Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige Discusses Phase 4
As Captain Marvel rapidly approaches, now is more than an opportune time to start asking questions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future after that movie and Avengers: Endgame hit theaters. Those represent the end of Phase 3, and naturally, what follows is going to be called Phase 4 – but it won’t have as much in common Phases 1, 2, and 3.
Kevin Feige has recently revealed several important details about Phase 4 through two pieces from ComicBook.com and a third piece from CinemaBlend, all while on the press tour for Captain Marvel. What he said can boil down to four major points:
Future Plans: How Much Will Be Revealed, And When
With the end in sight, audience interest is naturally starting to shift toward figuring out what will come out next. Sony scheduled Spider-Man: Far From Home for release after the fourth and last Avengers movie (for now), but aside from that, the future slate is wide open with two dates for 2020, three dates for 2021, and three dates for 2022 all scheduled, with no titles listed. Fans have evidence suggesting that six of these projects are the third installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series, second installments of the Doctor Strange and Black Panther series, and new installments based on Black Widow, The Eternals, and Shang-Chi. Provided that Captain Marvel does well, a sequel ought to take another one of these spots, leaving only one a mystery. (A third Spider-Man film would be on Sony, and not Disney, to schedule, though it seems like they have a window wide open for a third film to arrive in 2021.)
For now, however, Kevin Feige is keeping those cards close to his vest so as to not spoil the story of Avengers: Endgame, where several characters leading the MCU’s many franchises were killed off, including those with new movies coming. While that movie will inevitably end with most (if not all) of them resurrected, maintaining the illusion that they might not return is every bit as important to the realm of comic book movies as they are to the realm of comic books themselves. Feige explained that all announcements are going to wait until July:
“As we’ve been doing for years, we aren’t going to announce anything post Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man [Far From Home] until post Endgame and Spider-Man. As you know as a fan, there’s a tremendous amount of potential and a tremendous amount of additional characters and storylines and groups of characters that we’re going to keep playing with. And again, that’s a testament to Marvel and to the amount of storylines and characters and amazing, amazing runs that have been in the Marvel comics.”
Feige previously stated that several movies on the Phase 4 slate will be revealed at the San Diego Comic Con, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be all of them. Phase 3 was famously announced all at once, barring a couple of revisions adding Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp to the schedule and removing Inhumans from it, along with the necessary shuffling of dates that came with those change in plans. But Feige cautions fans not to hope that something as extensive will happen soon:
“I don’t think we’ll be announcing five or six years, but we know sort of where we want to head in the next five or six years.”
From the sound of things, Phase 4 is going to be a lot longer than any of the preceding Phases, with more projects exploring vastly different corners of the MCU and another big team-up film being a long way off. We’ll probably get an outline of what to expect from SDCC until the end of 2022, and maybe even some of 2023 if they’re feeling particularly bold. While Feige is as quiet as always about plans for the Fox-Marvel franchises that Disney are about to inherit with their purchase of Fox, you can bet that the additions of the X-Men and Fantastic Four brands are going to really shake things up.
More Than Three Movies Per Year?
So with all that IP to explore, fans are wondering how quickly Marvel can get to integrating it into a sprawling shared universe. Three movies per year has been the norm since 2017, thanks to a little help from Sony Pictures in the cases of that year and this one. Due to the controversial firing of James Gunn, 2020 will only see two movies. But Feige explains that there’s no pressure for Marvel Studios to do more than two movies a year internally, as it’s really just a matter of having the right creative teams firing on all cylinders when they need to be:
“We’ve always said there are no mandates to make any more than two films a year, but as we’ve seen the last couple years, when it naturally happens, and when there are ideas and when there are teams ready to go, we’re not going to hold something back.”
When pressed for details about if this mystery slate includes standalone films, team-ups, and ensemble pieces, Feige also added that “All of the above.” will be represented in the as-of-yet unrevealed Marvel Studios slate.
2021 is the absolute earliest that four movies could happen in a single year, and that’s dependent entirely on whether or not Sony Pictures has another Spider-Man MCU movie ready to go by then. Marvel could theoretically have 2022 be their first year of producing four movies in-house, likely with the help of resources from the Fox division. And Disney+’s impact on the setting can’t be stressed enough; the streaming service is going to explore all sorts of characters under the supervision of Marvel Studios.
Black Widow Won’t Be R-Rated
A popular rumor as of late is that the Black Widow film was at least considered as a potential R-rated project. The thing is, though, that Feige said that he always saw it as being PG-13:
“It never was going to be [rated R]. Somebody writes, ‘I hear it’s R-rated!’ And then everybody writes it up.”
A PG-13 rating only makes sense with the movie set to arrive in the first week of May. If the film had been set for an August release date, then a R-rating would have been more plausible.
James Gunn’s Absence Won’t Stop Marvel’s Cosmic Expansion
Lastly, there was a matter of James Gunn’s presence in the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Some interpreted certain comments from Feige as suggestions that Gunn would supervise all future space-based Marvel movies going forward, but it seems as though people overestimated how far his influence was going to expand:
“His influence was Guardians. It was Guardians. It was his input on Guardians and the Avengers films, as you’ve seen in Infinity War, and on the Guardians 3 script, which we’re still using. So you’ll see that influence. I think online, sort of the notion of ‘architect across multiple cosmic things’ was slightly blown out of proportion.”
In a perfect world, Gunn likely would have just had a hand in developing movies that involved the Guardians themselves, as the original iteration of the team is set to split up by the end of their third movie, and that leaves the door open for all sorts of crossovers as newer, more obscure characters are brought into the mix. Meanwhile, the Captain Marvel franchise and others like it would probably do their own thing. It’s a big universe, after all.
Captain Marvel will be released on March 8, 2019. Avengers: Endgame will be released on April 26, 2019. Spider-Man: Far From Home will be released on July 5, 2019.
Grant Davis is a freelance writer who has covered entertainment news for more than four years. His articles have frequently appeared in Star Wars News Net as well as as other entertainment-related websites. As someone who grew up on Star Wars and comic book movies, he’s completely thrilled with the current era of genre entertainment.