marvel phase 4

You may have heard that Marvel Studios is skipping their customary presentation in Hall H at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. As explained by studio president and Marvel Cinematic Universe architect Kevin Feige, the reasons for this break from tradition are largely logistical. In the past, the Hall H presentation has primarily been a vehicle for two things: film announcements and trailer debuts. But by the time SDCC rolls around, ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp‘ will have been released, rounding out this year’s Marvel slate. Of next year’s films, ‘Captain Marvel‘ will have only just finished filming and the cameras will have only just started rolling on the next ‘Spider-Man’ film. In other words, there will be nothing ready to show from those films. Add that to the intense secrecy surrounding ‘Avengers 4’ and you begin to see the problem. How do you fill an hour under those circumstances without tipping your hand at least a little?

Well, there had been some speculation that Marvel would announce their Phase 4 slate at the convention. If that ever was the plan, it clearly isn’t any longer. So when can fans expect to learn what Marvel has in store for Phase 4? According to Feige, it’ll be a while. As he told Den of Geek:

“We won’t do anything until after this time next year. After that, I think we’ll announce where we’re going. But we did a very big announcement in 2014 where we announced a lot of movies, and we added a few movies to it after that announcement. But it really felt important that we deliver on that before we do a big showcase of whatever is to come.”

In addition to Feige’s stated reasons, it’s also worth pointing out that there’s likely also a connection to the secrecy around ‘Infinity War’ and its immediate sequel. After all, announcing, say, a ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel at this stage would only confirm Strange’s survival, which would be a great way to suck all of the tension out of his scenes.

Regardless, Marvel has already staked a claim to several release dates through summer 2022. While we can’t yet match films to those dates, we can make at least a few educated guesses. In addition to the still-untitled sequel to ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, which we already know will be kicking off Phase 4 when it arrives on July 5, 2019, there are a few films that we can reasonably expect to see in the next wave of Marvel films. Those safe bets include ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’, ‘Black Panther 2‘, ‘Doctor Strange 2‘, and eventually ‘Avengers 5’. Marvel also appears to be in the preliminary stages of developing a solo Black Widow film, though there’s no telling if and when that might land. Assuming that ‘Black Widow’ is planned for Phase 4, though, that leaves four release dates up for grabs.

And then there’s the elephant in the room. While we can reasonably expect sequels for the characters who have been introduced over the last few years, the cinematic futures of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America are far less certain. Given the end of the respective actors’ original Marvel contracts and the often ominous messaging that has surrounded both ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Avengers 4’, pretty much anything is possible at this point. Maybe they all die. Maybe some do. Maybe none (though I wouldn’t put my money on this one). The survivors may get more solo features, or they might appear as supporting characters in other people’s movies (much like Iron Man has throughout Phase 3). Or they could just as easily take a few years off to give the actors a chance to spread their wings and take on other projects. Either way, I suppose we’ll find out next summer.

Directed by the Russo brothers from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ marks the culmination of a decade-long effort by Marvel Studios and sees the Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to take on Thanos. The film counts Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olson, Sebastian Stan, and three gentlemen named “Chris” among its gargantuan cast. The long-awaited movie is set to arrive in theaters on April 27, 2018.