Is This the End of the MCU “Phase” Format?

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Is This the End of the MCU

2008 was a year that would forever change cinema. With the release of Iron Man, an interconnected series of films defined the term “cinematic universe” and established a powerhouse company in Marvel Studios. Nearly a decade later, it seems things are just getting started, so why does it feel like we’re reaching the finish line of the MCU as we know it?

Perhaps it’s because by the end of the current Phase 3 there will be 22 films in the MCU library! That’s a lot of time and effort going into the planning and execution of these movies. Right now, everything is gearing up to culminate with the eventual Avengers 4 (which will be released May 2019). As Marvel President Kevin Feige told Collider, the future is uncertain… but will be different from anything we’ve already seen.

We have an idea [of what the MCU looks like post-Infinity War], and it’s gonna be very, very different.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
The only one who knows the future of Marvel is this man!!!

Now, this could mean a variety of things. Feige could be using misdirection in his wording, and by “different” he might mean an end to origin movies (something fans have been clamoring for). Or, maybe by “different” he means getting away from Earthbound stories and focusing on more intergalactic features. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the excitement for Thor: Ragnarok, shows Marvel fans are looking for more strange worlds involving their favorite Marvel characters. This side of the MCU was brought forth by Guardians helmer James Gunn (who just announced he’s directing a third movie to apparently kick off a rumored Phase 4), and just last week Feige spoke about how the director’s vision will shape the future of Marvel movies.

(Gunn) could easily oversee additional stories beyond Vol. 3. And I think (he) has them and just continues to come up with them, which is cool. All of our core writers and filmmakers know what we are doing in other places and help give input on the various projects.

(Notice how Feige strategically never mentioned a “Phase 4”.) Pehaps instead of taking the idea of the MCU in a different direction, Marvel is just going to end things. Now, I don’t mean they’re going to stop making movies (Marvel Studios has essentially become a money-making factory), but perhaps the future entails an end to creating long-term connected movies. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
Delivering dreams and kicking ass since 2008!

Phase one spent five movies building towards a singular event in 2012’s The Avengers. After that, an additional 12 movies set the path for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. It will be another three movies until everything comes together in the yet untitled fourth Avengers movie.

All of the planning had to coincide with getting actors under contract to portray these characters over several films (not an easy feat). With some contracts coming to an end, and others just beginning, Marvel is going to have to change the current MCU format to adapt. It hasn’t hurt them yet, but Feige seems to realize everything changes after Avengers 4.

We’ve been lucky that [contract expirations] haven’t factored in too much. We’ve had people under contract for certain films, then we’ve had new ideas and new directions like Civil War like we wanted to do, and we’ve been lucky enough to make new contracts. Or Spider-Man: Homecoming, the cast has been awesome in their enthusiasm for the direction

2008 was a year that would forever change cinema. With the release of Iron Man, an interconnected series of films defined the term “cinematic universe” and established a powerhouse company in Marvel Studios. Nearly a decade later, it seems things are just getting started, so why does it feel like we’re reaching the finish line of the MCU as we know it?

Perhaps it’s because by the end of the current Phase 3 there will be 22 films in the MCU library! That’s a lot of time and effort going into the planning and execution of these movies. Right now, everything is gearing up to culminate with the eventual Avengers 4 (which will be released May 2019). As Marvel President Kevin Feige told Collider, the future is uncertain… but will be different from anything we’ve already seen.

We have an idea [of what the MCU looks like post-Infinity War], and it’s gonna be very, very different.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
The only one who knows the future of Marvel is this man!!!

Now, this could mean a variety of things. Feige could be using misdirection in his wording, and by “different” he might mean an end to origin movies (something fans have been clamoring for). Or, maybe by “different” he means getting away from Earthbound stories and focusing on more intergalactic features. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the excitement for Thor: Ragnarok, shows Marvel fans are looking for more strange worlds involving their favorite Marvel characters. This side of the MCU was brought forth by Guardians helmer James Gunn (who just announced he’s directing a third movie to apparently kick off a rumored Phase 4), and just last week Feige spoke about how the director’s vision will shape the future of Marvel movies.

