marvel studios updated calendar

Yesterday, Marvel Studios announced a bunch of changes and additions to their release calendar. Among the announcements were an Ant-Man sequel titled Ant-Man and the Wasp set for 2018, new release dates for Black Panther and Captain Marvel and three yet-to-be-announced Marvel movies scheduled for 2020. So the question I’ve been getting over the last 24 hours is this: What does Marvel Studios have planned for 2020?

First of all, I need to admit that we don’t have any inside info on the movies in development at Marvel for release half a decade from now. It’s still very far out, and probably only a handful of people within Disney are privy to those plans at this point. But we can look back at what Marvel has done previously to try to speculate on what might be coming next.

Before we get to that speculation, let’s start at the beginning. This post started because I was tired of looking at that out-of-date Marvel Studios timeline released last year. So I spent the morning updating it to the one you see in the header. This took a lot longer than I had expected when I began. But the question that smacked me in the face is this:

marvel phase 3

When Does Phase Three End and Phase Four Begin?

I think we all assumed that Infinity War would end Phase Three, but Inhumans was originally announced as a Phase Three movie. Initially, when Kevin Feige announced Marvel’s Phase Four plans at the El Capitan Theatre event, Inhumans was to be released before The Avengers: Infinity War Part II. But since then Inhumans has moved to the date right after Infinity War.

And let’s remember that for some weird reason, Ant-Man and not The Avengers: Age of Ultron is considered the end of Marvel Studios’ Phase Two timeline. So its very possible that Infinity War isn’t the conclusion of Phase Three. And to make things more complicated, Marvel announced the Ant-Man sequel release date changes and additions yesterday in a post titled “MARVEL STUDIOS PHASE 3 UPDATE.” By including the three unannounced 2020 films in this post, is Marvel saying that Phase Three will run through 2020?

For the purposes of the header graphic and our speculation, I have decided to call Infinity War the end of Phase Three until Feige speaks up and clarifies otherwise.

marvel cinematic universe so far

A Look Back At History To Determine The Future

Before we look forward, let’s look back at the history of the Marvel Studios films so far to help determine which of these films might be originals, and which might be sequels. As you can see, Phase One had four “original” films and two “sequels” (counting the mega sequel team-up film The Avengers). But Phases Two and Three are probably more indicative of what to expect, as Phase One was the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In Phase Two, Marvel had two “original” films and four sequels, the exact inverse of Phase One.

In Phase Three, Marvel will have six sequels and four “original” movies (which, yes, includes the Spider-Man reboot). If Inhumans was indeed considered part of Phase Three, there would be one more “original” movie in that equation.

I think from these numbers we can assume that two out of the three films will be sequels. That doesn’t take into consideration the universe-altering consequences of Infinity War. But for now, we’ll assume we’re getting two sequels and one “original” movie.

Marvel-Studios-Avengers

So Which Sequels?

Marvel typically works in trilogies. Iron Man has three films and Robert Downey Jr. has said there are no plans for a fourth film. Captain America will have three films after Civil War, and Feige has said that film will end Steve Roger’s story. Of course, that doesn’t mean Bucky or someone else can’t take over Roger’s duties as Captain America, following the comics’ lead. Thor will also have had three films once Ragnarok hits in 2017. We can assume that this will also follow the rule of Marvel trilogies, and serve as a conclusion for Thor.

That leaves Ant-Man, but the July 2018 date for the Ant-Man and the Wasp movie means it’s unlikely we’ll get a third film in 2020.

Black Panther and Captain Marvel are probably also too late in the schedule. Their 2018 and 2019 dates mean we are unlikely to see any potential sequels until 2021.

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