With Avengers: Infinity War heading towards a possible $2 billion at the box office, all eyes are now turned to the follow-up films. First, there will be Ant-Man & The Wasp, which should test how much the Avengers tide can lift all boats. Then there's Captain Marvel, which Marvel is hoping will outdo Wonder Woman in sales. Then finally Avengers 4: No We Won't Tell You The Title will arrive. But what comes next? There's talk of Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, Guardians 3, and Black Widow. But will there be an Avengers 5? Or is the franchise now done?
Listen, I may not be someone who works for the MCU, or privy to their internal discussion, but I can tell you this: Any franchise on course as of this writing to make TWO BILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS at the box office in the Year Of Our Lord 2018 ain't going nowhere. Period, end of list, thank you for playing.
Disney can bill Avengers 4: No You Don't Get A Title, Stop Asking as the end of all the things all they want to, but an Avengers 5 is as assured to occur as a Black Panther 2: Return To Wakanda & Record Breaking Receipts.
Disney CEO Bob Iger didn't get to be Disney CEO without learning these sorts of lessons. When The Hollywood Reporter asked about Avengers 5, he was all for it.
Given the popularity of the characters and given the popularity of the franchise, I don't think people should conclude there will never be another Avengers movie.
But Disney CFO Christine McCarthy, as Chief Financial Officers are wont to do, suggested perhaps the next one consider some sort of salary cap:
I think the outstanding performance is nothing short of stellar...there is one difference in this movie … that's the size of the cast. ... Because of the size of the cast involved and the cost of the movie, the scale, the magnitude, while this film is going to be very profitable, it may not be on the same return level as some of the other films, because of the sheer scale of it.
Not that fans will really complain. The novelty of having all the characters in one film has been satisfied. Besides, for most directors, pulling something off with a cast of this size is really difficult. I don't think anyone will complain if the next one returns to reasonable amounts of superheroes in one film. Even nine would seem reasonable after 22.
But fans shouldn't just be thinking ahead to Avengers 5. That's narrow single franchise universe level thinking. Fans need to be thinking in 4 or 5 dimensions, Dr. Strange-style. Because according to Iger, that's what the MCU is doing.
We meet on a regular basis with our Marvel team, and we've plotted out Marvel movies that will take us well into the next decade. I'm guessing we will try our hand at what I'll call a new franchise beyond Avengers, but that doesn't necessarily mean you won't see more Avengers down the road. We just haven't made any announcements about that.
Iger's not talking about The X-Men either, for those who might be thinking this is a reference to the Disney-FOX merger. (In fact, pay attention to your local CNBC dude in your Twitter feed, because last I saw, Comcast was pulling together $60 billion in cash — cash! — to wreck Disney's hopes of ever owning the original 1977 Star Wars film, which FOX owns in perpetuity.)
No, Iger is talking about an all-new franchise with an all-new line up of characters. Hardcore fans will note this lines up with MCU hints they are considering bringing Jack Kirby's The Eternals to the big screen. It would be a bit of an odd choice, but these are people who made films starring an angry raccoon and a talking tree work and never missed a step.
But before then, Phase IV needs to wrap up. Ant-Man & The Wasp comes out July 6, 2018. Captain Marvel follows on March 6, 2019. The Still As Yet Untitled Avengers 4 ends Phase IV on May 3, 2019.