Marvel Studios is currently at work on a number of movies that will bring Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a definite close. Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Infinity War are now in post-production awaiting their release next year. The untitled fourth Avengers movie continues to film through next month for a 2019 opening, and Captain Marvel (with Brie Larson making her debut as the title superhero) begins shooting in February, yet is due in theaters ahead of that sequel. But the MCU won't be over. Apparently Marvel has 20 more movies planned for the future.
Speaking to Vanity Fair for the magazine's latest cover story, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige revealed the almost double-down number of MCU installments. He counts 22 movies that are currently part of the MCU, starting with 2008's Iron Man and ending with Avengers 4. "And we’ve got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that’s come before—intentionally," he hinted. "We’re looking for worlds that are completely separate—geographically or in time—from the worlds that we’ve already visited," added Disney CEO Bob Iger.
What could these 20 movies include? We know at least two of them are the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming set for summer 2019 and a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie due in 2020. Perhaps there will be more follow-ups to existing and upcoming properties, such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. However, there continues to be doubt that we'll see more of certain MCU heavyweights like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans). Marvel's contracts with both, as well as Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner, are supposed to expire when their latest stints are finished.
Fans anticipate some major character deaths in Infinity War and/or Avengers 4, confirmed to be a "finale" of sorts for the franchise, but which ones? And will they remain dead? Could they return with other actors cast in the now-iconic roles? Feige teases that "there will be two distinct periods, everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting." Well, people are at least expecting another Thor movie after the huge success of Thor: Ragnarok. And one of those people is Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.
As for fans' hopes for a Black Widow movie, Johansson is one of those who seem to be exiting the franchise. "I feel a lot of joy for the next generation,” she told Vanity Fair. “It’s a bittersweet feeling, but a positive one.” Bittersweet could also just explain her feelings about saying goodbye to other fellow cast members and characters. Speculation shall commence, but we won't know anything until at least next summer, with Infinity War hitting screens on May 4, 2018, and even then we'll likely not have much confirmation at all until the release of Avengers 4 one year later on May 3, 2019.
Here's a reminder of the MCU slate and release dates we know about so far for the next few years:
Black Panther: February 16, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War: May 4, 2018
Ant-Man and the Wasp: July 6, 2018
Captain Marvel: March 8, 2019
Avengers 4: May 3, 2019
Untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel: July 5, 2019
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: TBD 2020