With Avengers: Endgame now the biggest movie of all time, Marvel wraps the three-phase, 23-film, 11-year Infinity Saga. Which, of course, raises the question: What’s next?
At San Diego Comic-Con’s heralded Hall H, Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige announced just that. MCU Phase 4, or at least the part that spans May 2020 through November 2021, includes not just five movies but also five Disney Plus series that, unlike Marvel’s past television efforts, will exist more firmly within the Marvel movie canon. Here’s the bare-bones rundown, with MCU movies in bold:
- Black Widow: May 1, 2020
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: fall 2020 (Disney Plus)
- The Eternals: Nov. 6, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Feb. 12, 2021
- WandaVision: spring 2021 (Disney Plus)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: May 7, 2021
- Loki: spring 2021 (Disney Plus)
- What If...?: summer 2021 (Disney Plus)
- Hawkeye: fall 2021 (Disney Plus)
- Thor: Love and Thunder: Nov. 5, 2021
Further still, Kevin Feige teased more than a few films to come in 2022 and beyond. Read on for what you need to know about each MCU movie and Disney Plus series.
Black Widow will revisit Budapest and introduce Taskmaster
Though it was the last Phase 4 movie to be revealed, Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone Black Widow is the first Marvel movie after Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home finished out the Infinity Saga, and takes place before the events of Infinity War.
Marvel played a teaser trailer, which included shots from the first 30 days of shooting in addition to some archival footage. The cast includes David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and O-T Fagbenle.
Said Johansson, “I get to play Natasha as a fully realized woman, in all of her many facets. I’m excited for fans to see what she perceives to be the flawed side of her, and I’m looking to wipe out some of that red in my ledger.”
That last bit is a callback to a conversation with Hawkeye in 2012’s Avengers, which also mentioned Budapest — a major location in this movie. The teaser also confirmed the villain will be physical mimic The Taskmaster, though who’s playing the role remains a mystery.
Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland, premieres May 1, 2020.
The Eternals brings Angelina Jolie into the MCU
The Eternals was the first movie Kevin Feige presented at the Hall H Comic-Con panel, and it sounds like the MCU’s most cosmic film yet. Slightly tweaking the comic origin story from the comics, The Eternals is about a race of immortal aliens sent to earth by the Celestials to protect mankind from the Deviants.
Angelina Jolie will play Thena and Salma Hayek will play Eternals leader Ajak. The cast also includes Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, and Lauren Ridloff, who will portray the first deaf MCU hero.
Directed by Chloe Zhao, The Eternals is coming Nov. 6, 2020.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s villain is classic Baron Zemo
Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, with the Captain America shield in hand, took the stage to reveal the first story details about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which will stream on Disney Plus in fall 2020.
In the teaser, we hear Winter Soldier’s code phrase — the one uttered by Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo that sent him berserk in Captain America: Civil War. Bruhl will reprise the character, and as he says in the teaser, “I can’t imagine what you all must be thinking. A villain seizes control of the panel and you expect me to threaten some unspeakable act of violence.” Bruhl is seen with a purple mask more in line with Zemo’s comics look.
The last time the MCU really dealt with Bucky “Winter Soldier” Barnes’ story, Wakandan science was successfully erased his brainwashing, just in time for Thanos to arrive during Infinity War.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be the first new Marvel series to stream on Disney Plus in fall 2020.
Shang-Chi will fight the Mandarin and the Ten Rings
The Mandarin, which was played as a ruse in Iron Man 3 (and then somewhat confirmed in a Marvel short), will be the villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which stars relative newcomer Simu Liu as the eponymous hero.
The Mandarin, who leads a group known as the Ten Rings (the same one that kidnapped Tony Stark in the original Iron Man), will be played by legendary Hong Kong actor Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood for Love). Awkwafina has also joined the cast.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit theaters on Feb. 12, 2021.
WandaVision takes place after Avengers: Endgame ... somehow
Unquestionably the weirdest of the Disney Plus series, WandaVision sees Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff — aka the Scarlet Witch — reunited with Paul Bettany’s Vision.
Described as a “mega event series... unlike anything we’ve done before,” WandaVision takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame — despite Vision having been killed (and not resurrected) in Infinity War. Said Olsen, “It’s gonna get weird ... and we’re gonna finally understand Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch.” Both the setup and tease, which evoked the 1950s, seem to draw inspiration from the House of M series as well as Tom King’s suburban Vision storyline.
