Now, with all the hubbub surrounding Marvel's recent announcement of pretty much all the movies, ever, there was one thing that we all pretty much missed.
Sure, we now know pretty much every movie to be excited about between now and 2019, and sure, that includes The Black Panther, Captain Marvel, the freakin' Civil War AND Infinity War, and a whole lot more besides.
But that, as it turns out, isn't quite everything.
There's a movie missing from Marvel's Phase 3 line-up - and not just in a Hulk and Black Widow sort of way, where it's just been missed out.
This one's missing, but it might also be a secret - one which might, in turn, still be on its way.
The Missing Marvel Movie Mystery
Now, a few days ago, Russ Burlingame of Comicbook.com pointed out that the 'Untitled Marvel Movie' previously announced to be arriving July 8th, 2016 has been quietly dropped from the Marvel line-up.
Which is absolutely true. Instead, in 2016, we'll see Captain America: Civil War on May 6th, and then Doctor Strange on November 4th. The latter had originally been expected to be released in July, but now, it seems, it's been pushed back.
Now, Burlingame suggests - extremely reasonably - that this change likely has to do with casting delays on Doctor Strange, Marvel's friendly relationship with Sony (and the prospect of Sinister Six moving to July, 2016), and a fondness within the company for the November slot.
All of which could well be true, and the now absent July slot could well have been given up by Marvel, with the company having decided to go another way.
Unless, of course, they haven't...
The Mystery Deepens
Here's where it all gets interesting - and even more mysterious...
Take a look at the Marvel line-up for 2017:
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5th), Thor: Ragnarok (July 28th), Black Panther (November 3rd).
And for 2018:
Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May 4th), Captain Marvel (July 6th), Inhumans (November 2nd).
The key thing there? There are Marvel movies coming out in May, July, and November in both years.
They even match a pretty reliable pattern: One big hitter in May (Guardians 2, Avengers 3), followed by a more established, but relatively risky solo movie in July (Thor: Ragnarok, presumably already established in another movie, Captain Marvel), and finally an outside bet, with comparatively low expectations, in November (Black Panther, Inhumans).
And the really interesting part?
Take a look at 2016:
You have the big hitter in May, in the form of Captain America: Civil War.
You have the outside bet in November, in the form of Doctor Strange.
And then in July, you have nothing. Except, of course, for that previously announced movie in July, which now seems to have disappeared.
What, though, if that release slot hasn't been abandoned, after all?
What if, rather than giving up that prime, middle of the summer slot, Marvel is just preparing something in secret?
The question, though, is what?
Could We See a Solo Hulk Movie?
After all, when challenged on the green giant's absence from the Phase 3 schedule, Marvel's Kevin Feige had this to say:
"I would say Hulk is going to appear in many of those movies, particularly all those Avengers movies leading up to 2019 in Infinity War."
Could that be a subtle hint that the rage monster is going to get his own chance to be the center of attention?
Maybe, but you'd have to think that both time and budgetary constraints, especially surrounding the CGI, would make that more or less impossible.
Some Marvel heroes, though, are a whole lot less expensive to film...
Could We See a Solo Black Widow Movie?
She would, after all, be the perfect lead for a lower budget, grittier Marvel movie, exploring the repercussions of Captain America: Civil War two months earlier.
The only problem? Kevin Feige has already revealed that for both Black Widow and Hulk:
"...the Avengers films will be the films where they play a primary role."
Which, it seems, pretty much wipes out our chances of seeing either of them in a solo movie - unless Feige is outright lying to us, which seems unlikely.
So, does that mean that whole July movie idea is off the table? After all, what other movies could fit the already established Marvel pattern for three movies a year?
Well, there is another option...
Could Marvel Be Planning a Standalone Civil War Movie?
After all, that July spot? That's just two months after Captain America: Civil War gets released.
Y'know, the same Captain America: Civil War that's going to have to wrap up a massive, epic story arc up within around two and a half hours. Now, since next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are unlikely to have the time to do much more than tease it, that's one hell of a big task.
Which means Marvel has a problem - because they have, so far, worked incredibly hard to avoid having to shoehorn in exposition or emotion to make the audience care about a plot-line, or a particular character.
Which is where the Russo Brothers come in. Remember how, just before Robert Downey Jr. was confirmed to be appearing in Captain America 3, the movie's directors, the Russo Brothers, were being linked all over the place with a return to direct the third chapter of the Avengers franchise, too?
Well, what if, rather than being asked to conclude the whole Civil War storyline in one movie, they were, instead, given two. One in May...and one in July.
Why Civil War Could Actually Happen
(Note, this is where major potential SPOILERS come in...)
It would, after all, solve several problems that are set to come Marvel's way in the immediate future.
The three major selling points of Marvel's Civil War are essentially these: It's a chance to watch all of Marvel's heroes beat each other up, Spider-Man makes a pretty epic decision about which side to be on, and, at the end of the storyline, Captain America dies.
Now, for the movie adaptation, most of the running time will be taken up by plot, and not action, the odds of Spider-Man joining the MCU by 2016 seem extraordinarily slim, and Chris Evans has one more movie on his Marvel contract after Captain America: Civil War. So, if they kill him off, everyone will know he'll be back, because his contract says so.
Which, in turn, means Civil War loses its reasons to exist in the first place.
With an extra movie, though, the heroes can beat each other up for a solid five hours (in total, between the two), Spider-Man's arc can be replaced by a solidly developed Black Panther, Ant-Man or similar, and Cap can die, an icon, at the movie's close, neatly allowing the ridiculously contractually secured Sebastian Stan to take over as Cap for Avengers: Infinity War (and to co-star with another hero - The Black Panther, say - in his or her solo movie).
It'd be a huge gamble - the established received wisdom suggests that linked movies can't be released that close together - but if there's anyone brave and confident enough to try, it's Marvel.
Or, Alternatively, Marvel Might Just Have Decided They Don't Want to Release a Movie in July That Year
But, if Kevin Feige stands up at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 and reveals he's about to make a huge announcement about 2016, and then shows us something an awful lot like Civil War, set for that July, I won't be all that surprised.
Especially as it would be released almost exactly a month before DC's Suicide Squad, and if there's one thing Marvel loves, it's messing with DC when it comes to movie scheduling...
Now, though, the big question: What do you guys think?
Will we see a Marvel movie in July 2016?