As expected, Marvel dropped some major details about its Phase 4 plans at San Diego Comic-Con sending the world into a frenzy of excitement and causing my personal inner geek to totally explode. Marvel President Kevin Feige appeared at San Diego Comic-Con in Hall H to explain Marvel’s future film and show lineup which will include a selection of Disney+ serves and five upcoming films over the next two years. With “Endgame”, “Captain Marvel” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home” wrapping up an eleven-year, 23 film saga, it’s time to look ahead to what the future holds now that we finally have all the details on what we can expect from the upcoming slate that will lead the way into a post-Avengers world of superheroes. Let’s take a look at Marvel’s big announcements and see what they have in store for Phase 4.
DISNEY + ORIGINALS
Now usually I don’t go into television shows on this blog, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Marvel’s cinematic universe has gone beyond the big screen. While several shows like the four Netflix series that were canceled this year, Freeform’s “Cloak and Dagger”, and ABC’s “Agents of Shield” all take place in the MCU, Marvel has revealed the first slate of Disney+ shows which will focus mostly on characters previously utilized in big-screen features. The first show to drop will be “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” which will pick up after Captain America has passed on his shield to Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, at the end of “Endgame”. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are expected to return as the titular duo who now seek to live up to Cap’s legacy. Supposedly Baron Zemo, the villain from “Captain America: Civil War”, will play a big part as the antagonist. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is scheduled to debut on Disney+ in the fall of 2020.
The second Disney+ series is “WandaVision” which will be an interesting show to see unfold considering it supposedly takes place after Vision’s demise in “Avengers: Infinity War” as it will also serve as a direct lead-in series to the “Doctor Strange” cinematic sequel, which was also announced and I’ll touch on later. Supposedly Paul Bettany is expected to return as Vision while Elizabeth Olsen will continue to portray Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch. The show is supposedly going to explore Wanda’s mindset after the events of “Infinity War” and “Endgame” and will include a grown-up Monica Rambeau, the young girl seen in “Captain Marvel” who in the comics actually serves as Captain Marvel for a time as well as the hero Spectrum. “WandaVision” is expected for a spring 2021 release. Wanda’s good friend Hawkeye will also get his own Disney+ series where we get to explore the archer’s time as Ronan prior to the events of “Endgame” and see him train Kate Bishop, his successor. Early assumptions had Hawkeye training his oldest daughter to be his successor, continuing the relationship shown in “Endgame”, however, her name is Lila so unless Bishop is simply an alias this seems unlikely. “Hawkeye” will debut in the fall of 2021 on Disney+.
Also picking up during the events of “Endgame” will be “Loki”, a series focusing on one of Marvel’s most popular villains with Tom Hiddleston reprising the role as the God of Mischief. But, as expected, this will not be the Loki we saw die in “Infinity War”. It will be the Loki from “Endgame” who steals the Tesseract in 2012 during Tony Stark and Scott Lang’s botched time heist. This series will examine what happened to Loki after that moment likely showcasing him traveling to different locations or even time periods messing with reality. “Loki” will debut in the Spring of 2021. Right after “Loki” will come Marvel’s first animated addition to the MCU, “What If…?”. This non-canon series will see The Watcher explore alternate takes on the existing cast of the MCU with many of the original actors expected to return to voice their characters, meaning that while they may be done representing their heroes on the big screen, Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. among others may still return for this new project. “What If…?” will debut on Disney+ in the summer of 2021.
UPCOMING FILMS FOR 2020
Marvel will break from its recent tradition of releasing three films a year in 2020 by releasing only two new projects according to the Comic-Con reveal. Marvel has released three films a year since 2017 and at least two films a year since 2012 when the only movie released in the MCU was “The Avengers”. Both films on the 2020 slate were previously announced but the Comic-Con reveal confirmed their production. The first film in Phase 4 will be “Black Widow”, expected to be an origin story of sorts for Scarlett Johansson’s spy-turned-Avenger who sacrificed herself in “Endgame” to retrieve the Soul Stone. Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh, and David Harbour have been confirmed to co-star alongside Johansson and thanks to set photos it’s expected that Taskmaster will be the main antagonist of the film. “Black Widow” will be Johansson’s seventh time playing the title character (eighth if you count the picture cameo in “Spider-Man: Far from Home”) and it will serve as the second female-led film in the “MCU” and the first directed solely by a woman with Cate Shortland behind the camera. “Black Widow” will hit theaters on May 1, 2020.