(Gunn) could easily oversee additional stories beyond Vol. 3. And I think (he) has them and just continues to come up with them, which is cool. All of our core writers and filmmakers know what we are doing in other places and help give input on the various projects.

(Notice how Feige strategically never mentioned a “Phase 4”.) Pehaps instead of taking the idea of the MCU in a different direction, Marvel is just going to end things. Now, I don’t mean they’re going to stop making movies (Marvel Studios has essentially become a money making factory), but perhaps the future entails an end to creating long-term connected movies. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
Delivering dreams and kicking ass since 2008!

Phase one spent five movies building towards a singular event in 2012’s The Avengers. After that, an additional 12 movies set the path for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. It will be another three movies until everything comes together in the yet untitled fourth Avengers movie.

All of the planning had to coincide with getting actors under contract to portray these characters over several films (not an easy feat). With some contracts coming to an end, and others just beginning, Marvel is going to have to change the current MCU format to adapt. It hasn’t hurt them yet, but Feige seems to realize everything changes after Avengers 4.

We’ve been lucky that [contract expirations] haven’t factored in too much. We’ve had people under contract for certain films, then we’ve had new ideas and new directions like Civil War like we wanted to do, and we’ve been lucky enough to make new contracts. Or Spider-Man: Homecoming, the cast has been awesome in their enthusiasm for the direction and the storylines that we’ve been telling. So it really does, right now, all start with where we wanna take the stories. Certainly as we get to Infinity War there is a sense of a climax if not a conclusion to, by the time we’re at untitled Avengers 4, the 22 movies that will have encompassed the first three phases of the MCU. And what happens after that will be very different. I don’t know if it’s Phase 4, it might be a new thing.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
What does the future hold for Phase 4?

Unless new deals are put in place, Avengers 4 will be the finale for Robert Downy Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. Tom Holland’s status will also be in the air after a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel since Spider-Man goes right back to Sony after that movie. The eventual recasting of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor will be inevitable, but will their stories ever be reconnected like they were in Marvel’s first three phases?

It will soon become increasingly difficult to balance every actor’s contract. With solo features, team-ups and even cameos, it’s going to be hard to lock people into contracts for multiple features without handing over a ton of money (something studios are not inclined to do). To do that, Marvel Studios might look to eliminate these connected story lines in favor of solo projects. It would avoid crossover potential and keep actors under contract for a longer period of time. There could still be Avengers-style team-up movies, but the buildup for such movies wouldn’t rely on materials from previous films and instead be an organic, self-contained story.

This would eliminate the need for Marvel to have “phases”. Each phase was supposed to lead to a specific point in the MCU (those points were three Avengers team-up movies). In this ambiguous Marvel future, all of that can change. There would be no need to build up to a climax like an Avengers movie. Instead, every character can have their own adventure separate from the rest of the gang. Then, whenever Marvel is ready, they can combine the actors under contract for a one-off Avengers team-up movie.

Think of it like the relationship Marvel’s movies have with Marvel’s television shows. Sure, they all exist in the same universe, but they never interact with each other; at any moment, they could be brought together in an effort to draw fan interest. By eliminating long-term planning, Marvel could churn out movies at a expedited pace and worry about making it all fit later.

If you’re like me, you love Marvel movies because of the connected stories they tell. The fact that events from the first Iron Man movie are still affecting movies nine years later is amazing. However, this change in storytelling could be on the horizon. Next year’s Infinity War was, at first, going to be a two-part epic collaboration bringing all the heroes together to face Thanos. Now, it appears Avengers 4 isn’t going down the same road. The Mad Titan’s journey may not even factor into a fourth Avengers movie when Cinemablend asked Kevin Feige the following question:

Will Thanos be in both movies? Or is his story complete by the end of Infinity War?
Kevin Feige: They’re two very different movies. That’s all I’ll say.

