#CaptainAmericaCivilWar is the start of Marvel's Phase 3, building up to the dramatic battle with Thanos in #InfinityWar! But we all know that Marvel's visionary #KevinFeige is a master of the long game, so there's no doubt he's looking beyond this to Phase 4. What can we learn about Marvel's next masterplan?
1. This will be a new beginning!
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kevin Feige - Marvel's mastermind - pointed to comics themselves as a guide.
“I think there will be a finality to moments of Phase Three, as well as new beginnings that will mark a different, a very different, a distinctively different chapter in what will someday be a complete first saga made up of three phases.”
So in Feige's mind, Phases 1-3 are one ongoing saga; Phase 4 essentially marks a relaunch. This is just the same as with the comics, where the whole Marvel range is constantly relaunched. The Initiative? Dark Reign? The Heroic Age? Marvel NOW? The All-New All-Different Marvel? Each relaunch forms a core part of the ongoing continuity, with some narratives continuing and others beginning anew. Each has a different tone and style (never more dramatic than the Dark Reign era).
It looks as though Feige is planning to follow the comics' lead, and Phase Four will relaunch the franchise!
2. They have Spider-Man!
Spider-Man makes his big début in Captain America: Civil War, and we now know the title of his first solo outing in the MCU - Spider-Man: Homecoming. Given Marvel want to capitalise on Spider-Man's high school years, and given the MCU has always tended to move in real-time, I think it's pretty certain we can expect another Spider-Man film to crawl into Phase Three.
Here's the thing. Until Robert Downey Jr. took on the role of Ol' Shellhead in 2008's Iron Man, the character was generally viewed as a nonentity. It took RDJ - and the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - to turn Iron Man into the franchise lead for the Avengers. Spider-Man, in contrast, is pretty much the biggest name in the superhero world. Take a look at the Spider-Man retail sales alone:
Although Spider-Man is given some pretty stiff competition from Batman in the U.S. and Canada, when you factor in worldwide sales the picture is very different. Marvel would be fools not be move this massive brand to the front-and-centre of the MCU, which of course is why they were so keen to reach a deal with Sony.
Marvel have also played it smart by casting a young Spider-Man. Whereas Robert Downey Jr. is fifty-one, Tom Holland 19. We can watch Spider-Man grow and mature, from High School to College and beyond.
Now that the Webhead is making his début in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's no doubt Marvel are going to make the most of him!
3. The Inhumans and the Guardians of the Galaxy will be part of it!
With The Inhumans moved to July 2019 - after Avengers: Infinity War Part II - it's now essentially the first film of Phase Four. We also know that Guardians of the Galaxy III is going to be part of Phase Four. At a guess, given that Marvel seem to like trilogies we'll likely see a third in the Ant-Man series; Paul Rudd has confirmed that he's on a "three-plus" deal. So we can pencil these particular franchises into Phase Four!
4. Other heroes will be on the front-line!
Although Marvel have arranged multi-picture deals, a number of these are running out. Chris Hemsworth has only two films left - Thor: Ragnarok and an Infinity War instalment. Both Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner are at the end of their contracts with Captain America: Civil War, although Evans is giving mixed signals about whether or not he'd agree to come back.
We're likely to keep Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner for a while longer, though; he's on a six-film deal, and cameos (such as Iron Man 3) don't count towards that. There are rumours Scarlett Johansson is a lot more happy to keep playing in the Marvel sandbox, too, so Black Widow may well stick around.
But with many of the big names bowing out, the focus is likely to switch to some of the heroes whose films are being launched in Phase Three - Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, and Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther. No doubt there'll be more superhero franchises launching too, of course!
So there you have it! I freely admit that we don't know much, but what we do know is enough to get this Marvel fan excited. 2019's Avengers: Infinity War Part II may be an ending, but it's also a new beginning, one that will prove the MCU is here to stay!