There is no disputing that Marvel Studios’ approach to their interconnecting superhero films has revolutionized how studios look at managing their franchises. Currently, Warner Brothers are fumbling their way toward trying to get their own library of DC Comics superheroes onto the big screen in similar fashion, while Twentieth Century Fox is hard at work trying to expand their X-Men franchise into something closer to what Marvel Studios has already achieved.
In a new interview with Wired, Feige talked about how he charted out the course for Marvel that lead to the billion dollar box office return on last summer’s The Avengers, a gamble that obviously paid off. He also discloses that the studio has their films planned out further than has been conventionally thought.
I could arguably say what we’re planning for the year 2021. Will that happen? I don’t know. But what we planned for 2015 in 2006 is happening.
Feige goes on to say that so far, five years into this grand design that started with Iron Man in 2008, things have gone about seventy-five percent to plan with twenty-five percent being “bob-and-weave.”
Doing some math, I would guess that that 2021 date is presumably the end of the studio’s “Phase Four” plans. Remember that “Phase One” was all the films that lead into The Avengers – Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. The studio is in the early days of their “Phase Two” plans, with Iron Man 3 being released earlier this summer, Thor: The Dark World set for November, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy set for 2014 and concluding with The Avengers: Age Of Ultron in May 2015. Of Phase Three, we only know for sure that the first film will be director Edgar Rice’s long anticipated Ant-Man and will most likely conclude with a third Avengers film in 2018 in which the superhero team will probably face off against the cosmic villain Thanos, glimpsed at the end of the first Avengers film last summer.
So what can we assume about what might be on Marvel’s development slate for the remainder of Phase Three and Phase Four? In the article, Feige mentions that the studio is anxious to begin exploring some of Marvel Comics’ more magically based characters, which lines up with numerous statements he has made before about a Dr. Strange film being in development. There has also been repeated stories that the studio also has scripts in development featuring such characters as the Earth-bound Black Panther to the space-based Inhumans.
I dare say that we will definitely see a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel in Phase Three, providing that the first one does well at the box office. It seems like a no-brainer considering that some of the characters have ties to the villain Thanos and that would help feed into 2018’s Avengers 3. I would also imagine that we will see at least another Captain America and/or Thor sequel in Phase Three. I suspect that Marvel might hold one of those franchises over to Phase Four, leaving room for one additional new franchise to launch in Phase Three and giving Phase Four at least one proven film for its line up.
As for the rest of Phase Four, I would say that things are up for grabs. I am not sure that we can even count on it culminating in a fourth Avengers film, although the fluid nature of the team’s roster in the comics would allow for a different lineup if certain actors were not available. On the other hand, if Marvel heavily digs into its magic-using characters more starting in Phase Three, perhaps Phase Four’s finale will be a different type of team movie, based on the more mystical-leaning Defenders.
Who knows what the future will bring? So far, only Kevin Feige.