It could be Feige being coy and refusing to divulge too much, but perhaps Avengers 4 is the beginning of something new. The actual title of the movie will not be released until after Infinity War due to the title spoiling the events of its predecessor. What if that spoiler is due to a title like “Avengers: Rebirth”, letting us know that future of the MCU is going to be a fresh start?

Whatever happens following the events of Infinity War remains to be seen. We’re still two years away from the end of Phase 3, with plenty more rumors and whispers about the future of the MCU yet to be revealed. There may not be an actual “Phase 4” in the future plans of Marvel Studios, but there is definitely not an end in sight for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As long as these characters are still interesting to fans, and as long as Marvel and Disney are still churning a profit, this Universe will keep thriving.

and the storylines that we’ve been telling. So it really does, right now, all start with where we wanna take the stories. Certainly as we get to Infinity War there is a sense of a climax if not a conclusion to, by the time we’re at untitled Avengers 4, the 22 movies that will have encompassed the first three phases of the MCU. And what happens after that will be very different. I don’t know if it’s Phase 4, it might be a new thing.

Is This the End of the MCU "Phase" Format?
What does the future hold for Phase 4?

Unless new deals are put in place, Avengers 4 will be the finale for Robert Downy Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. Tom Holland’s status will also be in the air after a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel since Spider-Man goes right back to Sony after that movie. The eventual recasting of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor will be inevitable, but will their stories ever be reconnected like they were in Marvel’s first three phases?

It will soon become increasingly difficult to balance every actor’s contract. With solo features, team-ups and even cameos, it’s going to be hard to lock people into contracts for multiple features without handing over a ton of money (something studios are not inclined to do). To do that, Marvel Studios might look to eliminate these connected story lines in favor of solo projects. It would avoid crossover potential and keep actors under contract for a longer period of time. There could still be Avengers-style team-up movies, but the buildup for such movies wouldn’t rely on materials from previous films and instead be an organic, self-contained story.

This would eliminate the need for Marvel to have “phases”. Each phase was supposed to lead to a specific point in the MCU (those points were three Avengers team-up movies). In this ambiguous Marvel future, all of that can change. There would be no need to build up to a climax like an Avengers movie. Instead, every character can have their own adventure separate from the rest of the gang. Then, whenever Marvel is ready, they can combine the actors under contract for a one-off Avengers team-up movie.

Think of it like the relationship Marvel’s movies have with Marvel’s television shows. Sure, they all exist in the same universe, but they never interact with each other; at any moment they could be brought together in an effort to draw fan interest. By eliminating long-term planning, Marvel could churn out movies at a expedited pace and worry about making it all fit later.

If you’re like me, you love Marvel movies because of the connected stories they tell. The fact that events from the first Iron Man movie are still affecting movies nine years later is amazing. However, this change in storytelling could be on the horizon. Next year’s Infinity War was, at first, going to be a two-part epic collaboration bringing all the heroes together to face Thanos. Now, it appears Avengers 4 isn’t going down the same road. The Mad Titan’s journey may not even factor into a fourth Avengers movie when Cinemablend asked Kevin Feige the following question:

Will Thanos be in both movies? Or is his story complete by the end of Infinity War?
Kevin Feige: They’re two very different movies. That’s all I’ll say.

It could be Feige being coy and refusing to divulge too much, but perhaps Avengers 4 is the beginning of something new. The actual title of the movie will not be released until after Infinity War due to the title spoiling the events of its predecessor. What if that spoiler is due to a title like “Avengers: Rebirth”, letting us know that future of the MCU is going to be a fresh start?

Whatever happens following the events of Infinity War remains to be seen. We’re still two years away from the end of Phase 3, with plenty more rumors and whispers about the future of the MCU yet to be revealed. There may not be an actual “Phase 4” in the future plans of Marvel Studios, but there is definitely not an end in sight for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As long as these characters are still interesting to fans, and as long as Marvel and Disney are still churning a profit, this Universe will keep thriving.