In 2018, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will not only be celebrating the release of Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War – undoubtedly its most ambitious creative effort to date both in terms of scale and scope – but it’ll also be commemorating 10 years since the launch of Iron Man, the standalone pic that got the ball rolling in the first place.
Now, the MCU is a lucrative juggernaut spanning 14 feature films – Doctor Strange being the latest addition to the fold – that can be divided into three distinct groups. Known as Phases in the Marvel universe, the comic book term has become a neat way for fans to categorize the MCU for the past ten years, with each new Phase bringing with it a new raft of costumed crusaders and intriguing stories to dive into. Phase 3, for instance, is comprised of everything from Civil War to the Brie Larson-fronted Captain Marvel movie which, incidentally, just announced its two directors.
As things stand, the current arc will reach its conclusion with the release of the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4 in 2019. Beyond that? Marvel is keeping mum. We know from previous reports that the studio has staked out three release dates in 2020, but the identity of each picture remains a mystery for now. Indeed, according to Kevin Feige, post-Avengers 4, the MCU may evolve into a “new thing” that doesn’t go by the name Phase 4.
We’ve been lucky that [contract expirations] haven’t factored in too much. We’ve had people under contract for certain films, then we’ve had new ideas and new directions like Civil War like we wanted to do, and we’ve been lucky enough to make new contracts. Or Spider-Man: Homecoming, the cast has been awesome in their enthusiasm for the direction and the storylines that we’ve been telling. So it really does, right now, all start with where we wanna take the stories. Certainly, as we get to Infinity War there is a sense of a climax if not a conclusion to, by the time we’re at untitled Avengers 4, the 22 movies that will have encompassed the first three phases of the MCU. And what happens after that will be very different. I don’t know if it’s Phase 4, it might be a new thing.
Acting as the culmination of everything that has come before, Avengers: Infinity War has been earmarked for May 4th, 2018. Avengers 4 will follow suit in 2019, and the next film to tumble off the Marvel production line is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It’ll be with us on May 5th.