The dawning of Phase 4 is upon us. (And would have been here already, had the pandemic not caused Marvel Studios to postpone their entire slate. Alas, 2020 will be the first year since 2009 without a single MCU movie.)
Avengers: Endgame marked the end of Marvel’s cinematic universe as we know it — but it was not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, the MCU will continue on in new and exciting directions, with heroes we know and love and plenty of intriguing new faces.
So, what comes next? Below, we break down everything we know about what’s to come.
Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany’s Vision have been integral, if somewhat secondary, characters in larger Avengers stories, but they’ll be central to the intriguingly-titled WandaVision. “We’re gonna get weird. We’re gonna go deep,” Olsen teased of the series. “And we’re going to finally understand Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch.”
The series will be “half classic sitcom and half full-MCU spectacular,” about “two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives who begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.” Considering it takes place after the events of Endgame, WandaVision will have to reckon with the fact that, uh… Vision died during Infinity War.
The supporting cast, meanwhile, will include characters we’ve met before — like Kat Denning’s Darcy Lewis and Randall Park’s Agent Jimmy Wu — as well as a nosy neighbor played by Kathryn Hahn and the grown-up Monica Rambeau, played by Akira Akbar in Captain Marvel and now, as an adult, by Teyonah Parris.
Directed by: Matt Shakman | Head writer: Jac Schaeffer
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, Kat Denning, Randall Park and Kathryn Hahn
Natasha Romanoff has been part of the MCU since the beginning — or since Iron Man 2, at least — and 23 films in, she is finally fronting a movie of her own. Considering she died in Endgame, it’s not exactly surprising that Black Widow is a prequel, of sorts: It takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War but before Infinity War and will explore the “darker parts of [Natasha’s] ledger.”
Black Widow will also introduce comic characters such as fellow spies Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina (Rachel Weisz); Russia’s answer to Captain America, The Red Guardian (David Harbour); and the villainous Taskmaster. Whether we’ll get a cameo from Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is TBD. (The movie has teased a long-awaited return to Budapest, after all.)
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt and Ray Winstone
Promising to be more intrinsically connected to the MCU than previous Marvel TV series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier centers on Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) following the events of Endgame. “I want to see what really makes him tick, what ticks him off,” Mackie has said of Bucky. “How much ticking can that clock do before that tick goes tock and that tock goes boom?”
Turns out Falcon won’t just inherit Captain America’s shield, but his enemies too: Daniel Brühl reprises his role as Zemo, who attempted to turn the Avengers against one another in Civil War and will now don his signature purple hood from the comics as Baron Zemo. Emily VanCamp, meanwhile, will reprise her role as Sharon Carter and Wyatt Russell joins as John Walker, aka U.S. Agent.
Directed by: Kari Skogland | Head writer: Malcolm Spellman
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell and Georges St-Pierre
Perhaps this will be the mea culpa Marvel fans need for Iron Fist? Shang-Chi (to be played by Simu Liu, who successfully campaigned for the role on Twitter) is known in the comics canon as the “Master of Kung Fu.” In those books, he’s often pitted against his father, immortal crime lord and sorcerer Fu Manchu, but onscreen he will face a familiar adversary.
“The Ten Rings has been in the MCU since the very beginning, those sons of bitches that Obadiah Stane hired [in Iron Man]. They helped out Whiplash a little bit in Iron Man 2,” Feige revealed. “There was an imposter that played the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. In an awesome short we did called All Hail the King, we revealed there is a real Mandarin and he was quite upset with the shenanigans they pulled in Iron Man 3.”
Legendary Chinese actor Tony Leung will play the real Mandarin, with Awkwafina co-starring in a yet-undisclosed role. (Perhaps as undercover MI-6 agent Leiko Wu?) Now, here’s hoping they opt to keep Shang-Chi’s pet monkey, Chee.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Leung
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki may have died in Infinity War, but Endgame undid his death — sort of. During the Time Heist sequence, Hiddleston’s god of mischief makes off with the Tesseract — and now his Disney+ series will reveal where its titular antihero teleported to and explore what happens to him in this newly branched timeline.
Which makes Loki‘s seeding within the broader MCU a bit…complicated. The series is set after the events of the first Avengers in the in-universe year of 2012, but in an alternate timeline created when the current-day Avengers traveled back in time in Endgame.
“Just about the last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk smashed,” Hiddleston explained. “It’s a lot of psychological evolution that is still yet to happen. But Kevin [Feige] has generously shown me what his plans are — I can’t tell you any of them — but it is one of the most exciting creative opportunities I’ve ever come across. This is new territory.”
Directed by: Kate Herron | Head writer: Michael Waldron
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Owen Wilson and Richard E. Grant
Marvel Studios’ first animated series, What If…?, is based on a series of comics that ask that question, well, what if…? What if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? What if Peggy Carter had taken the super soldier serum? What if the Avengers were all zombies? The Disney+ series takes events from the MCU canon and spins them, with the movie actors reprising their roles “in very different forms.”
