Image: Peter Sciretta
Marvel Studios’ Phase Four of its Marvel Cinematic Universe will include 10 movies and Disney + series when it launches next year, with 2021 looking especially crowded. President Kevin Feige appeared at San Diego Comic-Con for Marvel’s 90-minute appearance in Hall H, where he gave a pretty lengthy update on Phase 4.
The Phase Four slate that Marvel unveiled includes the following: Black Widow (May 1st, 2020), Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020), The Eternals (November 6th, 2020), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021), WandaVision (Spring 2021), Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (May 7th, 2021), Loki (Spring 2021), What If (Summer 2021), Hawkeye (Fall 2021), and Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5th, 2021). Feige made a surprise announcement at the end saying that he didn’t have time to address where the Fantastic Four or X-Men would end up in the franchise, but that one additional project will be Blade, which will feature Mahershala Ali.
The next phase includes a mix of sequels, like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness — to be directed by Scott Derrickson, which is described as the MCU’s first horror film, Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth movie in the franchise, to be directed by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi. Unlike the last several Marvel movies, however, Natalie Portman will play Thor this time around. There’s at least one prequel, too — Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson in the titular role, one that she has been fighting to have for years. Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh, and David Harbour will also star.
Other film projects will feature several new heroes: The Eternals and Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, neither Shang-Chi or The Eternals are household names — but it looks as though Marvel Studios is hoping that they’ll have wide, mainstream appeal.
The Eternals centers on a group of beings known as Eternals who use their advanced skills to protect humans in the future. The comic book series, created by legendary creator Jack Kirby was, “one of many many many things that we are actively beginning to have creative discussions about,” Feige previously told Slash Film. Feige also confirmed that the movie will star Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie.
Shang-Chi will focus on the titular character, Shang-Chi, who devotes his entire life to bringing down his father’s criminal empire. Feige confirmed at Comic-Con that The Mandarin, the villain who was supposed to appear in Iron Man 3 but ultimately did not, will appear for real this time in Shang-Chi. Marvel is working with director Destin Daniel Cretton on the project, best known for his critically acclaimed film Short Term 12. Simu Liu, best known for his work on Canadian comedy series, Kim’s Convenience, is set to play Shang-Chi.
But the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t just movies anymore — Disney’s forthcoming streaming service, Disney+, will feature several ongoing projects, like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye, and What If?. Feige and his team went into some more detail about a couple of shows, including Loki. The show will follow the character after he escaped with the Tesseract in 2012 — something that only happened thanks to Avengers: Endgame. The version of Loki played by Hiddleston appears to be one that didn’t experience the events of several films, like Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. The show will premiere on Disney+ in spring 2021.
Unlike the existing entries in the MCU, where there was a major divide between the film and television properties, it looks as though the stories will fit together closely, with projects like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picking up after Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye exploring some of the character’s time as Ronin, and with the events in WandaVision leading right into Doctor Strange 2. Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger previously said the MCU films and Disney+ series would intertwine, and now we know how that looks. There’s a good chance other characters from all of the aforementioned series and films could intertwine in some way, too.
That will also extend to the Disney + show What If?, a non-canon, animated series that presents alternate takes on the existing MCU, like what if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? The panel revealed that numerous MCU actors will reprise their roles for these alternate takes.
The Phase 4 slate answers the immediate question about what comes after the franchise that culminated with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-man: Far From Home. Expect more information next month at Disney’s D23 conference.