Company, fans online are already speculating Chang-Shi’s father – whom Marvel later turned into a different immortal villain in the comics – may turn out to be the “real” Mandarin teased in the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray short film “All Hail the King.”
How It Fits in the MCU: Should Marvel Studios go with this elegant idea, it resurrects the Ten Rings, an idea seeded in Iron Man, but never carried out to fruition as the Infinity Saga took shape. As a crime league embedded across the world, but owing allegiance to no country, the group gives Shang-Chi a nice international opponent with an established MCU footprint. Also, for as fun as Ben Kingsley was as the fake Mandarin, it would be nice to see the Ten Rings and its leader get a proper spotlight.
Release Date: July 31, 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: November 5, 2021
What We Think Might Happen: Following his return from non-existence, Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) will no doubt face Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as he tries to amass all the magic for himself, a notion teased in the first film’s post-credit stinger. Director Scott Derrickson finally signed on to return in December, suggesting the film will end up as one of the three Marvel releases for 2021 (as we’ve always assumed).
How It Fits in the MCU: The mystic realm of the MCU is still ripe for exploration. It is also an unexpected avenue from which Doctor Doom could emerge, should Marvel Studios choose to introduce him after the Disney/Fox merger is completed.
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.
Release Date: May 6, 2022
What We Think Might Happen: The saga of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is as surprising as anything writer/director James Gunn could dream up for his band of starfaring reprobates. In June of 2018, Gunn claimed he finished a draft of the script, but it was unclear if Marvel was ready to give it the green light before Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn fired him that July. In August, the skeleton crew doing preliminary pre-production work were let go and told to find other projects – a definite sign the third Guardians film would not emerge from its troubles any time soon. Fan campaigns to get Gunn reinstated formed and actors like Dave Bautista expressed their displeasure with Horn’s decision publicly. Gunn signed on to direct Warner Bros’ The Suicide Squad and the matter seemed settled. We even stopped referring to the project as Vol. 3. Then Horn stunned everyone in March by reversing his decision and reinstating Gunn. He will return to helm the film – presumably using the script he completed last June – once his commitment to The Suicide Squad, due out in 2021, concludes.
How It Fits in the MCU: It all depends on Gunn’s plans for Vol. 3 and if it takes place during the Infinity Saga. Like the way Vol. 2 occurred shortly after the first Guardians film, it could take place not long after the death of Yondu (Michael Rooker) and detail how the Guardians found, stole, or were awarded with the Benatar. More likely, it will be set after Avengers: Endgame and see the surviving Guardians finding a new normal after their most recent traumas.
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.
March 8, 2019 – Captain Marvel
May 3, 2019 – Avengers: Endgame
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