Could Marvel’s next slate of movies be announced at Comic-Con?


The latest Avengers movie is still powering through theaters but what happens next in the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe is a mystery.

Marvel Studios typically announces its next crop of movies — which it calls “phases” — years in advance. The final movie in its third phase, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” comes out in July and will be its 23rd film. After that, what’s next for the Disney-owned studio is unclear.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a quarterly earnings call two weeks ago that Marvel will likely unveil its plans this summer. Also, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has said in various interviews it will announce next plans shortly after the new Spider-Man comes out.

This seems like a perfect opportunity in mid-July for Comic-Con to be the platform for Marvel Studios’ big announcement. Another possibility could be announcing the movie schedule online or at Disney’s own version of Comic-Con, called D23 Expo, in August at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Miro Copic, marketing lecturer at San Diego State University, said the promotion reach of Comic-Con is so great that it would make sense for the studio to use the San Diego event, as opposed to the Disney celebration.

“You aren’t going to get the media spotlight” outside of Comic-Con, he said. “You could hog the spotlight at D23, for sure, but I think they will do it at Comic-Con because there are more consumers paying attention to the outcome.”

Copic said Comic-Con fans are more passionate and the event is a cultural phenomenon, so the impact goes very far, as opposed to niche festivals.

Marvel Studios stayed away from Comic-Con last year, to the surprise of some because of the number of movies it had coming out in the following months. It also has skipped other years, 2011 and 2015.

At D23 two years ago, Disney showed a preview of “Avengers: Infinity War” before Comic-Con. It also had directors and actors for Marvel and Star Wars films, similar to what one might expect at the 6,500-seat Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center.

Both events are large, but San Diego has the edge. More than 130,000 people attended Comic-Con compared to around 65,000 people at the last D23. Also, D23 only runs every two years.

Official sources are still staying mum on what’s next. Comic-Con International spokesman David Glanzer said it did not know yet if Marvel’s film division would be at the convention, noting it does not start releasing schedules until two weeks before the event. A Marvel Studios spokesman said it had no plans to announce what it is doing yet.

A big reason all eyes are on Marvel Studios is it killed off two main characters in “Endgame” — Iron Man and Black Widow — and retired Chris Evans’ Captain America through time travel shenanigans. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., has been with the franchise since it began in 2008.

Without its two major characters who have helped lead the previous 22 movies, there is curiosity about what’s next after the absence of major stars. Box Office Mojo says the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned more than $8 billion since its inception, making it unlikely Disney would want to slow down its pace of releases.

Also, with Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, it means Marvel Studios has access to hundreds of new characters, including Deadpool and the X-Men.

Heidi MacDonald, editor of comic book news website The Beat, said she has heard some insider buzz that Comic-Con will be the place for Marvel Studios’ big announcement. Ultimately, she said it just makes more sense that the studio would make its big splash in San Diego.

“Traditionally, the (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has just owned Hall H,” she said. “I think it would be a missed opportunity” if they didn’t come.

The difference now, as opposed to the previous 11 years, is Marvel Studios will be spinning off film actors into their own TV shows on the new streaming service Disney+. The company announced spin-off shows featuring Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

“When you think about it, they have plenty of announcements to go around,” MacDonald said.

There have been bits and pieces of information about the next phase of movies planned for Marvel in industry publications, such as The Hollywood Reporter, but without studio confirmation. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character is expected to return in a prequel.

MacDonald said some studios may avoid the spotlight of Hall H out of fear they will get bad buzz if fans don’t like what they see. However, Marvel and, to a lesser extent, Warner Bros., are unlikely to have a misstep.

“They know how to play the game,” she said.

Marvel Studios has a storied history in Hall H.

In 2007, director Jon Favreau showed a clip from the upcoming “Iron Man” movie, leading to thunderous applause for a character that had been mostly B-list in the comics for decades. In 2010, the cast of Marvel’s premiere superhero team, The Avengers, assembled on stage and Joss Whedon was announced as director. In 2017, the cast of Black Panther took the stage, adding to the buzz of what would be one of the studio’s most profitable films.