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 Marvel Cinematic Universe will take a long breather before beginning its next saga. After the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, nearly a year will pass before the first film in Phase 4, Black Widow, is released on May 1, 2020. Cate Shortland is directing.
Natasha Romanoff perished in Avengers: Endgame, but she’ll return in a prequel adventure set during her early days with S.H.I.E.L.D. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz. Though little is currently known about these actors' roles outside of Johansson’s, some plot details were shared with the SDCC crowd via a teaser trailer.
The footage included scenes from the oft-referenced Budapest incident and a glimpse of the villainous Taskmaster, an assassin who can replicate the fighting moves of any individual. Pugh is said to play Yelena Belova, the second Black Widow in Marvel Comics canon - one who eventually takes an antagonistic turn - while Harbour plays Alexi Shostakov, the Red Guardian.
With the arrival of the Disney+ streaming service, Marvel Studios has announced a slate of television miniseries that will tie directly into the MCU. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are the first stars of the show, with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan returning to play the titular characters. Their team-up series will debut sometime in the fall of 2020.
The two stars will be joined in their series by Daniel Bruhl, who reprises his role as Baron Helmut Zemo. This time he’ll be wearing his trademark purple mask from the comics, as revealed by Bruhl himself during a surprise SDCC appearance. Given the design of the series’ logo, it’s a foregone conclusion that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will deal with the legacy of Captain America’s shield - and the job title that comes with it.
Eternals hits theaters on November 6, 2020 as the second film of Phase 4. The cosmic race from the planet Titan - which has already given the MCU Thanos the Mad Titan - will be played by an ensemble of veteran actors, including Angelina Jolie (Thena), Richard Madden (Ikaris), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Lauren Ridloff (Makkari), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Salma Hayek (Ajak), Lia McHugh (Sprite), and Don Lee (Gilgamesh).
Chloe Zhao will occupy the director’s chair, meaning the first two films of Phase 4 will be directed by women - just one of the many steps Marvel Studios is taking to increase its diversity and representation moving forward. On that same front, Eternals is also slated to be the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature an LGBTQ+ lead character.
Shang-Chi may not be a household name yet, but he will be after starring in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, set for release on February 12, 2021. The Chinese martial arts master, who has served as a comic book Avenger in recent years, will be played by Simu Liu.
While the comic book version of Shang-Chi is plagued by his villainous father, Fu Machu - a problematic character that Marvel doesn’t even own the rights to anymore - the role of his nemesis will instead go to the real Mandarin, played by Tony Leung. Actor/rapper Awkwafina will also appear in the film in an unknown role. Destin Daniel Cretton will direct.