Marvel announces the first release date plans for MCU Phase 4

Source images: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics | Illustration: James Bareham/Polygon

Avengers: Endgame and July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home mark the end of Phase 3 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). So how long until the next Marvel film? A bit longer than people are used to at this point.

Disney today announced the next several years of movie premiere dates — which include another Star Wars trilogy, Avatar sequels, a new Indiana Jones film, Pixar movies, live-action Disney remakes, and Bob’s Burgers (because Fox is Disney now) — and said that the next untitled Marvel film isn’t expected to hit theaters until May 1, 2020, about 10 months after Far From Home. (The long-delayed, Fox-produced, definitely-not-MCU movie The New Mutants is premiering a month before that, April 3.)

That gap is the longest we’ve gone without a new MCU film since 2013’s Iron Man 3, which premiered a year after 2012’s The Avengers (which ended Phase One). Since then, Marvel has released at least two MCU movies each year, with three in both 2017 and 2018. Filling in the gap for Disney is the next Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, which is coming Dec. 20. (Avatar sequels and future Star Wars films will be taking every other holiday season starting in 2021.)

Following the “untitled Marvel film” in May 2020, Disney will once again move to releasing three MCU movies a year:

  • May 1, 2020
  • Nov. 6, 2020
  • Feb. 12, 2021
  • May 7, 2021
  • Nov. 5, 2021
  • Feb. 18, 2022
  • May 6, 2022
  • July 29, 2022
  • As to which Marvel films these are, that’s unclear — Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has made it clear we won’t get many details until after Far From Home. Based on various casting rumors and other public statements, our guess is the stand-alone Black Widow and The Eternals for 2020, while the year after will be Doctor Strange 2, Black Panther 2, and Shang-Chi. As for 2022, that’s probably the all-but-guaranteed Captain Marvel sequel and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which recently rehired director James Gunn will begin after the new Suicide Squad (which itself is scheduled to premiere in 2021). And of course, at some point Marvel is going to be integrating its newly acquired X-Men characters.

    Note that the Disney announcement says “untitled Marvel movies,” not “MCU.” For all we know, one of these could be a non-MCU release (like another Deadpool sequel). Nor does it factor in Sony’s sometimes-MCU-canon Spider-Man films. But at this point it’s safe to assume most, if not all, will ultimately tie in and build up to the next all-hero team-up event.

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