At San Diego Comic-Con back in July, head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige pulled back the curtain on “Phase Four,” the next batch of movies and Disney+ shows releasing in 2020 and 2021. The MCU will never be the same again.
In interviews with several outlets about the new productions, Feige has made clear that Phase Four is all about new beginnings. “When you have 7,000 people screaming, it’s pretty awesome and pretty amazing,” he told SYFY Wire of the wildly enthusiastic response to the big reveals at SDCC.
Feige added: “When you meet new characters and seeing those new characters meet other new characters, that’s fun … It’s not just world-ending stakes; it’s not just snapping out half the universe that makes an Avengers movie an Avengers movie. It’s the incredible ensemble and taking people who are completely different from one another and throwing them in a room together and seeing what happens.”
With Avengers: Endgame now in the rearview, the status quo of the MCU will change as familiar faces take up new identities, and new faces show up in Marvel’s cinematic sandbox.
But keeping track of it all amidst the #hype can be dizzying. So, here’s a complete timeline of all the new Marvel releases revealed at Comic-Con, with a little explainer and how these movies might change the MCU as we know it.
May 1, 2020: Black Widow
The first movie in Phase Four will be Black Widow, the first Marvel solo film for Scarlett Johansson’s Russian spy turned Avenger. Directed by Cate Shortland, the film will take place shortly after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. In addition to Johansson’s return, the film will also star David Harbour as the Red Guardian, Florence Pugh (Midsommar) as Yelena, O-T Fagbenle as Mason, and Rachel Weisz as Melina.
While footage has yet to go public, snippets were shown at Disney’s latest D23 expo. Attendees who saw the footage said the film will delve into the character’s often-referenced Budapest adventures. They also claim it features some of the best combat sequences the MCU has ever seen.
Johansson’s return to the MCU is interesting because (spoilers!) Natasha sacrificed herself to secure the Soul Stone in Endgame. In essence, Black Widow is fans’ last goodbye to Natasha. But through Pugh’s new character, Yelena, we may see a new hero take up the mantle of Black Widow. It happened in the comics, after all.
“Fall 2020”: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
While the series does not yet have a film release date, the first Disney+ MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, will pick up from the end of Avengers: Endgame as the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) deal with the absence of Captain America.
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers handed his pal Sam Wilson the shield of Captain America. But what growth will Sam undergo in order to fill in the boots? Fans can expect the first MCU Disney+ series to explore Sam’s origins as Cap before he leaps to the big screen in a fifth Avengers movie.
Daniel Brühl, who played Zemo in Captain America: Civil War, will return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We also know the series will feature the return of Emily Vancamp as Sharon Carter as well as the debut of Wyatt Russell in the MCU. He’ll be playing legendary comics character USAgent, and by the looks of his costume, he’ll be serving as a new government-appointed Captain America.
November 6, 2020: The Eternals
Jack Kirby’s weirdest heroes will come to life in Chloé Zhao’s The Eternals.
Featuring an epic ensemble including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and South Korean superstar Don Lee, the film will feature the introduction of an immortal alien race, the Eternals, who are sent to save Earth against their evil counterparts, the Deviants. It will also feature the debut of Kit Harington as Black Knight. The film’s plot is rumored to span across thousands of years and possibly end up in the present day, with set photos depicting archaeological digs and ancient structures resembling those of the Mayans and Egyptians.
To make up for the loss of the Inhumans (themselves an offshoot of the Eternals), the Eternals may be the biggest shock to the MCU. Due to their alien nature and association with the Celestials, how will humans react to co-existing with protectors who aren’t like them? It took years to get around Thor. How much will be undone when the Eternals arrive?
February 12, 2021: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Destin Daniel Cretton will make history as he introduces audiences to the MCU’s first Asian superhero, Shang-Chi. A popular Marvel character in the 1970s, Marvel will unleash Shang-Chi for the 21st century as the kung fu spy confronts the Mandarin, the famed terrorist who may or may not be his father.
The thing about the Mandarin and the Ten Rings, is that they’ve been around since the beginning of the MCU. The Ten Rings were the ones who kidnapped Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man; their logo also appeared hidden in films like 2015’s Ant-Man. After an imposter was dealt with in 2013’s Iron Man 3, the true Mandarin will emerge in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Should the MCU introduce the concept of the magical Ten Rings, does the MCU have its new Infinity Stones? Is the Mandarin the new big bad villain to be feared? We will see as Phase Four keeps rolling on.
“Spring 2021”: WandaVision (Disney+)
The second Disney+ MCU series will be WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles as Wanda and Vision.
