Connecting Imaginary Dots are pieces we write here that allow us to be what we all truly are: fans. These should not be taken as scoops, exclusives or facts; just speculation about the things for which we all share a great passion.
With the news that Disney has created production companies for what may be two upcoming Marvel Studios projects (Fantastic Four and Blade), there’s plenty of room for speculation. Should Solve Everything Productions and Grass-Fed Productions turn out to be those projects, questions will surface/ Why are these being filed now when there’s such a back log of projects? When will we be seeing them begin production? When might we expect them in theaters (I know that’s a loaded question in the midst of a pandemic)? Who might the studio have found to create the projects? Unlike Reed, I can’t answer all of these questions: the cost is just too high, but we can look into some of them and maybe, by piecing together what’s out there, we can come up with a starting point.
For me the most most answerable of all the unanswerable questions is: why are these being filed now? At the moment, Marvel Studios seems to have a massive traffic jam on the production highway. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki and Shang-Chi were all in production when the world came crashing to a stop in March. If not for that, we’d probably be watching The Falcon and The Winter Solider now, but the domino effect of not only the Marvel Studios projects being halted but also other studio projects that featured actors from various Marvel Studios projects meant that other projects which were scheduled to begin never got up and running. Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness would probably be done filming by now, Spidey 3 would have started up last month, Thor: Love and Thunder would be getting ready to go in Australia right now and Ms. Marvel may have even begun. But, as we all know, none of that happened so here we are with a ton of projects off schedule, Ant-Man 3 having been bumped out of its original slot on the schedule and the uncertainty of the pandemic still causing chaos, so the question of “why now?” is incredibly relevant.
While there’s no hard and fast rule here, there is a pattern worth noting that might get us to an answer to that pressing question. Over the past couple of years, Marvel Studios seems to register these production companies when they have given the green light to projects and have a tentative timeline for start of production. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule (for example, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 stands out because it’s timeline shifted, which shifted Black Widow’s timeline), it seems that Marvel Studios usually creates these production companies about 12-18 months before the EXPECTED start of production. If they follow that pattern here, that means they’d be looking to film these two projects between August 2021 and February 2022.
Continuing down the line of established patterns, whenever possible Marvel Studios also likes to start production on their films about 12-15 months ahead of when the films are expected in theaters. So a film that goes into production in the August-October 2021 window would be ready for theaters around October 2022…and it just so happens that Disney still has a date reserved (October 7, 2022) on their slate for an Untitled Marvel Studios film, a date that would be just right for a vampire film. A film that goes into production around January of 2022 would be ready for theaters around February 2023…and it just so happens that Disney has a date reserved (February 17, 2023) on their slate for an Untitled Marvel Studios film. We all believe that Ant-Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are destined for that 2023 slate, but given Guardians A-list status and Ant-Man 3’s rumored big happenings, it’s possible that the studio would prefer them as traditional May and July tentpole releases, leaving room in February for something like the family friendly Fantastic Four. Of course all of this is contingent on studios showing they can keep a production going, the current state of the upcoming slate staying stable and is all based on wild speculation to begin with, but the pieces do fall into place if you let them.
The final and most tantalizing tidbit comes when we try to answer the question of whether or not Kevin Feige and his core group have identified creative teams for these projects. Past precedent suggests that, whenever possible, the studio likes to bring a writer on board about 2 years before they expect the project to hit theaters and pair that writer with a director as soon as possible. You can safely bet that they’ve been searching for those teams for Blade and Fantastic Four for some time now and given all the down time creators had, it’s no stretch to imagine they found their teams. If we buy that, we can come to a pretty exciting conjecture: Marvel Studios is getting ready to announce these teams or they will shortly be leaked through the trades. In the past, Disney has registered their companies shortly before either making public announcements or trade leaks. Simply put, Disney knows these are going to be found so they’ve always been smart about WHEN they create the entities. Fans have been clamoring for Marvel Studios news and I’m sure that they’ve noticed the hype around FanDome but here’s the thing as explained to me by one of my trusted sources: should Marvel Studios want to do their own pre-recorded online fan event, they don’t need to jump through very many hoops. They’ve got their own streaming service and could drop a pre-recorded “con-like event” on Disney + whenever they want. They could go as far as to not even hype or advertise the event and, within 10 minutes, it would be trending on every social media platform across the world.
Again, none of this is confirmed to be true and all starts from a foundation that’s based on guesses to begin with, but this is what being a fan is all about and that’s, first and foremost, what we are here at Murphy’s Multiverse: fans.