Jeffrey Wright voices The Watcher, who first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, and is, he explains, “a non-Earthly being who observes all things. He’s watching over the multiverse and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of Earthlings.”
Directed by: Bryan Andrews | Head writer: Ashley Bradley
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Sean Gunn, Natalie Portman, David Dastmalchian, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Toby Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Rooker and Chris Sullivan
Jeremy Renner is the last remaining OG Avengers to front his own project, but 10 years after an uncredited cameo in Thor, he will get a Disney+ event series, aptly titled Hawkeye, that will delve into the archer’s time as the samurai sword-wielding mercenary Ronin and see Clint Barton train a protégé: Kate Bishop, a beloved comic character who inherits the Hawkeye mantle and goes on to become a central member of The Young Avengers.
“The better version of Hawkeye,” Renner said of helping to introduce Kate Bishop into the MCU. “I think the fiber of what Hawkeye is is a superhero without superpowers, and I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers.”
As for reports that Hailee Steinfeld has been cast as Kate Bishop, see how she reacted to ET here.
Directed by: Bert and Bertie, Rhys Thomas | Head writer: Jonathan Igla
Starring: Jeremy Renner
One of the most ambitious Marvel titles making its way to the big screen is an adaptation of Jack Kirby’s The Eternals. “The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent here by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants,” actor Richard Madden explained. (We’ve met one Celestial already: Peter Quill’s father, Ego.)
Further plot details are currently under wraps, but director Chloe Zhao says, “Through [the Eternals’] journey we really get to explore what it means to be human.” Angelina Jolie and Selma Hayek topline the ensemble cast as the Eternal warrior, Thena, and the group’s leader, Ajak, respectively, while The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Ridloff will play the MCU’s first-ever deaf hero, Makkari.
Gemma Chan, who played Minerva in 2019’s Captain Marvel, will return to the MCU in a new role as the Eternal, Sersi. Richard Madden is Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani is Kingo, Barry Keoghan is Druig, Dong-seok Ma is Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh is Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry is Phastos and Kit Harington is Dane Whitman, who in the comics becomes the sword-wielding hero Black Knight.
Directed by: Chloe Zhao
Starring: Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Dong-seok Ma and Angelina Jolie
For a moment there, it seemed Peter Parker’s time in the Marvel universe would be cut short. Following the events of Endgame and Far From Home — not to mention that massive post-credits cliffhanger — the fate of Tom Holland’s web-slinger was up in the air when the deal between Disney and Sony to share the character was on the verge of dissolving.
Thankfully, our national nightmare is over, as the studios — with a bit of nudging by Holland himself — reached an agreement that will see Marvel producing a third Spider-Man film set within the MCU and allow Peter Parker to appear in a future, as-yet-revealed Marvel Studios film.
“Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe,” Feige said in a statement. “He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spider-Verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon
Trilogies, be damned! After rebranding the god of thunder for Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is returning for a fourquel, titled Thor: Love and Thunder, along with director Taika Waititi and the new King of Asgard herself, Tessa Thompson. (Confirming Valkyrie is indeed queer, Thompson revealed that her first order of business as king will be finding a queen.)
Last we saw Thor, he was boarding a ship with the Asgardians of the Galaxy, leaving many to predict he might pop up in the third Guardians of the Galaxy. But that won’t arrive until Phase 5 and, instead, Love and Thunder will adapt Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor. “It’s full of emotion and love and thunder and it introduces for the first time female Thor,” Waititi said.
Like in the comics, that female Thor — called Mighty Thor — is none other than Jane Foster, and Natalie Portman is indeed returning to franchise for Love and Thunder. “I love Tessa and Chris so much, so it’s exciting to work with them again,” Portman told ET. “And I’m very excited to wield the hammer.”
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi and Christian Bale
Benedict Cumberbatch’s good doctor has made quite a few appearances since his debut in 2016’s Doctor Strange — in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as Infinity War and Endgame — but the Sorcerer Supreme will face new terrain in his next solo outing: Horror.
“We’re going to make the first scary MCU film,” Scott Derrickson announced at Comic-Con, revealing that Strange would contend with villains from the multiverse and other “psychedelic weirdness” alongside an enchanting new co-star: The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, who says the events of WandaVision will tie directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).
Derrickson has since stepped down as director — citing “creative differences” — and replaced by none other than Sam Raimi, who knows his way around both a horror flick (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell) and superheroes. (He is the man behind the original, Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man trilogy.)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Wong
We’ve known a Black Panther sequel was in the works with Ryan Coogler returning to write and direct, and Feige and Coogler made that official at D23 when the latter announced the film’s release date. Though Coogler wasn’t willing to reveal the movie’s official title or its villain just yet, he promised, “We’re hard at work on it trying to give you something special. We just really, really want it to be right.”
On Aug. 28, 2021, star Chadwick Boseman passed away at age 43. In his statement, Coogler wrote, “I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.”
