After a false start thanks to the global pandemic, the cinematic branch of the MCU’s Phase 4 has kicked off, with 13 upcoming Marvel movies to follow Black Widow. That’s on top of a raft of Disney+ Marvel TV shows including the debuts of She-Hulk, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel, among others, which represent the future of the MCU. Black Widow, though, is all about rectifying a misstep in the franchise’s past.
Scarlett Johansson’s story in the MCU is now over, with the potential for a Black Widow sequel pinned on a legacy character taking over in her place, but seeing her own stand-alone movie after so long feels like justice. Natasha Romanoff’s story had left breadcrumbs of intrigue, from the teases of her past in The Avengers through to what Age Of Ultron revealed more overtly. And while it all ended in Endgame with her death, Black Widow does still manage to look forward to the future of the MCU.
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Even with Black Widow coming as late as July, 2021 will still see the release of another three MCU movies, before another five follow in 2022 with sequels sitting alongside the new characters making their franchise bows. Both sides of the MCU coin are equally exciting, as Marvel’s behemoth series looks both to the past and the future, and the winners will be the fans who get the huge number of movies to look forward to, even without whatever the new X-Men property will be.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – September 3, 2021
After a protracted journey to the big screen that has taken in various studios and different iterations, Marvel’s most famous martial arts expert will arrive as the next MCU movie after Black Widow. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Simu Liu as the titular hero, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings promises to add a new dynamic to the MCU and a potential new Avenger unlike any to date. On top of that, the film will introduce the real Mandarin and a whole new take on the Ten Rings after Iron Man 3‘s explosive twist.
Alongside dragons, giant Foo Dogs and returning MCU characters like Wong and Abomination, Tony Leung stars as the Mandarin, Awkwafina plays Katy, Michelle Yeoh c0-stars as Jiang Nan, Fala Chen as Jiang Li, and former boxer Florian Munteanu is in as new MCU villain Razor Fist. The trailers so far have revealed a high-octane fighting tournament, a battle for Shang-Chi’s destiny as the Mandarin’s son, and lots of incredible action. Don’t expect it to stick too closely to the comics, but it will certainly be a new world for MCU fans.
Eternals – November 5, 2021
Of all of the upcoming Marvel movies, and even with a trailer already released, Eternals is the biggest unknown quantity. That makes it both the biggest gamble and one of the most significant opportunities for difference. Set across human history, Chloe Zhao’s film follows the stories of the MCU’s newest super-team, sent to Earth with orders not to interfere but to observe mankind. These immortal heroes have powers that would embarrass the Avengers – and even Thanos – and it’s their sudden involvement with humanity that makes their story so intriguing.
The impressive cast brings in Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Kit Harington as Black Knight, Barry Keoghan as Druig, and Lia McHugh as Sprite. So far, the story has remained impressively under-wraps, but if it ends up being anything like the sum of its parts, it’ll be a slamdunk.
Spider-Man: No Way Home – December 17, 202
Tom Holland’s third solo movie, the mischievously marketed Spider-Man: No Way Home promises to be the mind-bending next step in the MCU’s foray into the multiverse. Teased in WandaVision and scientifically proven in Loki, the multiverse will seemingly come into play most tangibly when Holland’s Spider-Man meets the returning figures of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx’s Electro, as well as the distinct possibility of alt-universe Spider-Men – Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
While Peter Parker’s first MCU mentor bowed out with the tragic ending of Avengers: Endgame, he will have another in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange. And with the weight of Far From Home‘s explosive ending still hanging on him and the target on his back set by Mysterio’s deception and the returning J Jonah Jameson’s public reveal of his secret identity, he’s going to need the sorcerer. Alongside them, Peter’s friends Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) will also return, fighting for space in what looks like the MCU’s next packed event movie.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – March 25, 2022
After playing a significant role in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange will unite with another Spider-Man alumnus for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with director Sam Raimi. Despite Scott Derrickson’s departure from the project over reported creative differences after announcing the sequel would be the MCU’s first horror, Raimi will still get a chance to flex his own genre muscles. And the superhero movie veteran knows a thing or two about handling major sequels and expectations.
