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Why Marvel Won't Release Phase 4 Information Yet

Marvel Studios has a habit of playing things close to the vest, and that's definitely been the case when it comes to releasing information about Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While a few tidbits of news have slipped through the cracks, the bulk of Marvel's heavy-hitting announcements have yet to, well, hit. 

Some of the reasons for this secrecy are pretty obvious, but others are a bit more esoteric and complex, including behind-the-scenes factors such as actors' paychecks, box office figures, and a whole slew of business decisions. But while Marvel works in secret to build its next slate of blockbusters, fans remain as eager as ever for news about Phase Four. With that in mind, we're here to expose all the juicy details behind why Marvel's not spilling the beans on Phase Four yet — and in the process, we might just break down some of the studio's secrets. Read on to find out what awaits — and why we're waiting for what awaits — in Phase Four of the MCU.

They don't want us to know yet

Let's get the obvious one out of the way first: Disney and Marvel can't really talk about Phase Four without prematurely spoiling the outcome of the next two Avengers movies. Considering Kevin Feige and crew have been touting these two team-up flicks as game-changers for the MCU, the last thing they'd want to do is spoil the surprise by revealing what comes after. 

Seriously, think of the uproar that'd occur if, before the fourth Avengers movie arrives in theaters, Marvel announced that Phase Four of the MCU wouldn't feature Iron Man or Captain America. That'd be a pretty big red flag going into Avengers 4, no? People would know exactly what to expect, undermining all the pent-up anticipation and emotional impact of stories that put the fate of humanity at risk. 

Part of the allure of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, for a lot of fans, is the chance that a major player like Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor might actually die. In that sense, these are the first two Marvel movies ever to have the potential for stakes and actual consequences, and that's just as big a deal as the massive, universe-spanning team-up aspect. It'd be foolish to rob those two movies of their biggest intrigue-building assets by prematurely exposing who's still around for Phase Four, and as we've seen so far, Marvel doesn't make many foolish decisions with the MCU.

They don't know yet

Not only do Disney and Marvel not want us to know Phase Four details yet, but it's likely that they themselves don't know the whole scoop. In November of 2017, Kevin Feige said Marvel had "another 20 movies" lined up. While that's all well and good, that plan has almost definitely undergone some changes in the wake of subsequent successes like Black Panther's complete obliteration of the box office, which basically guaranteed a follow-up. No matter how well they plan for the future, Marvel's priorities are bound to shift, which may result in some movies taking a backseat in the development pipeline. Who's to say the same sort of runaway success couldn't happen with the upcoming Captain Marvel, which could blow up at the box office and guarantee its own sequel?

One also needs to consider that these new additions to the lineup might prompt some restructuring in whatever big overarching story Marvel's got lined up for Phase Four and beyond — in other words, the next Thanos-sized arc. In this sense, every planning shift is going to have a developmental ripple effect, and Marvel doesn't want news getting out until they're certain on a direction. Variables like these are likely major factors regarding what's keeping Marvel from dishing out their entire production forecast.

Contracts need to be renegotiated

Each of the MCU's blockbusters contains a lot of components, and good actors are among the most essential pieces of the puzzle. This is why in 2013, when Disney and Marvel last held contract renegotiations with the Avengers cast and got into a bit of a standoff, the studio eventually agreed to Robert Downey Jr.'s high-priced demands. Simply put, no matter how much money Downey Jr. and his co-stars cost Disney, their talent brings in more. That's the strength of star power.

Given what the MCU has grown into at this point, there's no telling which actors will be willing to renegotiate for another round. Many a heated discussion will likely take place over who's making what, and these sorts of behind-closed-doors negotiations are going to play a key part in who sticks around and who doesn't for Phase Four of the MCU. And if they're typically tight-lipped about sharing cool information like upcoming movie titles, you know Marvel and Disney don't want anyone outside the company knowing about the dirty details of contract negotiations, which is why we aren't hearing a peep about the topic... yet.

They have massive curveballs coming

Maybe Marvel doesn't want us to know that Riri Williams is taking over as Iron Man after Avengers 4, or that Hydra Captain America is the next iteration of Cap that we'll see on the big screen. Who knows?

Jesting aside, while we sincerely doubt either of the above two scenarios will take place, the reality is that Marvel may have some huge curveballs lined up for Phase Four, and they don't want us in on the scoop just yet. No matter what they're planning, some fans are bound to be upset about the changes, and while the studio is doubtless prepared to deal with whatever backlash rises up after the dust settles at the end of Phase Three, the last thing Kevin Feige and Marvel's execs want to do this far into the game is polarize people right before the MCU's biggest event ever. As such, any major Phase Four twists that hold a chance of scaring off the MCU's current fanbase aren't likely to be disclosed anytime soon.

