Marvel's Phase 3 Event: The Big Takeaways

Evaluating the studio's ambitious slate of new films
From left: Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman and Chris Evans   |   Courtesy of Disney
Evaluating the studio's ambitious slate of new films

From Black Panther to Captain Marvel and a two-part Avengers: Infinity War, there were plenty of surprises at Marvel's event on Tuesday. Here were the big takeaways from The Hollywood Reporter's writers on the scene:

Marvel goes to the fans and the fans come to Marvel

Marvel invited its fan base when it was ready to break news of its upcoming slate of films, with hundreds of people lining up outside El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood as early as 6 a.m. This stands in stark contrast to Warner Bros.' Oct. 15 presentation to investors. “We called you and you came. Thank you very much,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told the boisterous crowd. (When he first stepped onstage, he was greeted by waves of applause that few studio execs ever get to hear.) At a post-event Q&A session with reporters, Feige said, “We want fans to be on the front lines as much as possible." Marvel’s shrewd embrace of its fans is in the tradition of Stan Lee in the 1960s, who regularly addressed followers through editorials in the comics.

Marvel will launch a superhero of color–led film first

By scheduling its Black Panther movie on Nov. 2, 2017, Marvel strikes three years ahead of Warners/DC’s Cyborg, a movie based on a member of the Teen Titans and the Justice League set for 2020. After breaking that news, Marvel went one step further and announced that Chadwick Boseman would play the king of the fictional (duh) African nation of Wakanda. Not done yet, Marvel brought Boseman onstage to join Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). The crowd, of course, went wild.

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With no Black Widow stand-alone in sight, it appears that Warners/DC will be first out of the gate with its female-led superhero movie

Warners’ plans call for Wonder Woman in 2017 (but note the vagueness of some of the DC dates). Though many fans were hoping for Black Widow to lead the way, Marvel — according to a knowledgeable source — hasn’t even made an effort to lure Scarlett Johansson in to such a project. Instead, Feige said the focus will be on introducing new characters, in this case Captain Marvel, whose stand-alone film is set for July 6, 2018. Marvel has faced criticism for a lack of diversity generally and a lack of leading roles for women, especially in the wake of Johansson’s successful outing in Luc Besson’s Lucy, which has grossed $434 million worldwide so far and just opened at No. 1 in China. Feige gave Johansson’s character her due: "Black Widow couldn't be more important,” he said. “Her part in Age of Ultron is very, very big. The plans we have for her are very big. And she is a linchpin in those films."

Given its success, Marvel is ready to expand to three movies a year

It starts on May 5, 2017, with Guardians of the Galaxy 2. That year will be filled out with Thor: Ragnarok on July 28 and Black Panther on Nov. 3. Feige said the success of Avengers led to the expanded slate. "It gave us confidence. Frankly, the studio is firing on all cylinders," he said. Given its crack creative and production teams, he said, "We are able ... to increase to three movies instead of two without changing our methods."

Marvel isn’t concerned about superhero saturation

Aside from the three Marvel movies in 2017, the multiplexes also will be graced by Fox’s Wolverine sequel (March 3) and Fantastic Four 2 (July 14) and Warners/DC's Wonder Woman and Justice League: Part 1 in June and November, respectively (or so the studio says). Feige said the superhero glut is "a challenge that we've faced for many years. My general feeling is to stick to our plan. … Our plans have never altered to what anyone is doing in any genre. The truth is, there is going to be big movies on almost every weekend."

Read more 5 Things Missing From Marvel's Phase 3 News

Oct. 28, 3:55 p.m. A previous version of the story said Warners/DC's 2017 movies were untitled. THR regrets the error.