With Ant-Man (which was only briefly mentioned) wrapping up Phase Two in mid-2015, the focus at Tuesday’s media/fan event was firmly on the third Phase, which kicks off in 2016 with the third Captain America film. Initially teased on the theatre’s big screen with the subtitle Serpent Society, it was quickly revealed to be Civil War, with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans appearing on stage to adopt boxing poses and confirm that the latest Cap outing will indeed pit Steve Rogers against Tony Stark in a moral conflict that spills over into a real clash in the wake of the events ofAvengers: Age Of Ultron. The film’s logo carries a May 6, 2016 date, though it may hit the UK earlier.
Following that, Doctor Strange will make his full debut in the Marvel universe. While there is still no confirmed casting for the lead – Benedict Cumberbatch is the current rumoured front runner, though Marvel president Kevin Feige wouldn’t be drawn on the matter – Sinister director Scott Derrickson is working away ready for November 4, 2016 release date, a little later than originally thought.
“It takes a while to work on these movies before they’re ready to come to you in theatres,” said Feige. “Doctor Stephen Strange, brilliant neurosurgeon, bit of an arrogant fellow who gets in a car accident and ruins what he thinks are the tools of his trade: his hands. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the supernatural, that involves everything from quantum mechanics to string theory. The idea of this film is to open up a whole new corner of the cinematic universe. We want to enter, through Strange, the world of parallel dimensions.”
2017 kicks off the era of three Marvel movies a year, as Phase Three really lives up to its name. First out of the gate will be Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, which writer/director James Gunn announced via video message (he’s in Tokyo at the moment) would arrive a month earlier than anticipated, pencilled in for a May 5, 2017 slot.
That’s to make more room for the next Thor film, subtitled Ragnarok, which, according to Feige, sees the return of both Chris Hemsworth’s hero and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Because, let’s face it, Asgard just isn’t as fun without the trickster.
Later in 2017, Black Panther finally makes his debut, and Team Marvel had freshly-cast leading man Chadwick Boseman on hand to share the stage with Downey Jr. and Evans. You can read more about the Panther’s solo film here.
Moving on to 2018, another long-awaited (and demanded) character will also get her due: Captain Marvel, in the form of Carol Danvers, is headed to screens for July 6, 2018. There’s no casting yet, but Feige had this to say: “This film has been in the works almost as long as Doctor Strange orGuardians Of The Galaxy, and one of the key things was figuring out what we wanted to do with it. Her adventures are very earthbound, but her powers are based in the cosmic realm.”
She’ll be joined in November of that year by The Inhumans, a storyline that has been rumoured for a while and got more credibility a couple of months ago. There’s more about them here.
And, finally, the Avengers will be back (with whatever line-up the team has following the fallout ofAge Of Ultron and Phase Three’s various cataclysms) for a two-part tale called Avengers: Infinity War, due in May 2018 and May 2019. As the title suggests, it’s what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building to, with Infinity Stones such as the Tesseract (from the first Captain Americaand Avengers films), the Aether (Thor: The Dark World) and the Orb (Guardians) among the items Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin in Guardians) is looking to collect to use with the Infinity Gauntlet, which will make him so powerful it’ll need the Avengers and two films to deal with.
The only bad news was for fans hoping for solo films about the Hulk, Hawkeye (some people love him) and Black Widow. “Black Widow couldn’t be more important as an Avenger, but, like Hulk, the Avengers films will be the films where they play a primary role,” said Feige. “Her part in Avengers: Age Of Ultron is very, very big and further develops her character. The plans we have for her through the rest of the Avengers saga are very big and she is a linchpin, in fact, to those films. So instead of taking her out there or doing a prequel which we haven’t done yet, we’re continuing the forward momentum of the continuity of the Cinematic Universe, of which Widow is a key part.”
So that’s it for the Marvel Cinematic Universe for now. What do you make of the announcements? Are you excited? Do you wish other characters had gotten their due? Let us know below and on Twitter.