Marvel Studios was able to hammer out two blockbuster superhero films this year to introduce Captain America and Thor – the remaining core characters of The Avengers. This is in accordance to Marvel’s mandate of two major theatrical releases per year, a trend that sadly ends next year with The Avengers coming all by itself after the lower-budget production of Runaways was put on hiatus.

The two years after that however, fans should be getting their dual fix each summer, starting with Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 in the summer of 2013 and at least two more Marvel movies to fill in the two summer dates the studio locked down in 2014. As I stated in our discussion of writer Christopher Markus’ desire to have MODOK be a villain in Captain America 2, the Chris Evans solo sequel would certainly release in 2014 – According to him, that does seem to be the case.

While doing the press rounds for his upcoming flick Puncture, Evans cannot avoid questions about his career’s biggest role as the star-spangled Avenger. The Playlist spoke to him about the role and his upcoming appearances, where he explains that with his 6-picture contract (3 Captain America movies + 3 Avengers movies) it is highly unlikely for him to cameo in other movies and that because of that, he likely won’t be seen as Steve Rogers again until Captain America debuts – likely in 2014 as everyone expected.

“They may wait until 2014 until they release the next Cap. Marvel has a lot of balls in the air, they aren’t going to cannibalize their films… Out of those six films, if I pop up in one of those [other films], it counts as part of the deal. So if they needed me in a third Cap, and I say, ‘F*** you, give me $30 million,’ well…they want to avoid that.”

Marvel Studios has successfully created an interconnected movie universe, the true first of its kind. Since they began with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man in 2008, each successive film in the franchise has included more ties to previous installments and built more of a foundation for future films to follow.

With Captain America: The First Avenger being the last movie to debut before Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers, it is essentially its prequel. Knowing that The Avengers is the first big step towards opening the universe to more movies to come, Marvel Studios may find itself in a predicament in deciding which properties to focus their efforts on post-Avengers.

We had hoped that The Avengers would act as a launch pad of sorts for other characters and the greater Marvel cinematic universe. For years now, we’ve shared our desires and heard the hints and reports of other characters from Marvel’s vast library getting script treatments and interested talent, but still, there is nothing on the way outside of the ‘big three’ featured in the “Avengers Assemble” logo.

If Captain America 2 takes one of Marvel’s two 2014 release dates, that leaves one left for what will be either Ant-Man or The Avengers 2. So when will audiences get an opportunity to see Dr. Strange, Luke Cage, Iron First, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy? Do they realistically even have a shot? Perhaps they’ll be utilized for television programs or short films.

The problem is that Marvel cannot simply abandon their core characters – just like Warner Bros. will not settle for having no Batman movie on the way. Iron Man, Thor and Cap sell so those characters are going to keep getting movies. Does Marvel wait until after a trilogy for each and simply stop them to replace with even lesser known characters? No, Marvel needs to tie these other characters into their bankable properties and for that to work – assuming they’re aiming for full feature, live-action theatrical releases for the likes of Dr. Strange and co., then the studio will need to boost its production to even more films per year – perhaps 4, a number dropped previously in discussion of Marvel’s long-term planning.

For now, the foreseeable future is limited to the core characters we know are coming in The Avengers and the success and reaction to it will determine which additional characters – such as Black Widow or Hawkeye – will get a spin-off of their own, or perhaps a movie based on both of them together along with the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Is it good that Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and Captain America 2 may not be weighed down but inter-connectivity? How should Marvel plan their release schedule in the coming years?

For more on present-day Captain America:

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes and let me know your ideas and desires for upcoming Marvel Studios projects.

Source: The Playlist