Marvel had a pretty big weekend. Not only did Avengers: Endgame take the highest-grossing film title from Avatar after a theatrical re-release, the studio announced their whole slate for the formerly mysterious Phase Four of the cinematic universe at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend.
There are 11 new projects in total, split almost evenly between theatrical film releases and television shows coming to Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ (more on their TV universe here). Fans of the MCU should take comfort in knowing there will be lots of familiar faces, both predictable and surprising—Black Widow’s long-awaited standalone film was a surefire bet; Natalie Portman’s return to the Thor franchise (as Female Thor, no less) was not.
But just like the real universe, the MCU is always expanding. Tons of new characters are being folded into the mix, like the deep comics pull Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings or the particularly exciting announcement that Mahershala Ali will put his spin on the profane vampire hunter Blade. Here’s everything Marvel Studios announced, listed in chronological order of release.
Black Widow will have Scarlett Johannsson’s eponymous hero battling the mimic The Taskmaster. She’ll be joined by Stranger Things’ David Harbour, Midsommar’s Florence Pugh, The Favourite’s Rachel Weisz and The Handmaid’s Tale’s O-T Fagbenle. The Cate Shortland-helmed film will be out on May 1, 2020.
Marvel’s first program on Disney+ will find Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan taking on Captain America: Civil War’s baddie Baron Zemo as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. It’s out sometime in fall 2020.
The Eternals’ star-studded cast includes Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Don Lee (aka Ma Dong-seok) and Lauren Ridloff, all of whom will help fold more of the cosmic elements of the comics into the MCU mix. The Chloe Zhao film will also feature the MCU’s first deaf hero. It hits theaters on Nov. 6, 2020.
Simu Liu will be playing Shang-Chi and fighting The (actually real this time) Mandarin. Liu is joined by Awkwafina and Hong Kong’s Tony Leung, who is known for legendary films like Internal Affairs and Hard Boiled. The film will also be investigating what’s up with crime syndicate The Ten Rings, whom diehard fans might remember were the group that kidnapped Tony Stark way back in the first Iron Man movie. Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is out in theaters on Feb. 12, 2021.
Marvel says that WandaVision will be “unlike anything we’ve done before,” and confirmed that it’ll take place after the plot proceedings (and notable deaths of one of the title characters) of the latest Avengers movies. It sounds like it’ll somehow involve the apocalyptic House of M run of comics, and might serve to introduce more X-Men characters into the mix. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are set to take Disney+ by storm in spring 2021, with Teyonah Parris also starring as a grown-up Monica Rambeau, daughter of Captain Marvel’s Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch).
Yes, the MCU is roping in the intergalactic storylines to the mix, but what about cosmic … horror? The Lovecraftian-sounding Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness seeks to do so, according to director Scott Derrickson and star Benedict Cumberbatch. It’ll take place after WandaVision, and will hit theaters on May 7, 2021.
The bafflingly logo’d Loki series will finally give all the diehard Tom Hiddleston fans the character fix they’ve been begging for since his first appearance in the MCU. It’ll premiere on Disney+ in spring 2021.
The MCU’s first animated series What If…? has Jeffrey Wright narrating as The Watcher. It’ll also include basically every other actor in the MCU showing up at some point to reprise their roles in hypothetical scenarios. This one sounds like it’ll be some bananas wish-fulfillment. It’ll be on Disney+ in summer 2021.
Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton will be training Kate Bishop, who eventually takes the Hawkeye title. No word on whether Renner will be writing the theme song, but we can only hope.
Thor: Love and Thunder will bring Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster back, this time taking on the Thor mantle herself. Tessa Thompson says that her newly throned (as of Endgame) Valkyrie “needs to find her queen,” confirming the character as the MCU’s first openly LGBTQ hero, and we’ve got no idea what Chris Hemsworth will be up to in the film. Taika Waititi is set to direct. Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on Nov. 5, 2021.
The announcement that Mahershala Ali will play Blade reportedly brought one of the loudest rounds of applause at SDCC this year, and for good reason: it’s a perfect fit. We’ve got no known plot information or even a release window, but we’re excited nonetheless.
Whew, that’s a lot. Here’s a scary thought: This is all coming out in the next two years. There’s much more coming, too, as sequels to Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy are still in the works, and Marvel has teased the Fantastic Four’s return to the fold. How Phase Four will shape up without the tight restrictions of the Avengers storylines remains to be seen, though this slate of titles seems to suggest that the MCU is set to relax and have some inclusive fun for a bit.