With Thor: Ragnarok now in theaters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is officially halfway done with the third phase of their massively successful franchise, which will feature a total of 10 films upon its conclusion in 2019. The rest of this phase will give audiences the first solo Black Panther movie, an Ant-Man sequel, as well as introduce a totally new superhero into the fold with 2019’s Captain Marvel.
But of course, the most highly anticipated event will be the Avengers two-parter which will unite Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with the Guardians of the Galaxy in their battle against the Mad Titan Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet. But being the massive success that it is, fans are already wondering what’s in store for them beyond Phase 3.
Producer and president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has been understandably discreet about the future of the franchise beyond Infinity War, though he hasn’t been shy about promising audiences something totally different after Avengers 4 hits theaters.
That being said, certain aspects about a possible Phase 4 have continued to slip through the cracks -- and while much of the info comes straight from those at Marvel Studios, others seem to be misinterpreted rumors that we hope to Thor aren’t true.
Here are 10 MCU Phase 4 Rumors Confirmed To Be True (And 5 We Hope Aren’t).
15 Confirmed: Characters will die
With the exception of Quicksilver meeting an untimely end in Age of Ultron, all of the primary superheroes in the MCU have made it this far in the franchise with their lives’ fully intact. But with Thanos taking on both the Avengers and the Guardians throughout the two-part Infinity War, it’s inevitable that some of our beloved heroes will be meeting their demise.
There has been a ton of speculation over which characters will be killed off during the next two Avengers films, but Captain America and Iron Man seem to be making the top of everyone’s list.
After all, both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been outspoken about departing the MCU sooner rather than later, and it would make sense that the current leaders of both Avengers factions would come together and sacrifice themselves to save the universe. Not to mention that because both characters have been such an integral part of the MCU for so long that their deaths would have maximum impact.
14 Confirmed: A new Avengers landscape
Major character deaths make way for new beginnings, and both studio head Kevin Feige and directors the Russo Brothers have made it clear that Avengers 4 is going to massively shake things up for the MCU.
Exactly what the new Avengers team will look like remains to be seen, but it’s clear that both Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Brie Larson's Captain Marvel will play a big role beyond Phase 3, along with a possible new group of Guardians. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange’s exploration of the mystic arts and other dimension feels like it’s just ramping up.
There’s also already been talk that a number of characters' mantles could be passed on to other second-tier members of the Avengers. In the comics, both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes have taken over the role of Captain America following Steve Rogers' departure, and with Sebastian Stan in the middle of a nine picture deal, it’s a very real possibility that he could be passed Cap’s shield before the end of this phase.
13 Unconfirmed: Harley Keener becomes Iron Man
Only recently has it been reported that 16-year-old actor Ty Simpkins, who played Harley Keener in Iron Man 3, is slated to make an appearance in Avengers 3. This is an intriguing development considering that the character hasn’t even been referenced since the 2013 film — where Stark left the boy with a decked-out garage full of robotic equipment to tinker with.
Since the 2019 movie is already jam-packed with characters, it’s hard to believe that Harley will be featured in a major capacity, but he could very well just make an appearance to round out Tony Stark's storyline if Iron Man doesn’t make it out of the battle with Thanos alive. However, many have already begun to speculate that Harley is in a unique position to take over the Iron Man mantle, especially with the MCU starting to lean toward a younger cast of superheroes.
But is this largely unknown and slightly obnoxious character really the ideal candidate to take over Downey Jr.’s role in the franchise? As of right now, we hope not.
12 Confirmed: Spider-Man sequel will kick off Phase 4
Phase 4 of the MCU has already been given a release date, which will begin on July 5, 2019, with the untitled sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming — which is just two months after the release of the fourth Avengers film.
Unsurprisingly, this means that Tom Holland’s incarnation as the lovable web-slinger will make it out of the conflict with Thanos alive, but since we’re still a couple years off, many of the plot details remain largely unknown.
However, the story is expected to begin mere minutes after the conclusion of Avengers 4, meaning that the Infinity War arc will no doubt have a huge impact on Spidey’s next solo outing.
It’s also rumored that Peter Parker will have moved up a grade from a sophomore to a junior in the sequel, sticking with the high school setting which was a beloved part of the first film.
11 Confirmed: New Guardians of the Galaxy
Despite Thanos having the largest presences in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, these two films have largely stood on their own, which will make it interesting to see how these cosmic characters mesh with the Avengers back on Earth in Infinity War.
