Marvel’s Phase 4: 5 Theories About What Comes Next in the MCU

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War | Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is well into its ambitious 10-film Phase Three, and already the franchise is expertly drawing upon the vast history of its characters (Captain America: Civil War) and adding complicated new layers to the mythology (Doctor Strange). As the road to confront Thanos builds toward the ultimate team-up in Avengers: Infinity War, the upcoming films are sure to bring individual heroes like Spider-Man into the greater battle for the fate of the planet.

However, after the untitled fourth Avengers film (originally titled Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2), we truly have no idea what to expect from the MCU. In fact, Marvel Studios has reportedly not released any of that information due to the spoilers further project announcements would reveal regarding the current slate of films. So, even though we still have several years of films on the way — including sequels for Thor and Ant-Man as well as solo debuts, Black Panther and Captain Marvel — we’re taking a peek at what may be heading our way in late 2019 and beyond.

For the record, we’re not including any projects featuring the Fantastic Four or the X-Men, since it doesn’t appear likely that Marvel and Fox will come to an agreement regarding co-production.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The Guardians wield weapons and stand together in yellow outfits in Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy | Marvel Studios

So far, this film is the only one confirmed to be in the cards for Phase Four. Considering the success of the first film and the anticipation regarding next year’s sequel, no one should be surprised to see that Marvel Studios is aiming to develop a trilogy of films around Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot.

After all, the past has shown that Marvel is committed to making each of its individual series into trilogies before turning to other characters (well, except for The Incredible Hulk). For that reason, expect sequels to Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and likely a third Ant-Man film, to join the final installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy.

2. Inhumans

An illustration of Marvel's Inhumans characters standing against a black background

Inhumans | Marvel Comics

When Marvel Studios first announced the Phase Three lineup, a film centered around the Inhumans was announced for 2018 and then later moved to 2019. Yet, with the addition of films like Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp, Inhumans was pushed off the schedule altogether.

The studio has since announced that it’s creating an Inhumans show, which will premiere on ABC in the fall of 2017. Despite that, some have argued that the characters still deserve their own big screen feature, in addition to the upcoming series.

3. Nova

Nova in an issue of Marvel Comics

Nova | Marvel Comics

While the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will probably mark the last in that franchise, introducing this character — a key member of the intergalactic police force, Nova Corps, which made its debut in Guardians of the Galaxy — could give Marvel the opportunity to spin those films into a whole new trilogy centering on Nova. The character has consistently remained in the conversation of heroes that fans and Marvel executives alike want on the big-screen, and it seems like only a matter of time before he shows up. Plus, the fact that he is a cosmic crimefighter opens the doors for appearances by the Guardians, Captain Marvel, and even Thor. How’s that for “it’s all connected”?

4. Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow points a weapon at an enemy in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Age of Ultron | Marvel Studios

Let’s face it: It’s time for this to happen. Marvel Studios has taken its sweet time building up to its first female-led superhero film, and while Captain Marvel is already set to take that title, fans are still hoping that Natasha Romanoff gets her moment in the spotlight. With all the unexplored backstory the character brings, there are many intriguing directions a Black Widow film could go.

Moreover, Scarlett Johansson is one of the most bankable actresses working today, having led the 2014 action film Lucy to $463 million worldwide. Throw in Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye or an Avenger or two to give Black Widow someone to play off of, and Marvel will have a guaranteed moneymaker on its hands. Please?

5. Venom

A menacing Venom bares his teeth in an issue of Marvel Comics

Venom | Marvel Comics

Fans rejoiced when Marvel Studios and Sony struck a deal to include Tom Holland’s rebooted Spider-Man in the MCU, but the webslinger’s future remains unclear. We know that the actor is signed on to appear as the hero in six films, presumably comprised of three Spidey solo films and three team-up releases.

However, Sony is determined to wring some spinoffs out of the property as well. Venom is the most likely of these, since the character’s enduring popularity and complex history as both a villain and a hero offer something fresh that has yet to really be captured on-screen.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado

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