The release of Ant-Man on July 17 brought phase two of Marvel's shared cinematic universe to its official conclusion. The film may have been light-hearted compared to the climactic Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the movie offered hints about what may be in store for future installments including phase three—and possibly phase four.
Fanboys, be warned. Here lie spoilers.
Analysts say Marvel is leaving itself plenty of options by introducing new heroes and gradually building its supporting cast. After adding three new Avengers to the roster in Age of Ultron, Marvel teased founding team member Wasp, and gave newcomer Falcon an unexpected cameo in Ant-Man.
With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth unconfirmed to reprise their roles after phase three wraps in 2019, recent additions could help Marvel extend its franchise.
Marvel has not officially commented on its plans beyond 2019, but few expect the studio to call it quits if the phase three films perform. Each phase features multiple films.
The first 11 movies in Marvel's shared universe grossed more than $8.5 billion at the global box office. One week after its U.S. debut, "Ant-Man" has tracked a strong opening—hauling in $138 million around the globe, according to Rentrak.
"I presume the audiences of 2030 and 2035 will still be going to Marvel movies in a big way," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "They're definitely getting their slate ramped up and ready to go."
The fact that fans are already speculating over phase four shows how deftly Marvel has maneuvered its rollout strategy, Dergarabedian said. "For Marvel this is a game of chess, not checkers."