Which Movies Are Marvel Studios Planning For 2020?

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 This post started because I was tired of looking at that out-of-date Marvel Studios timeline released last year.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.


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.Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

I think it's a safe bet that one of the three Marvel 2020 films is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Guardians of the Galaxy was released in August 2014 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be released in May 2017, so it's pretty reasonable to assume the third installment of Star-Lord's adventures will also follow three years later.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

I'm not exactly sure if Marvel Studios claims dates for the Sony-released Spider-Man series, but if so I think we will see a sequel to the upcoming Spider-Man reboot sometime before the end of 2020.

Doctor Strange 2

Doctor Strange 2

Doctor Strange is the biggest wild card Marvel has ever produced. But Guardians of the Galaxy was once considered a huge risk, and it became a mega hit. If Doctor Strange performs well enough to warrant a sequel, I think 2020 could be a fair slot. It would be three and a half years after the first film's late 2016 debut, which follows the current Marvel pattern.Universal Hulk rights

The Incredible Hulk 2?

And there is always the possibility of another Hulk adventure. We haven't seen a Hulk solo film since Universal's The Incredible Hulk in 2008 starring Edward Norton, and the character has never really had a standalone hit. But audiences have fallen in love with the big green guy and his human counterpart as played by Mark Ruffalo through his part in the Avengers movies.

There's definitely demand for another Hulk movie, and initially we heard that Universal owned the rights to a standalone Hulk sequel — which would prevent Marvel from going to bat a third time. But we later learned that Universal only holds the distribution rights, which means that Universal has "the right of first refusal" to future Hulk films. If Marvel decides they want to make The Incredible Hulk 2, or make rumors about Planet Hulk or World War Hulk come true, Universal has first crack at deciding whether or not they want to distribute. Marvel would still be able to produce the movie.

But even Joss Whedon has expressed his concerns publicly that a standalone Hulk movie isn't an easy task.

howard the duck movie

Don't Expect Howard The Duck

The character's Guardians of the Galaxy end credits cameo is probably the weirdest Marvel Easter egg yet. And I'm not sure anyone wants a new Howard the Duck movie, but maybe it's because the character's appearance seemed like a tease for something more, rather than just a joke. And also the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy became a huge hit.

Seth Green, who voiced the character in the film, recently put the rumors to rest, saying, "Nobody is thinking about a Howard the Duck movie." So while we might see the character pull another cameo in a Guardians sequel or whatnot, I wouldn't expect to see a stand alone movie happen.Marvel head Kevin Feige and Avengers producer Jeremy Latchem - the future of the marvel cinematic universe

Who Else?

Kevin Feige has said that Marvel has films and story lines planned through 2028, but we've gotten very little information about which new characters may be coming after Inhumans.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Avengers Age of Ultron

Black Widow

The Marvel head has said that he would like to explore Black Widow in a solo film:

We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in [Avengers: Age of Ultron]. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that.

And we know that Marvel already has a "pretty in-depth" treatment by Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman.

The Runaways

The possible Runaways movie has gone through a bunch of iterations. Runaways comic book creator Brian K. Vaughan was originally hired to write a screenplay in 2008, and Peter Sollett was even set to direct the film in 2010 with revisions by Drew Pearce. However, the movie was shelved in favor of The Avengers. When Feige announced the Phase Three line-up last year, someone asked about the project and Feige responded that there was "still an awesome script that exists in our script vault," adding, "We'd love to do something with Runaways some day. In our television and future film discussions, it's always one that we talk about, because we have a solid draft there. But again, we can't make them all."

Runaways follows a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are an organized group of supervillains called The Pride. On the run from their homes, the group bands together and begins a journey of discovery, both of their parents' origins and of their own inherited powers. Unlike most other books in the Marvel universe, the individual Runaways story arcs are collected in small, manga-sized trade paperbacks. In 2006, the series won the Harvey Award for best continuing/limited series. Geek god Joss Whedon, a vocal fan of the book, took over the series after Vaughan and Adrian Alphona left following issue #24 of the title's second volume.marvelrank-blade

Other Projects We Know About

We know that Marvel has hired screenwriters for a bunch of other projects that either have not happened or might be still in the works. Those comic properties include:

  • Andrew W. Marlowe wrote a stand alone Nick Fury movie in April 2006. It was compared more to Jim Steranko's Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., which as you know became a television series.
  • Rich Wilkes was hired to write a screenplay for Iron Fist in 2010, but the character is already set to lead his own Netflix series.
  • Marvel has also been said to be working on a project for Blade, either a film or a television series. Wesley Snipes has even revealed that he's had discussions with Marvel about reprising the role.
  • And there may be even more we're missing or not even thinking about. Leave your choices in the comments below!