phase three

It’s been said in the past that Phase Three of the MCU would conclude not with the epic Avengers: Endgame, but rather Spider-Man: Far From Home. If there was any lingering doubt about this claim, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige sealed the deal recently, confirming that Far From Home would indeed bring Phase Three to an end. But why? Wouldn’t ending things with Endgame make more sense? It has end in its title, after all. Just what determines the end of a “Phase” in the MCU?

During a recent Shanghai fan event for Endgame (via Newsweek) Kevin Feige commented that Spider-Man: Far From Home would be the end of the MCU Phase Three. Some are treating this revelation as breaking news, but I remember reading this same fact on the Marvel Wiki months ago, and assumed it was common knowledge at this point. At the same time, I can understand why many would think Avengers: Endgame, opening this week, would close out Phase Three, with Far From Home kicking-off Phase Four. Endgame is being touted as the biggest MCU film yet – a movie that will bring the Infinity Saga to a huge conclusion, and likely send several fan favorite characters off into the sunset.

Here’s the thing: the MCU Phases have always felt a bit arbitrary. Phase One concluded with the first Avengers movie, and that felt appropriate. All the previous films had been leading up to that moment. Phase Two, however, didn’t conclude with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Instead, Ant-Man ended that particular span of films. Ending Phase Three with Far From Home feels like a repeat of this – having one huge team movie, followed by something a little more low-key…or at least, as low-key as these movies can be. Rather than a climax, it’s a coda.

But when you think back to Ant-Man, does it come across as a movie that fits snugly within Phase Two – or is it more of a holdover? The same question must now be asked about Far From Home. Will the new Spider-Man film truly bring Phase Three to a conclusion, or is it something of a remnant – a film that just doesn’t fully fit in whatever the mysterious Phase Four holds. Perhaps Far From Home has plot elements that tie directly into Endgame. Or perhaps this is all just a way for Marvel to have their cake and eat it too, by making a ton of money before 2019 ends, leaving 2020 open for new, exciting things.

As of now, we don’t know how Phase Four will play out. Marvel is working on or has plans to work on Black WidowThe EternalsShang-ChiGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3Black Panther 2 and a Doctor Strange sequel. Beyond that, there’s also the matter of the Marvel characters formally owned by Fox, which Disney now has access to. We may be in the Endgame now, but Marvel shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Avengers: Endgame opens April 26Spider-Man: Far From Home arrives July 2.

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