Marvel Studios Phase Three: What You Need to Know, And Why It’s So Exciting

Faith D’Isa ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Marketing Officer
Earlier this week, Marvel Studios held an important event shrouded in mystery that was revealed to be a detailed announcement of Phase Three of its cinematic universe, consisting of nine films varied between new releases and sequels. Here’s what you need to know, why these films are so important, and what you should be getting excited for:

Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)

civil war
WHAT IS IT?: In the third installment in the Captain America line of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it looks as if Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo will be taking us through the massive comic book event known as Civil War. In the comics, Civil War was primarily focused on a dispute between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, centering on something called the Superhero Registration Act. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has stated that there will be a shift in the topic of dispute in the Marvel Cinematic Civil War, instead having it relate more to the ongoing SHIELD and HYDRA crisis, and superhero visibility, but the comic event is still the primary inspiration.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: Civil War has been one of the most buzzed about Marvel events in recent years; some loved it, some hated it, but boy did it get people talking. Two powerhouses like Captain America and Iron Man going head-to-head and people on their teams having to take sides is something that’ll be exciting to see Evans and Downey Jr. take on. The pair took to the stage at the event to tease this dispute. Also announced was the fact that this will be our first look at Black Panther, one of the newest members of the team (see below). This was also Marvel’s movie to go head-to-head with DC’s Batman vs. Superman until the latter pulled out of the date; so it looks like the studio has high hopes for the film.

Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016)

WHAT IS IT?: Doctor Strange tells the story of Stephen Strange, a brilliant but ultimately cocky neurosurgeon whose powers are more in the realm of the supernatural than anything we’ve encountered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Doctor Strange was the first new character announced as a part of Phase Three, and speculation on details of the movie’s plot and production have run rampant recently.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: If nothing else, Stephen Strange is a big personality. Seeing his dynamic in this new universe should be exciting. Plus, there’s a lot of mystery and questions surrounding who’s playing the titular character–Joaquin Phoenix was offered the role and in talks for an extended period of time before dropping out of the project, and more recently, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s name has been put out there. With such a multifaceted character, the actor will strongly influence which aspects of Strange’s personality are brought to the forefront. His powers that dwell more in the realm of sorcery will be a cool new thing in Marvel films–though we will get a touch of this with Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, in next year’s Age of Ultron.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)

WHAT IS IT?: The big old sequel to Marvel’s risk gone right–Guardians of the Galaxy. We don’t have too many details on where the next installment in the series will take us–besides a bit of both good and bad–but we can only hope that we’ll be treated to more of the antics of this ragtag group of heroes, and maybe get a little more detail on their backstories.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: The original film had a lot of speculation and questions surrounding it and its ability to be marketed to a non-comic book audience, and ended up breaking a number of records and becoming a box office and critical hit. This film has a lot to live up to, but if nothing else, we’re excited to see more of the characters that were written so well and hear another volume of the Awesome Mix.

Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017)

WHAT IS IT?: The third installment in the Thor films starring Chris Hemsworth, centering on Thor directly in the aftermath of Age of Ultron. Feige stated that it’s going to be a game changer and impact everything the Avengers sequel; “We plan on taking Thor to another level.” The term Ragnarok is one for the Norse end of days, which can only mean big and epic things. Though we’re not sure how involved it’ll be, Ragnarok was also the name of a clone of Thor’s during the Civil War arc created by Tony Stark when Thor was presumed dead. Either way, both these options look to be an exciting third part to Thor’s story.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: There’s always been something entertaining about the Thor films, whether he was on earth or attempting to work out his place in his home world of Asgard. Chris Hemsworth can carry a film through all its action and humor, and his dynamic with costar Tom Hiddleston, who plays Thor’s brother, Loki, is fantastic. Hiddleston was confirmed at the event today to appear in Thor: Ragnarok after a supposed demise in Thor: The Dark World (and a last second resurrection that will hopefully be explained!)

Black Panther (November 3, 2017)

WHAT IS IT?: Black Panther is the second new hero to be introduced in Phase Three after Stephen Strange, and tells the story of T’Challa and the country of Wakanda, isolated from the rest of the world after a meteorite made of vibranium is unearthed. The title of Black Panther is one both inherited and earned, and we’re hoping that we’ll get to see T’Challa work to become the Black Panther while exploring the villain Ulysses Klaw (who we think we got a glimpse of in the Age of Ultron trailer, played by Andy Serkis).
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: Everything about Black Panther is going to be new. It’ll be the first Marvel film with a person of color in the lead, the introduction to this new world of Wakanda and the concept that there are other villains out there that still tie into the current Avengers universe (remember that vibranium is what Captain America’s shield is made out of), and it’ll be a better introduction to a character that we’ll be getting a good look at in Captain America: Civil War, portrayed by the talented Chadwick Boseman.

Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)

WHAT IS IT?: The title Captain Marvel leads a lot of questions to be asked; through the course of Marvel’s publication history, a number of characters have held the title Captain Marvel. But it became more and more obvious that, as the cry for a woman leading a superhero movie became louder and louder, and the name Captain Marvel kept coming up in the responses, there was only one Captain Marvel the Studio was looking at; Carol Danvers.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: Female. Lead. Marvel. Film. Do we need to say anything else? We don’t have a lead actress or director of any sort attached to this film, but honestly, knowing it’s going to happen is enough to keep us excited for this.

The Inhumans (November 2, 2018)

WHAT IS IT?: The Inhumans is closer to a new introduction a la Guardians of the Galaxy rather than Captain Marvel or Doctor Strange. Kevin Feige states that it’ll bring in dozens of new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe–as the name Inhumans is often used to refer to a royal family who lead over a civilization in the Himalayas called Attilan (though “Inhumans” is actually the word for the whole race) containing a society of people who are more evolutionarily advanced than the rest of the world.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: The Inhumans give the Marvel Cinematic Universe a huge opportunity to expand into the world of cosmic Marvel, which Guardians definitely took the first leap into. There’ve also been hints that our first touches of Inhumans will be as a part of the Marvel television universe through Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. Both the films and the television show thrived in their crossover, so to see something like that with a completely new brand of hero would be amazing.

The Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1: May 2018, Part II: May 2019)

WHAT IS IT?: Everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been leading up to since it introduced the tesseract. It looks like Phase Three will culminate in the epic story of the Infinity Gauntlet, which was first strongly hinted at in Guardians of the Galaxy with our first look at Thanos, who’ll serve as the major villain here. In the next few Marvel films, we’ll probably get involved with the rest of the infinity stones–like the stone Ronan got his hands on, or the tesseract, stones with control over mind, soul, reality, space and power. This leads to intergalactic war and chaos, and an event certainly worthy of two major films.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: These two films are shaping up to be one of the biggest events in Marvel history; if the fact that they couldn’t fit it in one isn’t enough, also consider the fact that these films will be the first major bridge between the world we’ve created with The Avengers and the world we were introduced to in Guardians of the Galaxy. Not to mention that The Inhumans is slated to release between the two parts of this, only causing us to assume that the plot of that film will tie into this saga as well. From teasers alone, Infinity Wars looks as if it’s going to set a new bar for these sort of films for the foreseeable future.

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