Despite cries to the contrary, the superhero genre isn't going anywhere. 2016 offered seven films, a number matched by this year (counting Marvel, DC, X-Men and outliers like Power Rangers and TMNT) and 2018 has a solid five (with room for at least a couple more) But if you really want proof comic book adaptations are here to stay, you need to go to 2019.
It's obviously a couple of years out, but this is shaping up to be the biggest year yet for both Marvel and DC, while the likes of Fox and Sony are also speeding up. If all of the announced, speculated and otherwise rumored projects come to pass, we could be looking at a double-digits number of releases. Here's what they are.
A note on release dates: they can change. Studios like to stake out a claim for a certain weekend years in advance (2019 and beyond is full of untitled studio projects) so they can guarantee a vague release window, but everything is open to fluctuation. Some dates are part of a long game trying to fake-out rivals, others a preliminary statement of intent for a fast-tracked production - there's always the possibility of delays, while sometimes a studio will grow afraid of competition and shift. Normally this is a matter of months, but it can be on a bigger scale; Batman v Superman was originally intended to be released in 2015, but was moved to Summer 2016, then again due to competition with Captain America: Civil War. As such, all of the dates discussed here are open to fluctuation and movies may pushed back – either from 2018 into 2019 or from it into 2020.
Marvel Cinematic Universe – 3 Movies
Starting in 2017, Marvel has moved up from two movies a year (a practice it’s been following since 2013) to three: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. This is set to continue through the rest of their slate into 2018 (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp) and 2019, when we’re set to see Captain Marvel, Avengers 4 and a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel with releases in March 8th, May 3rd and July 5th respectively.
Because the Marvel machine is so well-oiled at this point, having been running at an accelerated rate for almost a decade, it’d be very strange to expect any of these to change. The only variation would be a further movie being added: as Spidey is technically a Sony release (just part of the MCU), and the trio of films all come out in the first seven months of the year, they may want to up the ante with a fourth film in the Fall slot previously taken by the likes of Thors 2 and 3 and Doctor Strange. Of course, what that may be depends entirely on where the Infinity War mega-event leaves the heroes.
DC Extended Universe – 4 Movies (Rumored)
When the impressively forward-thinking slate for the DC Extended Universe was first announced back in 2014, 2019 was intended to see the release of Shazam! on April 5th and Justice League Part Two on November 1st (2017 promised Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One, while 2018 had Aquaman and The Flash and 2020 Cyborg and Green Lantern). Needless to say, a lot has changed. In fact, due to major changes in the wake of Batman v Superman and general creative troubles, very little of this has been carried through. Aquaman is still set for 2018, but The Flash is adrift after working through two directors. Bigger, a host of other projects have been added to the mix, from The Batman to Gotham City Sirens via Nightwing.
The most uncertain year is thus now 2019. Despite locking Dwayne Johnson as villain Black Adam, development on Shazam! has been slow, with the last word being that Johnson’s character may be spinning off for his own film. And Justice League, due out this year, is now a standalone film, with a sequel not worked into the plan. With neither of those coming, the expectation to fill DC's April and November slots was The Flash and another project. However, a new rumor suggests something bigger.
2019 is the 80th Anniversary of Batman and as such is going to be a massive celebration. A recent 4chan leak/rumor suggests that DC will mark this with a whopping four films involving Gotham characters: "Gotham City Sirens around Valentine’s Day weekend, Nightwing on Memorial Day weekend, Batgirl in August and The Batman in November". This sounds intense, but given the context is certainly a possibility. Where this leaves The Flash is unclear, although given its development hell status it simply may take a little longer to arrive anyway.
Sony's Spider-Man Shared Universe – 1 Movie (Possibly)
For a while it seemed that Sony’s superhero future was intrinsically linked with Marvel’s – they’d agreed to share the rights to Spider-Man, with Peter Parker able to appear in the MCU at the benefit of everyone (Sony is technically releasing the Homecoming sequel, but it’s classed here as Marvel). However, the studio is clearly still interested in enacting its own Spider-Man shared universe, something it first tried around the time of The Amazing Spider-Man.
It was recently announced that Venom is set for October 2018 and that a Black Cat/Silver Sable film is also in development. While it’s not official, it’s fair to expect the studio to want to maintain momentum by having a 2019 release for that. If they want aggressive expansion, there could be another release – possibly the long-gestating Sinister Six. Because their plans are so unknown it could involve more (or no) movies, but at least one is a fair bet.
It was recently hinted that Sony and Marvel’s deal isn’t as long-term as some believed, meaning that Tom Holland’s time in the MCU could actually be limited to the handful of movies he’s contracted for before Sony start expanding their own franchise. It may just be one movie a year for now, but they’re likely eyeing more.
Fox's X-Men – 1 Movie (At Least)
Unlike the other studios, Fox keeps its superhero slate a little closer to its chest, representative of a recent move into less continuity-heavy films. When they have a movie set, they’ll announce a date.
What we do know they’re working on is Deadpool 2, X-Men: Supernova, New Mutants, Gambit and X-Force. The first is going to be coming out sometime in 2018, and they have two more dates set, presumably the Pheonix epic and Josh Boone’s spin-off. For 2019, Fox has one official date set - February 14th - but what it could be is unclear. X-Force is likely coming after Deadpool 3, while Gambit is MIA; it's been sputtering in pre-production for years, so it seems frankly silly to entertain it being ready anytime soon
That said, Fox seems to be aiming for two movies a year (a hard ask at the moment) which does mean they’ll probably try and fit another date into 2019. What that is depends entirely on what mood the studio is going for.
Other Franchises And Standalones
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were recently revealed to be working on a movie adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. Again, presuming a two-year production timeline, that will probably arrive sometime in 2019 (although as it’s early days it could take longer).
The low estimate for 2019 superhero movies going purely on set dates is six (three from Marvel, two from DC, one from Fox), but if you take everything together there's the potential of a staggering twelve films based on costumed heroes in a twelve-month period. It's a cliché to say it's a good time to be a comic book fan, but based on those numbers it really is.
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