Marvel Studio’s complete Phase 4 lineup has been revealed! Doctor Strange, Thor, Shang-Chi and so much more!
Oh man, it’s a good time to be a comic book fan. Marvel Studios just took to San Diego Comic Con 2019 to reveal their upcoming lineup of movies for Phase 4. This is the first ever post-Thanos phase, pushing past stories that have been built up for over 10 years. The lineup reflects that, with Marvel making big bold moves in both movies and TV shows on Disney Plus.
It’s pretty nuts, so let’s break it down chronologically. What does this all mean for the future of the MCU?
Black Widow – May 1, 2020
This movie is going to be a bittersweet outing for the titular character, considering her death in Avengers: Endgame. This is a prequel to all that, showcasing very dark times for Natasha Romanoff, including the famously talked about mission in Budapest. Cate Shortland is directing this film, with an immensely talented cast that includes David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and of course, Scarlett Johansson herself.
Taskmaster will be the villain of this movie, and that’s almost an entire news article by itself. He’s always been a pretty interesting villain in the comics, as he has the ability to memorize any of his opponents’ moves during battle. This means anyone is an even match for Taskmaster, especially those without abilities like Black Widow. David Harbour’s character could be a villain as well, as he’s playing the Red Guardian, essentially Russia’s Captain America.
Black Widow’s dead, but we’re talking about comic book movies here. I’m highly confident that if this movie does well enough and Scarlett Johansson wants to come back, we could see her character brought back to life. That could have serious implications on the events of Avengers: Endgame, but Marvel will make it work somehow. Either that, or they’ll go the Wonder Woman route and continue to make prequel movies for no reason.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Fall, 2020
There are very few TV shows I’m hyped for more than this one. Falcon is inheriting Captain America’s shield — we know that much. That means big things for this TV show, featuring two of Cap’s very best friends. These two have never quite gotten along in the past, but that only means good things on the drama side of things.
Way more interesting is the implication behind this TV show. It’s been confirmed that we’ll see Falcon suit up as Captain America sometime in the series. That means that we’re going to see the transition period as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes try to get used to the fact that one of them was chosen above the other.
The public will have to come to terms with it as well. Both in the original comic book storyline and in the real world, Falcon getting the shield wasn’t received very well. We’ll see the duo deal with that and hopefully support each other through it — while fighting the nefarious Baron Zemo at the same time!
At SDCC 2019, it was revealed that Daniel Brühl will come back as the Civil War villain and don his infamous purple mask to boot. Hopefully, that means he’ll be getting his sword as well. The show will only be six episodes long, so there’s a lot of storytelling potential here. We’ll also get some really great looks at what a post-Endgame world looks like.
Also, the insane revelations of Spider-Man: Far From Home and its consequences! No spoilers, though. Not yet.
The Eternals – November 6, 2020
Marvel’s driving the Eternals forward in full force, being the first new adaptation from Phase 4. These will be the first time the mass audience will meet this weird bunch and trust me, they’re weird. The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens created by ancient beings known as the Celestials. Their evil counterparts, the Deviants are constantly working against them.
The Eternals are Marvel’s next big step into a larger, cosmic universe. It’s not entirely clear if that’ll work out for them, as the Eternals have never been particularly interesting or noteworthy in the comics. In fact, the vast majority of them suffered an ugly death some time ago, and Marvel hasn’t revisited them since.
Still, it’s an absolutely mad cast the movie has working for it. Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Brian Tyree Henry are just a few of the big names on board, and Marvel is going to push them hard for the film. What I’m most excited for is to see more of the cosmic side of the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy style. Except this time, instead of exploring the dirty, murky alleys of the universe, I want to see higher-level cosmic beings and what they’ve been up to all this time.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – February 12, 2021
Shang-Chi! First off, Simu Liu of Kim’s Convenience fame will be the titular hero. It’s splendid casting and in fact, began with Simu Liu taking to Twitter to ask for the part.
