Official announcements, inside reports and wild rumors in the last month alone point to a wide array of possibilities for what path Marvel Studios will take their multiple franchises down come time for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After The Avengers 2 and Ant-Man, the door currently sits wide open for what new characters and intellectual properties Disney and Marvel may develop for the big screen.

As we inch closer to Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, it’s becoming increasingly likely that fans and moviegoers will learn at least part of what the studio is planning for the future where we expect at least one new character (Doctor Strange) to get a film announced. Is there any chance Black Panther will get the spotlight as well?

Putting aside rumors that Marvel Studios is looking to cast Black Panther for a moment, Stan Lee was one of the headlining guests at this weekend’s Wizard World Comic Con NYC where he held a Q&A panel. One of the fans asked about the possibility of seeing certain major crossover stories from Marvel Comics become a part of the story of the films, and Lee responded by namedropping some of the more obscure projects the studio is working on, explaining that the decision-makers at Marvel are fans just like the readers and are always aiming to find out what everyone wants to see next.

“The people at Marvel are spending hours trying to think ‘what’ll we do next.’ And there’s a damn good chance that they will think just what you mentioned because it would be a great idea, and little by little, everything you want to see will come along because they’re just like you. They’re fans of the stories and are trying to think ‘what will the fans like to see next? What would we like to see next?’ So they’re working on Ant-Man, working on Doctor Strange; they’re working on Guardians of the Galaxy; they’re working on god knows what. Did I say the Black Panther also? They’re the ones I know about.”

Before anyone jumps the gun and reads into this as confirmation of Black Panther being one of the films to be announced at Comic-Con in a few weeks, Stan Lee’s words are actually a non-update and something he (and other Marvel execs) have said before, repeatedly. At the 15th Annual Savanna Film Festival last year for instance, Lee said the following:

“Oh they are all being made into movies! I can tell you there will definitely be a Doctor Strange movie! They are working on Ant-Man,  which requires really small cameras! Black Panther is being developed, one of my favorites… The Inhumans… All the hero’s will eventually be made into movies.”

Going back three years, Kevin Feige – the mastermind of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – said the following:

“I think what Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction have done with Iron Fist lately is exciting… I think Black Panther and Wakanda has some amazing potential to be a feature film. Doctor Strange, as you’ve mentioned. There are some obscure titles, too, like Guardians of the Galaxy. I think they’ve been revamped recently in a fun way in the book.”

With StrangeGuardians and various other properties, Marvel hired writers to pen screenplays to plan out potential future story threads and characters. There’s already a Black Panther script out there by Mark Bailey, although from what we’ve heard, it may not be a very good one. Marvel is always looking ahead and looking at Guardians of the Galaxy for instance, it had a script by Nicole Perlman made as part of Marvel’s 2009 screenwriting program and in 2012 they commissioned Chris McCoy to wrote a new draft. Then game James Gunn with his own story ideas who’s rewriting it again.

It’s expected that Marvel Studios will unveil the titles of the three unannounced films scheduled with release dates in 2016-17 but it’s highly unlikely at this point that all three will be new, riskier properties. We do believe that one of the three will be Doctor Strange but that the two key summer-opening dates at the beginning of May 2016 and May 2017 will likely be reserved for sequels to established properties, whether that be Captain America 3 and Thor 3 or another Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange were two of the more obscure Marvel properties Kevin Feige and others expressed interest in and by they’re both becoming a reality. The others that continue to pop up are The Inhumans, another Hulk movie and Black Panther so they’re definitely in the cards, we just don’t know when.

Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if Black Panther should be a part of Phase Three!

Sources: District, Hat-tip to Dan for the video.