They've got to brace for mutant impact

On top of coordinating established sequels and developing other previously outlined plans, the MCU's Phase Four has one other massive X-factor to consider: the X-Men, along with all the other Marvel characters that have been licensed by Fox. With Disney's acquisition of Fox in the works, Marvel Studios is looking at access to characters such as Wolverine, Jean Grey, Deadpool, Cable, the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and Galactus. With such a huge new roster at their disposal, planning Phase Four has no doubt gotten a lot more complicated

How will the MCU explain the absence of mutants in previous movies, and how will they be organically integrated? Mysteries abound, but it's an unspoken guarantee that the Marvel braintrust is hard at work figuring out how to weave these characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as seamlessly as possible. With so many X-Men properties already in development and the MCU reaching the end of its first true "act," it's likely that Marvel's going to stay silent on their plans for the X-Men until well after Avengers 4 arrives in 2019 — by which point both franchises will presumably be freer to shake things up.

They've released as much info as they want to

As much as Marvel's tried to remain tight-lipped on all matters regarding Phase Four, sometimes they can't seem to help themselves from letting a little information slip. With Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, and Black Panther 2 all on their way to theaters within the next half-decade or so, some cats are already out of the bag. With this info, we know some form of the Guardians of the Galaxy will survive Infinity War and Avengers 4, as will Spider-Man and Black Panther. Knowing these characters will come out unscathed already reduces the stakes of Infinity War and Avengers 4 by quite a bit, so it's crazy to think that Marvel would want to run the risk of further spoiling their upcoming Avengers movies. Bits and pieces of the overall picture will no doubt get clearer as more MCU installments arrive between Infinity War and Avengers 4, but we can only expect the studio to continue minimizing actual clues.

They're already dealing with leaks

When it comes to maintaining secrecy regarding Phase Four, it's not just a matter of Marvel balancing the need for secrecy against the official announcements they themselves have made — there's also the question of leaks. A solo film focusing on Black Widow looks like it's a distinct possibility in the near, post-Phase 3 future, but we don't know this because of anything coming directly from Marvel; instead, it's coming from alternative sources such as industry news sites and, um, Captain America himself

That's just one leak, and Marvel has historically done a fairly good job of keeping their secrets in-house, all things considered — after all, we're living in an era when countless film sites are constantly leveraging sources for scoops and it's easier than ever to take a telephoto picture of filming on a set. Avengers 4 is a long way off, and that leaves ample time for more morsels of Phase Four content to enter the rumor mill. Marvel's likely only going to get stingier about revealing official details with each bit of information that slips out prematurely.

They're waiting to see what works

As a rival superhero movie studio recently found out, it's not always a good idea to publicly announce half a decade's worth of plans in advance. After all, if said plans fail early on, the development-scrapping and announcement-backpedaling that follows only becomes that much more embarrassing.

Given Marvel's stellar track record at pleasing fans and critics simultaneously, it's unlikely that this particular concern is high up on the studio's list of reasons for not unleashing Phase Four information, but it's undoubtedly a factor they're conscious of when determining when to unveil their plans for upcoming movies. With only a few movies left in Phase Three of the MCU, it's likely that Marvel wants to see how Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel and Avengers 3 and 4 shake out before delivering any massive promises regarding movies to come. In the unlikely event that these two colossal Avengers movies fail, this lack of a publicly disclosed plan will allow Disney and Marvel to stealthily reorganize and retool their lineup.

It's years away

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's fourth phase is still a long way off, as far as the audience end of the experience is concerned. While Kevin Feige and company are moving their pieces and setting up MCU plans behind the scenes, none of that is privy to the general public — nor should it be. 

Considering the first trailer for the first Phase Four MCU film, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, might come out as late as sometime in mid-2019, it makes sense that Marvel's not the slightest bit worried about disrupting audiences' expectations by not sharing any additional Phase Four news just yet. After all, we've yet to see the final Avengers movie of Phase Three, we've yet to see Captain Marvel — we've yet to see a whole bunch of stuff. With those upcoming Marvel movies in mind, remember that big reveals and exciting developments are still on the horizon, and part of the fun is trying to figure out where to look for them. We'll almost certainly be seeing Marvel's future unveiled with a big announcement at some point, but until then, relax and enjoy piecing together the clues nestled away within the MCU movies we already know are coming.