Heralded as Kevin Fiege’s most hotly-anticipated new addition to the MCU before Phase 3’s debut, Doctor Strange has become one of the MCU’s most powerful characters, and the Multiverse of Madness will test those powers in unprecedented ways. The sequel will also see the reappearance of Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch after WandaVision‘s tantalizing ending tease, with Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, and Chiwetel Ejiofor all also returning. And that’s without mentioning Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez and whoever the villain is. If Spider-Man: No Way Home is packed, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has the potential to burst completely.
Thor: Love & Thunder – May 6, 2022
After Thor: The Dark World‘s comparative failure, Ragnarok and director Taika Waititi saved Thor’s tenure as a stand-alone character in the MCU, teeing him up to be a key part of Infinity War and Endgame. While the tone shifted dramatically into funnier territory, Waititi also dealt a dark hand, killing Thor’s friends, destroying his home, and then ending with a set-up bringing the survivors firmly into Thanos’ crosshairs. That he did all of that at the same time as making the funniest MCU movie is a testament to why he’s perfect for Thor: Love & Thunder, which he’s promised will push things even further.
The big selling points are of course the return of Jane Foster as Mighty Thor, more of a team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (at least in the opening act) and the return of other key characters, including Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Waititi himself as Korg. And that’s without mentioning the MCU debut of Christian Bale as notorious Marvel villain Gorr the God Butcher. So that’s a promise of increased drama, greater character development, and justice for Jane Foster, all tied together with the greater creative freedom Waititi earned from Ragnarok‘s success.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – July 8, 2022
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther was an incredible moment for the MCU and for fans seeking greater representation in Marvel movies and the sequel ought to follow the same trend. Tragically, Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020 means T’Challa won’t return, but Black Panther 2 is now an opportunity to explore both the actor’s legacy and that of the character. Coogler and Marvel have confirmed that Boseman won’t be recast, fittingly, but the nature of how the Black Panther role in Wakanda passes on means someone else can take on the mantle in the sequel. General consensus puts Shuri as the favorite.
As well as Black Panther 2, a so-far-untitled Wakanda-set Disney+ show will follow, proving Marvel’s commitment to expanding the world built on Boseman’s shoulders. That’s all that’s known of the story focus of either project, but it is know that Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Angela Basset will all return. Rumors have suggested Namor may make his MCU debut, with Production Weekly suggesting a clash between Wakanda and Atlantis.
The Marvels – November 11, 2022
After debuting the first Captain Marvel in her eponymous Phase 3 debut between Infinity War and Endgame, Marvel will expand on her team with the introduction of WandaVision‘s Monica Rambeau and newcomer Kamala Khan for the sequel. Brie Larson will return as the incredibly powerful Kree, Teyonah Parris follows up her breakout role in the opening Disney+ show and Iman Vellaini will join up after her debut in the Ms. Marvel show. While the original scored nostalgia points for the 1990s setting, The Marvels will jump ahead to the present day in the MCU, presumably linking the story to Secret Invasion, which will jump off the Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credits. That much has already been teased by WandaVision’s post-credits.
It will be an interesting dynamic to introduce Kamala Khan to her idol Captain Marvel at the same time as the latter revisiting the bad blood between her and Monica after her apparent estrangement from Maria Rambeau. If Secret Invasion sets up more Skrulls, then The Marvels surely follows up on the ending of Captain Marvel, possibly throwing in the new dynamic of Skrull on Skrull action. So far, the only new additions to the cast are Zawe Ashton as the unnamed villain and Park Seo-Joon, who is strongly rumored to have joined in an unknown role.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania – Feb 17, 2023
After a bumper 2022 that will see four MCU movies and several Disney+ shows, 2023 will open with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which sees both Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily return as the titular characters. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer will join them, with new additions including Katheryn Newton as the recast Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as exciting villain Kang the Conqueror. On top of that, original villain Corey Stoll, who played Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, is heavily linked with a return after he was sent to the Quantum Realm by Scott Lang.
Kang’s debut is the biggest selling point, considering his potential to take over the mantle of the MCU’s big bad from Thanos, and he absolutely deserves this to be the initial set-up to a full Avengers movie event. Rudd and Lily share some of the best chemistry in the MCU and hopefully their dynamic will now be matched with the drama necessary to make Ant-Man stand-alones a premium sub-brand for the MCU after the comparatively muted reception of Ant-Man & The Wasp.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 – May 5, 2023
Not so long ago, the idea of James Gunn returning for a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie looked impossible after historical tweets led to his firing from the project and his wider role within the MCU. That saw the original plans to release Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 in 2020 canned as the sequel struggled with the behind-the-scenes fallout from the decision. Not only did Gunn return – having been given the chance to make The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros – but Marvel handed him The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+ as a bonus with a series of shorts called I Am Groot thrown in as a side-dish.
