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

Marvel Studios first announced their Phase 3 slate back in 2014 - but it's changed a lot more than you'd think over the years.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 3 slate back in 2014, but how have those plans worked out? The MCU Phase 3 announcement was absolutely unprecedented, with Marvel revealing every film they planned to release between 2016 and 2019 during a private event. What's more, the slate included event movies like Captain America: Civil War and - of course - Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part II.

Ironically, though, Feige himself seems to believe the Phase 3 announcement backfired. Because audiences knew the long-term journey Marvel was taking them on, they were focused on the destination rather than the next step. So, in his view, the prospect of Avengers: Infinity War stole attention and interest from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Given his comments, it seems unlikely Marvel will ever make a full Phase 4 announcement, but will instead settle for simply confirming the next few films after the release of Avengers: Endgame.

Related: Why Disney Didn't Distribute MCU Phase One

But this announcement had another effect, one that's less commented upon. While Marvel has a reputation for long-term planning, the truth is that the studio is remarkably flexible, adapting - sometimes at speed - to changing circumstances and popular response to their ideas. By revealing their initial Phase 3 slate, Marvel unwittingly allowed viewers to see just how their plans could change. So let's take a look at the original slate, and explore just how that played out.

The MCU Phase 3 Slate

On October 29, 2014, Marvel Studios held a press event at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. There, Feige shocked journalists by revealing Marvel's plans for the next five years, confirming a slew of sequels, a number of new characters, and a tentpole two-part event movie that would inevitably see the Avengers go up against Thanos. Funnily enough, this announcement had come just two weeks after WB unveiled the DCEU's entire slate. Here's what the original slate looked like:

It was certainly ambitious, and it promised to adapt some of the most popular comic book stories of all time for the MCU. What's more, the announcement also confirmed that Marvel had decided on Thanos as the Big Bad of their shared cinematic universe; he'd been introduced in the post-credits scene of 2012's The Avengers, and appeared in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, but nobody had truly realized he'd be destined to play such a major role.

Related: How The MCU Will Look Completely Different After 2019

How Marvel's Phase 3 Slate Changed

Tom Holland- Spider-Man Homecoming

Ironically, though, it wasn't long before the Phase 3 slate began to change. Earlier that year, Marvel had proposed a deal with Sony that would allow a new incarnation of Spider-Man to enter the MCU. Sony initially turned them down, but reconsidered over the next few months. In February 2015, Marvel and Sony announced a landmark Spider-Man deal that would let Marvel cast Tom Holland as a teenage Peter Parker, and introduce him in Captain America: Civil War. That would be followed by a Spider-Man solo movie set in the MCU, Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was set to release in 2017. All the other release dates were shuffled around, and Marvel soon dropped Inhumans completely. But Spider-Man: Homecoming wasn't the only addition to the Phase 3 slate; in October 2015, Marvel confirmed an Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man & the Wasp, and pushed back Captain Marvel yet again.

Meanwhile, Joss Whedon left Marvel Studios after behind-the-scenes drama on Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon had generally been expected to helm Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part II, but instead Marvel hired the Russo brothers. The Russos seem to have had a slightly different approach to the two films, which dropped the "Part I and Part II" and became separate entities. The title of the fourth Avengers movieAvengers: Endgame, has only recently been revealed.

The New Marvel Phase 3 Slate

As a result, the final MCU Phase 3 slate looks very different to the one Marvel announced back in 2014. The first few films match up, but everything had changed after May 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Here's what it looks like:

  • Captain America: Civil War - May 6, 2016
  • Doctor Strange - 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 - April 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man & the Wasp - July 6, 2018
  • Captain Marvel - March 8, 2019
  • Avengers: Endgame - April 26, 2019

Page 2 of 2: How Unexpected Changes Transformed MCU's Phase 3

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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