Marvel Studios made sweeping changes to their upcoming theatrical slate recently, shuffling the release dates of several projects in what looks to have been a game of dominoes. Upon closer look, however, it seems possible that the last domino hasn’t fallen yet.
Phase 5 begins! Outside of Blade being removed from the 2023 slate, the slate remains unchanged. Two projects (Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and Loki Season 2) look to connect directly with the overarching plot of the Multiverse Saga, but The Marvels might connect to it a bit more than one might think at first glance.
The changes to the 2024 slate are where things really start to fall apart and where one has to question whether or not there will be another round of changes ahead. It seems like a big factor in whether or not there are more changes will depend on how connected the Disney Plus series/special projects are to the order of things.
Originally, Phase 5 was supposed to end with Thunderbolts in July of 2024, now it looks like it will likely end with Deadpool 3 in November of 2024. Blade and Deadpool 3 (even though it wasn’t officially given a date until recently) were always a part of Phase 5, so where they land within it doesn’t seem to matter. However, as of SDCC, the first Phase 6 project was intended to be a Disney Plus series/special presentation scheduled for Fall 2024, before Fantastic Four. Then, another two Phase 6 Disney Plus projects were set to stream before the end of 2024.
With all the changes, the end date for Phase 5 has now been extended by 4 months, meaning two streaming projects that were meant to be a part of Phase 6 are now TENTATIVELY set to stream before Phase 5 concludes. Can these projects just be moved into Phase 5? It’s hard to determine without knowing the identity of the projects. Do audiences need to see the content delivered in Blade or Deadpool 3 before they can view these series? Again, hard to determine without knowing what the projects are. If they need to be included in Phase 6, Marvel Studios would have to push them into November of 2024 or later, potentially creating a content void that they seem to be trying to avoid. A lot of questions that can’t be answered, but 2024 and Phase 5 are clearly being impacted the most by the changes and potentially impacting everything else the most as a result.
Summary: Phase 5 ends later and with a different project and would currently experience an increase in the number of projects with some Phase 6 projects set to stream before Phase 6 begins.
While the update on Monday revealed two pretty major changes, it also implies that more might be coming. With Fantastic Four being bumped into 2025, Avengers: Secret Wars was bumped out. However, it also means the February slot before Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is now occupied by Fantastic Four when it was clearly meant for another film up until these changes took place. The best bet as to what was intended to be there is the sequel to Shang-Chi. Both films are set to be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and there’s been enough said to me to indicate that Shang-Chi 2 was meant to lead up to Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. With all that in mind, the slate is what it is at this point, but don’t be surprised to see further changes. One possibility is for one Avengers: The Kang Dynasty to move to the vacated November slot, opening up one of two summer spots for Shang-Chi 2. And while Disney doesn’t date Spidey films, that 4th movie is looming out there, so perhaps one of these 2025 films might come off the schedule entirely to make room for Spidey 4.
Summary: Phase 6 starts later than expected, but with the same project (Fantastic Four). It also ends later, but with the same project (Avengers: Secret Wars).
As announced at SDCC ’22, Avengers: Secret Wars was intended to close out Phase 6 and the Multiverse Saga in November of 2025. The next day, Disney slated 4 Untitled Marvel Studios films for 2026, all meant to kick off Phase 7. But as the delay of Blade led to the delay of another project and another project and so on, Avengers: Secret Wars found itself bumped 5 months to May of 2026. But being the capstone project of the entire Multiverse Saga, moving Secret Wars ultimately means delaying the end of Phase 6 and the start of Phase 7.
Additionally, in shifting from November 7, 2025 to May 1, 2026, Avengers: Secret Wars actually jumped 2 dates. On the surface and without further changes, this adds a 6th film to the Phase 6 slate. We don’t know what the untitled films are, but when the slate for Phase 6 was revealed, it was comprised of 5 films. With things the way they are now, it’s 6 and this seems like a pretty major change to a slate that one would assume is pretty well planned out and only holds the requisite number of projects to tell the story. The scenario described in the 2025 section above provides some relief to that by removing one of those films to make way for Spidey 4. The best guess here is that Marvel Studios is NOT done shuffling and that these dates should be viewed as placeholders and nothing more.
Summary: Phase 6 not only ends later but with Avengers: Secret Wars jumping 2 release dates, it currently includes one additional film that was previously slated for Phase 7.
Realistically, any analysis is probably a waste of time because the only constant with Marvel Studios’ slate of projects is change. So for now, tracking the changes and thinking about how they might lead to more is both the best we can do and the worst thing we can do because it sends us down a path with no clarity just past the horizon.