Since its inception in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has continually looked forward for ways to expand to the future. During their expansion, Marvel Studios has also become famous for having their plans set years in advance to build anticipation and get the fans hyped for the road ahead. There usually are some changes along the way, and the film slates don’t usually stay exactly as originally planned, but fans always know to expect big things coming down the pipeline from Marvel Studios.
After the unexpected El Capitan event in 2014, which announced the full MCU Phase 3 slate, Marvel CCO Kevin Feige and his team upped the ante further with their Phase 4 announcement at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. With the future of Marvel tentatively set until at least 2022, Phase 5 will not come for a few years, but that won’t stop fans from speculating on its content.
After six movies each in Phases 1 and 2, Phase 3 blew things open with 11 new movies in four years. Phase 4 looks to expand the MCU even further with at least eight new films, and that doesn’t even include the eight new mini-series premiering on Disney+.
While Phase 4 is still months away from its debut, the titles included already help pave the way for the MCU’s future. That being said, The Direct presents our predictions for what the Marvel Cinematic Universe will bring in Phase 5! As Marvel Studios looks to expand into both new franchises and their ongoing ones, these predictions are organized into two lists, Sequels and Franchises, with their movies ordered from "least likely" to "most likely" to release in Phase 5.
CONFIRMED WITH NO RELEASE DATE
In both the San Diego Comic-Con 2019 announcement and the recent coronavirus-caused rescheduling, Marvel Studios has announced three confirmed titles without release dates. All three projects are in varying stages of development and no official word has been given whether these movies will come in Phase 4 or 5.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 - Director James Gunn is confirmed to return. Gunn revealed that the film is way past the first draft stage. The film has faced a number of delays (most notably through Gunn's firing and rehire) and with so much coming in Phase 4 already, it is hard to tell when the Guardians' trilogy will officially come to an end.
Untitled Ant-Man 3 - Peyton Reed is confirmed to return and complete his trilogy, and filming was originally reported to begin in January 2021. There have been no reports concerning changes to the film's production schedule or any signs pointing to a planned release date.
Blade - The announcement of this film was the grand finale of Marvel Studios' 2019 SDCC panel, with Kevin Feige bringing Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali donning a hat with the movie's title card. Ali is the only name currently attached to the film, and it appears that the film is still in its earliest stages of development. Some rumors point to Blade arriving in the now-open October 7, 2022 release date, but there are no confirmations as of now.
Marvel Studios has also announced that Black Panther and Captain Marvel sequels are set to release in Summer 2022. The Direct has assumed that these two films will be part of Phase 4 due to their releases being within close proximity to other Phase 4 movies Thor: Love and Thunder (February 11, 2022) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022).
The MCU has so many franchises already in motion that sequels are inevitable. Phase 3 included third entries for Captain America and Thor, sequels for Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, and even had two solo films for Spider-Man.
Phase 4 will continue this trend with a third Spider-Man film and sequels for Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. Ahead are seven potential MCU sequels ranked by the Direct staff on their likeliness to join Phase 5.
7.) The Eternals 2
The Eternals have an immensely deep history in Marvel Comics that will finally be explored in their first MCU film releasing on February 12, 2021. While the majority of the film reportedly will take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, it is all but confirmed that the movie will explore the race's history throughout their entire stay on Earth and their standing through other major events in the MCU's history. The Eternals in the comics have secretly lived on earth for over 7000 years, giving an endless number of possibilities for stories to tell.
One plot point known so far for The Eternals is their ongoing war with the Deviants, but it's hard to tell what else the film will go into almost a year before it releases. This also makes it difficult to determine exactly what story would fit well for the sequel considering the first film will already have so much packed into it. It's a tough call when it comes to Marvel Studios giving the upcoming film a sequel, but hopefully feelings will change next February when it arrives.
