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Marvel has just laid down the (infinity) gauntlet by announcing their next SEVEN films. Well, release dates, at least. The new schedule, which some are assuming is Phase 3, takes them to 2019, and suggests the world these heroes inhabit is about to expand considerably. However, the tricky part is guessing what these films are. Actors can only star in so many movies, and Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are just two actors who have held fast on strictly fulfilling their contracts.
Evans is signed for three more films, which include another Captain America and two more Avengers. But Downey Jr. is only attached to the next two Avengers, and the contract Marvel inked with the actor years ago suggests it would only be financially viable to bring Downey back to Iron Man solo films if he took a massive paycut (which he will not do). That means Iron Man 4 is out of the equation, while Captain America 3 (and Ant-Man) already have dates.
So, aside from some obvious guesses, those seven slots could be filled with several different Marvel properties. Which are they? Will we see The Punisher again? Could The Inhumans make their presence felt? And what's Thor up to? We looked at the tea leaves and carefully pinpointed just which films are coming down the pike for Marvel, and what the studio might be announcing at next week's Comic Con.
July 8th, 2016: Doctor StrangeThis is easily the most obvious of choices for a slot, considering it's the only Marvel film with a director attached, but no release date. Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us From Evil ) will be taking on this project, which opens up the mystical world of Marvel. Which could be an implication that Marvel's ready to journey into mystery with their upcoming projects, considering a few actors will be taking their final bow. This is Marvel's fresh new Phase Three entry, so a lot's riding on the Sorcerer Supreme. But at the very least, it will be released only two months after Captain America 3, so the strength of the Marvel brand should help it succeed at the box office.
May 5th, 2017: Thor 3Marvel has already hired writers for the third Thor, which follows Thor: The Dark World's mammoth $644 million worldwide take. It's very likely events in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Doctor Strange heavily affect what occurs in Thor 3, particularly considering Loki is now in charge of Asgard. This could be Chris Hemsworth's last solo film as the God Of Thunder, so Marvel's likely got something big in store, considering the juiciest release date on the schedule. There's a very good chance the repercussions of Thor 3 (perhaps Ragnarok?) will echo over the course of the other Marvel movies, leading to Thor's return in Avengers 3. Perhaps they'll finally give the Warriors Three something to do?
July 28th, 2017: Guardians Of The Galaxy 2Given the spoilers that we've heard regarding Avengers: Age Of Ultron, we're willing to believe that the Guardians will have a big green friend to tango with this time around. This release date, very late in the summer, is close to the August 1st bow for this year's Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is currently tracking to do Thor numbers. Of course, Guardians Of The Galaxy is really just Marvel's space franchise: the first film introduces the Nova Corps, and this next film could very well involve a number of space-traveling characters like Adam Warlock. If the Marvel movie are widgets, Guardians Of The Galaxy is potentially the most malleable. So at this point, Marvel basically has this movie aligned with the overall Marvel story as "another deep space adventure" with any number of participants or villains.
November 3rd, 2017: Captain MarvelMarvel found great success in November with Thor: The Dark World, so they're interested in doing so again. But why Captain Marvel, their first female-led property? It's simple: Air Force pilot Carol Danvers earns her powers due to a confrontation with a Kree alien. But how would an every day pilot ever come face to face with an alien force like that? Something would have to happen to place a Kree soldier in the vicinity of Earth. And that something could easily happen within a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie. There you go: a summer blockbuster providing a backdoor for Marvel's first female heroine.
July 6th, 2018: The DefendersHere's the biggest gamble, since this would be Marvel betting big on one of their strangest risks. This would be a summer with only one Marvel film (thus far...) which suggests Marvel has planned to give their larger universe a brief rest to avoid Spider-Manning their audience. But Marvel would be getting far more fantastical than they were previously during Phase Three, alienating a small but vocal group of fans that miss the early days of Tony Stark building his suit in a cave. Netflix has already announced their four series will combine into a fifth one, The Defenders. But a couple of years down the line, plans could change. So here's the gamble: the four planned Netflix series converge, crossing over with the two or more seasons worth of Agents Of S.H.I..E.L.D.. This gives you a movie with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and any other heroes that might be introduced in those characters' series'. That includes, but is not limited to, Moon Knight, the Punisher, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Deathlok. Heck, maybe Blade can grab an invite. It's important to know that the X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four aren't the only superhero teams in Marvel's history.
November 2nd, 2018: Black PantherFinally, T'Challa gets his shot. Fans have been clamoring for a Black Panther film for the longest time, and the only real reason Marvel has relented is because he's got to have a major role in the ongoing Marvel story, given that in the comics he's a major mover and shaker. So while Black Panther's story is rich and vibrant enough to hold up his own movie (he's Batman but he rules his own country and has an army, HOW HARD IS THIS HOLLYWOOD), the chances are this is probably going to feature a hero that 's already been introduced in an earlier film in cameo form, and it will result in major events that lead into the final superhero free-for-all in Marvel's Phase Three...
May 3rd, 2019: Avengers 3When Marvel's got contracts with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth that expire after a third Avengers, the smart thinking is to drag that out as long as possible. So there's a whole world of heroes, a possibly broken Thor following what are sure to be cataclysmic events of Thor 3, you've got an Iron Man still beating himself up for having created Ultron, and a Captain America that hasn't been seen for three years in the aftermath of Captain America 3. And, of course, there's Thanos. If Marvel continues their preposterous string of success at the box office, there's reason to believe Avengers 3 could be the biggest movie of all-time.