Other MCU characters will appear as well, including an adult Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, who will be played by Dear White People’s Teyonah Parris.
WandaVision will premiere on Disney Plus in spring 2021.
Doctor Strange 2 will explore the multiverse as “the first scary MCU film”
As Kevin Feige put it at Hall H, “Just because Quentin Beck makes up lies about the multiverse, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
Scott Derrickson, who returns as director for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, said that he wants to dip into a “gothic, horror” tone, while Benedict Cumberbatch added they want to preserve the humor of the first film along with the horror. “We’re going back to try and destroy him a bit,” he said.
As an interesting tease, Elizabeth Olsen will also join the cast as the Scarlet Witch. According to Marvel, the events of WandaVision will be reflected in the Doctor Strange sequel.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — henceforth, DSitMoM — will premiere May 7, 2021. According to the slide Marvel put up, that’s right between both WandaVision and Loki.
Loki’s TV series will explore what happens after his Endgame moment
The noble Loki that fought alongside Thor in both Ragnarok and the first few minutes in Infinity War is dead. The Loki that stole the Tesseract during the “time heist” in Endgame, however, is very much alive.
“This series will tell you what happened to Loki right after that [scene],” confirmed Feige. Tom Hiddleston, who came out to boisterous audience chants of “Loki,” confirmed that the warmer character development isn’t here. “You guys saw [2012’s] Avengers, right? So, he’s still that guy,” he said.
Loki will premiere on Disney Plus in spring 2021 — presumably after both WandaVision and the Doctor Strange sequel.
Jeffrey Wright will voice the Watcher in What If...?
Westworld star Jeffrey Wright will act as the narrator — in the form of celestial observer the Watcher — in Marvel’s animated series What If...? Additionally, “many actors from across the MCU” will reprise their roles, or at least lend their voices, to these hypothetical scenarios.
Who’s in? The cast includes Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Taika Waititi as Korg, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, and Michael Rooker as Yondu. Now try to guess what the episodes are about.
“The Watcher is a being, a non-earthly being who observes all things. He’s watching over the multiverse, and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of earthlings,” said Wright. Yes, 2021 is absolutely all about the multiverse.
What If...? premieres on Disney Plus in summer 2021.
Hawkeye will train Kate Bishop in Disney Plus series
The fifth Disney Plus series goes to Jeremy Renner, who in a post-Endgame show will train Kate Bishop. Bishop, in the comics, goes on to become the new Hawkeye. The title card for the series is very inspired by Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comics series. We can only hope the TV show is, too.
After running through the aisles, Renner noted, “I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers.”
He thinks that’s a good message, that anyone can be “a damn superhero.” The series will also explore more of his time as the less-noble Ronin.
Hawkeye will premiere on Disney Plus in fall 2021.
Natalie Portman is female Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder
The second-to-last Phase 4 movie revealed — and the one hinted at earlier when news leaked of Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s return — Thor: Love and Thunder will reintroduce Natalie Portman as female Thor, taking inspiration from Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor comics. Portman walked out on stage holding Mjölnir, which is perhaps the most Comic-Con sentence I’ve written this year.
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) have not read the script yet, though Thompson said that her first decree as King of New Asgard was that “she needs to find her queen.” After the panel, Feige told io9 that Valkyrie is the MCU’s first LGBTQ hero. “How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you’ll see across our films, not in just Thor 4,” he said.
Thor: Love and Thunder will premiere Nov. 5, 2021.
MCU Phase 5 and beyond: Blade, Fantastic Four, and sequels for Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and GotG
That’s everything between now and the end of 2021, but what comes next? As Feige noted near the end of Marvel’s Hall H presentation, there’s quite a bit: sequels to Black Panther and Captain Marvel, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and of course the addition of onetime Fox properties the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
From Disney’s last earnings call, we still have three MCU movie premiere dates for 2022, though which films go where is unknown:
- Feb. 18, 2022
- May 6, 2022
- July 29, 2022
Feige also confirmed, to very loud applause, that Mahershala Ali will join the MCU as Blade, the vampire hunter synonymous with Wesley Snipes.
Not mentioned, though all but guaranteed? Another MCU-canonical Spider-Man film from Sony Pictures after Far From Home. That’s already at least six movies, in addition to whatever new Disney Plus series are formed, which should keep Marvel busy for at least ... two years?
Not mentioned, and who knows? Ant-Man and the Wasp. I hope they’re hanging out having a good time.