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Marvel, you’ve done it again! And by “it” I mean you’ve announced a batch of new release dates that don’t have projects attached to them just yet. It’s a fairly regular practice for Marvel Studios to announce new release dates long before they tell the public what movies will slot into them, and they often do it long before there’s even enough announced projects to fill the space.
In this case, the four new 2024 MCU movie release dates that Marvel Studios revealed brings the grand total of mystery dates to seven: July 28, 2023, Oct. 6, 2023, Nov. 10, 2023, Feb. 16, 2024, May 3, 2024, July 26, 2024, and Nov. 8, 2024. It has been a while since there have been this many of them. So what could they be? Well, we have some ideas.
The first thing to consider is the MCU projects that are definitely announced and happening, and where each of those might fit. Those movies are Fantastic Four, Blade, Captain America 4, and Deadpool 3. That’s four movies that leaves three of those dates unaccounted for. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that these are seven dates for seven projects. It’s inevitable that some of these will end up shifting their production schedules, and it’s common for Disney to reserve dates for Marvel Studios projects for that very reason, essentially staking out valuable release date real estate to warn other blockbusters off. That being said, we’ll still try and match projects to those additional three dates where we can.
First up is July 28, 2023, and we’re going to go with Fantastic Four on this one. Why? When Marvel released a sizzle reel of upcoming projects a few months back, essentially hyping everyone up for MCU Phase 4, the last thing shown was the MCU Fantastic Four logo. It seemed to signal that Fantastic Four is next on their list of priorities after the final project that is tied to a release date, which is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5, 2023.
It helps that Fantastic Four already has a director attached to the project, Jon Watts of the beloved MCU Spider-Man trilogy. With Spider-Man: No Way Home arriving in December, Watts is free to focus on Fantastic Four, and this could very well be enough time to get that movie made in time for July 2023.
Then there’s Oct. 6, 2023, and our money here is on Marvel Studios’ hotly-anticipated Blade reboot. Why? Well, it would be really cool if the MCU’s first horror movie was released in October, and superhero-adjacent films like Venom and Joker have already proven there’s massive blockbuster money to be made here. Blade is even further along than Fantastic Four at this point, having a director (Mogul Mowgli‘s Bassam Tariq), a writer (Stacy Osei-Kuffour who wrote on HBO’s Watchmen), and a star (a perfectly cast Mahershala Ali).
Then there’s Nov. 10, 2023, which is something of a mystery at the moment. While there are two announced projects that could fit here (Captain America 4 and Deadpool 3…more on both of those in a minute), I think it’s more likely that this becomes a “safety” date for Fantastic Four if it’s unable to make that July release date.
Feb. 16, 2024 looks like a perfect fit for Deadpool 3. The first film in the franchise did massive business with a February release date back in 2016, pulling in a ridiculous for an R-rated film $783 million at the global box office. While that film was a 20th Century Fox release before the Disney buyout, Marvel Studios had even bigger success with a Feb. 16 release date two years later with Black Panther. In other words, they know they can make big money here.
So why Deadpool 3 and not Captain America 4? It’s tough to say, but since this project was announced first, and we’ll have gone six years without a Ryan Reynolds Deadpool movie. That’s too long for the audience and likely for Reynolds himself. Deadpool 3 does have a writing team in Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Loeglin, but no director yet.
That being said, after seeing the magic that Reynolds worked with Free Guy director Shawn Levy, we have to wonder what a Levy-directed Deadpool 3 would look like. And Levy himself recently told us that he is “a mega fan of Deadpool and of Marvel movies in general” and that directing Deadpool 3 “is certainly an enticing thought.”
Captain America 4
May 3, 2024 seems like a good spot for the still-untitled Captain America 4, coming from the writing team of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showrunner Malcolm Spellman and another FWS alum, Dalan Musson. Anthony Mackie will wear the wings and wield the shield here, but there’s no director attached yet and this is a relatively recent announcement, which would seem to put this a little further out than the projects we mentioned above.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings enjoyed a pandemic-defying, startlingly massive opening, the largest in Labor Day Weekend history. While Marvel hasn’t officially announced Shang-Chi 2 just yet, we’re just going to go ahead and say that it’s inevitable, it’s a proven box-office success, and one that would do even better with a more traditional summer blockbuster release date like July 26, 2024.
And then there’s Nov. 8, 2024. We’ve already “cheated” once by including Shang-Chi 2, a film that hasn’t even been confirmed yet (but c’mon, we all know it’s coming), so now we’re REALLY in speculation territory. The most likely scenario here is that this is one of those “safety” dates that one of the other projects named above could move to if needed, but there’s two other possibilities that we have to at least pay attention to.
Wait, what? To be clear, Secret Wars is a project that has never been confirmed. But former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief and writer of the original Secret Wars Jim Shooter’s recent comments that there’s something going on at Marvel Studios using the name or the elements of the concept have raised our antennae a bit.
A couple of years ago, Joe and Anthony Russo named Secret Wars as one of the projects that could tempt them to come back and direct another Marvel movie. But recent developments with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit may have soured the Russos on this prospect.
Recent developments on Loki with the introduction of the MCU multiverse, and the rise to prominence of Kang the Conqueror both with Jonathan Majors playing the character on the screen and Kang being given a resurgence in the pages of Marvel Comics make us think that a time and timeline hopping Avengers Forever could be happening. It would certainly account for the rumors of a project in the works that would bring back Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, something which could very well call for the kind of multiverse-hopping associated with the Avengers Forever title…which perhaps not coincidentally has just been revived for the comics.
Then again, Marvel prefers to drop their big team-up movies in the early summer, so this seems a little less likely, even for an already unlikely project.
Marvel Studios sure is taking their sweet time announcing an X-Men related project, aren’t they? We still have no idea what form that might take, but by this point it will have been five years since the last proper X-Men movie, and certainly that’s enough time to leave audiences hungry for a reinvention of one of the most storied teams in all of comics.
So when will we get all of these new projects announced? Well, with any luck, San Diego Comic-Con will happen as normal in July 2022, and this would make for a triumphant return to Hall H for Marvel Studios, who historically own that Saturday night slot on the biggest comic con stage of them all. That sure seems pretty far off though, doesn’t it?
What MCU Phase 4 movies do YOU think will hit these mystery Marvel movie dates? Let us know in the comments!