With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 showing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still expanding and not contracting, and teasing with some tantalizing after-credits scenes, fans are already wondering, "What's next?"
We already know the films on the schedule through 2019. Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel and the ultimate showdown with Thanos in two Avengers films, have been penciled in for quite some time.
But after recent comments by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and Guardians director James Gunn, it appears as if the MCU is about to take more risks - and possibly produce more films per year.
So since Marvel usually announces the next phase about three years out and the studio wouldn't want any Phase 4 announcements to serve as spoilers for the remainder of Phase 3, it seems likely that 2020's films will be new franchises.
Here then are my predictions for the films most likely to be announced to fill Marvel Studios' current 3-film slate in 2020. (Wagering odds are for amusement purposes only.)
1) Guardians 3000 - It may not be called exactly that but the team teased in one of the Guardians after-credits almost HAS to be getting its own movie. You don't get the star power of Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, Ving Rhames and Miley Cyrus together if you want them to only be secondary characters. This date would make perfect sense because it would give people another Guardians movie without giving away the fate of Chris Pratt and Company in the showdown with Thanos. And if they are going to make this the beginning of a franchise of its own, this date makes even more sense. Because in 2020 Stallone will be 73, Yeoh will be 57 and Rhames will be 60. Time to get cracking! Odds 2-1
2) Moon Knight - What better cherry on top to Marvel's success would there be than to finally showcase their Dark Knight in a film that made him cooler than Batman? This character was teased as the "man in Cairo" back in Captain America: Winter Soldier, which also teased "Stephen Strange". Strange has already had his first film - and it's a pretty safe bet that soon Marc Spector will do the same. ESPECIALLY since Marvel seems to want to expand the horror/gritty side of their universe as much as their Avengers and Cosmic sides. Odds 3-1
3) Doctor Strange 2 - Chances are, Marvel will not wait longer than four years to do a sequel to the hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Especially given Feige's fondness for the character and Marvel's stated aim to expand this corner of their universe. Only drawback is it goes against them wanting to keep the fate of established heroes a mystery until after the showdown with Thanos. Odds 4-1
4) Fantastic Four - Yes, it says here that Marvel Studios has regained the rights to their First Family - and even moreso than Spider-Man, will finally do them justice. Why do I think this is a huge possibility? Well, Fox's Legion is on TV, for one thing. They needed Marvel's permission to do a mutant-starring TV show. Something tells me Marvel didn't agree to let it happen simply out of altruism. Toss in that Fox likely is looking for a way to say goodbye to the FF rights after their 2015 film starring the team was a disaster in EVERY way - and Marvel wanting to expand their stable of cosmic characters - and this starts to make sense. of course, Marvel may have settled for the rights to a character like the Silver Surfer (to make a surprise appearance in the Infinity War films?) or the team's incredible villains, led by Doctor Doom. But, I doubt it. I think It's Clobberin' Time! Odds 5-1
5) Black Widow - This would serve many purposes. It would give fans a film they've been clamoring for and it would quiet the noise about Marvel Studios not having enough films with female leads. Add in that everyone from the Russo Brothers to Joss Whedon have expressed interest in helming a movie starring Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, and odds are good that this will finally happen. Plus, what's more in-the-news than Russian spies. Odds 6-1
6) Thunderbolts - After DC had one of their few pleasant surprises with the box-office performance of Suicide Squad, you can't help but think that Marvel Studios will want to showcase its own team of villains being sent on dangerous missions by the government. With Captain America: Civil War showing Baron Zemo still alive - and with "Thunderbolt" Ross keen to control his own team of superpowered beings, a "Thunderbolts" film would be another fresh franchise to expand the MCU. Odds 8-1
7) Nova - One of Marvel's most popular cosmic characters, people have been clamoring for a "Nova" solo film for a while, now. With Xandar and the Nova Corps already introduced, a being with this much power would be incredible to see onscreen. An added plus, whether it's Richard Rider or the Sam Alexander version of the character, it would add some more youth to the MCU stable. Odds 10-1
8) Blade - Marvel Studios has talked about doing R-rated films - and with the recent success of Logan and Deadpool, it seems like a perfect time to explore the darker side of the MCU. When you then consider that Blade is still one of their most recognizable film properties from the New Line trilogy starring Wesley Snipes almost two decades ago - and that such a film would increase the diversity of the MCU - this seems like a no-brainer. Odds 12-1
9) Captain America 4 - Okay, this goes against my previous rule that films starring the established, core Marvel heroes won't be put on the schedule so as not to spoil the showdown with Thanos. But, with Cap, it's different. Why? Because Marvel would be leaving money on the table to not continue a series that has gotten better creatively and commercially with each installment. PLUS, not only is Chris Evans still excited about the role, but there is recent precedence in the comics to have either Bucky or Falcon start slinging the shield if he isn't. which would help alleviate the announcement of a "Cap 4" spoiling any 2018 or 2019 films. Odds: 15-1
10) Iron Man 4 - For a lot of reasons. The main one being: Marvel Studios can't NOT give Rober Downey, Jr. and the character that launched the MCU a proper sendoff with a climactic battle with the REAL Mandarin, who is revealed to be lurking in the "All Hail The King" one-shot? Can they? Odds: 20-1