Marvel Studios is making some changes to its Phase 3 lineup to make room for the just-announced ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, set for July 6, 2018. That date was previously held by BLACK PANTHER, which now moves up to February 16, 2018. CAPTAIN MARVEL, which was scheduled to be released on November 2, 2018, will now open on March 8, 2019. There is no other Marvel film taking the vacated November 2, 2018 slot since the studio will already have three films that year, but parent company Disney is filling it with a live-action fairy tale adaptation, the title of which is yet to be announced.

Fans are certainly going to be happy about seeing BLACK PANTHER almost five months earlier and this move is a testament to how little release dates seem to matter in the ability of films to be massive hits. The success of KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE this year has a lot of people believing in February as fertile ground for comic book adaptations. Unless something goes terribly wrong, DEADPOOL will be further evidence of that next year. Superheroes aren’t typically seen as the ideal topic for date movies on Valentine’s Day weekend, but as long as BLACK PANTHER is as great as it ought to be, that’s not going to matter.

Moving CAPTAIN MARVEL back four months is already drawing criticism across social media. Before criticizing the critics for complaining about four months, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is the second time CAPTAIN MARVEL has been moved back. When it was first announced just under a year ago, CAPTAIN MARVEL was going to be released on July 6, 2018. Along with THOR: RAGNAROK and BLACK PANTHER, CAPTAIN MARVEL slid back to accommodate the release of Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man reboot for Sony. So really, we’re talking about CAPTAIN MARVEL being moved back a total of eight months from its original date.

It’s reasonable for people to feel less than enthusiastic about that, but I don’t see this as a case of Marvel not caring about its female characters. This latest move was part of making room for a movie that is giving a female hero half of the marquee. An extra four months will come in handy for a feature that does not yet have a director, star, or even a completed script. As vitally important to the superhero genre as CAPTAIN MARVEL will be, it is far more important to get it right than to get it right now.

In addition to the Phase 3 movies, Marvel has booked three release dates for untitled projects that will presumably be the beginning of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There will be new Marvel movies on May 1, 2020, July 10, 2020, and November 6, 2020. We know all too well just how fluid these plans can be, but as of now, 2020 is set to be the fourth straight year in which Marvel Studios will have three films as opposed to the two films they have (and will have) released each year from 2011 to 2016, save for 2012 in which Marvel only released one film (it was THE AVENGERS, so it worked out.)

Below is a list of Marvel Studios’ upcoming releases from 2016 to 2020.

Phase Three

  • 11/4/2016 – DOCTOR STRANGE
  • 7/28/2017 – Untitled Spider-Man Reboot (distributed by Sony Pictures)
  • 11/3/2017 – THOR: RAGNAROK
  • 2/16/2018 – BLACK PANTHER
  • 7/6/2018 – ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
  • 3/8/2019 – CAPTAIN MARVEL
  • 7/12/2019 – INHUMANS

Phase Four

  • 5/1/2020 – Untitled Marvel Studios Film
  • 7/10/2020 – Untitled Marvel Studios Film
  • 11/6/2020 – Untitled Marvel Studios Film