It might be a long way away, but Marvel's Phase 4 is heading into the planning stage, with three movies already scheduled for 2020. Although this may seem far off, both Civil War and Infinity War will set the stage for a new era of the MCU — and some of the players may have made their final exit.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Kevin Feige and the Russo brothers hinted at their grand plan for the next step in MCU storytelling, while warning fans that their faves might not make it through the battles to fight another day in Phase 4.
Oh, and there's another big comic arc coming to the silver screen.
Deconstructing The MCU
According to the Russos, the final phase of Phase 3 is all about deconstruction. Captain America: Civil War will see the Avengers tried and tested, and it's difficult to determine which ones will make it out alive, especially as the films before Infinity War feature characters who aren't on the front line of battle in Civil War.
But the gang will get back together to fight Thanos, or so Joe Russo promises.
"You kind of reach an apex or you reach a climax, a moment where you go: ‘This structure is really going to start to be repetitious if we do this again, so what do we do now?’ So now, you deconstruct it. We’re in the deconstruction phase with 'Civil War' and leading into 'Infinity War,' which are the culmination films."
With hints as far back as the first Avengers movie in 2012, it's not an overstatement to say that every MCU movie so far has been building towards Infinity War. And whatever the outcome of this fight with Thanos, Feige wants us to know the MCU will never be the same again.
In Feige's mind, Phases One, Two, and Three are separate chapters in one long saga. We can see how the stories have flowed into one another, with each solo sequel moving the main characters' development along.
All New, All Different Avengers!
With that in mind, Infinity War will mark the conclusion of this particular saga, meaning whatever comes next must be radically different.
"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."
There are several movies in Phase Three which introduce new and very distinctive characters to the MCU, most notably Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel, with Black Panther making his pre-solo movie appearance in Civil War. And thanks to that deal with Sony, we've also got our friendly neighborhood webslinger swinging in the MCU — Spider-Man: Homecoming is scheduled for a 2017 release.
So are these the new core members of the Avengers? That's definitely possible, and it would line up nicely with Feige's (characteristically vague) hints about a "very different" era of the MCU.
As for what threat the Avengers could possibly face after Thanos is utterly defeated, Feige suggests we look to the comics for that "as a guide." With plenty of game-changing comic arcs left unadapted (Secret Wars or Inhumanity both seem like the perfect fit for Phase Four), we can rest assured that even in the wake of Infinity War and Phase Three's conclusion, Marvel still has a few tricks up its sleeve.