Coming off the premieres of shows like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and What If…? Marvel’s TV expansion of the MCU has been going quite swimmingly for the studio up to this point. With shows like Hawkeye, Secret Invasion, and Ms. Marvel still coming down the pipeline, it doesn’t look like Marvel’s TV winning streak will slow down anytime soon either.
Meanwhile, on the film side of things, the studio is in the midst of seriously expanding its character roster, with major figures like Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), and the Eternals all making their MCU debuts on the big screen this year.
With all that in mind, it’s hard not to feel like Marvel’s dominance over the entertainment industry is only going to continue to grow in the coming years. However, following the epic conclusion of Phase Three that was 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Marvel fans are understandably curious to see how the studio plans on telling another interconnected, decade-spanning story like the Infinity Saga. Or, to put it a little differently, will the studio even be able to do something like that again?
The Future of the Avengers Franchise
There’s a lot of curiosity and uncertainty surrounding the future of the MCU right now, and that’s largely because Marvel has yet to officially announce when Avengers 5, or its next major crossover event film, will be released. According to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, it sounds like we may not know what the studio’s Avengers 5 plans are for quite some time either.
During a recent interview with Collider, Feige was asked when fans should expect to see the next installment in Marvel’s Avengers franchise, and the studio head’s answer was cryptic and vague, to say the least.
“I think we want there to be a reasonable amount of time from the Endgame to start a new saga, which is already underway and already started,” Feige said. “And then you need time, as you did in Phase 1, to build that saga before you start bringing everyone together.”
In other words, Marvel fans probably shouldn’t expect to see Avengers 5 any time soon. While that’s undoubtedly disappointing, it does add further credence to one of the leading theories surrounding Marvel’s mysterious MCU plans.
What are Marvel’s Phase Four plans?
One quick look at the most recent MCU films and TV shows, and it becomes clear that Marvel is setting up the narratives for its next several phases very differently than it did throughout its first three.
WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Black Widow all planted the seeds for storylines that will pay off later and bring together heroes from different franchises on-screen. Whether introducing Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), creating new superhero teams, setting heroes against each other, or sending one down a dark path, the foundations have already been built for some massive future crossovers.
That’s interesting compared to how Marvel built towards (and followed through on) the Infinity Saga from 2008 through 2019 — namely, by keeping most of its superheroes and film series’ separate from each other until the moments when they crossed over in the studio’s Avengers films. This time, Marvel isn’t just setting up individual character arcs but multiple, smaller crossover plots.
It’s as if the Infinity Saga had been punctuated largely by films like Captain America: Civil War, rather than by an Avengers film every three-to-four years.
All of which is to say, not only does Marvel seem uninterested in making Avengers 5 any time soon, but it’s also looking more likely that the studio is going to start relying less on one central storyline to keep the MCU going. Instead, it will start telling several all at once. At least, that seems to be the only logical explanation for why the studio is setting up the formation of teams like the Young Avengers and Dark Avengers at the same time that it’s putting Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in a Doctor Strange sequel and bringing in a villain like Kang the Conqueror.
The Inverse Analysis — As is always the case with Marvel, it’s difficult to predict what they will do next. It’s possible that Kevin Feige could come out next week and announce Avengers 5 is going to come out in 2024, but it just doesn’t seem like that’ll happen at this point, nor does it even feel like Avengers 5 is all that high on Marvel’s priority list right now.
It’s not hard to see why either. The studio already has a full lineup of characters to balance in both its films and Disney+ shows. That goes without even mentioning its plans — whatever they may be — for still unmined properties like the X-Men. Considering all that, it seems unlikely that we’ll get Avengers 5 anytime before 2025 or 2026, which means Marvel fans may have to endure their longest wait for an Avengers film to date.
The good news is that, if we’re right and the studio really will be populating the next few years with more Civil War-level crossovers, there’s a good chance the wait won’t feel nearly as long as it otherwise would.
Avengers 5 will release in theaters sometime in the future.