Black Widow release date delayed again as Marvel reshuffles Phase 4

2020 is officially the year without a new Marvel movie.

Marvel Entertainment

Well, it happened again. Marvel's Black Widow, originally set to be the first big Marvel movie of 2020, is now delayed again and will be released in theaters in May 2021. That also means Eternals, the sci-fi ensemble originally scheduled for November 2020 (before being pushed to February 2021), now has a November 2021 release date.

Both Black Widow and Eternals are just a few major Disney movies that have seen dramatic changes to release dates due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

What happened? — On Wednesday, Disney delayed its entire slate of upcoming feature films, including Marvel releases. The biggest change thus far is Black Widow, the solo Scarlett Johansson superhero movie.

The following below are all the new release dates for the next three Marvel movies.

The new dates originally belonged to different Marvel movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and the untitled third Spider-Man.

But regular delays in observance of the coronavirus pandemic pushed the production of those films even further to accommodate the shooting of current movies, like Shang-Chi, which face the challenge of production while conducting regular tests and practicing social distancing.

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh star in 'Black Widow,' the first movie of Marvel's "Phase 4" now delayed to 2021.

Marvel Entertainment

The New Marvel Phase 4 — Black Widow, initially scheduled for May 1, 2020, was poised to kick off the new era of Marvel movies following the colossal finale of 2019's Avengers: Endgame. But the pandemic has forced Disney to endlessly remap its plans for the start of Marvel's Phase Four as theaters cannot open on a widespread scale.

In this new Phase 4 calendar, Shang-Chi will now open in between Black Widow and Eternals, as opposed to Shang-Chi opening after both Black Widow and Eternals. Though the cross-franchise connectivity of the MCU is well-established, it seems unlikely this shuffling will change anything in the weeds of Phase 4's story plotting.

The Inverse Analysis — Besides the unfortunate reality that is our inability to get a handle on the pandemic — the United States crossed 200,000 deaths this week — the patience of Marvel fans will be further stressed as 2020 will go by without a new Marvel Studios movie. (The New Mutants, a Fox film, has no relationship with the MCU.) There hasn't been a year without an MCU movie since 2009, a gap year between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. The only bright spot may be WandaVision, a Disney+ show set in Marvel's cinematic universe and premiering this year.

In a dark way, it's poetic that people's opposition to staying inside, avoiding gatherings, and wearing face masks means losing out on favorite past times. Since the explosion of Iron Man in 2008, the release of new Marvel movies has felt like a cultural event. After Endgame, there was a lot of special excitement for the new "era" of Marvel. But as the pandemic rages and people dismiss its potential for devastation, a much-needed comfort in new Marvel movies gets further out of reach.

Black Widow will now open in theaters on May 7, 2021.

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