Leave it to Marvel Studios to turn an otherwise quiet week into a big one for superhero movies, with the surprise announcement of its entire slate of “Phase Three” films.
The announcement was made during a Tuesday morning event at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, in which everyone from franchise stars Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans to writer/director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige helped usher in the next chapter of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Along with revealing the titles and release dates for many of the previously unannounced projects on the horizon, Marvel also introduced one of the newest additions to its stable of live-action heroes: Future Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
Here are the highlights from the big event, in order of each project’s release date:
The third movie in the Captain America franchise will be titled Captain America: Civil War, and pit soldier-turned-superhero Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in a battle to decide the fate of the world’s superheroes. (The film was initially teased as Captain America: The Serpent Society as a joke, and later revealed to be Civil War.) Boseman is expected to make his debut as Black Panther in the film, which will hit theaters May 6, 2016.
Doctor Strange will hit theaters November 4, 2016. Feige didn’t confirm the rumors that pegged Benedict Cumberbatch for the title role in the film, but did promise the film would “open up a whole new corner of the cinematic universe.”
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will now hit theaters May 5, 2017, instead of the previously announced release date of July 2. According to Feige, the change in date was prompted by the first film’s surprising success, and the studio is hoping that an earlier release will result in a longer run in theaters.
The third film in the Thor solo franchise will be titled Thor: Ragnarok and hit theaters July 28, 2017. Feige described the film as “a very important movie for us in our Phase Three timeline” and indicated that it will pick up with Thor immediately after the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron and change the dynamic of Thor’s world in much the same way Captain America: The Winter Soldier did for Captain America.
On November 3, 2017, Boseman will kick off his own solo franchise in Black Panther.
Marvel will then kick off a massive, two-part saga in Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4, 2018. The film will bring together the threads of the various “Infinity Stone” plot points that have been sewn into many of the Phase One and Phase Two films in a large-scale crossover between all of the solo franchises that’s expected to draw heavily from the cosmic side of Marvel’s cinematic universe.
On July 6, 2018, Marvel will put one of its most popular female superheroes front and center in Captain Marvel, which has yet to find a director or star. Feige assured fans that the “Captain Marvel” featured in the film will be the character Carol Danvers, and not one of the male, alien versions of the character that have used that title over time. “Her origins are very much Earthbound, but her adventures and power base come from the cosmic realm,” said Feige of the film’s heroine.
Later that year, Marvel will introduce an entirely new batch of superheroes to the studio’s cinematic universe in The Inhumans, based on the powerful royal family of mutated superheroes led by the silent Black Bolt. The film will hit theaters November 2, 2018, and will “open the floodgates a little bit wider,” according to Feige.
Finally, the third phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe will conclude with Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3, 2019. Feige described the two-part saga as “the culmination of everything that has come before,” and introduced a brief teaser video featuring cosmic villain Thanos (to be voiced by Josh Brolin) wielding the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet.
“We have always had a plan,” he said of the concluding chapter of Phase Three. “We have always had a plan from the moment Nick Fury broke into Tony Stark’s house and told him he was part of a bigger universe, he just didn’t know it yet. Well, I think he knows it now.”
You can watch a shaky video of the Avengers: Infinity War teaser below: