What Can We Expect In The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 3?

Doctor Strange #177 (February 1969), the debut...
Doctor Strange #177 (Feb. 1969) via Wikipedia
As usual, I've been scouring the internetz in my never-ending quest for more info on Marvel movies, and this week I found a treasure trove.

Wanna know which Marvel characters will be joining Iron Man, ThorHulk, and Captain America on the big screen?

Thanks to Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly, we've got a much better sense of what to expect in the next five years. Anthony posted a fact-filled article on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I wanted to touch on a few highlights. As I'm sure you know, Phase One of Marvel's master plan for its big screen heroes culminated in The Avengersand Iron Man 3 kicked off Phase Two with spectacular success.

In addition to Iron Man 3, Marvel has already announced opening dates for all of its Phase Two movies -

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two

Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8, 2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014)
The Avengers 2 (May 1, 2015)

Now, the big question is - Which characters can we expect to see in the slate of movies after The Avengers 2?

The EW article does a great job of outlining what's known as of today (5-19-13). Just keep in mind that nothing is written in stone in Hollywood, and sometimes the studios don't want to divulge info about movies in the works.

Which Characters Will Appear In The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Three?

Ant-Man fan-made poster - via AndrewSS7
  • Ant-Man - YES - An opening date of November 6, 2015 has already been set for Ant-Man's debut.  According to Marvel boss Kevin Feige, the planning for the Ant-Man movie goes back to at least 2006. Director Edgar Wright will begin filming in early 2014.
  • Doctor Strange - YES - A movie has been announced starring Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme, but  it's still very early in the planning stage. At this point, there's not even so much as a rumor about who would star. FYI - Patrick Dempsey has stated he'd love to play Stephen Strange. 
  • Iron Man - MAYBE - You'd think with Iron Man 3 making a billion dollars Marvel would already be at work on number 4, right? Well, it's complicated. Robert Downey Jr. has fulfilled his contract with Marvel, as far as the Iron Man franchise goes, but he's not ruling out playing Tony Stark again in a solo movie. If there's an Iron Man 4, it would probably be at least five years away. A lot can happen in five years, and RDJ has already said he's looking to start a new movie franchise.  We'll definitely see RDJ play Iron Man in The Avengers 2, but many factors might prevent an Iron Man 4 movie starring Downey from being made. Can you say "reboot"?
  • Black Panther - MAYBE - There's still no definitive word on whether the African king, T'Challa, aka Black Panther, will get his own solo movie anytime in the near future. Anthony speculates that we'll see the character in a supporting role in one of the upcoming Marvel movies or maybe in the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
NOTE: On May 17, 2013, a report surfaced that Marvel is interested in filming part of The Avengers 2 in South Africa, which fueled speculation that Black Panther would appear in the movie. 

    Daredevil (Marvel Comics)
    Daredevil (Marvel Comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Daredevil - NO - Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, is one of those lower tier characters that Marvel Studios recently acquired the movie rights to - along with The Punisher, Blade, and Ghost Rider. While it's very cool that Marvel has creative control over these characters, don't look for a movie starring any of them anytime soon. When asked about these characters, Marvel boss Kevin Feige told EW -

“So Punisher, Ghost Rider, … Blade, all those characters are back. They all have potential, but I think we need to find the right time.”

  • The Punisher - NO - same as Daredevil
  • Blade - NO - same as Daredevil
  • Ghost Rider - NO - same as Daredevil
Mark Ruffalo as Hulk in The Avengers - via Marvel 

Hulk - MAYBE - Mark Ruffalo has said that he's ready to play Bruce Banner / Hulk again in a solo movie, but Marvel insists that there's nothing in development, yet. Like Iron Man, Hulk will definitely be in The Avengers 2, but beyond that - who knows? This is one of the biggest mysteries surrounding Marvel's future plans - How big of a role will Hulk play?

Inhumans graphic novel cover - via Wikipedia 
  • Inhumans - MAYBE - Marvel's mentioned the possibility of a movie starring its group of characters known as Inhumans for a few years, but the studio won't say if it's gone beyond the early planning stage. Feige seems to be a huge fan of the mutated super-beings, telling EW they're "...really great characters." and "...incredibly compelling...", so it's a safe bet that we'll eventually see them on the big screen. Right now, no one can say if they'll be in Phase Three. 
Allow me to go way out on a limb and speculate here. I think Marvel is saving its Inhumans for Phase 4 of their Cinematic Universe. Five years from now, The Avengers franchise will have run its course and Marvel will still not have creative control over Spider-Man, X-Men, or Fantastic Four. Imagine - The year is 2018 and Marvel needs a new, fresh wave of superheroes to establish as its next blockbuster franchise. In order to build a multi-movie universe, they need a large group of characters with interesting origin stories, a rich history, and inter-connected stories. Who does Marvel have remaining in the stable that fits that description? Inhumans.

  • Runaways - NO - This lesser known comic book series almost got a movie in 2011, but it was shelved because it didn't fit in with Marvel's other Phase One movies. At this point, it looks unlikely that we'll see a Runaways movie in Phase Three. 
  • Marvel Zombies - NO - Breznican threw this idea out there as sort of a "What if?" He points out that the 2005/2006 "Marvel Zombies" comic series was ultra-popular and zombies are a pop culture craze, so maybe Marvel would consider a movie version. However, it's safe to say that the studio wouldn't risk damaging the brand with a freaky concept in which its superheroes turn into flesh-eating ghouls. 
Okay, that's a quick rundown of some of the interesting points that Anthony Breznican posted on EW. After you check out the full article, jump back over here and let me know what you think. Were there any glaring omissions from this list of possible Marvel movies? Just remember that we're talking about characters that Marvel Studios owns the movie rights to.

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