Marvel Studios had to be so quiet for so long, you can see that they now are ready to return to action, hit the ground running, and deliver all of the blockbuster entertainment that their fans have come to expect over the years. The major movie studio had to spend 2020 on the sidelines, and are still figuring out how to release their films in theaters. At the same time, Marvel Studios has successfully expanded into streaming television, growing the audience with shows such as WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier while teeing up Loki, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Moon Knight and more.
But in its most recent slate of announcements, where Marvel Studios moved back both Black Widow and Shang-chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel confirmed an October 7, 2022 release date for a movie that has not yet been identified… unusual because several of the movies surrounding it in both 2022 and 2023 have been defined, and are in various stages of pre-production. What movie could be flying under the radar from Marvel Studios? We have a few guesses, and ultimately are willing to make a bet on what it’s going to be. Let’s run through the best candidates, and see if we can narrow this down.
The movies in the MCU pipeline that don’t have concrete release dates all have completed various stages of development, and will allow us to speculate on how far along they are, and whether or not they could hit this October 7, 2022 release date. Keep in mind that Spider-Man: No Way Home currently is still filming in Atlanta, and it drops in theaters in nine months. That post-production schedule is tight, but not without reason.
Deadpool 3 has a few things that the other MCU projects do not have -- namely, a leading man. Kevin Feige’s latest report states that the R-rated sequel has Ryan Reynolds in place, and that Reynolds is overseeing the script. Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Loeglin have been hired to write the movie, and there have been unconfirmed reports that Reynolds would like his Free Guy director Shawn Levy to follow him over to the MCU. Because there are some ducks in a row, and Deadpool can be a lean thriller-comedy that doesn’t require massive post-production, this one COULD fall into place quickly and hit that October 7, 2022 date. But it’s not our best guess.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Here’s a sequel that was so far along in the production cycle, it was due to already be in theaters, had things played out the way that Marvel had planned. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) left on a ship with the Guardians of the Galaxy, a scene that we believe would have picked up in the third Guardians film in a May 2020 release date slot. Except, Disney had a falling out with director James Gunn, Marvel moved Black Widow into that slot, relationships with Gunn were repaired, and then COVID shut down the entire theatrical model.
Where does that leave Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Gunn no doubt had to rewrite a portion of this sequel, which explains why Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista and more were spotted in Australia filming scenes for Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder. But he’s been sitting on and thinking about this third Guardians film for years now, so if Marvel needed it, I bet they could hop into production and hit that October date. Still, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did very well on a May 5, 2017 release date, and Marvel has May 5, 2023 reserved. If I had to pencil Guardians 3 in anywhere, right now I’d put it there.
Marvel Studios definitely surprised fans when, during the recent Disney Investor’s Call, they confirmed that the MCU take on Fantastic Four finally was close enough that the company was ready to confirm the director (Spider-Man helmer Jon Watts) and show off the logo. The Fantastic Four is a Marvel property that Disney just got back from 20th Century Fox in the merger, and that team -- along with the X-Men -- are highly anticipated by fans who can’t wait to see how Feige and his crew can present them.
Here’s where I hesitate. That October release date isn’t very “sexy,” and the first MCU Fantastic Four film feels like it needs to be a summer blockbuster event picture. Yes, Jon Watts is down to direct, but he’s currently finishing up filming on Spider-Man: No Way Home, and then is looking at months of post-production work and promotion. Marvel’s going to want him to dive immediately into production on his Fantastic Four? Unlikely. Also, as opposed to the above projects, Fantastic Four still is seeking a screenwriter, as well as a cast! Marvel could get it into theaters in time for October 7, 2022 if they wanted to, but they’d end up with a bad movie that cut too many corners.
Personally, my best guess for the Marvel Studios movie that will arrive in that October 7, 2022 date (if the date actually holds) is the studio’s take on the vampire hunter Blade. And there are a couple of reasons why I think this will be the case. Blade has been on Kevin Feige’s radar for years now. The Marvel president used the company’s 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel as the opportunity to reveal that two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) would be playing the leading role. It was the mic drop moment, the panel kicker that also was used for Brie Larson back when SHE was confirmed as Captain Marvel.
If the world had stayed on its normal course, I’m betting that Kevin Feige had a plan in place to introduce Blade as a movie character in 2021. Everything has been shifted back, naturally, and news on Blade has been quiet. But in February, Marvel revealed that playwright and Watchmen writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour had been tapped to pen Blade, and that a director hire was imminent. Also, given that Blade dabbles in horror as well as comics lore, that October release date fits the character like a leather glove. I’m assuming that Marvel has its Blade story in place, and the production pieces can (and will) snap into place shortly. If I had to be, I’d say Blade plays in that October 7, 2022 slot.
What do you think? Is it one of the four mentioned films, or something totally different? Either way, the MCU is growing by leaps and bounds. There are four Marvel movies expected to hit theaters this year, and several shows landing on Disney+ from the studio. It’s an exciting and rewarding time to be a fan of the comic book company.