Marvel Studios just confirmed their slate through 2021, but here are the movies that will likely hit theaters in 2022. San Diego Comic-Con 2019 proved to be the landing spot for all Phase 4 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel returned to the convention this year and revealed their full plans for the next two years in the process. They confirmed Black Widow and Eternals would arrive in 2020, while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Madness of the Multiverse, and Thor: Love and Thunder will arrive in 2021. These theatrical releases will go alongside a flurry of Disney+ original shows. Since they make up all of Phase 4, that means this will be the shortest Phase in the history of the MCU – both in terms of years and movies, even though the production output will be incredibly high thanks to the shows on Disney+.
During SDCC, though, Feige confirmed six more movies that are in development and instantly makes each of them candidates for their 2022 release dates. The announced films are Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Captain Marvel 2, as well as the MCU’s first Fantastic Four and X-Men movies, and a Blade movie starring Mahershala Ali. The latter is confirmed to be a Phase 5 film, which will be the case with them all since Phase 4 will end in 2021. If these movies are the ones at the forefront of Marvel’s plans to start Phase 5, then it would appear that three of them will miss out on the first year.
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Considering Marvel Studios just gained control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four thanks to Disney’s acquisition of Fox, those movies are unlikely to take precedence over the other properties. Marvel Studios has been crafting their plans for 2022 for a while, and X-Men and Fantastic Four discussions are in the earliest of stages at this point. This leaves the three sequels – Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Captain Marvel 2 – and the first Blade movie to fill Marvel Studios’ already announced February, May, and July 2022 release dates. We don’t know when they will be confirmed, but these are the movies we predict will take the spots.
Blade – February 18
Kicking off MCU’s Phase 5 and taking the February 18, 2022 release slot, we predict this is where the Blade movie starring Mahershala Ali will land. Even though the project does not yet have a writer or director attached, Marvel Studios walking Ali out as the mic drop to their SDCC panel should be telling that they aren’t going to sit back and wait. Ali told Feige that he wanted to play Blade earlier this year after winning his second-consecutive Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, so it’s possible that he has secretly been attached to the role for months. This could mean that Marvel Studios has internally mapped out or started planning what their first Blade movie will look like, so that it can be fast-tracked now that Ali is announced.
The return of Blade to the big screen also is a natural fit for the February release date based on Marvel’s history. This early year slot has become the unofficial landing spot for new, exciting properties in recent years with Black Panther debuting in February in 2018 and Captain Marvel arriving in March of this year. Marvel plans to keep this up in 2021 as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will launch in February. The previous two films each made over $1 billion in their respective releases (which were in Black History Month and on International Women’s Day), and Shang-Chi will release during the Chinese New Year. With limited high-budget competition and Blade being Marvel’s second franchise led by a black man, having it follow in Black Panther‘s footsteps and arrive in the same window four years later makes a lot of sense.
Black Panther 2 – May 6
And if Black Panther 2 isn’t sticking to that window, the best reason to move it is to give it an even bigger spotlight. That is why we predict the highly-anticipated sequel will get the May 6, 2022 release date. This first weekend of May slot is one of the most coveted weekends of the year, and one Marvel Studios has repeatedly found success in. Many believed that Black Panther 2 would take this weekend in 2021, so it not being included in Phase 4 was a surprise. With it missing out there, having it come out in the following year and take the premiere slot in 2022 makes sense.
If this is the case, the Black Panther franchise will join Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, Captain America, and Guardians of the Galaxy as franchises to get installments in the May window. But, it will only join the latter two as franchises who were “promoted” to the slot and didn’t begin there. In doing so, Marvel Studios is signifying that Black Panther and the world of Wakanda are going to be centerpieces of the MCU moving forward. It may take a little longer for them to return than many expected, but development is still in the early stages. It’s even possible that Ryan Coogler is slightly retooling his plans to incorporate mutants, such as T’Challa’s longtime love interest in the comics Storm or the underwater anti-hero Namor. Even that it isn’t the case, Black Panther 2 is the furthest along and has the clearest path to hitting this release at the moment.
Captain Marvel 2 or Guardians 3 – July 29
As for the July 29, 2022 slot, this one is a bit more difficult to pick at the moment. If everything we’ve mentioned before is accurate (including X-Men and Fantastic Four still being years away), then this release date either has to go to Captain Marvel 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. There is a strong argument to be made for both movies taking the spot, but we can’t quite pinpoint which one makes more sense right now.
For Captain Marvel 2, the film is in a similar position as Blade, where it has a star attached in Brie Larson but does not officially have a writer or director. Both of those things could change though, as a writer could secretly be mapping out the story. Likewise, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck may have a hand-shake deal with Marvel Studios to return as the sequel’s directors. Since it’s a sequel to a billion-dollar first installment, Marvel Studios may want to act quickly to capitalize on the success. They’ll even introduce the adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) the year prior in WandaVision. This would also move Captain Marvel 2 into the heart of the summer, which could bring great success as Spider-Man: Far From Home has proven, and have it in theaters just over three years after the first.
But with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it’s almost in the exact opposite state. James Gunn is back to write and direct the third installment and has even finished the first draft of the script. The full cast is expected to return as well, and Marvel was at one time ready for it to already be in production. But, the previous decision to fire Gunn resulted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being delayed and him signing on to do The Suicide Squad first. The DC sequel is set to hit theaters in August 2021, but Gunn will start filming this fall. This could mean he is done well before that release date and could start production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 before then, having it ready for a summer 2022 release. If Gunn can’t work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 before The Suicide Squad hits theaters, though, then this turnaround is near impossible – barring his DC film being moved up.
At the moment, it would seem that Captain Marvel 2 has the better path to hitting theaters in July 2022. If our predictions are correct, the first year of Phase 5 of the MCU will boast a lineup of Blade, Black Panther 2, and Captain Marvel 2 in theaters. And, that isn’t even considering what Disney+ shows Marvel Studios will release during that time either.
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