Marvel’s Phase 4 May Need to Be Radically Different After James Gunn's Firing

The firing of James Gunn, and the delayed production for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, may radically change the shape of Marvel's Phase 4.

James Gunn with Eternals and Drax in Marvel Phase 4

The firing of James Gunn may lead to radical changes in Marvel's Phase 4 slate. Marvel Studios tend to play the long game; in April this year, Kevin Feige revealed that he'd already had meetings about the studio's plans up to 2025. Given that's the case, such a high-profile departure of any major player will inevitably force Marvel to change their plans. And they don't get much more important than Gunn.

Disney fired Gunn in July after a series of old tweets from the director went viral in conservative circles; they featured Gunn joking about such controversial topics as pedophilia and rape. There were subsequent reports that Marvel tried to persuade Disney to rehire Gunn, perhaps even for a different movie, but those efforts seem to have been unsuccessful. At this time, it looks as though James Gunn - once viewed as a key architect in the future of the MCU - has left Marvel Studios for good.

Related: Why Rehiring James Gunn Is Harder For Disney Than Fans Realize

As a result, production of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has now been put on hold indefinitely, and presumably Marvel is currently working out how to pivot in light of the shakeup. But that's easier said than done. Here's how Gunn's departure will impact Marvel's Phase 4 slate.

Phase 4 is a Secret... But Here's What We Know

Right now, we don't know much about Phase 4. All Kevin Feige has really confirmed for certain is that he views the first three phases of the MCU as one interconnected saga, a tale that's building towards its conclusion in next year's Captain Marvel and Avengers 4. It looks as though the MCU is being modeled on Marvel Comics' annual cycle of events, where each "Summer Event" forms the basis for the next relaunch. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 are the "Summer Event," setting up what Feige has described as "the next incarnation of the MCU."

The first film in the MCU post-Avengers 4 will be Spider-Man: Far From Home, a sequel that's set "minutes afterAvengers 4. "It was purposefully done like this," Feige explained. "Like how the events of Captain America: Civil War impacted Peter as he was dropped off by Tony and expected to go back to continue his sophomore year, how the hell are the events of Infinity War and Untitled [Avengers] going to affect him as he, yes, goes back to his junior year?"

Related: Marvel After Avengers 4: Everything We Know About MCU Phase 4

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was the only other film officially on the books, with other projects in various stages of development. Production was due to begin in January 2019, with the film eyeing a May 2020 release date. A surprising range of other movies has been confirmed to be in the works, with new franchises such as Black Widow and The Eternals, along with sequels to Doctor Strange and Black Panther. Right now, it's difficult to know which of these films are Marvel's actual priorities, although Black Widow seems to be the furthest along; Cate Shortland has been hired for the movie as the MCU's first solo female director.

Page 2: How Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Changes Phase 4 Plans

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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