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Did Marvel Stealth-Reveal Black Panther 2's Release Date?

The famously secretive Marvel Studios has been even cagier than usual about its plans beyond the release next year of Avengers 4, which closes out Phase Three of its cinematic universe. (Heck, we still don't really know the title of the Infinity War sequel.) The next stage, whatever it may be called, begins in July 2019 with Spider-Man: Far From Home, but besides that and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 sometime in 2020, everything remains a mystery. That is until now, as Marvel appears to have tipped its hand about a third film -- Black Panther 2.

On Tuesday, Disney shuffled releases on its 2020-2022 calendar, most notably confirming another delay for Indiana Jones 5, but also moving up the premiere of an untitled Marvel film by more than five months, from the previously announced July 30, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2021. It's one of three 2021 untitled Marvel Cinematic Universe features dated earlier this year, and the move itself isn't all that significant. However, the date certainly is. It's three years, almost to the day, from the release of director Ryan Coogler's Black Panther.

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RELATED: Michael B. Jordan Is Open to Returning For Black Panther 2

Arriving in theaters Feb. 16, a frame that, until 2016's Deadpool, was hardly considered a hot spot for superhero movies, Black Panther shattered numerous box-office records, including highest-grossing February release. The film went on to earn critical acclaim, not to mention more than $1.3 billion worldwide. It only makes sense for Marvel to return to February for the sequel. Why mess with a winning formula?

Of course, Black Panther 2 has yet to be announced, but that's only a technicality. With only two exceptions, none of Marvel's post-Phase Three films has been announced (and in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, there's nothing yet "official," though production is targeted to begin in January). But if there were ever any doubt, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige addressed the matter in March.

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“One of the favorite pastimes at Marvel Studios is sitting around on a Part One and talking and dreaming about what we would do in a Part Two," he said. "There have been plenty of those conversations as we were putting together the first Black Panther. We have ideas and a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one.”

RELATED: Marvel Is "Absolutely" Making a Black Panther Sequel

All that remains, presumably, are formalities, involving Coogler, whom Marvel wants to return for Black Panther 2, the cast and crew, and a script.

It's unlikely Marvel will make any announcements about Black Panther 2, or any other films in its development slate, until after the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. But for the time being, it's probably safe to pencil in a Ryan Coogler-directed sequel for Feb. 12, 2021.

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Available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD, director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, Winston Duke as M’Baku and Forest Whitaker as Zuri.

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