With Avengers 4, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige promised us something we’ve “never seen in superhero films: a finale.” However, the movie, due out May 2019, might not be the end we’ve been led to believe.
Disney is reopening the door on the Avengers franchise after the success of its latest movie, Avengers: Infinity War, which had the largest opening weekend in movie history and was the fastest to reach $1 billion at the box office ever. That’s before it hit China, the world’s second-largest movie market.
“The goal, of course, is for the fourth in the Avengers series to have a significant conclusion,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger, on a conference call to discuss earnings Tuesday (May 8). “But given the popularity of the characters and given the popularity of the franchise, I don’t think people should conclude that there will never be another Avengers movie.”
That, of course, assumes audiences won’t tire of the Avengers first. Infinity War was an unbridled success at least partly because it was billed as the franchise’s penultimate installment that was a decade in the making. It was an event film like no other. Disney may not be able to capture that magic again after Avengers 4—at least not right away.
Infinity War may also not be as profitable as the Marvel films before it, cautioned chief financial officer Christine McCarthy, on the call. The movie featured a few dozen heroes, not to mention the villains and special effects needed to pull the intergalactic story off. “While this film is going to be very profitable, it may not be at the same return level of some of the other films just because of the sheer scale of it,” McCarthy said. We’ll see how Infinity War performed in Disney’s third-quarter financial results later in the year. In the most recently completed quarter, Black Panther helped drive operating profits for Disney’s studio division up 29% year over year.
Marvel has movies mapped out into the next decade, Iger said, including Ant-Man and Wasp, Ms. Marvel, and Avengers 4, in that order. The Avengers “finale” will usher in a new era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s Feige previously said. Spider-Man: Homecoming (to be distributed by Sony) and Guardians of the Galaxywill also get new sequels in 2019 and 2020, respectively. And Black Panther‘s success means we’ll likely see many more installments to that franchise.
Disney isn’t entirely resting on its laurels with the Avengers. Marvel has 7,000 or so characters in its comic-book universe to draw from in its films, Iger said. “I’m guessing that we will try our hand at what I’ll call a new franchise beyond Avengers,” he said, “but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t see more Avengers down the road.”