Just when you thought Marvel couldn’t possibly have anything left to announce after last week’s revelations about Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the studio took advantage of everyone’s lowered guard on Friday night to unveil the release dates of five new films (via The Playlist). Though the dates are just placeholders at the moment, it does show that Marvel has enough confidence in their blockbusters and the mapped-out future of their cinematic universe to plan out releases through to 2019. The studio has yet to drop any hints as to the identities of these scheduled films – though they are expected to make some major announcements at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con – but that hasn’t stopped fans and critics speculating as to when we will next see some of our favorite superheroes.
We do know that one of those dates will belong to the third installment of the Avengers films, which will mark the end of the studio’s third phase of films, and bring the first major, overarching storylines to an end. Other slots are rumored to belong to the third Thor and Avengers films, and while those are likely guesses, we can’t help but hope that some of those proposed dates might be reserved for something different, something even more exciting than the follow-up to the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the rising threat of Thanos. We already know that after Age of Ultron drops in May of 2015, we’ll finally get Ant-Man two months later, and Captain America 3 in 2016, but we have some ideas for what we’d like to see Marvel release in the following few years, along with what we think they actually will release.
July 8, 2016
What We’d Like: A Black Widow film. Of all the possible female-fronted superhero films that Marvel could make, Black Widow seems most likely to get the first one. After all, Scarlett Johansson has been part of the MCU for years now, and her character has become a fan favorite, as well as an integral part of the Avengers team. 2016 would be the perfect time for her to finally get a solo film, since the effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier would still be rippling through the universe, and whatever happens in Age of Ultron is likely to raise the stakes of Natasha’s past being revealed even further.
What We’ll Probably Get: The first installment in the Dr. Strange franchise. The film already has a director lined up and the lead is expected to be announced at Comic-Con, so it seems as if the wheels for this one are steadily in motion. The release of Ant-Man in 2015 will mark Marvel’s shift towards a new group of characters and a new phase of the MCU, so it would make sense that they would want to roll out new heroes together.
May 5, 2017
What We’d Like: If Marvel’s planning to unveil their new characters together, this would be the time to make a Black Panther movie. The studio has been rumored to be planning one for several years now, with everyone from Idris Elba and Falcon himself, Anthony Mackie, rumored to be in talks for the lead role. Marvel’s also expected to make some kind of announcement about the film this weekend, which means that a possible 2017 release date isn’t entirely out of the question. And since T’Challa is such a major force in the comics, it would be the perfect time to integrate him into the universe.
What We’ll Probably Get: It’s got to be Thor 3. Thanks to the massive success of last year’s Iron Man 3, May seems to be the best time for Marvel to roll out the third installments in their franchises. They’ve already got Captain America scheduled for the spring of 2016, and since both that film and Thor 3 are likely to have major impacts on the third Avengers, this seems to be a great spot to allow the after-effects to really resonate.
July 28, 2017
What We’d Like: Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We know that the first one hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but we’re incredibly excited to see this merry band of misfits to team up and protect the galaxy. Saving the second for 2017 would make it the perfect halfway point between Age of Ultron and the third Avengers film, much like how the studio lined up the first Guardians of the Galaxy to bridge the gap between the first two Avengers films. It should also provide a nice break from the characters in the Avengers, since most of them are likely to get solo films of their own in the intervening years (sorry, Hawkeye).
What We’ll Probably Get: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 seems like a safe bet for the summer of 2017. Plus, if the first film does well after its August 1 release, it would make sense for Marvel to hold the second one to the end of the summer, much like how they’re filling the spring with threequels.
November 3, 2017
What We’d Like: Captain Marvel is long overdue for entry into the film universe. November would be the perfect time for Carol Danvers to make her big screen debut, especially since female-fronted action films have done extremely well there in recent years with The Hunger Games trilogy. There would be a bit less competition there than a summer release date would have, which might make a hesitant studio much more likely to take a chance on a new property. Plus, it would allow her to interact with the Guardians of the Galaxy – her powers come from an interaction with a Kree alien, which would make more sense in that universe than the Avengers’ – which would give those films the same kind of continuity that the Avengers films have.
What We’ll Probably Get: Third time’s the charm right? That will probably be the rationale behind the Planet Hulk movie that will most likely hit in November of 2017. Mark Ruffalo has dropped a lot of hints about the possibility of a Hulk solo film, and Marvel is rumored to be making some kind of announcement about it this weekend, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if the studio decided to take on more chance on the big green guy.
July 6, 2018
What We’d Like: If there’s any time to test out a possible Young Avengers film, the summer of 2018 would be the best time to do so. Sure, part of us just wants to see Kate Bishop and co. sass people while saving the world, but it would also be pretty easy to build the Young Avengers into the MCU, thanks to the Netflix series that will introduce Jessica Jones, who first discovers the team. It would also allow them to introduce new characters that could be incorporated into the third Avengers film, or even set up their possible takeover of the MCU after Phase 3 is complete.
What We’ll Probably Get: Though many are predicting that this is when Marvel would roll out a potential Black Widow movie, it seems a bit more likely to be a sequel slot. The most likely candidate would be Ant-Man 2, since the first one will hit theaters in July of 2015, which would give the studio plenty of time to work out a creative team – and if it has any of the issues the first one did, they’ll need that extra time – and the impact the character will have on the third Avengers film. Ant-Man is a goofier superhero, so a summer release seems like a solid fit for the follow-up film.
November 2, 2018
What We’d Like: There are a few possibilities we’d be open to for the fall of 2018; it would be a good time to roll out a Black Panther 2 or a Captain Marvel 2, since, in a perfect world, those characters would have movies by then, and also be playing a significant part in the MCU. We’d also take a Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch spinoff film, although that might be a bit difficult for Marvel to work out; the characters are being split between the MCU and the X-Men universes, and contract issues might prohibit them from being the leads in their own film.
What We’ll Probably Get: If July gets the Ant-Man sequel, expect November 2018 to be all about Dr. Strange 2. The timing would be right, especially if he’s going to be joining the Avengers for their third outing, and as Thor: The Dark World proved, the fall is a good time for superhero blockbusters that deal with a bit more magic, mysticism and planet-hopping than their summer counterparts do.
May 3, 2019
What We’d Like: There’s only one option for the final open slot: Avengers 3. Like we said earlier, May is the perfect time for Marvel to release its threequels, and May would be the perfect time of year to wrap up the third phase of the MCU, as it would leave them the option to release something from outside this particular continuity in the summer – like a third Guardians of the Galaxy – or to simply leave the summer months alone so that fans can really soak in the actions and consequences of the third Avengers film, and since Marvel’s the kind of studio to go out with a bang, they’ll probably need all the recovery time they can get.
What We’ll Probably Get: This is definitely the slot for Avengers 3. Nothing else would even remotely make sense here, and we’re completely happy with that.