So far, story details for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 are being kept completely under wraps, though it has been confirmed that it will take place after the events of Thor: Love & Thunder, suggesting Thor may no longer be involved. The principal cast of Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillian, and Pom Klementieff are expected to return, with Sean Gunn presumably in the mix too as Kraglin and the on-set stand-in for Groot and Rocket. The plot will presumably pick up from the end of Endgame, with Star-Lord looking for Gamora.
Blade (Release Date TBC)
For all of Wesley Snipes’ reported attempts to bring a fourth Blade movie to screen, it will be Mahershala Ali who takes up the mantle of Marvel’s most famous vampire. So far, little is known of the movie, beyond the revelation that Ali called the head of Marvel Studios to suggest himself for the titular role, which prompted the uncharacteristically early announcement of Blade at Comic Con. As a horror (presumably), it will represent a significant first for the MCU, even with Sam Raimi’s influence on Doctor Strange 2 and the prospect of seeing how Marvel balances that tone with the rest of the MCU is incredibly intriguing. It’s just a shame that fans will have to wait until the start of Phase 5.
Fantastic Four (Release Date TBC)
Fantastic Four movies have a chequered history with three modern outings that range from middling to flat-out insulting (and one notorious unreleased curio from Roger Corman), but Marvel’s first family has now returned to the MCU. Hopes are high, especially with Jon Watts in the director’s chair after his impressive handling of the Spider-Man trilogy. Casting and story details are unknown, but it seems likely that Fantastic Four could be the movie to follow Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 in 2023.
Deadpool 3 (Release Date TBC)
While Blade’s horror elements may pose a problem for the MCU in tonal terms, Deadpool 3 is a whole other concern for the mostly family-friendly franchise. Ryan Reynolds has built the success of the Deadpool franchise on outrageousness and a heavy lean into the R-rating that fans had always demanded as a necessity when ‘Pool was revived for the big screen. The multiverse may offer some hope, but the idea of having Reynolds’ motor-mouthed merc interacting with established MCU characters is surely far too good to pass up. And Kevin Feige has at least confirmed that the threequel will be R-rated – as a one-off so far – so there’ll be no blunting of ‘Pool’s edge, hopefully.
Captain America 4 (Release Date TBC)
In a surprise move that may have been dictated – or at least accelerated – by the pandemic’s impact on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Captain America 4‘s announcement came hot on the tails of the second Disney+ show’s finale. The sequel will be written by the show’s head and staff writers Malcolm Spellman and Dalan Musson, with Anthony Mackie set to reprise his role as the new Cap. Whether Emily Van Camp’s Sharon Carter will return after the post-credits set-up of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier remains to be seen, as do the possible appearances of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Contessa Valentina and Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, even as it’s clear both will return.
Every MCU TV Show Releasing After Black Widow
On top of the 13 movies – and the very-much-coming MCU mutants project, of course – Marvel also has 10 shows incoming on Disney+, as well as I Am Groot. 2021 will see the arrival of elseworlds animated show What If…? with a multitude of characters returning for new roles and strange stories, as well as Ms. Marvel‘s debut and Hawkeye. The latter sees Jeremy Renner team up with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. Other notable new castings see Oscar Isaac playing Moon Knight opposite Ethan Hawke’s rumored villain, Olivia Colman and Emilia Clarke are in for Secret Invasion, Dominique Thorne will play Riri Williams in Ironheart and Tatiana Maslany will star as Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk, alongside Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, and Jameela Jamil among others. It’s an exciting time to be a Marvel TV fan. Here’s the full line-up:
- What If…? (August 11, 2021)
- Ms. Marvel (Late 2021)
- Hawkeye (TBC Late 2021)
- Moon Knight (Release Date TBC)
- She-Hulk (Release Date TBC)
- Secret Invasion (Release Date TBC)
- The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Special (Release Date TBC)
- Ironheart (Release Date TBC)
- Armor Wars (Release Date TBC)
- Untitled Wakanda series (Release Date TBC)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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