The future of the MCU beyond the outrageously anticipated Avengers: Endgame remains shrouded in mystery, but that hasn’t dampened the excitement of the rabid Marvel fanbase in the slightest. The public only knows a fraction of the Marvel “Phase 4” lineup, but fans have latched onto those sparse details and fed them into the ever-churning internet speculation machine. Despite the frequent fan theorizing, nobody knows what's coming in Phase 4 - except, of course, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and the higher-ups at Disney.
If the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe prove anything, though, it’s that whatever Marvel Studios delivers in Phase 4 will be nothing short of incredible.
The third volume of Guardians of the Galaxy was the earliest film confirmed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4, but then things hit a serious snag. Disney fired director James Gunn following a politically motivated backlash to some offensive tweets from years prior. Gunn jumped ship to the DCEU for Suicide Squad 2.
The future of Guardians of the Galaxy was in question after Gunn was let go. Walt Disney Studios president Alan Horn met with Gunn and was persuaded by the director's public apology to reinstate him for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Marvel Studios apparently did not seriously consider with any other directors while Gunn was out. Gunn confirmed he wrote the film's script before he left the studio and will reassume his work after Suicide Squad 2 wraps.
On December 3, 2018, Marvel announced that they are fast-tracking a Shangi-Chi film, which would be the first movie in the MCU which an Asian superhero protagonist. Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham, who also co-wrote DC's Wonder Woman 1984, is set to write the script. Like Black Panther, Marvel is looking to cast both talent in front of and behind the camera that can authentically combine Asian and Asian American experiences and themes.
Shang-Chi made its comic book debut in Special Marvel Edition #15, released in December 1973. Marvel execs want the script to be stripped of the stereotypes of Asian Americans commonly presented when the comic first hit shelves. In the comics, Shang-Chi is known as the "Master of Kung Fu." He may not have superpowers, but his kung fu skills are unprecedented.
The end of the MCU’s third phase will also mark the end for several important characters - or, at the very least, the actors who portray them. Chris Evans bid farewell to the role of Captain America as filming for Avengers: Endgame wrapped up, and he’s not the only founding Avenger with an expiring contract.
Some of the franchise’s heaviest hitters - including Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth - are at the end of their deals, and there’s plenty of reason to believe they’ll be moving on permanently before Phase 4 begins.
Fortunately for fans despondent about the departure of Captain America and his amazing friends, the pages of Marvel Comics are rife with potential replacement Avengers. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has dropped hints about future appearances from Moon Knight and Kamala Khan, the young hero with embiggening powers known as Ms. Marvel.
Feige has also referred to the character of Nova - whether it be the Richard Rider or Sam Alexander version - as one with “immediate potential” to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Nova won’t be the only addition to Marvel’s cosmic cadre of characters. The birth of Adam Warlock was foreshadowed in a post-credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and director James Gunn indicated Warlock was being saved for Phase 4 - before the creator was unceremoniously booted from the franchise.
On October 29, 2018, The Wrap learned that Katherine Langford of 13 Reasons Why fame joined the Marvel family for a secret role in Avengers: Endgame. Some speculate that Langford plays Kate Bishop, the second Hawkeye.