In its 1950s aesthetic, the series aims to be an adaptation of the acclaimed comic book series Vision by Tom King, which told an idyllic suburban life for Vision that teemed with darkness. Recent production art has confirmed as much, featuring something of an I Love Lucy-esque aesthetic.
Like most of Phase Four, little else is known about WandaVision, except that it will take place after Avengers: Endgame and that it will have an adult Monica Rambeau (who appeared as a child in Captain Marvel). In terms of other recurring characters, Kat Dennings is confirmed to return to the MCU as Darcy for the first time since Thor: The Dark World while Randall Park will also be coming back as Agent Jimmy Woo, who debuted in Ant-Man & The Wasp. We also know the show will involve the multiverse concept, and direct ties to the movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
“Spring 2021”: Loki (Disney+)
One of the first shows rumored for Disney+, Tom Hiddleston will reprise his Loki in a new series that will take Loki hopping through time and space thanks to his possession of the Space Stone (as seen in Avengers: Endgame). Expect Loki to make cameos in subsequent Marvel movies from here on.
May 21: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
A sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch will again play the Sorcerer Supreme. Director Scott Derrickson also returns to helm the picture.
Said to be the first true horror movie in the MCU, Multiverse of Madness hints at a Lovecraftian-esque cosmic terror that arises as Strange explores the multiverses. The film will also have ties to WandaVision in a yet unknown capacity. So, you’ll really need that Disney+ subscription.
“Summer 2021”: What If…? (Disney+)
Likely spinning from the multiverse shenanigans of Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s new animated series What If…? will explore pivotal story events from a different point of view. For example: The first episode will explore a timeline where Peggy Carter was imbued with the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. Other episodes will depict a world in which T’Challa is Star-Lord and one in which Captain America is a zombie (perhaps an homage to the famous Marvel Zombies series).
The series will be narrated by “Uatu the Watcher,” played by Jeffrey Wright. Many MCU actors are expected to reprise their roles from live-action.
“Fall 2021”: Hawkeye (Disney+)
One of the most popular Marvel series of the 2010s is getting the (loose) adaptation it deserves.
Matt Fraction and David Aja’s acclaimed Hawkeye will be adapted into a series starring Jeremy Renner, who mentors a young archer, Kate Bishop, to take over as the new Hawkeye. An actor for Kate Bishop has not been announced, though Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee, Dickinson) is rumored to be in the running. Concept art has also confirmed that the series will depict the debut of beloved Hawkeye character Lucky, the titular hero’s adopted dog with an affinity for pizza.
November 5, 2021: Thor: Love and Thunder
By the gods! A new Thor will emerge in Thor: Love and Thunder. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, will wield the hammer of Thor (living up to Jason Aaron’s epic The Mighty Thor) in a new film from Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi. Chris Hemsworth will again return as Thor, and Tessa Thompson back as Valkyrie.
Thompson teased that Valkyrie will “look for a queen” now that she’s king of Asgard. Thor: Love and Thunder has the potential to rebuild Asgard anew while introducing a new God of Thunder — and possibly a new Avenger.
In an October 2019 interview to promote his World War II satire Jojo Rabbit, Waititi said Thor: Love and Thunder will go even harder into the new creative tone Thor: Ragnarok introduced. “It’s going to be bigger and louder and more bombastic,” Waititi said. “It’s only interesting to me if we’re doubling down on how nuts Ragnarok was.” Waititi will also return as Korg.
In the final reveal at Comic-Con, Kevin Feige welcomed Mahershala Ali, who announced he will portray the vampire hunter Blade in a reboot set in the MCU. Much of the movie is shrouded in mystery, and like The Eternals, it will have to answer the question of how vampires have not been exposed yet to the greater MCU. But that might just be because Blade is very, very good at his job.
???: Deadpool 3
Well, well, well. Look who decided to show up from that other universe.
Now that Disney has swallowed 20th Century Fox whole, Fox’s Marvel properties (like the X-Men) are back at Marvel.
Feige loosely confirmed “mutants” will have a movie from Marvel Studios at Comic-Con, but it seems Deadpool is getting one first.
On October 14, Ryan Reynolds teased a third Deadpool movie on Instagram, revealing he’s had at least one meeting with Marvel Studios. Wrote Reynolds in a sarcastic caption: “Auditioned for the role of ‘Anthony Stark.’ Didn’t come even remotely close, but the nice man with the taser escorted me to the ground.”
Marvel’s Phase Four begins properly with Black Widow, which is scheduled for release on May 1, 2020.