Through the first three “phases” of its multi-decade storytelling mission, Marvel Studios’ films followed a fairly predictable rhythm. Each new phase would feature a handful of individual movie titles featuring characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, or the Guardians of the Galaxy before eventually culminating in an Avengers team-up film.
Marvel’s Avengers capped the end of Phase 1, Avengers: Age of Ultron largely wrapped up Phase 2, and Phase 3 played host to the epic Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. That Avengers tradition comes to an end with Phase 4, which is set to conclude with Black Panther sequel Wakanda Forever this November. This might come as a shock to some MCU fans who’ve come to expect an epic Avengers finale for each phase. It’s all fairly understandable though. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is still in recovery after Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe only for our heroes to undo “The Snap.” The Avengers could use a break!
Thankfully, that break is finally coming to an end…just not as soon as we might have liked to see it. During Marvel Studio’s big presentation at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel chief Kevin Feige revealed the names and release dates of the next two Avengers films. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars will serve as the conclusion to Phase 6 and will premiere on May 2, 2025 and Nov. 7, 2025, respectively.
Feige snuck the announcement in near the end of Marvel’s presentation, after revealing the entirety of the studio’s Phase 5 slate. You can see that below:
The full details of Phase 6 are not yet confirmed but we do know it will open with Fanastic Four on Nov. 8, 2024 and conclude with the two aforementioned Avengers films. All together, Phases 4 through 6 will be known as “The Multiverse Saga.”
With this batch of news, Marvel makes official what the structural building blocks of its cinematic universe are made of. Individual Marvel films and TV shows operate similarly to issues of a comic book. Together, 6-12 of those properties make up a phase. And then three of those phases constitute a saga like the Infinity Saga and now the Multiverse Saga.
Marvel is nothing if not deliberate with how it structures its schedule. Even with that in mind, however, why is it going to be such a long wait before we get our next Avengers team up effort? Why break from the usual “Avengers at the end of each phase” paradigm for two consecutive phases, only to return to it to conclude the Multiverse Saga?
Only Feige and his fellow decision-makers at Marvel know the answer for sure. But if we had to hazard a guess of our own, however, we would say it’s because the Marvel Cinematic Universe has simply grown too large for that level of predictability.
Even in Marvel’s early years when it had to only worry about putting its most potentially profitable heroes forward (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, et al.), scheduling the Marvel Cinematic Universe must have been a logistical nightmare. Now that Marvel has more than quadrupled its usual roster of available heroes since the early Avengers days, it must have only become more difficult. By the time you get to Shang-Chi and the Eternals, you know you’re really trying to fit everyone in. Figuring out who even is an Avenger right now is a spectacularly tall task for the MCU and one that could conceivably take two full phases to resolve.
Not only is the Avengers’ current roster unclear but the Avengers are not even the only superhero team on the block within the MCU, anymore. Guardians of the Galaxy were the first non-Avenger squad to arrive back in Phase 2. Now there are also the Eternals, the upcoming Thunderbolts, and even the Fantastic Four to contend with. That’s even before Marvel undertakes the arduous task of incorporating the newly-acquired X-Men into this already massive universe.
Then there’s the name of the Saga itself. Don’t know if you’ve heard but, uh…multiverses are pretty big. As first seen in Loki season 1, and then even further in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the storytelling possibilities in the MCU at the moment have taken on almost literal infinite dimensions. Multiverse of Madness already incorporated an X-Men character in the form of Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a Fantastic Four character in Reed Richards (John Krasinski). If either of those heroes were to make their way to Earth-616, they would have to be Avengers shoe-ins.
This is all to say that we’re still a ways away from having a logical and consistent Avengers lineup ready to go. Will “Avengers Emeritus” like Thor, Bruce Banner, Scott Lang, Clint Barton, and others need to be a part of the team or merely operate in an advisory capacity? Does membership on another team like the Guardians, Fantastic Four, or Thunderbolts preclude someone from being involved in the Avengers? And who of all the new, unaffiliated characters will be considered worthy enough to receive the call?
In order for there to be an Avengers film there has to be a rough consensus as to who even is on the Avengers team. Given all the questions currently at play, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Avengers won’t assemble again until the end of Phase 6.