One of Screen Rant’s big questions for movie geeks in 2014 centered around the year being a defining one for Marvel Studios, namely because Captain America: The Winter Soldier and new property Guardians of the Galaxy both have the chance to take story-telling to the next level for the young production house. We asked that because of what we’ve been hearing from insiders for over a year about the screenplays and direction of both flicks, and on the hope that both Captain America 2 and Guardians can make up for issue we had with 2013’s Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World – both of which were financially successful but let us down slightly as important pieces in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While The Winter Soldier is still months away, with an expensive trailer to debut this weekend during the Super Bowl, the latest news bodes well for the film that serves as a bridge between The Avengers and its upcoming 2015 sequel, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Variety has the scoop that Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of one of our most anticipated films of 2014, will be back in the director chairs for the unannounced Captain America 3. Negotiations apparently haven’t begun yet but Marvel is loving what they’ve seen from early cuts of The Winter Soldier and want them back for more.

Considering the amount of directors Marvel Studios has worked with who didn’t return for sequels, this news speaks volumes of the Russos and hopefully, the quality of Captain America 2. This is especially important since unlike the latest Iron Man and Thor installments, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is far from being a completely standalone title – it builds off of elements from the historical setting of the first Captain America, events that may occur in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, all while laying the groundwork for The Avengers 2.

More interestingly, Cap 2 may not just change the S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it for the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward, it may position Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in an interesting spot now that his best pal Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan’s titular Winter Soldier) is back in the fold. Could Captain America 3 keep with the political setting and delve into Marvel Civil War territory – a major event in the comics which divided the universe? Could it lead to Bucky Barnes becoming the next Captain America before The Avengers 3?

Chris Evans has only two more pictures on his 6-film contract with Marvel (after next summer’s Age of Ultron) so unless the studio can convince him to stick around, Steve Rogers has only Captain America 3 and The Avengers 3 left. Robert Downey Jr. is also only contracted until The Avengers 3 making 2018 a big question mark year for Marvel in how they proceed after.

While Captain America 3 (and Thor 3) haven’t been officially announced, they’re safe bets for Marvel’s Phase 3 slate come 2016-17 and we’ll learn more about that this summer when the studio unveils their upcoming film plans during San Diego Comic-Con. From what Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige tells us, each of those years will have two films, the first of each pair being a sequel. That means to us Captain America 3 is likely coming in 2017 unless they switch the traditional order and throw it before Thor 3.

Cap’s next adventure is being directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo off a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and will release in 3D. Robert Redford joins Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Samuel L. Jackson,  Cobie Smulders, Scarlett Johansson, Toby JonesAnthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Maximiliano Hernandez and Georges St-Pierre.

More: Themes & Inspirations of ‘Captain America 2′

Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!

Source: Variety