Marvel Phase 4: Release Date Timeline, and How It Will Effect the MCU

New movies, new heroes. What does it all mean for Phase 4?

Marvel Phase 4

It’s an all-new, all-different Marvel Cinematic Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios pulled back the curtain on “Phase 4,” or all the new movies and Disney+ shows that will debut in 2020 and 2021. Those debuts are likely to change the very fabric of the MCU as we know it.

In interviews with several outlets, Feige said that Phase 4 is all about new beginnings. In the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, the status quo of the MCU will change as familiar faces take up different mantles, and new faces show up in Marvel’s cinematic sandbox.

Keeping track of it all amidst all the #hype can be a dizzying experience, so here’s a complete timeline of all the new Marvel releases revealed at Comic-Con, with a little explainer on how these movies can change the MCU as we know it.

Marvel Phase 4 Black Widow
Official logo for 'Black Widow.'

May 1, 2020: Black Widow

The first release of Phase 4 will be Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland. Little is known about the movie, except that it will star Scarlett Johansson back in the role of super spy. The film will also star David Harbour as the Red Guardian, Florence Pugh as Yelena, O-T Fagbenle as Mason, and Rachel Weisz as Melina.

Johansson’s return is interesting, considering (spoilers!) Natasha sacrificed her life to help the Avengers obtain the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame. Marvel confirmed during the panel that Black Widow would take place after Captain America: Civil War but before Avengers: Infinity War.

Through Pugh’s Yelena, we may see a new Russian spy take up Natasha’s mantle of Black Widow, which gives fans one more chance to say goodbye to their beloved hero while welcoming a new face to the fold.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Logo
Official logo for 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.'

“Fall 2020”: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)

While the series does not yet have a definitive 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.

Steve Rogers formally gave his pal Sam Wilson the shield of Captain America at the end of Endgame. But what kind of growth will Sam undergo in order to properly fill in the boots? Fans can expect the first MCU Disney+ series to detail Sam’s origins as Captain America before he leaps to the big screen in a fifth Avengers movie.

Zemo, the villain in Captain America: Civil War, will return as the main villain in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

The Eternals Marvel Movie
Official logo for 'The Eternals.'

November 6, 2020: The Eternals

Jack Kirby’s weirdest heroes will come to life in Chloé Zhao’s The Eternals.

An epic ensemble starring Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, an 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. The film will reportedly span across millennia, and it might even build right up to the present day.

To make up for the loss of the Inhumans (themselves an offshoot of the Eternals), the Eternals may be the biggest change to the status quo of 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?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Official logo for 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.'

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, in a story that should take place in the present day. A popular character from the 1970s, Marvel will unleash Shang-Chi for the modern era 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 his organization, the Ten Rings, is that they’ve been around since the beginning of the MCU. The Ten Rings were the kidnappers of Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, with their logo 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 villain to be feared? We will see as Phase 4 keeps rolling on.

WandaVision Marvel Phase 4
Official logo for 'WandaVision.'

“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 eerie 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.

Like most of the Phase 4 films and shows, little is actually known about WandaVision, except that it will take place after Avengers: Endgame, it will feature Monica Rambeau (the second Captain Marvel) as an adult, and will involve the multiverse through direct ties with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. More on that later.

Loki Marvel Studios
Official logo for 'Loki.'

“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 dimension hopping, thanks to his possession of the Space Stone (as seen in Avengers: Endgame). Expect Loki to make bizarre cameos in subsequent Marvel movies from here on.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Official logo for 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.'

May 21: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

A sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange will star Benedict Cumberbatch back in the role of the Sorcerer Supreme with Scott Derrickson returning to direct.

Said to be the first true horror movie in the MCU, Multiverse of Madness hints at a Lovecraftian-esque degree of cosmic terror that arises as Strange explore the multiverses. The film will also have direct ties to WandaVision in a yet unknown capacity. So you’ll really need that Disney+ subscription.

Marvel Studios Presents What If
Official logo for 'What If...?'

“Summer 2021”: What If…? (Disney+)

Perhaps spinning from the multiverse shenanigans of Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s new animated series What If…? will explore pivotal story events should a different outcome have occurred.

The first episode is said to explore a reality where Peggy Carter had been imbued with the Super Soldier serum and not Steve Rogers. The series will be narrated by Uatu the Watcher, played by Jeffrey Wright. Many Marvel actors are expected to reprise their original roles from live-action.

Hawkeye Marvel Studios
Official logo for 'Hawkeye.'

“Fall 2021”: Hawkeye (Disney+)

One of the most popular single comic book runs of the 2010s is finally getting the (loose) adaptation it deserves. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s critically acclaimed Hawkeye will be adapted into an MCU miniseries starring Jeremy Renner, who mentors a new archer named Kate Bishop to take over as the new Hawkeye. Should Hawkeye return as an Avenger, it won’t be Clint, and Hawkeye on Disney+ will reveal that journey.

Thor Love and Thunder Marvel Phase 4
Official logo for 'Thor: Love and Thunder.'

November 5, 2021: Thor: Love and Thunder

By the gods! A new Thor will emerge in Thor: Love and Thunder. Jane Foster, played by a returning Natalie Portman, will somehow presumably 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 with Tessa Thompson also starring 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.

Blade Marvel Phase 4
Official logo for 'Blade.'

???: Blade

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. Little about the movie is known thus far, and like The Eternals, it will have to answer the question how vampires have not been exposed yet. But that might only be because Blade is very good at his job.

Marvel’s Phase Four begins properly with Black Widow, which is scheduled for release on May 1, 2020.

Media via Marvel Entertainment