|Image Source: MovieWeb|
Fresh from their home video release of this Summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron on DVD and Blu-Ray last month, Marvel Studios have this week unveiled a revised version of their slate of upcoming superhero motion pictures, one which now features both new additions along with a few shifted release dates here and there.
Details of the Walt Disney Pictures-powered team's notably revised work-log broke over at Marvel.com just yesterday, with the bulk of the official press release focusing on the introduction of a follow-up to the July-just-gone's Ant-Man into the mixture of the third full 'phase' of the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe. Going by the name Ant-Man and the Wasp, this sophomore effort will seemingly bring Evangeline Lily's much-loved quasi-protagonist Hope Van Dyne into the foreground as she and Paul Rudd's titular miniaturised rogue duel with the forces of injustice and corruption sometime after the events of April 2016's impending Captain America: Civil War.
Better yet, moving beyond Ant-Man and the Wasp and even further beyond the two-part Avengers: Infinity War crossover event coming to auditoriums worldwide in 2018 and 2019, the MCU doesn't appear to be showing any signs of conforming to Steven Spielberg's recent comments about the superhero genre's potential oncoming demise; just ask the production teams behind the three new untitled projects the studio yesterday confirmed would arrive in cinemas on May 1st, 2020, July 10th, 2020 and November 6th, 2020 (in the States, anyway). Whilst discussing such revelations is all well and good, though, there's no substitute to an accessible, comprehensive guide relating the full structure of Phase Three in its present edited state, so with that in mind, we've included precisely that (along with synopses for each of the projects lucky enough to have been named already) below, with delayed entries marked in red, entries set to be released earlier than planned marked in green and new members of the roster marked in yellow:
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (April 29th, 2016) - After a catastrophic watershed event prompts the U.S. government to pass a Superhero Registration Act, Captain America and Iron Man take up arms against one another in a turbulent conflict involving the likes of Tom Hollander's Spider-Man as well as Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther (more on both of whom later...).
- DOCTOR STRANGE (October 28th, 2016) - Benedict Cumberbatch makes his magical début as the Sorcerer Supreme himself, though before he can gain his iconic mystical powers, Dr. Stephen Strange must use the lose of his hands through an act of hubris; only then will Strange embark on a dangerous journey into the path of the Ancient One (played by none other than Tilda Swinton) and into a whole new dimension of space and time featuring a host of - almost undoubtedly - villainous entities intent on his destruction.
- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (April 28th, 2017) - Is anyone else still singing "Hooked on a Feeling"? Glad we're not alone in that respect, then. Expect more of the same wit, ludicrous set-pieces and space opera-esque story arcs that made James Gunn's original Guardians such a bonafida hit, albeit with an enhanced emphasis on how the supporting characters like Nebula, the Collector and more still to be revealed factor into the ongoing escapades of the MCU's other team of unlikely galactic saviours.
- TBC SPIDER-MAN FILM (July 2017) - Rumoured in some quarters to be dubbed Spider-Man: The New Avenger, this one will of course only be produced by Marvel Studios, since distribution rights for all future blockbusters starring Peter Parker's web-slinging alter-ego currently remain in the hands of Sony Pictures despite the two companies' much-applauded agreement regarding the character's integration into the world of the Avengers. Nevertheless, if the reported title sticks, then chances are that we'll receive a Spidey instalment which pays just as attention to enhancing its rich universal connections as to furthering the character's previously unexplored high-school days.
- THOR: RAGNAROK (October 27th, 2017) - As with Guardians Vol. 2, there's almost nought we know about Chris Hemsworth's third solo outing in the role of the God of Thunder (and Tom Hiddleston's fourth return as his nebulous half-brother Loki) save for its title. Reading between the lines, however, given that the Asgardian term "Ragnarok" translates to an apocalyptic event all but guaranteed to wipe Thor's kingdom off the face of the cosmos, could Thanos have come to the realization that the Infinity Gauntlet he swiped in Avengers: Age of Ultron's post-credits scene was in fact a fake, leading him to lay siege to the planet in which another Gauntlet lies waiting (in Odin's place, no less)? Certainly, if the Mad Titan fails to menace Peter Quill and company come April 2017, then we'll absolutely start taking bets on the matter - watch this space, in other words.
- BLACK PANTHER (Moved Forward - February 2018) - Just two years after Chadwick Boseman shows off Black Panther's capabilities in Civil War, he'll return for more in a solo chapter of his own, presumably to showcase the character's origins as an African prince whose ties to his community never cease to transcend his loyalty to Avengers, international governments and other allies alike. On the antagonist side of things, don't be surprised if Andy Serkis reprises his role as age-old Panther foe Ulysses Klaw from Age of Ultron either, nor if at least one of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes makes an Ant-Man-style cameo in some form.
- AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - PART 1 (April 27th, 2018) - "It's the end - the end of the path I started us on." Tony Stark's words in Age of Ultron might well come to have no shortage of thematic resonance in the first half of Marvel's much-hyped Infinity War event, not least as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Hemsworth's contracts are all purportedly scheduled to reach their conclusions by the two-part tale's denouement. There's every chance that one or more of those stars could agree to sign on for more MCU appearances, of course, yet in some cases at least, the chance that it's time to bid farewell at this point will be just as strong. That being the case, many are speculating the likes of Cap and Thor mightn't even appear until Part 2, though rest assured that those of the Earth's defenders who do feature in proceedings from the outset as Thanos' plans for his all-conquering Infinity Gauntlet finally become clear.
- ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (July 2018) - New territory ahoy! Whether Scott Lang's next standalone heist will take place before or after Avengers: Infinity War's narrative kicks into gear hasn't been officially established as of yet, yet whatever its temporal placement, it's reasonable to assume that the somewhat boringly titled Ant-Man and the Wasp will not only star Rudd and Lily in its lead roles but moreover Michael Douglas as the ever-protective Hank Pym, Michael Pena as the ever-endearing Luis and perhaps even Thomas the Tank Engine as himself once more...or not.
- CAPTAIN MARVEL (Delayed - March 2019) - At least one of Marvel's future offerings always seemed doomed to suffer from the introduction of yet another Phase Three storyline, and sure enough, it's Captain Marvel which has taken the brunt of this sudden change of plans, for better or for worse. More time until its release means more time for the behind-the-scenes minds involved to plan accomplished pilot Carol Danvers' leap into the cosmic realms of the MCU, although anyone hoping she'll encounter the likes of Peter Quill or Thor as a result might need to adjust their expectations in light of the studio's repeated implicit reiteration of their desire to flesh out the titular heroine's personality first and foremost here (hence her officially-confirmed absence from Guardians Vol. 2).
- AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - PART 2 (April 26th, 2019) - Funnily enough, we never expected perhaps the most significant instalment in this multi-million dollar franchise's decade-spanning history to shift its release date so as to accommodate Ant-Man's return to the silver-screen. Not only will Part 2 finally tie up the loose ends on the Infinity Gauntlet plot arc first established with Captain America: The First Avenger's inclusion of the ominous artefact known as the Tesseract, it'll simultaneously herald a new era for its titular myriad protagonists and, if we're lucky, potentially see the Guardians of the Galaxy join the fight to take down Thanos before his thirst for power (not to mention his crush on the Mistress of Death herself) consumes the universe in its entirety.
- INHUMANS (July 12th, 2019) - Now, according to the entertainment news site Bleeding Cool, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's twentieth motion picture instalment might have run into trouble of late, to the point that cancellation isn't completely out of the question, That said, given how much time the head honchos of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are investing in bringing the Inhumans into the fold for the first time, the notion of its big-screen counterparts passing up the opportunity to build on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s foundations come the Summer of 2019 seems downright ridiculous, if not wholly implausible. Assuming that the project does indeed go ahead, then, we'd anticipate cameo appearances at the very least from the likes of Chloe Bennett's earthquake-producing Daisy Johnson as well as possibly Clark Gregg's increasingly admired S.H.I.E.L.D. commander-in-chief Phil Coulson if we're particularly lucky (though by all means feel free to cross those fingers in the meantime so as to better our chances).
- TBC MARVEL STUDIOS PROJECTS (May 2020, July 2020 and November 2020) - Unless Marvel surprise us with another public event along the lines of last October's Phase Three launch anytime soon, look for these productions' official titles to be revealed either early in 2016 or around the time of San Diego Comic-Con next July. If we were feeling confident, then we'd likely select Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and maybe even Captain America: Civil War as the most likely candidates for sequels (albeit with the latter probably featuring a new thespian in the guise of the All-American Avenger) given that 3-4 years will have passed since their respective premières by 2020, but that's not to say Kevin Feige won't opt to bring more esteemed - or even lesser known, as was the case with the Guardians and Ant-Man prior to their cinematic débuts - comic-book characters into the limelight instead. As ever, only time - and leaks, of course - will tell...
Be sure to keep it On-Screen as the months leading up to each of these much-anticipated releases' global launches progress for all of the key details on their production, casting, directorial mishaps and potential critical reception, but for now, don't hesitate to scroll beyond this paragraph for another look at the gripping Infinity War teaser trail which caused fans' collective jaws to violently collide with the floor upon its unveiling just twelve months prior to this one.