Disney has announced release dates for two Marvel mystery projects in 2016 and 2017, expanding the third phase of the studio's cinematic universe that begins Nov. 6, 2015, with the long-awaited premiere of director Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man."
There are several possibilities for those two dates -- May 6, 2016, and May 5, 2017 -- but "Doctor Strange" would seem like a good bet for one of them. After all, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed in January that the film is part of the Phase Three plans.
"He's a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he's totally different from anything else we have, just like 'Guardians of the Galaxy,'" Feige said of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme. "He's totally different from anything we've done before, as is 'Ant-Man,' which keeps us excited."
The other spot may be more difficult to pin down, as the studio has numerous other adaptations in the early stages of development: Writers were long ago hired for movies starring Black Panther and Iron Fist, and "Runaways" was on the fast track until Marvel put on the brakes in late 2010 so it could focus on "The Avengers."
Then there are properties like the Punisher, Blade, Daredevil and Ghost Rider, which have relatively recently reverted back to the studio, although Feige appears in no hurry to rush them onto the big screen. "Whenever a character comes back to us, it's usually because because the other studios don't want to make the movies anymore - and that usually means the [previous] movies have not been well-received," he said just last month. "They all have potential, but we're not going to say, 'We got it back - make it!"
Of course, that quote was followed only days later by a report that Marvel has scripts in hand for a "Blade" reboot and a Captain Marvel (aka Ms. Marvel) movie, both products of the studio's writing program that's often served merely as a concept generator (for instance, there was a well-regarded "Black Widow" screenplay that never moved forward). But still, those scripts apparently exist.
So which characters will join Ant-Man in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Perhaps the studio will have an announcement ready by Comic-Con International.