Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Before this year’s Comic-Con even bowed, Marvel Studios had already staked their claim, announcing a jam-packed schedule for the next five years, a continuation of their Marvel Cinematic Universe that is somehow both very ambitious and totally expected. As the news of this new calendar dropped in the days leading up to Comic-Con, it seemed fair to assume that the Marvel panel would include a section on those upcoming films and what titles are arriving when (remember back in 2012, when the Marvel panel included a gobsmacking section that announced Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, complete with official titles, titles treatments and concept art? remember what a hit that was?). And, with news about their Doctor Strange film reaching a fever pitch before and during the convention, it also seemed like a good time to throw the fans a bone about that one (even just a release date, as a casting announcement would have likely obliterated Hall H).

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Marvel’s panel — which, quite curiously, started nearly twenty minutes late, eventually leading to a maddened crowd chanting for it to begin — was relatively straightforward. There was an Ant-Man panel. There was an Avengers: Age of Ultron panel. There was footage and excitement and Josh Brolin sporting the Infinity Gauntlet and being fed flowers by Robert Downey, Jr. By all means, a normal Marvel panel.

Yet, the panel saw the announcement of only a single new confirmed filmGuardians of the Galaxy 2, which will open on July 28, 2017, a three-years-off release date that’s reflective of the new series-within-the-series’ upcoming release date of August 1, 2014 (you know, this Friday). The news that the Marvel was already primed for a second Guardians had already leaked out a bit before Marvel panel day even rolled around (a common enough occurrence during Con time), along with the further buzz that director James Gunn would be back for this newest outing. It sort of deflated the video announcement Gunn himself issued at the end of the panel. We know this stuff.

We want to know when Doctor Strange is coming out, though, and we’d really love to find out what other heroes (or heroines?) Marvel is setting up new features for. They have to be on the schedule, right?

As of now, this is what the Marvel features schedule looks like:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015
  • Ant-Man on July 17, 2015
  • Captain America 3 on May 6, 2016
  • Untitled on July 8, 2016
  • Untitled on May 5, 2017
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28, 2017
  • Untitled on November 3, 2017
  • Untitled on May 4, 2018
  • Untitled on July 6, 2018
  • Untitled on November 2, 2018
  • Untitled on May 3, 2019

As of now, it’s assumed that the July 8, 2016 date is for the upcoming Doctor Strange film, as that is the next in-development Marvel feature that already has a director attached (that would be Scott Derrickson). If we’re going to stick with tradition, we probably also need to pick a date for Thor 3 (Marvel loves their trilogies), though the exact date for that one is hard to pin down, as the Thor franchise doesn’t occupy a “traditional” date, as the first film opened in April and the second one bowed in November. Let’s throw in an Ant-Man 2 and a Doctor Strange 2, just for fun. Let’s also just slot out that May 4, 2018 spot for a third Avengers film (now that’s one that would stick with standard dates, as both films have early May release dates, and this second one will arrive three years after the first).

Let’s just fill those in, and here’s what our theoretical (but educated) guess at a calendar looks like:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015
  • Ant-Man on July 17, 2015
  • Captain America 3 on May 6, 2016
  • Doctor Strange on July 8, 2016
  • Untitled on May 5, 2017
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28, 2017
  • Thor 3 on November 3, 2017
  • The Avengers 3 on May 4, 2018
  • Ant-Man 2 on July 6, 2018
  • Untitled on November 2, 2018
  • Doctor Strange 2 on May 3, 2019

That still leaves two empty spots that don’t have an obvious sequel to fill them. That’s two new films. Why don’t we know what those two are yet?

It’s not as if Marvel doesn’t have a clear idea of what these dates are for (no, these are not just date grabs that they plan on filling in later, that’s not how the forward-thinking studio works) and though there might be a bit of wiggle room here, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a very clear pick for which film will bow on May 3, 2019 (or whatever date you want to swap in). So why didn’t Marvel announce a larger portion of their upcoming slate?

Because Marvel doesn’t need to.

Marvel just doesn’t need the hubbub and the spice anymore — this year’s panel was packed, filled to the gills with fans so excited to be there that they chanted, proving that they might not need to announce something super-splashy (even if it really is fairly obvious) to get people primed. People will come (to the panel, to the films) regardless.

Instead, they divided their time up between a slightly addled project (Ant-Man), a total slam-dunk (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and a little tease about the momentum of their franchises (Guardians of the Galaxy 2). It was quick, clean and to the point. No one came out in full costume (we miss you, Tom Hiddleston), and their perpetual big bad appeared wearing an actual promotional toy. Marvel has reached a new level, one that doesn’t necessitate full-bodied announcements and can live quite happily on perpetual teasing. They’ll tell us what (and when) these movies are when they want to, and that won’t stop fans from lapping it up eagerly.

We still want to know when we’re getting Doctor Strange, though, and damn if we’re not holding out for a Ms. Marvel announcement.

Marvel Studios will keep making movies until at least 2019.


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