I’m not sure how much more reshuffling Marvel needs to haul ever since the fallout from Avengers: Endgame and the pandemic affecting every Phase Four title, and then directors/screenwriters stepping down to push things even further.
So yeah, as mentioned a while ago, Bassam Tariq’s exit from the Blade project has tampered with the MCU’s shift to Phase 5 (and 6). The film was officially delayed this morning from November 2023 to September 2024. The crew will have to work fast to hire a new director and write a fulfilling story that pleases all.
Oh, and since that Mahershala Ali’s titular vampire role had binding effects on the universe, the heavy delay reverberated with the rest of the schedule. Deadpool 3, which will bring back Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, is moving to the November 8, 2024 spot; Fantastic Four will move from November 8, 2024, to February 14, 2025; an untitled Marvel film shifted from February to November 2025; and Avengers: Secret Wars went from November 2025 to May 1, 2026.
Deadpool 3 will kick off Phase 6, while Blade wraps up Phase 5 (unless another reshuffling occurs). And the possibility of Avengers 5 & 6 opening within six months of each other has become no more, meaning Marvel will pull another Infinity War/Endgame scenario. Could that be better in the long run? Possibly, as “the Snap” broke all folks’ hearts once Thanos won, meaning that every audience member would tune in to see our survivors go on the “time heist of the century” to resurrect all and end it. And trust me, when your follow-up Avengers film opens with $357 million domestic and $1.223 billion worldwide on opening weekend, it proves the might of IP-branded superheroes battling their gravest threat in a generational standoff.
As we wait further, there is one crippling question that lingers over the MCU and Kevin Feige: is it the ego of Disney to rely on this IP or the fatigue of superheroes that is hampering the following slate of films and our willingness to return to the former times of “casual moviegoing”? Because pandemic or not, something has hit all generations regarding blockbusters. Probably a discussion for another day.
In the meantime, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens next month and concludes Phase 4.