Now that Captain America: Civil War has premiered in the U.S., Marvel Studios has officially kicked off Phase 3 of its Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will include plenty of new characters. In addition to introducing Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Civil War - both of whom will go on to star in their own standalone movies - Phase 3 will feature films following Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Captain Marvel. Plus, the third Avengers team-up, the yet-to-be-retitled Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and 2, will also be included in Phase 3.
On the television side of the MCU, Netflix is continuing to build out its own corner of the massive shared universe, with the Luke Cage series set to premiere later this year, to be followed by Iron Fist, then The Defenders team-up. There has been plenty of talk leading into Marvel's Phase 3 about whether the Defenders - and fellow Marvel TV heroes from ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - will be included in Infinity War. Now, the upcoming Avengers film writers weigh in on the topic.
In an interview with IGN, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who worked with the Russo brothers on both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War before re-teaming for Infinity War, spoke about the logistics of incorporating the Defenders characters:
McFeely: We are open to any of it, although it's really not our call.Markus: A lot of it is a pace thing in that we have to have this thing done so much ahead of time, that they might get all the way through that Defenders show before we start shooting, [and] certainly before anything comes out. So we don't know where they're going to be. It's very hard logistically to keep even the movie characters synced up; it's nearly impossible given the speed that TV cranks out the changes.McFeely: The story that they eat up, yeah.
In terms of timing, Markus and McFeely confirmed that they are still working on the script for Infinity War and, as for Netflix's universe, Iron Fist is currently filming with The Defenders supposed to begin shooting later in 2016. Certainly, Markus has a point when it comes to the TV side of the MCU changing at a rapid pace; Marvel and Netflix recently announced a Daredevil spinoff based on The Punisher. Meanwhile ABC is continuing to grow its own corner of the superhero universe, with a number of TV series in development as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted likely to receive a series order.
Additionally, these comments from Markus and McFeely are simply the latest from the creative team working on Infinity War. The Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, have spoken previously about the complexities involved in incorporating the Defenders and other TV heroes into the upcoming Avengers team-up. Plus, the co-directors have joked about the number of superheroes already planned to appear in Infinity War - even before characters from the television side of the MCU are taken into account.
All this is to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a rather large beast since it kicked off with Iron Man back in 2008; now, the MCU consists of 13 films, two television shows on ABC, and two series on Netflix - and that's not counting the number of properties planned or in development that could potentially launch before Infinity War Part 1 hits theaters in 2018. Certainly, incorporating the Defenders and/or characters from other Marvel TV series would take a lot of planning and scheduling, so much so that it may not work out. But, Markus, McFeely, and the Russos have yet to nix the idea altogether, so it still seems to be a possibility.
Captain America: Civil War is now playing in theaters. Doctor Strange arrives on November 4, 2016, followed by 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 Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher spinoff on Netflix have not yet been announced.