Later that year Marvel will bring another obscure property to the big screen following their previous success with “Guardians of the Galaxy”. “The Eternals” will be released next fall with Angelina Jolie as the biggest name in the cast. It will be directed by Chloé Zhao making it the second Marvel film in a row led by women and the first Asian director in the MCU. Focusing on a group of powered beings that protect humans, each representing Greek Gods, little is known about the plot of “The Eternals” or where they will fit in the larger story of the MCU. Jolie will be paying Thena, based on the Goddess Athena, and will be joined by Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo Sunen, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lia McHugh as Sprire, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, and Salma Hayek as team leader Ajax. “The Eternals” will be the second film in the MCU Phase 4 and will hit theaters on November 8 of 2020.
Marvel will return to its three-movie pattern in 2021 with two sequels and a brand-new addition to the MCU announced at Comic-Con. The first 2021 film is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” focusing on the first Asian hero in Marvel’s cinematic features. Simu Liu is slated to play the titular hero, a martial arts master who decides to fight against his own father’s criminal empire. The title of this film is the most exciting element as it confirms that the REAL Mandarin, not the fake version seen in “Iron Man 3”, will make his MCU debut as the villain to played by Tony Leung. “Shang-Chi” will also feature Marvel’s first male Asian director, Destin Daniel Cretton. “Shang-Chi” has been given a February 12, 2021 release date.
A few months later the first of two sequels for 2021 will hit theaters on May 7. The long-awaited “Doctor Strange” sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, will pick up following the events of “WandaVision” and will see Benedict Cumberbatch reprise his role as the titular sorcerer teaming him with Scarlet Witch on a mission through the multiverse. Described as Marvel’s first horror film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will supposedly include Nightmare as the main villain, the ruler of the Dream Dimension who torments humans in their sleep. Scott Derrickson will return to direct, and a good thing too because he showed great respect for the property when he brought to original “Doctor Strange” movie to life.
Finally is “Thor: Love and Thunder”. Natalie Portman was on hand at Comic-Con to raise Thor’s hammer all but confirming that her character Jane Foster will follow in the footsteps of her comic book counterpart and take on the role of the God of Thunder in the movie. While she was acknowledged in “Endgame” and added to the film using unused footage from “Thor: The Dark World”, Portman has been absent from the MCU since the second “Thor” movie and seeing Jane Foster return to the fold should be an interesting development for Thor who has undergone quite a few changes since he last saw his former flame. Chris Hemsworth and Tess Thompson will also be returning as Thor and Valkyrie respectively while “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi will also return to lead the new entry in the series. “Thor: Love and Thunder” will hit the big screen on November 5, 2021.
Marvel also gave fans a look into other projects they have waiting in the wings, ones that will be released beyond 2021, and they’re exciting, to say the least. Of course, we will be getting a few sequels. “Captain Marvel 2” and “Black Panther 2” are in development now while “Guardian of the Galaxy: Volume 3” is expected to be released in 2022 or later. But it’s the brand-new additions coming to the MCU that have fans jumping for joy. After buying Fox earlier this year it was always assumed their Marvel properties would be worked into the MCU in the future and it is official that Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four, will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next few years. Previously the subject of three infamously bad Fox produced movies, fans are hopeful Marvel will finally get the famous team right this time around. There are no details on a release date, but it is confirmed they are coming to the MCU. The mutants are also supposedly coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the future although Comic-Con provided almost no details on when just that they are in fact going to be here eventually. Finally “Blade” is joining the MCU with a new film with Mahershala Ali taking on the role of the day walking vampire made famous on the big screen by Wesley Snipes in the 90s. This will be a full circle addition to the MCU as Blade was the first of Marvel’s heroes to gain big screen notoriety back when DC was the go-to source for the superhero genre.
So, what announcement from Marvel’s Comic-Con panel has you excited the most? Let me know in the comments below.