6.) Shang-Chi 2
Shang-Chi is shaping up to be one of the most exciting new characters to debut in Phase 4 of the MCU. Rumors have recently shed some potential light on his origin story with the Mandarin, along with detailing his superpower being able to clone himself when he fights. There are other rumors pointing to the plot of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings taking place during the five-year gap between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
While recently revealed plot rumors give insight into Shang-Chi's early life and the Mortal Combat-style tournament he will have to fight in for the Mandarin, the fact that the movie possibly takes place in the year 2020 raise some questions about his future. It will be interesting to see both how his absence in Avengers: Endgame is explained and where the end of his first movie puts his status as a superhero. Excitement is continuing to build for the first movie's release on May 7, 2021, and fans are already hoping that next year's Marvel summer blockbuster will set Shang-Chi up for the long run in the MCU.
5.) Spider-Man 4
For decades, Spider-Man has been one of the biggest names when discussing the most popular superheroes of all-time. The Queens-based web-slinger has been featured in nearly a dozen TV series, Sony's highly-successful animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and three different live action series with a combined eight blockbuster movies.
Tom Holland's take on Spider-Man debuted with a bang in Captain America: Civil War, and he has earned rave reviews since then for his performances in two solo movies and the last two Avengers films. With the untitled Spider-Man 3 in the works for 2021 and his contract set for one more team-up appearance, fans are wondering if his time in the MCU is coming to an end.
At this point in the MCU, the only hero to receive a fourth solo movie is Thor, with Thor: Love and Thunder set to arrive in 2022. This could lay the groundwork for Spider-Man to accomplish the same feat, but there are still plenty of variables that would have to come into place before that happens. Peter Parker's identity crisis will likely have to have a resolution in the plot of next year's sequel, and there will have to be a continuation to the deal in place between Sony and Marvel Studios behind the scenes to keep Spidey in the MCU.
Optimistically speaking, Spider-Man should still have a future in the MCU after his next team up adventure. Tom Holland is turning 24 years old this year and has repeatedly stated that he would continue playing the role for as long as he possibly can. The untitled Spider-Man 3 will more than likely take place sometime during the end of Peter Parker's high school career, and there is still his college life and beyond to explore as he continues his run as wall-crawler. Only time will tell how long the young hero will be fighting crime alongside the rest of the Avengers.
4.) Doctor Strange 3
Stephen Strange has quickly become one of the most popular and powerful characters in the MCU after 2016's Doctor Strange blasted into theaters with a nearly $678 million box office return. His appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and the last two Avengers movies have solidified his standing as one of the premier Marvel superheroes, and he has one of the most highly anticipated movies of Phase 4 with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022.
Barring a catastrophe, this franchise should become one of the next MCU franchises to earn a third solo film. Benedict Cumberbatch has had high praise for Marvel Studios and their films since he first joined the franchise four years ago, and even though he reportedly has a shorter contract than usual for a Marvel star, it would be shocking to see him depart after next year's sequel.
The possibilities for what the new movie's story will consist of is anybody's guess with the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness still quite a ways away, but the character has so many potential paths he could go down for the future. While nothing is confirmed for Doctor Strange's future past 2022, it seems clear that the character will be here for the long haul.
3.) Captain Marvel 3
Captain Marvel has been in Marvel Studios' game plan since the early 2010s, and her solo film ended up becoming one of the biggest theatrical splashes of 2019 earning just over $1.1 billion at the global box office. Fans were shocked that a sequel wasn't announced at either San Diego Comic-Con or D23 2019, but all seemed to be made right when the sequel announcement came as a part of Disney's massive rescheduling shift.
Carol Danvers has long been looked at as a potential new leader of the Avengers going forward, and that seems to be the case more than ever as her journey through the MCU continues into Phase 5. The only real questions about her future appearances seem to be when exactly in the MCU timeline they will take place, but Brie Larson is all but assured to live on in the franchise for a long time to come. It would be shocking to see her name omitted when Phase 5 arrives in a few years.
