Marvel’s Phase 3: Hulk, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, ‘Iron Man 4’ & More On Tap

Credit: Marvel

Iron Man 3 kicked off Marvel Studios’ Phase 2 with a billion-dollar bang. Literally, it just surpassed $1 billion in worldwide grosses. That means anticipation couldn’t be higher for the rest of the comic book house’s Phase 2 films: November’s Thor: The Dark World, 2013’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and finally The Avengers 2 in 2015. But what can we expect after that? What’s on tap for Phase 3?

Well, EW’s Anthony Breznican just posted an in-depth round-up of titles that could be simmering at Marvel for possible film adaptations, based on his discussions with Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige and just some good old-fashioned common sense. It got us thinking. What do we here at think are likely contenders to be future Marvel movies? Let’s run them down.

1. Ant-Man — So this one’s a given. In fact, it’s going to be to Phase 3 when it debuts in November 2015 what Iron Man 3 was to Phase 2, the kick-off to a whole new slate of storytelling possibilities building toward…who knows? Avengers 3? Possibly. To start Phase 3 with an unproven commodity like Ant-Man will be risky, though. I mean, let’s face it, Ant-Man isn’t exactly a household name. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Feige tells EW they decided to make their own movies rather than license out their brands to other studios like they did for Spider-Man (Sony) and X-Men (Fox). He and his colleagues got so fed up with studio bosses asking if Ant-Man is half-man, half-ant that they just decided to make their own movies. But will audiences be asking that very same question?

2. Iron Man 4 — Feige is playing coy about whether Robert Downey Jr. will be back as Tony Stark, but he is positive that Iron Man is a franchise durable enough to transcend Downey if necessary. “I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th,” the producer tells EW. “I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that.” Downey will assuredly return for Avengers 2, but after that, it sounds like he may want to start another franchise. “My intent is to launch another franchise, independent of any that I can even imagine right now,” Downey said. “My intent is to dominate the playing field for as long as I can, with my own challenges, with myself.”  

3. Doctor Strange — Well, Marvel’s decided to dive deep into the interstellar world of aliens and space battles with The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, so why not go a step further and embrace its characters who have magical powers? Strange is a surgeon who turns to sorcery after he loses his ability to heal people conventionally. It could be a powerful one-off story or standalone franchise, as he masters magic in an attempt to help people from a whole range of threats.

4. Hulk — Well, there’ve already been two modest-grossing, critically-panned Hulk movies. But audiences so adored Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk (voiced by Lou Ferrigno!) in The Avengers that they may want the Ruffalized version to anchor his own movie. In fact, rumors swirled last year that Marvel might be adapting a live-action version of the Planet Hulk comic, in which the not-so jolly green giant finds himself on an alien world. Feige says that’s definitely not happening, though. And it doesn’t appear there’s even a concept for a Hulk movie yet, let alone a script. Maybe for Phase 4!

5. Black Panther — Marvel’s first black superhero, really the first black superhero period, is a major fan favorite. But his obscure background as king of the fictional African nation Wakanda may be tough to crack. Much more likely is that he could join the team for The Avengers 2.

6. Inhumans and Runaways — Joss Whedon used to write for Runaways, about a group of mutant kids who find out their parents are supervillains. And Inhumans, about the descendents of humans abducted by aliens and given superpowers and living on another world, could fit into the broader cosmology of Guardians of the Galaxy. But if Phase 3 will build to The Avengers 3, it seems unlikely Marvel will want to have competing ensemble films — especially since Guardians of the Galaxy is already in the mix.

7. Daredevil, Blade, Ghost Rider, The Punisher — Marvel Studios has the rights to all of these again, but don’t expect to see them anytime soon. Consider the soup peed in as far as these properties are concerned.

Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt | follow @Hollywood_com

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