While it had been assumed by many that Avengers: Endgame would close out Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while promoting the film in Shanghai, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige surprised fans by claiming this was not actually the case. Instead, the longtime producer and studio executive declared that July's Spider-Man: Far From Home would actually serve as the final installment of Phase 3 and the Infinity Saga that has unified the MCU across its first 11 years and 23 films.
While Feige did not elaborate on his comments, the revelation shouldn't come as a complete surprise. After all, the only MCU Phase that actually ended with an Avengers film was the first one; Phase 2 didn't conclude with 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, but rather Ant-Man three months later. Instead, Captain America: Civil War officially launched Phase 3, kicking off with the implosion of the Avengers as the countdown to Infinity War began in earnest.
With that in mind, the question remains as to what, exactly, links Far From Home closer to Phase 3 and what potentially could mark the shift as the MCU moves beyond the Infinity Saga. It's likely Marvel Studios felt it made more sense for the first film in Phase 4 of the MCU to not have any direct links to Endgame or any of the preceding films. Producer Amy Pascal claimed in 2017 prior to the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming that the sequel begins minutes after the conclusion of Endgame, and nothing has surfaced to counter this information. If this proves to still be the case, it would make Far From Home feel closely tied to the climax of the Infinity Saga, just as Homecoming was so closely related to Civil War.
Another thematic consideration is that Marvel Studios technically hasn't officially announced any films beyond Far From Home. While it's since been confirmed that a Black Widow solo film, sequels to Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Doctor Strange, as well as films introducing the Eternals and Shang-Chi are in active development, an official statement acknowledging any of them has yet to be issued. It is likely that at least a handful of these films will begin consciously building to another overarching storyline just as the Infinity Stones throughout the first three Phases had unified the Infinity Saga. And, it's likely Far From Home will not include any such narrative links to overtly set up what's to come next -- for Marvel, at least.
One of the more likely reasons for including Far From Home with Phase 3 is precisely because nothing beyond it has been officially announced yet; a logistical consideration rather than a thematic one. Sony serves as the primary producer and distributor of Far From Home, and it makes sense that Marvel Studios would want to mark the launch of its full future with a film produced entirely in-house rather than a co-production. With Far From Home formally announced nearly a year ago and its promotional campaign already well under way, a different film announced as the start of Phase 4 would give the MCU a potentially even bigger platform to officially declare its arrival.
In many ways, Avengers: Endgame does signal the end of an era, with several of the MCU's original stars expected to depart the shared cinematic universe they helped build over the past decade. However, even the biggest, most epic stories still have an epilogue to serve as a denouement of sorts from the climactic intensity of all its plot threads converging. Audiences will flock to the theaters to see the culmination of Marvel Studios' Infinity Saga, but they're just as curious to glean any possible hints of what's to come next for the MCU. While Spider-Man: Far From Home will certainly show what's in store for the webslinger, as well as Nick Fury and Maria Hill, the other, wider story of the MCU is unlikely to play a major role as the film keeps the focus on its teenage hero.
Given Marvel's reported production slate, Phase 4 is most certainly coming to the MCU -- but don't expect it to start this July. Far From Home moves beyond Thanos, but not the Mad Titan's legacy just yet. Fans will have to wait just a bit longer to see what the MCU is building to next.
Opening July 2, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.