Updated Nov, 18, 2019: The addition of five new Marvel Studios dates in 2022 through 2023 requires a second update of this story.
Original story (with updates): The immediate future of Marvel Studios has been shaped by a series of announcements beginning with this past summer's San Diego Comic-Con panel and most recently this week with the additon of five new reserved dates in 2022 and 2023.
‘Phase 4’ – yes, that’s officially what the post-Avengers: Endgame slate is called – is slowly but surely taking shape.
Here's our estimation of how 2022 and 2023's schedule will shake out.
Marvel’s officially announced and/or widely reported slate - Black Widow and Eternals (both 2020); Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, a third Spider-Man film and Thor: Love and Thunder (all four officially 2021); then Black Panther 2, Blade and an Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel take us through 2021 and into 2022.
2022 is the first year with question marks - specifically, the unspecified flags planted on February 18, July 29 and October 7. So here's our take:
February 18: Deadpool 3
Hey, let's face it, Ryan Reynolds (who recently teased a visit to the Marvel Studios offices) isn't getting any younger, and if his Deadpool is going to be introduced into the MCU, the spring of 2022 seems to make a lot of sense. February 2016 was when the first Deadpool lauched to surprise breakout success and by then MCU fans are going to be champing at the bit to finally see the former Fox properties make their presence felt.
Reynolds' meta-Merc with a Mouth seem like a perfect vehicle to lay some exposition-heavy groundwork for mutants in the MCU along with breaking the seal on Fox-Marvel fan service.
May 6: Black Panther 2
The untitled Black Panther 2 is officially scheduled for May 6, 2022.
July 29: Ant-Man and the Wasp Sequel
July 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp didn't really break out at the box office either domestically or internationally the way most MCU recent films have, relatively speaking, but Marvel certainly left some potential storylines dangling with Cassie Lang now a teen per Endgame, Ghost still out there somewhere and Janet Van Dyne not really have made any mark at all besides surprise-attending Tony Stark's memorial service.
It was recently widely reported Peyton Reed would return to direct a third Ant-Man installment and almost all the Hollywood trades also reported an anticpated a 2022 release so it's pretty easy pickens to place this one in the same release window as the last.
October 7: Blade
So Newsarama has quite the extended internal discussion about what makes the most release date sense for Deadpool 3 and the Mahershala Ali-led Blade reboot announced during July's Comic-Com Hall H panel, and frankly a strong argument could be made for Feburary and October 2022 for either of them.
Blade in February would mirror the original February 2018 release window that helped Black Panther break box office records, but on the other hand, Disney could make the MCU's first horror-centric entry a Halloween play with the October 7 date.
There is something of a flip-of-the-coin element to this one, but we're going Deadpool 3-February, Blade-October for now.
February 17: Captain Marvel 2
A sequel to the over $1 billion-dollar worldwide hit was confirmed by Feige as being in development but without a release date announced.
Since that electrifying Nick Fury in space teaser from the post-credits sequence of Spider-Man: Far From Home will likely pay off in Captain Marvel 2, we're calculating Marvel isn't going to let more than four years go by before they pick on that game-changing plot thread.
Keeping that in mind, Captain Marvel 2 is likely a shoo-in for the newly-announced Feb. 17, 2022 bow, again keeping it in its original release quarter.
May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
We previously predicted a July 2022 release date for James Gunn's GotGv3, but the new addition of Ant-Man and the Wasp 3 in 2022 changed our calculus a little bit.
It'll be an unprecedented-for-Marvel-Studios six years since May 2017's Vol. 2, but there have been some extenuating circumstances you perhaps read something about. July 2022 was always a tight fit given Gunn's The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros./DC is scheduled for August 2021, and placing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5, 2023 relives some of that pressure.
Sure, six years is a long time between films and Marvel does risk some attrition of the once sky-high buzz factor, but the cast did appear in both 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Endgame, with the latter's conclusion opening the door to perhaps another refresher cameo in November 2021's Thor: Love and Thunder. And given it will almost certainly be a series finale potentially saying goodbye to most if not all of the characters, the long gap probably won't be too much of a prohibitive factor.
July 28: Fantastic Four
From a goodbye right into a hello. Yep – we’re gonna call this now. We’re betting – based on what we know today in 2019 – that the Fantastic Four will make their MCU debut on July 28, 2023.
For one thing, that window leaves plenty of time for development, casting, and yes, introducing the team before they get their own movie (as for where and how that could happen, well… there are clues, but we’ve got to mind carts and horses here).
That would make Fantastic Four 2023’s big new franchise surrounded by sequels.
Speaking of which...
November 3: Eternals 2
This one's pretty straightforward. Marvel Studios hasn't done a franchise one-off yet (Black Widow may be its first exception) so we're placing the sequel exactly three years after the launch.
A previous iteration of this story asked how Marvel Studios would handle the bottleneck it has created for itself by giving Thor a fourth installment, Black Widow her own film, and by surprising the world with the new franchise Blade, suggesting one possible method to clear some traffic is to move to four annual films a year ... and that's exactly what they did.
After a deep cleansing breath in 2020 (which has just two MCU films scheduled), 2021, 2022 and 2023 will now all feature at least four MCU films each, establishing release beachheads in all four quarters of the year. The marketplace seems receptive to any and all things MCU these days and for now the studio has apparently decided the goodwill they currently bask in will not be at risk.
And you can't address MCU volume without acknowledging Disney+. Marvel is going to begin their streaming experiment with eight episodic series - The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye, the animated What If...?, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight and She-Hulk.
Kevin Feige has gone out of his way to mention new characters like Kamala Khan, Kate Bishop, Marc Spector and Jennifer Walters will debut on Disney+ and then move into theatrical films, so we'll end this exercise with one last predicton...
May 3, 2024: New Iteration of the Avengers
Perhaps 'New' ... perhaps 'Young' ... but Disney will almost certainly keep arguably the most valuable IP in mainstream film alive and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be teeming with characters new and old to populate a revived or reimagined version of the superteam.