It's been rather exhausting keeping an eye on all the Marvel comings and goings in the lead-up to the Captain America: The Winter Soldier release. It started with the statement by Kevin Feige that Marvel still has every intention of going head to head with Man of Steel sequel, Batman vs. Superman (or whatever it's called), on May 6, 2016. Now there's the talk that Captain America 3 is the movie that Marvel plans to do just that. we decided that now might be a good time to take a quick look at what Marvel already has locked in, and what might occupy some of those other dates.
Here's what we've got:
August 1, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy
Well, there was never any doubt about this one. How about you just kick back and enjoy that awesome trailer again?
May 1, 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron
No surprises here, either. The culmination of Marvel Phase Two, Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently in production, and there's really no chance that this one is going to end up anywhere other than where it is. Nothing to see, here...
July 17, 2015
This is where things start to get interesting, and where some of the non-controversy of the last 24 hours kicked off. Originally scheduled for a November, 2015 release, Edgar Wright's Ant-Man then moved to July 31, 2015, putting it not quite head-to-head with Warner Brothers' Batman vs. Superman movie (which was, at the time, scheduled for a July 17th release), but close enough to it to let folks know that Marvel put considerable faith in the miniscule superhero with virtually zero name recognition (not to mention a director who, while beloved, isn't a guaranteed box-office draw). But when Batman vs. Superman decided that it might be better to wait for a finished screenplay and aim for a more realistic release date of 2016, Ant-Man moved right into this prime piece of summer release real estate.
May 6, 2016
Possible Candidates: Captain America 3
So, now we're into purely speculative territory, but the rumblings have already begun. The Hollywood Reporter claims that Captain America 3 is going to occupy Marvel's May 6th slot and go head to head with Batman vs. Superman. While the buzz on Captain America: The Winter Soldier is overwhelmingly positive, the fact remains that Captain America has a long way to go before he can be perceived as the kind of box office behemoth that Batman is. Still, the folks at THR seem pretty confident in their sources about this one, but we're less certain. Then again, Feige's statement that they would announce the movie "in the next few months" would allow them enough time to thoroughly count Captain America 2's box office receipts before deciding on just how hard they want to go after Warner Bros.
There remains the tantalizing possibility that Star Wars: Episode VII moves from its current December 18, 2015 date into more traditional May Star Wars haunts. In which case, fellow Disney-ite Marvel could vacate the May 6th slot with no loss of face, leaving Warner Bros. to deal with an all but certain juggernaut in Star Wars: Episode VII. In this case, expect Warner Bros. to blink. Otherwise, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Marvel doesn't end up backing off Batman vs. Superman.
July 8, 2016
Possible Candidates: Thor 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, ???
It's hard to really picture Marvel throwing Thor 3 directly up against a potential monster like Batman vs. Superman, but waiting nearly two months seems like a safe bet. If Warner Bros. is indeed intent on stuffing as many superheroes as possible into their Man of Steel sequel, then it's entirely likely that Marvel will play it safe in 2016, running with two known quantities in Cap and Thor for their summer releases. But that's not the only possibility...
Guardians of the Galaxy could have a potential Iron Man 2 like turnaround time of less than two years. Considering that the ending of Avengers teased Thanos, Thanos plays a part in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he doesn't appear to be a major factor in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the "big story" that they've been teasing us with since 2012 will need to get advanced further to springboard towards Avengers 3. If that's the case, we could see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in 2016.
The third and final possibility is something else that we haven't even considered yet. With further Iron Man films unlikely and Chris "Captain America" Evans already at the halfway point of his six picture deal, Marvel needs to start looking beyond Avengers 3 for potential future franchises. Black Panther and Doctor Strange are the two most likely candidates here based on assorted statements by Kevin Feige and Stan Lee. And let's not forget that Black Widow is in the mix for her own film, as well, and if there's any truth to the rumors that Carol Danvers will be introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we can add Captain Marvel to this bit of hyperactive speculation. It may be a bit too soon for Doctor Strange, though, as we'll get to in a moment...
May 7, 2017
Possible Candidates: Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, ???
Doctor Strange is a long shot, but at this point in this article, aren't they all? Just this week, Kevin Feige said that we probably wouldn't see a Doctor Strange movie for "three or four years" and May 7th is the earliest available slot on Marvel's dance card that falls within that window. However, early May seems pretty ambitious for a movie about a character who has never had any kind of success in other media, so, assuming Guardians of the Galaxy is the hit that Marvel expects it to be, this could be its landing spot.
We'll keep an eye on all of this, of course. And if you have any other wild ideas about what might be coming from Marvel in 2016-2017, we're willing to listen...
Disclaimer: David Crow kept me honest while writing this article.