Marvel Studios packed a lot into their San Diego Comic-Con panel last week. They brought out castmembers and showed footage from their next three movies: "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Guardians of the Galaxy," which had been shooting for about two weeks at that point. And they capped off the evening with Joss Whedon teasing the "Avengers" sequel, "Age of Ultron."
But, for some people, that still wasn't enough.
Fans speculated that Marvel Studios could unveil one or two yet-to-be-announced films at Comic-Con or, at the very least, preview Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man," the beginning of the so-called Phase Three, and when none of that took place, there was arguably a small sense of disappointment. Now, Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige, speaking with Collider, confirmed that we probably won't hear about solid Phase Three plans until this time next year at the earliest.
So, what can we expect from Phase Three, aside from "Ant-Man"? There are a few things we know for certain:
This tale of an egotistical neurosurgeon who severely damages his hands in an accident, then becomes the universe's greatest practitioner of magic was confirmed as a Phase Three film by Feige to MTV Splashpage in January. Since then, Feige has made no secret of the fact that "Doctor Strange" will happen; it's just a matter of when.
Not "Iron Man 4"
During the promotional circuit for "Iron Man 3," talk of Robert Downey Jr.'s contract with Marvel became a big topic of conversation. Would we ever see Tony Stark again after "Iron Man 3" effectively closed this chapter of his story? It didn't take long for Downey to sign a new two-film contract with the studio for "Avengers 2" and "Avengers 3," but the new deal ruled out another standalone Tony Stark movie for the time being. He will, however, play a large role in "Age of Ultron," since it has been hinted that the villain, traditionally created by Ant-Man in the comics, will be made by Tony Stark.
As it's been the case with the first two phases, it appears that Phase Three of the Marvel cinematic universe will once again lead to a team-up of assorted superheroes from the movies that precede it — but don't expect the same team of six from the first "Avengers." In the same interview with Collider, Feige suggested that part of what's so cool about the team is that the roster is always changing. "Part of what we love about the Avengers is the shifting roster," he said. "That's what's fun about the comic book movies: You shift them up." Who will we see when the team assembles for a third time? It looks like you'll have to wait to see how the next two phases shake out.
With rumors of a Black Panther and standalone Hulk film circulating for months, the rest of Phase Three remains up in the air. But, if the first two movies — "Ant-Man" and "Doctor Strange" — are any indication, Marvel is looking to keep us guessing and give us something entirely new when the secrets are finally revealed.