Marvel's Phase 3 begins in 2016 with the release of Captain America: Civil War and extends through 2019 with The Inhumans. During Phase 3 we'll see the culmination of Captain America and Thor's trilogy and the introduction of Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel - the Marvel Universe is seeing its biggest population increase over these three years and it's all leading up to the big Avengers: Infinity War with Thanos taking matters into his own hands. Let's take a look at the path these movies will take in making the biggest expansion of the MCU yet and make a case that Thor 3 could be the most important of them all.
Paging Doctor Stange
After the reveal of Thanos picking up his Infinity Gauntlet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the hunt is on for where the last remaining Infinity Stones of the MCU might be hidden - the Soul Stone and the Time Stone. The best guess at where we could get our first look at one of these stones has been during Doctor Strange. As Marvel did during Phase 2 with Guardians of the Galaxy, there's a good chance the introduction of a new character into the MCU could come with the introduction of another Infinity Stone to strengthen the bond and importance of the movie in the big picture.
What makes Doctor Strange so tempting for the introduction of an Infinity Stone is that there are many powerful objects associated with Strange that could provide for a perfect opportunity. Take for instance the treasured Orb of Agamotto - if ever there were the potential for the MCU to repurpose a Marvel artifact into something of even more importance, it would be with the Eye or Orb of Agamotto.
What is more likely though is Doctor Strange establishing the character's importance in his role during the Infinity War. Marvel has previously painted the character of Doctor Strange as the upstanding kind of guy who isn't tempted by the powers of the Infinity Stones. This makes him one of the few people in the Marvel comic book universe who can be trusted to protect the Infinity Stones and fans should expect that the Marvel cinematic universe will take advantage of his character's introduction in Phase 3 for the same purpose.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 & Thor 3
All eyes are on these two movies as being the best chance to see a big reveal in the plot surrounding Thanos and the Infinity Stones. If Guardians of the Galaxy 2 does indeed introduce the character of Adam Warlock as Peter Quill's dad as many are expecting - expect the Soul Stone to be introduced along with him. Writer/director James Gunn has teased that the movie will be making some changes to the comic book lore concerning Peter Quill's heritage but making Adam Warlock the guardian of the Soul Stone would be honoring a long-standing tradition in the Marvel lore.
Tagging Thor 3 with the dreaded word Ragnarok is also tipping Marvel's cards when it comes to what to expect from the final chapter in the Thor trilogy. Death and destruction is coming to Asgard and for a place that is considered safe-keeping for an important Space Stone, this is indeed bad news. But if there is one way to repair the damages of a Ragnarok, it is by using the Time Stone and resetting the clock in hopes to undo a terrible fate.
Seeing as this is the movie that will directly precede Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, it's not difficult to see the destruction of Asgard in Thor 3 to be Thanos' first move on his warpath and ending with him setting his eyes on Earth. In many ways it's hard not to look at Thor 3 being the most important movie in the lead up to Infinity War. Between it and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 we should be getting a good sense of what kind of plans Thanos has in store for Earth.
Captain Marvel & Black Panther
In 2018 we'll be seeing two new characters getting their first solo adventures in the Marvel cinematic universe. Black Panther and Captain Marvel will be adding their own chapters but when considering the larger plot surrounding Thanos and the Infinity War, we'll look to Captain Marvel for the biggest advancements in this area. With both of these movies taking place between Part 1 and Part 2 of Avengers: Infinity War, it will be very interesting to see how they divide themselves between telling their own stories and moving the larger story forward.
With Captain America: Civil War kicking things off for Phase 3, we could see a trend in these solo movies of advancing the big picture through the perspective of the title character. In this case we could see Black Panther advancing the Avengers story and Captain Marvel advancing the Thanos, Kree and Inhumans story. What is really great about Captain Marvel is the unlimited possibilities that comes with this character. Carol Danvers could easily be the one to link Guardians of the Galaxy to the Avengers and really open the doors to uniting all the elements of Phase 3 together.
The Inhumans to Blow Up Phase 3
The dark horse of Marvel's Phase 3 is The Inhumans. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD has been hard at work digging into the back story of the Kree and their relationship with the Terrigen Mist and the experiments that resulted in The Inhumans - but it gives us little in the way of what to expect from the movie that will bring characters like Black Bolt, Medusa and the super canine Lockjaw to audiences. But if anything, Guardians of the Galaxy proved that Marvel is just fine with defying your expectations.
There's more than a good chance that we'll see some of these characters introduced in Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel or even Guardians of the Galaxy 2. You can make a good bet that along the way we'll finally see Marvel play the Skrull card they've been holding onto at some point before The Inhumans as well as the big Kree enemies play a big part in the origin story and activities of these characters. There's no doubt that Marvel is looking to The Inhumans to be the final push in a huge expansion of their cinematic universe by going even further out into their cosmic world.
What do you think? What part of Marvel's Phase 3 are you most looking forward to? How important do you think [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858) and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will be? Which character are you most excited to see introduced - Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel? Keep the conversation going in the comments below!