Thanks for getting back to me https://t.co/FFRuM03p20
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 21, 2019
This movie will also see the real Mandarin’s debut in the MCU, played by Tony Leung. We did have a Mandarin previously played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3, but of course that didn’t really turn out to be everything we hoped. In Marvel’s short All Hail the King, it was revealed that The Mandarin was alive and well, and not at all happy with actor Trevor Slattery’s shenanigans in Iron Man 3 under his name.
We’ll definitely be seeing the Mandarin in full force here, possibly having a more familial connection with Shang Chi than usual. This is due to the Shang Chi originally being more closely related to the villain Fu Manchu, whose racial connotations haven’t quite aged well today.
Awkwafina will also be in the movie in some capacity, and Destin Daniel Cretton will be in the director’s seat here. I expect the Mandarin’s ten rings to be the movie’s focal point. Each of these rings were alien in origin and gave the Mandarin a specific ability — the easiest McGuffin a movie writer could ask for.
WandaVision – Spring, 2021
Alright, now this… is going to be interesting. Set aside for a moment that Vision is completely, utterly dead. Set aside that this TV show is set in a post-Endgame Marvel universe. You can even set aside that the series is set to tie into the next Doctor Strange movie, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.
The most exciting thing about this show is the comic book it’s almost certainly based on. That is Tom King’s Vision, a comic that was so bizarre and so strange, and exceptionally well made. From Paul Bettany to Elizabeth Olsen, everyone on stage during the reveal kept stressing how weird and strange the series was going to be, and that just tells me they’re pulling from this particular Vision comic, the one that has defined the character to this day.
In the comic, Vision and Scarlet Witch have broken up, and the poor android in his incapability to register human feelings properly, decides to create an android family of his own complete with a robot dog. They move to the suburbs, settle down, and then the bloodshed begins. Everything goes wrong almost immediately, and it all turns into a high stakes thriller very quickly.
Obviously the series won’t follow this storyline to a tee, but I think if Vision ever comes back without the Mind Stone, he’s going to come back a little wrong. Wanda is probably going to struggle with this new, different version of the Vision, and they’ll have to deal with the changes together. If they do this right and pull from that comic, this could be the best thing Marvel has ever done. Period.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 7, 2021
WandaVision won’t be Scarlet Witch’s last appearance in the MCU. No sir, she’s sharing the big screen very soon in Doctor Strange’s next big outing. With such a great title, I might not even need more details. I’m already sold just based on that and the Scarlet Witch team up.
Some more information was released on the movie too, though. Scott Derrickson will be returning to helm the movie, and described it as the MCU’s first horror film. That makes sense, considering his horror roots go all the way back to Sinister. As harrowing as that film was (the lawnmower!), I expect this movie to be have an added mind-bending twist to it. I mean, it is called the Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange will face off against Nightmare, the terrifying ruler of an entire dream dimension. Think Freddy Krueger – but much, much worse. The movie will also tie into WandaVision, which makes it one of the few movies to actually acknowledge the MCU’s many television shows. We’ll likely see Baron Mordo return as well, considering his villainous turn was teased back in the first Doctor Strange.
Loki – Spring, 2021
Loki? But… he’s dead, isn’t he? Well yes, but actually no. See, we’re not following the Loki who died at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War. We’re following the Loki that escaped with an Infinity Stone in Avengers: Endgame. The logistics of all that is a bit confusing. For example, if he escaped in Avengers, how would he have been imprisoned during the events of Thor: The Dark World?
It’s all a bit murky, but we’ll definitely be following the adventures of Loki after he escaped with the Infinity Stone in Endgame. Knowing him, he would’ve gotten into heaps of mischief and wiggled his way out of it all somehow. Tom Hiddleston will return as Loki, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be animated, and that’s how they’ll get past how high budget it would have to be.
What If…? – Summer, 2021
One of the most exciting announced at SDCC 2019 was What If…? This animated series will be based on one of Marvel’s best comic books, the What If…? series, dealing with many different alternate Marvel events. For example, What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four?