Even beyond the third and fourth Avengers movies, writer/director James Gunn has gone on record saying that the Guardians will continue to be a huge influence over the direction of the franchise after Phase 3.
We’ve already gotten a brief glimpse of some totally new characters from the comics in Vol. 2, and with Gunn saying that Vol. 3 will mark the end of Star-Lord’s Guardians story, we can anticipate that some of these secondary characters may be taking center stage.
What’s more, Gunn has also said that Vol. 3 will somehow set the stage for the next 10 or 20 years of Marvel movies, meaning that we could be seeing a much greater cosmic presence in the MCU's near future.
10 Unconfirmed: The X-Men join the MCU
Despite this prospect seeming highly unlikely — especially with a number of X-Men movies currently in the works at Fox — Kevin Feige has left the door open when it comes to having the Avengers team up with the X-Men at some point down the road.
While Fiege understandably wants all the Marvel properties back under the umbrella of Marvel Studios, that doesn’t mean they should all be a part of the same universe.
Even if the franchise can pull off another miracle negotiation -- as they did with Spider-Man -- it would be hard to believe that the MCU has been the home to mutants all along. With S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers saving the world almost every other film, wouldn’t some superpowered mutants have already popped up on the radar?
There’s been clearly enough characters and storyline for the X-Men to fill up a universe of their own, and there are still so many other Marvel characters that could be seamlessly adapted into the MCU that we’d be ok if mutants never made the leap over.
9 Confirmed: Captain Marvel will be the most powerful hero to date
With Thanos set to obtain the six Infinity Stones, the MCU is about to unleash by far their most powerful character to date, as even Thor, the Hulk, or Vision are no match for the Mad Titan alone. But apparently, an even more powerful character will make it into the franchise with the debut of Carol Danvers.
With Brie Larson already slated to appear to the titular character, Captain Marvel will be the second-to-last film in Phase 3, meaning the new superhero will likely play a major role in the future of the MCU. Kevin Feige has also gone so far as to say that Captain Marvel “will by far be the strongest character we’ve ever had,” which is pretty impressive remark considering everyone we've already seen.
However, because the storyline of Captain Marvel is set to take place in the 1990s, it’s unknown how her character will intersect with the present-day MCU, or if Carol Danvers will play a part in the destruction of Thanos in the fourth Avengers film.
8 Confirmed: More unexpected team-ups
With Tony Stark playing a vital role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the Hulk teaming up alongside the God of Thunder in the highly anticipated Thor: Ragnarok, it’s looking like standalone superhero movies are becoming a thing of the past for the MCU.
While this not only pleases fans of the comic — who are accustomed to characters constantly popping in and out of each other's stories — it also makes sense that, in a post-Avengers universe, when one superhero is in need, another would gladly jump in and lend them a hand.
Kevin Feige knows that these characters can only save the world so many times without it becoming superfluous, and he has said that the future of the MCU is less about spectacle and “more about continuing to go deeper with those character interactions,” which means we can look forward to some more unexpected partnerships through the remainder of Phase 3 and beyond.
7 Unconfirmed: Wesley Snipes as Blade
Only a few years back Marvel reclaimed rights to many of their better-known characters, including Ghost Rider, Daredevil, the Punisher, and Blade. But while all of these characters have already made it to the small screen -- including Ghost Rider’s debut on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- Blade is the only one not to make his re-entry into the franchise.
Wesley Snipes has been outspoken about wanting to reprise his role as the vampire-hunter, and during an interview at San Diego Comic-Con, Snipes even said he had a productive meeting with Marvel to talk about future prospects.
Though no official Blade project has been announced, many would probably agree that it would be a bad idea to bring Snipes back into the role after all these years. Luckily, this rumor doesn’t seem like anything more than internet hearsay, and we hope that if they ever do bring Blade into the universe, they'll get a new actor to give audiences a fresh take on the character.
6 Confirmed: Sony remains separate
Though fans of the MCU were no doubt pumped to see Spider-Man make his way into the franchise, the deal between Marvel, Sony, and Disney is still a complicated matter, which could eventually affect Spider-Man’s future beyond Marvel’s Phase 3.
