Every day this week Marvel Entertainment has successfully planned and executed a major PR move, planting the brand in mainstream media headlines as they lead into Comic-Con where they’ll host multiple panels for their upcoming comics, video games and film initiatives. From an all-new female Thor, the first black Captain America, a new team of Avengers – which may hint at future movie roster changes – and now, five new release dates for Marvel Studios productions.
Up until this point the assumption for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that after Ant-Man kicks things off next summer, two months after The Avengers: Age of Ultron, there would be two films in 2016, two in 2017, all leading to The Avengers 3 in May 2018 to round off the next chapter of the franchise. That’s not going to be the case.
Disney and Marvel were quick to put their foot down in a pair of 2016 dates last summer, and another for 2017. Moments ago they added another two to 2017, and three more dates for 2018-19. It seems increasingly evident that Marvel’s Phase 3 is going to be a lot bigger before The Avengers re-assemble for what we expect to be their first bout again Thanos in 2019.
While we can’t tell you just what they are yet, you can look forward to new films hitting theaters July 28 and November 3, 2017; July 6 and November 2, 2018; and May 3, 2019.
My guess is that The Avengers 3 is coming in 2019, something I’ve been speculating on in recent episodes of Screen Rant’s SR Underground podcast, and it makes sense given that Marvel Studios is aiming to expand the universe deeper into the cosmos (beginning next month with Guardians of the Galaxy) and and into the realm of magic and mysticism (with Doctor Strange). In order to keep things fresh and fit in more new properties alongside sequels to established ones in Phase 3, this needed to happen.
If The Avengers 3 is in 2019, this is how Phase 3 is now shaping up:
- May 1, 2015 – The Avengers: Age of Ultron
- July 17, 2015 – Ant-Man
- May 6, 2016 – Captain America 3 (Untitled)
- July 8, 2016 – Doctor Strange (Unannounced)
- May 5, 2017 – Unannounced
- July 28, 2017 – Unannounced
- November 3, 2017 – Unannounced
- July 6, 2018 – Unannounced
- November 2, 2018 – Unannounced
- May 3, 2019 – The Avengers 3 (Unannounced)
Marvel has a working relationship with Sony and the Spider-Man franchise so they’re willing to take turns taking the opening weekend in May when necessary. So, expect The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in May 2018, explaining why Marvel didn’t put a date there.
We should also note that Marvel isn’t afraid of changing up the formula and order of releases in Phase 3. Cap 3 for instance comes before Thor 3, when their predecessors had Thor always coming first. That means instead of Thor 3 being the easy guess for May 2017, that could instead be for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – keeping the surefire box office hit Thor 3 to be used in November where The Dark World performed well last year, or used in 2018 to help launch a riskier bet – a new property like The Inhumans.
The most exciting fact is that there are even more dates for new characters, leaving the door open for the long-awaited introductions of other more diverse characters like Black Panther and Ms. Marvel. We’ll be find out in just over a week when Marvel Studios takes to the stage next Saturday in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center.
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Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!