2.) Black Panther 3
Black Panther came into theaters with arguably even more fanfare and celebration than Captain Marvel did one year later, becoming the second-highest grossing movie of 2018 at nearly $1.35 billion at the global box office. Even considering the character's very limited screen time in both Avengers movies, T'Challa's appearances in Captain America: Civil War and his first solo movie made him one of the most popular characters in the MCU. Although it took a little longer than fans expected, Black Panther 2 was announced at D23 2019 with Ryan Coogler and Chadwick Boseman set to return, and there is absolutely no reason to believe this franchise won't become a trilogy.
No story details have been revealed for the 2022 sequel, although rumors point to an encounter with Namor the Submariner. The plot development is still in its earliest stages at this point, but Black Panther is clearly one of the most important characters for Marvel Studios going forward. It seems almost guaranteed at this point that a third film in this franchise will be released, and the only thing left to do is wait for the official announcement when Phase 5 becomes more official.
1.) Avengers 5
The top choice movie for Phase 5 turned out to be the closest to unanimous pick of the bunch. While the MCU has done an outstanding job turning B-list heroes into household names through the solo franchises, the crown jewel of Marvel Studios is, and seemingly will always be, the Avengers franchise. The first four films alone have grossed a combined $7.77 billion globally (all in the top 11 highest-grossing movies of all time), and even though Marvel is taking the next phase to rebuild after Avengers: Endgame, it seems impossible that the story won’t go back to a major team up event.
The main question isn't if Avengers 5 will come, but who will compromise the team and when the film will arrive. Nearly every single member of the original team of six is either dead, retired, or currently out of commission. The new team will feature newer faces such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and more as they look to a post-Thanos-snap universe for new threats to life all over the universe.
While Phase 4 will most likely be the first phase to not include a major team-up movie, nobody should expect the trend to continue going forward. There will be a fifth Avengers movie, the things that remain unknown are the specific details about it.
While every phase in the MCU so far has brought sequels to existing franchises, new characters have been introduced every year as major players in the MCU. Phase 3 alone introduced characters like Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel into the fold, and there are already rumors and confirmations for dozens more to come in Phase 4.
Phase 5 should continue this trend to an even larger scale, especially considering both the Disney/Fox merger coming into play and so many of the longest-standing MCU heroes ending their run in the movies. Straight ahead, The Direct gives our picks for the most likely new franchises to be introduced in Phase 5.
7.) Daredevil / The Defenders
While the MCU has done a fantastic job in some regards, there have been a number of ups and downs in terms of their relationships with other platforms. Specifically on Netflix, it has been an incredibly rocky road with varying levels of quality and critical success from the four main characters of The Defenders series and its solo counterparts.
As much as fans want to see characters like Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones join the fight with the Avengers, there are no signs of any future plans to use them. The characters rights begin reverting back to Marvel at the end of 2020, but with so much already planned for Phase 4 and rumored for Phase 5, things are looking bleak for the Defenders' futures at the moment.
6.) Young Avengers
Almost all of the original Avengers have had a long run through the MCU before retiring or meeting their deaths, and they have undoubtedly inspired a new generation of heroes. Rumors have circled that Marvel Studios is looking to take this story and use it for a Young Avengers franchise down the road, but it's still too early into the process to tell what exactly will happen.
The new Disney+ shows by Marvel are planning to set up at least a couple new characters with Kate Bishop confirmed for Hawkeye and WandaVision rumored to introduce Wiccan and Speed as the children of Wanda and Vision. These rumors, along with a teenage Cassie Lang now existing in the MCU, could help the franchise start off the Young Avengers eventually, but it's tough to give any kind of timeline to when the new team will assemble into something meaningful.
Ever since the MCU first went down the cosmic route, there have been cries by fans of the franchise to blow the doors open with more cosmic heroes. One particular name that has gained popularity over the last few years is Nova, one of the most exciting heroes in the universe with a cosmic power set that would be incredibly tough for enemies to deal with.
