UPDATE: Kevin Feige confirms Marvel's full Phase 4 runs only two years
Is it possible that so much great Marvel news could leave you wanting more? Some of you may be wondering why the MCU Phase 4 reveal at SDCC 2019 only went as far as 2021, missing out Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2 and more.
Historically, Marvel's been very clear about their long-term goals. The Avengers was set as the end of Phase 1 as solo movies for Captain America and Thor were falling into place, and Phase 2 was completely locked in months after that behemoth opened. Most amazingly, all of Phase 3 was announced in 2014, five years before Spider-Man: Far From Home would bring it to a close. By comparison, Marvel's Phase 4 reveal at SDCC 2019 only going two years to the end of 2021 feels very tight. That's admittedly five movies and five TV shows, but is less than many have become accustomed to.
In fact, those long-game announcements are part of why Marvel's Phase 4 release slate only goes so far. Kevin Feige has since lamented revealing the full gameplan all the way up to Thanos, feeling that while it built excitement for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it lessened the impact of the standalone movies along the way. The Phase 4 slate lacks any big culmination film (the biggest crossover is Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2), meaning each movie and TV series stands entirely on its own merits. Beyond that, keeping audiences' eyes shorter term means newer properties like Eternals and Shang-Chi have less chance of being overshadowed.
There's another downside to announcing a really forward-thinking slate. When Feige unveiled Phase 3, it included Inhumans but lacked Ant-Man and the Wasp and both Spider-Man films (the Sony deal was yet to be struck), while many of the existing movies were in totally different release dates. This was because some films were announced when they were only in the very earliest state of development and specific details were in flux. Due to initial transparency, subsequent adjustments were fully known to the audience. Only announcing projects that are dead set to make their release dates avoids this problem.
The real question here should be whether what was announced for 2020 and 2021 was MCU Phase 4 in its entirety or just the first part. The text and verbiage at SDCC 2019 suggested as much, but that would make the slate half the size of what came before. More information will likely come to light by the time of Marvel's next big presentation at August's D23.
Regardless of phrasing, while no movies were dated for 2022 or later, it's not like Marvel completely avoided talking about the future. In addition to everything coming in the next two years, at the end of the panel, Feige namechecked Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Fantastic Four and even the X-Men. The future is bright and very much in motion: Marvel just doesn't want to lock things down just yet.