When Spider-Man: Far From Home hit theaters in July 2019, it did so as the last film in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) - and at a time when fans of the franchise had no idea what was coming next. With no announcement about what movies were scheduled after Endgame, audiences were left wondering about the future of the MCU - until Marvel Studios answered their questions at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
There, in front of a crowded Hall H full of screaming fans, Kevin Feige and a host of superstars revealed the first half of the MCU’s Phase 4 slate. The announcement was full of surprises, unexpected returns, and long-awaited debuts, including the Black Widow solo film. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue to march on for the next few years much as it has for the past decade, but with enough new content and characters to make the experience just as fresh and exciting as it did the first time.
The Avengers may be gone, but with Phase 4’s lineup of films and television series, it’s unlikely that fans will stop assembling anytime soon.
The second Disney+ streaming series on Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 docket is the idiosyncratically titled WandaVision, which promises to be every bit as strange as it sounds when it becomes available in spring 2021. The show will star Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as a surprisingly resurrected Vision, though it’s anyone’s guess as to how the lovable synthezoid returns to the land of the living.
More surprising than the return of the Vision, however, is the announcement that WandaVision will also star Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, a grownup version of Maria Rambeau’s young daughter from Captain Marvel. Given that Monica from the comics is a long-time Avenger with special abilities of her own, it’s a fair assumption that this series will end up dealing with her superheroic origin.
Few titles in the history of superhero films have sounded more comic book-y than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, set to release on May 7, 2021. The sequel will see Benedict Cumberbatch return to the role of Doctor Stephen Strange, though it’s as yet unknown whether any of his costars will be joining him. Scott Derrickson is returning as director, and he pledged at SDCC to make The Multiverse of Madness the first "scary" film of the MCU.
In a surprise announcement, Marvel Studios also revealed that Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff will play a major role in the film. Presumably, she may receive training from the good Doctor in the use of her mysterious powers. Her Disney+ series, WandaVision, was mentioned as a direct lead-in to the film.
The next Disney+ original series will star one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s oldest characters, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. However, when Loki becomes available for streaming in the spring of 2021, it won’t be the version of the character that most fans are familiar with. That Loki met his untimely end at the hand of Thanos in Infinity War.
Instead, the Disney+ series will star the 2012 version of Loki from Avengers: Endgame, the one that got his hands on the Tesseract and disappeared to parts unknown. Based on Kevin Feige’s cryptic comments, it seems likely that Loki will be telling the story of what comes next.
Marvel Comics has a long history of asking its readers "What If?" via a series of out-of-continuity stories that show what would happen if important events in the Marvel universe went slightly differently. The idea is being ported over to the MCU for the studio’s first ever animated series. What If…? launches on Disney+ in summer 2021.
It’s unknown yet which hypothetical tales will be tackled in the series, but given the announced voice talent it seems that the stories will run the gamut of MCU continuity. Already attached to reprise their characters are names like Mark Ruffalo, Michael B. Jordan, and Natalie Portman. Jeffrey Wright is set to star as the voice of the omniscient Watcher, the traditional curator of What If…? chronicles.
The first episode in the series will star Haley Atwell and answer the question, "What if Peggy Carter became a Super Soldier instead of Steve Rogers?"