Ant-Man 3 isn’t part of Marvel’s Phase 4 slate, so does that mean the sequel has been cancelled? San Diego Comic-Con 2019 saw Marvel go all out in its Phase 4 blowout, revealing the next two years worth of movies for theaters and shows for Disney+; they also unveiled Mahershala Ali as Blade and confirmed the future of mutants and the Fantastic Four in the MCU. Despite the multitude of announcements, one franchise was strangely omitted from the event: Ant-Man.
While nearly every existing Marvel series was mentioned in one way or another during Marvel’s SDCC presentation, Ant-Man was completely ignored. Even when far out movies like Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Captain Marvel 2 were at least given a touch of lip service, as well as the fact that Marvel planned on bringing 20th Century Fox’s former properties – the X-Men and Fantastic Four – into the MCU, there wasn’t a single word about a prospective third Ant-Man film. Perhaps this is because Marvel doesn’t want to pursue another solo movie for Ant-Man or the Wasp.
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While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never had any outright bombs (though a case could be made for 2008’s The Incredible Hulk), both Ant-Man films rank within the lower echelons of the MCU pantheon. The original film made $180 million domestically ($519 worldwide) on the heels of Avengers: Age of Ultron, while Ant-Man & The Wasp increased its total to $216 million domestically ($622 worldwide) proceeding Avengers: Infinity War. While those are certainly impressive numbers by most metrics, they don’t quite stack up against the likes of Captain Marvel ($1.1 billion), Black Panther ($1.3 billion) and Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will soon cross the billion-dollar mark.
It’s important to note that the MCU is just that, a cinematic universe, and if a character isn’t the titular hero in their own film, that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will co-star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and we’ve already seen Hulk share the stage with the God of Thunder in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as Tony Stark’s supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ant-Man doesn’t need his own movie in order to appear in the MCU. In fact, many would argue the character’s best appearances have been outside of his own franchise, as he was a veritable scene-stealer in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. Ant-Man 3 was never formally announced, so maybe this has been the plan all along. Perhaps Ant-Man could appear in a prospective Secret Avengers film, if such a thing may yet exist in the MCU.
Marvel’s Phase 4 is a unique beast from previous MCU eras. Since Phase 4 is only two years long, this suite of films and Disney+ programs will be densely packed with new art to enjoy, but also a transitional period for the brand in a post-Avengers: Endgame world. Ant-Man might have an extremely important role to play in the future of the MCU, but it might not be until after Phase 4 runs its course. Both previous Ant-Man movies released two months after an Avengers film. There is no Avengers film in Phase 4, so perhaps they’re saving the continuing adventures of Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne for the future, beyond 2021. Ant-Man & The Wasp ended without explaining the extent of Janet Van Dyne’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) new powers gained from decades of exposure to quantum energy. It’s easy to infer that she, as well as characters like Ghost, Bill Foster, and Hank Pym, still have a role to play in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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