After making 22 movies that tell one cohesive story, while grossing almost $US20 ($28) billion worldwide along the way, what’s Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige doing next? The same thing all over again — with a whole new set of toys.
The April 24 release of Avengers: Endgame will bring closure to the first 11 years of Marvel Studios films. Then, in 2020, the company will start Phase Four of its Cinematic Universe, the next chapter of the larger story with new heroes, all of which will feel the impact of the events of the past.
Plus, now that Disney has acquired 20th Century Fox, those stories could potentially include the X-Men. According to Feige, though, fans should not hold their breath for that.
“It’ll be a while,” Feige told io9 when asked about bringing the X-Men into the MCU. “It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set. So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time.”
That five-year plan is likely to start with movies such as Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi, and others. Unfortunately, on the list of topics Feige is unwilling to talk about in depth, Phase Four is even higher than Avengers: Endgame.
The two things are seemingly too closely related, and any acknowledgment of the myriad of news out there about Phase Four could potentially ruin something in Endgame. Feige does think, though, that the new films are a worthy successor to the record-breaking first three phases of the MCU.
“The slate that we’re building over the next five years [is] not apples to apples,” he said when asked to compare the past and the future. “It is two very distinct things and I hope they’ll feel very distinct. But there is a similar mentality going into it, which is ‘How can we continue to tell stories with some of the characters that audiences already know and love in a unique way, in a different way, in surprising way, of which we have a lot of plans and ideas and work already going into it?’ [Then] ‘How can we introduce new characters that even hardcore fans, comic fans, have barely known or barely heard of.’ That’s really exciting too.”
If you read between those lines, movies such as Black Widow, Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Doctor Strange 2 fit the first part, while films like The Eternals and Shang-Chi fit the second. What none of those films include, however, are the X-Men.
It’s important to remember, though, that while Feige is saying the X-Men aren’t going to be around for a while, Thanos was first introduced back in 2012, years before his full impact was felt. And when Marvel and Sony made a deal for Spider-Man, the entire course of Captain America: Civil War changed very quickly, at least in filmmaking terms. Marvel has been known to make wild pivots and long, downfield teases. So it’s entirely possible Feige is being honest, or that whatever is planned, it’s simply too big of a surprise to acknowledge just yet.
We’ll get our first answers about all of this during Avengers: Endgame, which opens April 24.