As of right now, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is a guaranteed inclusion for the third and fourth Avengers films, but at the same time, Sony has made it clear that they’re not willing to part with the remainder of their Spider-Man characters. Therefore, the upcoming Venom movie, the female-led Black Cat & Silver Sable film, and other possible projects will not take place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Since a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel is already set to start the beginning of the next chapter of the MCU, it’s clear that they’ll be holding onto Tom Holland’s Peter Parker for the foreseeable future, so don’t expect to see any of Spider-Man’s signature villains making it into the franchise anytime soon.
5 Confirmed: The movie titles are spoilers
Every since the MCU really got rolling, Marvel hasn’t been shy about building early hype for their upcoming films by releasing the titles years ahead of time. But as of right now, the only two movies that we know are going to be a certainty beyond Phase 3 are a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
But this isn’t because the MCU is unsure of their next move. Instead, Feige simply said that revealing the titles to the films planned for 2020 and beyond would essentially spoil the ending of Phase 3.
This is a mistake that the MCU previously made when the released the titles of Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok before Age of Ultron even hit theaters -- essentially telling audiences that these characters would already make it out of Ultron alive.
Currently, only Peter Parker and at least a few members of the Guardians are guaranteed to survive the fight against Thanos.
4 Unconfirmed: The Infinity Gauntlet triggers a series reboot
Though MCU fans know that the Infinity Gauntlet is the most powerful artifact in the universe, only readers of the comic known just how much damage the Gauntlet can actually do.
For instance, in The Infinity Gauntlet limited series — which will likely serve as the primary inspiration for the next two Avengers films — the Mad Titan Thanos simply wishes that half the population of the universe be erased from existence, and with the Gauntlet in his possession, that becomes a reality.
Basically, anything the wearer of the Infinity Gauntlet wants can happen, which is both an exciting and terrifying prospect for the future of the MCU. It’s even possible that the Gauntlet completely wipes the slate clean and we're given a reboot of the franchise.
Though this is only a rumor at this point, it is a bit disconcerting that Marvel is hesitant to even confirm that the franchise will continue to have Phases once the Infinity War storyline is wrapped up.
3 Confirmed: More diversity
Though it will be 11 years and 21 films into the MCU before Captain Marvel hits theaters, everything we’ve heard about the film so far makes it seem like the franchise is on the right track for its first female-led superhero film.
An overall lack of diversity has been one of the most criticized aspects of the MCU to date, as even DC was able to produce a female-led superhero film just four films into its franchise -- not to mention that it already has a standalone Cyborg movie in the works for 2020.
Luckily, Marvel looks like they will continue to right this wrong with the rest of Phase 3 and beyond. The buzz around Black Panther continues to grow as we quickly approach its February 2018 release date, and Kevin Feige has also gone on record saying that they'd be fully onboard with a standalone Black Widow film at some point, which already feels long past due.
2 Confirmed: Phase 4 marks a new beginning for the MCU
While we certainly know a lot of extraneous details surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond Phase 3, the fact of the matter is that we have no idea what the tone of the films -- or the franchise as a whole -- will be following Avengers 4.
While Kevin Feige and directors like James Gunn have been understandably vague about the movies beyond Phase 3, they've been overtly concise that things will be way different continuing forward. Feige has stressed that there will be a finite quality to the end of Phase 3 and that he is currently focused on bringing this 22 movie franchise "to a head in a satisfying and unexpected way."
Therefore, even if a number of the superheroes survive the fight with Thanos, it's clear that the franchise will be taking things in a dramatic, new direction come 2019.
1 Unconfirmed: Thanos becomes an ongoing problem
Although Thanos has only briefly appeared in a few MCU films to date, the groundwork for the supervillain has been laid starting with 2012's The Avengers all the way up until the present.
Despite Marvel have a notorious villain problem, we can only hope that they will give the Mad Titan his fair share of screen time throughout the next two Avengers films in order to make this complex build-up worthwhile.
That being said, it would be a shame if the Avengers and the Guardians didn’t destroy Thanos at the end of Avengers 4. The only reason we have to doubt this as of right now is that Thanos has continued to be an ongoing threat throughout the comics, popping up to team up with other supervillains to wreak havoc across the universe.
Hopefully, this won’t be the case in the MCU, and Thanos’ defeat will not only help clear the slate for the future of the franchise, but it will also end the monumental third phase on a high note.
So what do you hope to see in Phase 4 of the MCU? Let us hear it in the comments!