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Danai Gurira and Martin Freeman
When your movie makes a billion dollars at the box office, you make another one. The big question is when Captain Marvel 2 will take place, considering Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers has appeared in two different time periods within the MCU: in the ’90s of her origin story and in the present day, as seen in Endgame?
So, will the follow-up return to the past and continue Carol’s quest to take down the Central Intelligence, as teed up at the end of the first film? (There’s also Lee Pace’s Ronan, who ominously pledged to return for Carol.) Or will it be set after Endgame, considering the MCU has established that Skrulls are still very much in play in the present timeline? “We have ideas for both,” Feige has told ET.
Directed by: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Brie Larson
Marvel has planted their flag on a handful of dates throughout 2022 and 2023, with four films set to drop each year. To-be-revealed films with come out on Oct. 7, 2022 and Feb. 17, May 5, July 28 and Nov. 3, 2023, as for which films they will be, we have some ideas…
Guardians 3 was originally meant to kick off Phase 4, but when James Gunn was fired from the franchise in 2018, the threequel was put on hold. That is, until Disney reinstated the director in March, putting the production back on track but with a postponed release date. (Gunn will first write and direct The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.)
The entire gang — Peter Quill, Drax, Gamora, Groot, Mantis, Nebula and Rocket Raccoon — is expected to return, though what their continued adventures will entail is to be determined: Will Guardians 3 introduce Adam Warlock, as teased in the post-credits scene of Guardians 2? Will it center on the hunt for Gamora following the events of Endgame? And what about the Thor of it all?
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Marvel capped off its big Phase 4 announcement with one final surprise and tease for what’s to come in Phase 5: Mahershala Ali will play Blade within the MCU. (“But he was in Luke Cage!,” you scream into the void about the fact that Ali played Cottonmouth on season one of the Netflix series, which purported to take place within the MCU. Turns out it was all less connected than we’d been told, and Daredevil was never going to be in Infinity War.)
For those who never saw the Wesley Snipes trilogy of films, Eric Brooks, aka Blade, is a half-human/half-vampire Daywalker on a quest to rid the world of bloodsucking fiends. How the MCU plans to introduce literal vampires into a largely science-based universe remains to be seen, but we do know one foe from the comics he won’t be facing any time soon: Morbius the Living Vampire, who is part of Sony’s Marvel-verse and will be played by Jared Leto in a 2020 film.
Directed by: TBD
Starring: Mahershala Ali
Ms. Marvel will introduce the MCU’s first Muslim superhero: Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City and a polymorph capable of changing size and shape. She assumes the mantle of Ms. Marvel, which was a title that belonged to Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel) in the comics.
“You will meet her in her Disney+ series and then you will see her in our films,” Feige announced at D23. (Translation: Get ready for Carol and Kamala to meet on the big screen sooner rather than later.) No talent has been confirmed yet, but Mindy Kaling and Riz Ahmed previously expressed interest in the project.
Directed by: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Meera Menon | Head writer: Bisha K. Ali
Moon Knight will be “a new action-adventure series” that “is something very unique and exciting for us,” Feige announced. Often likened to the Batman of the Marvel universe, Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a mercenary left for dead in the Egyptian desert who now “may or may not be infused with powers from Khonshu the Moon God — or he might just be crazy.” (His comic book counterpart has dissociative identity disorder.)
“We’ve assembled a room full of brilliant writers who truly love this character, and we’re all hard at work crafting something special for you,” series creator Jeremy Slater has tweeted. “So stick around and stay tuned. Moon Knight is on the way, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”
Directed by: TBD | Head writer: Jeremy Slater
“Bruce Banner is no longer the only Hulk in the MCU,” Feige revealed when he announced that She-Hulk would be coming to the MCU. A fan-favorite character first introduced in the ’80s, Jennifer Walters is “a Hulk, she’s a lawyer and she’s going to star in a show unlike anything we’ve done before.”
In the comics, Jennifer Walters is cousins with Bruce Banner and inherits the ability to Hulk out after receiving an emergency blood transfusion from him. With her newfound powers, she fights in the courtroom by day and takes on supervillains at night.
In September, Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany was cast as Jennifer, with Mark Ruffalo weighing in on the casting: “Welcome to the family, cuz!” Still no word yet if Ruffalo himself will cameo.
Directed by: Kat Coiro | Head writer: Jessica Gao (Ricky and Morty)
Starring: Tatiana Maslany
Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox returned the screen rights to Marvel Comics’ most well-known heroes to Marvel Studios, which means the Fantastic Four, aka Marvel’s First Family, and the X-Men are now fair game to be introduced into the MCU. And Feige confirmed they will be, eventually, though that was as much as he was willing to say about when, where and how we’ll see the likes of Johnny Storm and the Thing, Wolverine and Deadpool and Mystique rub elbows with the Avengers.
Asked by ET if he has future plans to discuss introducing the X-Men, Feige simply said, “Yes.”
[This story was originally published on April 30, 2019.]
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