This franchise has more headway than any others on this list as well, with the recent Illuminerdi exclusive that reveals Marvel Studios having some kind of plan for Nova in the future. It is currently unknown whether it will be a movie or a TV show, but it's almost a sure thing that the character will make an appearance in the MCU sooner rather than later. The only real questions now are if the main hero will be Richard Rider or Sam Alexander, along with when Nova will ultimately make his spectacular debut.
Wade Wilson has become one of the biggest hits in mainstream pop culture ever since he got his first solo movie with Fox in 2016. His quips and regeneration ability have become legend in a very short time, and Ryan Reynolds' portrayal is regarded as one of the most perfect casting choices in comic book movie history.
It's only fitting that after Disney acquired the rights to the Fox Studios-owned Marvel characters, fans immediately started fantasizing about scenarios with Deadpool teaming up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The tough part now is getting the studio on the right page in terms of officially bringing him into the fray.
Deadpool has never been officially mentioned as a part of the MCU's future plans, but even with the recent negative rumblings from Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, it seems hard to believe that he won't come into play at some point down the road. While things may look bleak for his future at the moment, fans can only hope to see Wade making the chimichangas in the MCU sometime in the next few years.
Since the earliest days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hints and rumors have been laid out for a potential appearance by Namor the Submariner. Marvel Comics' ruler of Atlantis has clearly been hiding out somewhere on Earth according to both Nick Fury's world map from Iron Man 2 and Okoye's mention of earthquakes near Africa in Avengers: Endgame, both teases clearly noticed by fans who want Namor in the MCU.
There are some rumors that point to his debut coming in Black Panther 2 as an antagonist to King T'Challa as Atlantis and Wakanda try to settle potential differences, and he seems to be too big of a character not to have his own solo movie. These rumors combined with the recent reports of his movie rights moving back to Marvel from Universal Studios have fans abuzz about seeing him join the mega-franchise.
There have been no heroes to date in the MCU with anything similar to Namor's powers, and the timing seems to be coming together perfectly for him to star in his own franchise in the near future.
Fox's first X-Men fllm helped kick off the modern-day era of superhero movies in 2000, and Fox studios continued diligently to build their entire world over the next 20 years. After their movie rights came home to Marvel Studios with the Fox merger, rumblings immediately started swirling on how they would finally be integrated into the established MCU. It seems almost a virtual certainty that those dreams will become a reality, possibly as early as Phase 5.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Kevin Feige hinted at the inclusion of the X-Men (or "Mutants") into the MCU at some point down the road the MCU. The entire team will have to be recast and it seems that there are nothing more than requests by some high profile actors at this point to join the new franchise, but it seems inevitable that the mutants will have their own franchise down the way. Whenever they do come into play, it will undoubtedly have fans losing their minds.
1.) Fantastic Four
Not only was this franchise a unanimous top choice amongst our team, it’s an absolute no-brainer. Even with no official confirmations yet, it is becoming abundantly clear that the Fantastic Four will make their way into the MCU; the only question remaining is: When?
After three previous film adaptations for the team since 2005, which have ranged from entertaining-but-cheesy to flat out disappointing, fans are dying to see how well they would do in the MCU. Thankfully, it's evident that the Marvel Studios brass are on the same page and want the quartet in the Avengers' world as badly as the fans do.
Kevin Feige has confirmed that the Fantastic Four will appear in the MCU down the road, and fans have been voicing opinions for years on who they think should fill the roles in the MCU. There are also rumors circulating that theorize either Galactus or Dr. Doom being the next major MCU villain after Thanos, which would only be further indications for their imminent arrival.
The fans want it, actors want it, and it seems like the studio wants it as well. It seems like a mere formality for an official announcement to eventually come, and all anyone can do now is wait for the Fantastic 4 to take their rightful place alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes.