The films of Marvel Studios have become ever more and more connected. When The Avengers first teamed up in 2012 it was an event. But this year's "solo film", Captain America: Civil War featured more heroes than that original team-up, plus introduced Black Panther and Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's gotten to the point where The Incredible Hulk co-starring in Thor: Ragnarok doesn't even seem like that big of a deal. It's a great time to be a comic fan. But Marvel hasn't yet reached its "crossover peak" yet.
When the "Phase 3" lineup was announced, fans got their first taste of what everything was leading to: Avengers: Infinity War (Parts 1 & 2), the mega-uber-intergalactic crossover to end all superhero team-ups - and the story so big it would have to be broken into two parts. Then unexpectedly, the subtitle was dropped from the second part, leaving the direction of the fourth Avengers film a mystery.
Cinemablend recently interviewed directors Joe and Anthony Russo for the release of the Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray. Joe Russo had a bit to say about the reasoning behind the title change to Avengers 4:
"We wanted the movie to be very different and distinctive, you know. There's certainly cross-pollination between characters and some story-arcs, but you know, the first movie is very clearly Avengers: Infinity War and, in time, we will reveal what the second film is."
When asked what's so different about the second part of the story, Russo answered, "You'll learn that, but not for quite some time."
The Russo brothers have remained coy on what even the first Infinity War will entail, though seeing every living Avenger teaming up against an Infinity Gem-powered Thanos is a given. We had long suspected, but now have confirmation, that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be involved. The Wasp may not make it in, considering her role was cut from Civil War to be fleshed out in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel's solo film doesn't release until nearly a year after Infinity War, so it's uncertain if the recently cast Brie Larson will make an appearance. (Her recent casting announcement offers some hope that she will.)
It's hard to imagine a movie called Infinity War being topped by an even bigger film a year later. (Infinity + 1 War?) At this point, the biggest question may be whether that's even the goal. Perhaps Avengers 4 will involve a smaller or more personal threat in the aftermath of the war with Thanos?
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers 4 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.