Jeffrey Wright will voice Uatu, or the Watcher. The Watchers do exactly that, they watch. They are an extraterrestrial race of cosmic beings that simply observe the development of the universe as a whole, and Uatu the Watcher is assigned to our solar system. A massive amount of the MCU’s biggest names will also be returning for the show, including Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Brolin, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Rudd and much more.
The first episode will center around “what if Peggy Carter got the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers”. The show will just snowball from there, definitely going into much weirder and stranger ideas. Having it be animated was a brilliant idea, because now they can get a whole bunch of big names do big things with very little time commitment.
Hawkeye – Fall, 2021
Hawkeye, everyone’s favourite underpowered Avenger, is getting his own TV show! This series will explore his time as Ronin before Endgame, but will also see him tutor the next Hawkeye: Kate Bishop!
Kate Bishop was Clint Barton’s successor in the comics during Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run. Although don’t tell him, because he’s still very much sporting the purple bow and arrow to this day. It’s a widely celebrated run, due to it being incredibly well written and sporting a distinctive art style.
As a result, Kate Bishop has become hugely popular, even going on to lead her own team of Avengers recently, the West Coast Avengers. The series will deal with Clint raising the next generation of hero Rocky/Creed-style. That could mean big things for Hawkeye’s future in the MCU, due to his personal familial commitments.
Thor: Love and Thunder – November 5, 2021
What a fantastic name. Years ago, Thor: Ragnarok breathed new life into the character and the franchise as a whole, revitalizing both Marvel and Chris Hemsworth’s interest in the God of Thunder. This new outing aims to do more brand new things for the franchise, one of the more controversial things being to introduce Female Thor.
In the comics, this would be Jane Foster, who became cancer-ridden and getting the hammer when the original Thor became unworthy. While Thor went off on his own gritty journey to become worthy again (and find out why he ever stopped being worthy in the first place), Jane stepped in to be the new Thor.
She was plastered everywhere for quite a while, being a new Avenger, a new Thor, a new everything, everywhere. It was quite a celebrated time for the character as well, as she got many great stories. Currently, Jane has gone from being Thor to becoming Queen of the Valkyries while Thor has become King Thor, but that’s comics for you.
The big twist in all this is that Natalie Portman will be making her triumphant return to the MCU as Jane Foster, and she’ll be the new Thor. Personally, I’m as surprised as the next guy, but a little disappointed as Jane has always been a terribly bland character in the movies.
I trust Taika Waititi though, as he’s returning to helm the movie, to make the character as fresh and exciting again as he did with Thor. Tessa Thompson will also be returning as Valkyrie, and confirmed that we might be seeing the more LGBT friendly elements of the character in this sequel. It’s a lot to take in, but where’s my main man Hulk? Poor big green dummy.
Blade – ???
Blade is a special case, as he’s our first glimpse at Marvel’s plans for Phase 5. Blade’s not included with the rest, and not given a date like the rest as plans for the characters are still in very, very early development. All we really know about the character is that Mahershala Ali will be playing him!
Mahershala Ali was utterly incredible in True Detective Season 3, Moonlight and pretty much anything he’s been in (including Luke Cage), so this casting is absolutely spot on for me. Blade has always been one of the coolest Marvel characters, being half man and half vampire. I mean, his nickname is The Daywalker. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
To be continued…
I know. It’s a lot to take in! It’s honestly a bit underwhelming at first glance, too. I was hoping to see a lot more projects in the works that we absolutely didn’t know about, but most of the new stuff we’ve seen here were already heavily rumored. There’s a huge amount of characters the MCU has yet to throw into their own movies, so there’s still a ton of potential there. Needless to say, they won’t be running out of material anytime soon as long as Nova and Moon Knight still exist.
Kevin Feige even admitted that Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 3 are in the works, and we already know that a couple more Spider-Man movies will be made as long as Sony is willing. He also name dropped the Fantastic Four and ‘mutants’ (X-Men), and we have yet to see how those Fox properties are going to find their way into the MCU.
I just want a Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover. Make it happen, Marvel!