Disney has been working to expand the scope and breadth of their Star Wars universe, Warner Bros. and DC Comics have taken great strides laying out the roadmap for their properties, both TV and film, but when it comes to this kind of sprawling, everything-is-connected world building, you’re going to have to do something spectacular to unseat Marvel. Especially because they just upped their game yet again, announcing their plans for Phase 3 of their Cinematic Universe, and there’s quite a lot for sci-fi fans to start tenting our fingers about. This includes a new release date for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (sooner rather than later), a two-part Avengers 3 that takes on the “Infinity War” arc, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans.
The comic book studio just unleashed a landslide on the world, revealing titles and dates all the way into 2019. And this doesn’t even include the likes of Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. And given that DC recently announced their own expansion plan, and reports and rumors that this Marvel event only just came together like a week ago, it’s easy to see this as a giant fuck you to their main rival.
Originally slated for July 18, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has been bumped up by a few months to May 5, 2017. (This is also now within days of my 40th birthday, so I can only assume that Marvel did this as a celebration of that particular milestone in my life.) They also unveiled logos for all of the films, but fitting in with the sarcastic sense of humor of Guardians, the old date was just scratched out and replaced by the new one. As far as details go, we still don’t know much else about this title.
Age of Ultron is straying dangerously close to straight-up sci-fi territory. After all, the big bad is a sentient, artificially intelligent robot, and that sounds pretty sci-fi to us. Avengers 3 (which is two parts, so doesn’t that really make it Avengers 3 and Avengers 4? Semantics) takes on the Infinity War. A direct sequel to the Infinity Gauntlet arc, the story features deep space, Adam Warlock, Thanos, Galactus, and a ton of craziness. It’s going to be interesting to see who shows up in this adaptation.
The first chapter of The Infinity War drops May 4, 2018, and part 2 follows a year later on May 3, 2019. But following the first installment, appearing two months later on July 6, 2018, is Marvel’s first female-fronted endeavor, Captain Marvel. In the film, this will be the current incarnation of the character, Carol Danvers. It will be interesting to see how they go about introducing her into the MCU.
The character figures into the Ultron storyline in the comics, and has ties to Hank Pym from Ant-Man, so it’s possible we could see her show up in those places. But, with The Infinity War opening so close to Captain Marvel, it’s hard to imagine Marvel not using the opportunity to showcase her and hype up the next movie on their docket, even though she doesn’t play into the comic arc (at least not that I recall).
The last title in this line (aside from the 2019 Avengers) is an adaptation of Inhumans. Created by the Kree as a way to jumpstart their stalled evolution, and as a weapon to use in the massive war against the Skrulls that has been raging for millions of years, the Inhumans are the result of experiments with humans (they’re dosed with a chemical called Terrigen Mist). First appearing in the 1960s, there are a ton of ways they can be used, and figure into a bunch of different storylines, so it’s going to be fun to see how they figure into the big picture.
With Inhumans it feels like they’re reaching deep, much like with Guardians of the Galaxy, for a property that isn’t as well known as some of their marquee characters. But that said, it looks like their rich, sprawling history may form the baseline of Phase 4 of the MCU. There are also rumblings that we’ll start seeing Inhumans soon, and that even Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch could be Inhumans instead of traditional mutants. Mutants have been noticeably absent in the films thus far, most likely due to rights issues.
In addition to the more sci-fi leaning side of things, Marvel’s announcement includes so much other stuff as well. They confirmed that the next Captain America, dropping in 2016, will start the Civil War storyline, something fans have been clamoring for.
Black Panther will also get his one movie, finally, though he will be introduced in the next Cap movie, played by Chadwick Boseman.
Doctor Strange drops on November 4, 2016…
…and Thor gets another movie, titled Ragnarok (should be Ragnarok and Roll) in 2017.
It’s getting nuts, and between Marvel’s new slate and DC’s, we’re going to be swimming through superheroes between now and 2020. Eventually one of these titles is going to fail to find an audience, totally miss the mark, or people are just going to stop showing up, and then it’s going to be interesting to see how they react to adversity for the first time.