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Avengers: Endgame Would've Been Different With Marvel’s 2014 Phase 3 Plan

Phase 3 Slate With Black Bolt Spider-Man and Thor

How would Marvel's original Phase 3 slate have affected Avengers: Endgame? Marvel Studios announced the Phase 3 slate back in 2014, revealing every film Marvel planned to release from 2016 and 2019. It was an impressive line-up, introducing new heroes/movies like Doctor Strange and Black Panther, and including event films like Captain America: Civil War and what was then called Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part II.

Although Marvel has a reputation for playing the long game, the truth is that this Phase 3 slate changed a lot over the years. In fact, there have been subtle hints that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige feels the Phase 3 announcement backfired; it primed audiences to consider each movie as a step on the journey to Avengers: Infinity War and then Avengers: Endgame, rather than a blockbuster hits in their own right.

Related: How & Why Marvel's Phase 3 Slate Changed So Much

Meanwhile, the fact that the initial Phase 3 lineup is public knowledge means it's possible to work out exactly what changed, and why; it gives an unprecedented look at what was going on behind-the-scenes at Marvel, a studio that typically shelters itself from the public. But let's assume for a moment that the Phase 3 slate had happened according to Marvel's original plans. How would that have affected the end of Phase 3 and even the beginning of the MCU's Phase 4?

Marvel's Original Phase 3 Slate From 2014

Captain America and Tony Stark MCU Phase 3

On October 29, 2014, Marvel Studios held a press event at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. There, Feige revealed the studio's plans for the next five years, including a number of sequels, several new characters, and, of course, the two-part event movie that would see the Avengers go up against Thanos. Here's what the original MCU Phase 3 slate looked like:

The Phase 3 slate would begin with an adventure in which the Avengers were torn apart, Captain America: Civil War, with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark finding themselves on the opposite sides of a philosophical debate that became intensely personal. But that would be the last "grounded" movie in the MCU for a while, with Doctor Strange introducing magic and the MCU's Multiverse, and 2017 seeing the release of both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok.

Related: Avengers: Endgame Will Be Unlike Anything Else In The MCU

In this original Phase 3 slate, Black Panther would have released a little earlier and introduced viewers to Wakanda in November 2017; there'd then be a longer gap before it was followed up with Avengers: Infinity War Part I. The two tentpole Avengers movies still had two films set between them, but in the original slate those movies were Captain Marvel and Inhumans, instead of Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, respectively. Comic book readers swiftly deduced that Infinity War would be a blend of two comic book events, Jim Starlin's classic "Infinity Gauntlet" and Jonathan Hickman's "Infinity," which featured Thanos' Black Order and set up a major arc for the Inhumans.

Phase 3's Biggest Changes Were Spider-Man and Inhumans

Of course, plans changed. In early 2015, Marvel and Sony signed a deal that allowed Marvel to incorporate a new version of Spider-Man into the MCU. This required Marvel to produce a Spider-Man solo movie as part of their 2017 slate; as a result, Spider-Man: Homecoming was added into the mix, and a lot of release dates were adjusted. By October 2015, Marvel was settling on a whole new approach; Inhumans was completely dropped and replaced by the sequel Ant-Man & the Wasp. (Inhumans eventually became a TV series on ABC and was canceled after one season.)

Related: Did The Sony-Marvel Spider-Man Deal Ruin Avengers 4's Surprise?

While the beginning of Phase 3 rolled out as planned, it had changed shape drastically by the end. The addition of Spider-Man - the most marketable superhero in the world - transformed the entire MCU, and Tom Holland's Peter Parker became a major player in Avengers: Infinity War. The removal of Inhumans, meanwhile, was just as significant an adjustment; they're a pretty complex concept, and could potentially have redefined the MCU if the world learned of the existence of the Inhuman city of Attilan on the surface of the Moon. It's reasonable to assume that the Quantum Realm became a more important concept as a result of these changes as well, explored in Ant-Man & the Wasp and also expected to be significant in Captain Marvel.

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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