– By Tyler Carlos –
Ahhh…Comic-Con. The time of year when film and television enthusiasts gather all in one place to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars and be the first to know what will be happening in film culture over the next year. Comic-Con 2019 was no exception, though this year focused more on the beginnings and endings of different franchises rather than those gearing up for the next adventure.
By far the biggest news to come out of SDCC 2019 is Marvel’s announcement of the Phase 4 lineup, and dear Iron Man, there is SO MUCH to look forward to over the next two years. Unfortunately, there will be no other Marvel activity in 2019 since Spider-Man: Far From Home officially concluded Phase 3 in July, and we’ll even have to wait until early summer 2020 for Phase 4 to begin. But once that train starts moving, it won’t be stopping. Here is the chronological timeline of Marvel’s Phase 4:
1. Black Widow – May 1, 2020
Kicking off Phase 4 will be the long-awaited Black Widow film starring Scarlett Johanson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. As we all know by now, Black Widow’s story came to an end in Avengers: Endgame when she sacrificed herself so that the team could retrieve the Soul Stone. With this knowledge, it was pretty much guaranteed that this film will be a prequel, and it was officially confirmed at Comic-Con to be so. Black Widow will take place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, when Natasha was in hiding along with Captain America, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch.
It was also confirmed that the film would introduce the villain Taskmaster as the main antagonist, and will follow Natasha as she deals with certain events of her mysterious past. Filming is underway already, and the film also stars Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and Florence Pugh.
2. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Fall 2020
While this was already confirmed to be in the works, it’s officially official that we’ll be getting MCU canon material on Disney+, and first out of the gate for Marvel will be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. The show will follow the pair as they learn to live in a world without Captain America. The show will also mark the return of Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo who, as you may recall, was the villain of Captain America: Civil War that set up the conflict that ultimately split the Avengers and forced Captain America and the others into hiding. The character received some criticism following the film for the way the character was portrayed as less menacing than in the comics. However, Daniel Bruhl posted a photo to Instagram which teased the trademark mask of Baron Zemo, confirming that the character will not only be returning, but will probably be a more comic-accurate portrayal. Either way, fans have begged Marvel for an onscreen team up of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and there’s little doubt that the series will live up to the hype.
3. The Eternals – November 6, 2020
In addition to the characters we’ve known for years, Marvel is also set to introduce several new heroes to the big screen, most of which will be seen in The Eternals. This film will follow a race of heroes of the same name that have been the defenders of Earth throughout history against a similar species known as the Deviants. Each of the characters is in some way associated with mythological deities and heroes throughout history, and they all have fairly similar abilities with only slight changes between them. While the film will have to set up many characters and backstories in a short amount of time, it’ll be doing so with a truly dynamite cast. The cast includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee. With a cast like this, The Eternals promises to be a film of god-like proportions.
4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – February 12, 2021
The next, and overall last, new hero that Marvel will introduce in Phase 4 will be Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Much like the Eternals, Shang-Chi is not really considered a household name, but after the stellar success of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, it seems Marvel is keen to bring lesser known heroes into the spotlight. In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of a Chinese crime lord who is born to one day take over his father’s crime operations. Instead, he makes it his mission to bring his father down. The film will presumably follow a similar path, and the main villain of the film is confirmed to be the REAL Mandarin (a not-so-real Mandarin was thought to be the main villain in Iron Man 3). Simu Liu will star as the first Asian hero to headline a Marvel film, along with other cast members Tony Chiu-Wai Leung and Awkwafina.
5. WandaVision – Spring 2021
Up next is the second Marvel series to make it to Disney+, WandaVision. As you can probably tell from the title, the series will follow Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch and the Vision. Early speculation is that the series will be the Marvel adaptation of the popular comic arc House of M, in which Scarlet Witch attempted to bend/change reality after a personal tragedy. The biggest mystery is how the show will incorporate Vision, played by Paul Bettany, as he is no longer alive in the MCU following a run-in with Thanos in Infinity War. Losing Vision clearly had a profound impact on Wanda, and you can pretty much guarantee that the series will delve further into how that loss has affected Wanda after Endgame.
If anything, it will finally give Elizabeth Olsen and her character the story arc they’ve deserved since Age of Ultron. Wanda has been a fan favorite for years now, but has always lingered a bit in the background compared to other characters. This time, according to Kevin Feige, “We’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re gonna get weird, get deep and finally understand Wanda Maximoff as Scarlet Witch.” It’s about time. And according to Feige, WandaVision will lead directly into…
6. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 7, 2021
Technically the first sequel in Phase 4, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will reportedly pick up directly after the events of WandaVision, alluding to the very real possibility that s*** will hit the fan and it’ll be up to Doctor Strange to set everything right. Following the events of Endgame, Doctor Strange no longer has the Time Stone at his disposal, so he’ll have to rely solely on his mystical abilities to take down whatever horrifying darkness is lurking in the Multiverse of Madness.
This film in particular will, most likely, have eternal repercussions on the MCU as a whole. Far From Home originally teased the introduction of the Multiverse, but those that have seen the movie know that it was nothing but part of the lie told by Mysterio to get Peter Parker to trust him. However, the Multiverse is a comic book icon, giving storytellers the ability to change characters and worlds at their leisure, turning heroes into villains and villains into everyday civilians. Anything can happen in the Multiverse. Literally anything.
The film is also being billed as Marvel’s first attempt in the horror genre, so we can expect some pretty shocking things when the film hits theaters in two years. Benedict Cumberbatch is set to return as Doctor Strange, along with Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Benedict Wong as Wong.
7. Loki – Spring 2021
People just can’t seem to get enough of Asgard’s favorite trickster. Despite his death in Infinity War, Loki will once again be up to no good in the Disney+ series of the same name.
As you’ll recall from Endgame, when the surviving Avengers journeyed to the past to obtain all of the Infinity Stones, there was a moment when Loki, immediately following the Battle of New York from the original Avengers film, was able to grab the Tesseract and use it to teleport away. What happened to him is unknown, but with this new show, it looks like we are going to find out. The show will pick up immediately following his escape from the Avengers in the alternate timeline.
Besides that, not much else is known about the series, other than the fact that Tom Hiddleston will be returning to the role. But maybe this will lead to the character’s re-entry into the MCU, perhaps due to events that will take place in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I’m just guessing.
8. What If… – Summer 2021
Of all the films and shows announced at SDCC, What If… seems like it will be the series with the least impact on the MCU. For one thing, it will be an animated television series, and for another, the series is meant to tell stories about what would have happened if certain events in the MCU had gone another way. Jeffrey Wright will voice a character known as Uatu the Watcher, whose job it is to watch the events of Earth unfold as they happen without interfering.
Even though this show will not be as impactful as others, that doesn’t mean that this won’t be an absolutely fascinating watch. Almost every single Marvel actor is set to voice their own characters in the show. Plus, haven’t you ever wondered what would have happened if certain things were different? I definitely have. So, let’s just roll with it.
9. Hawkeye – Fall 2021
The penultimate story of Phase 4 will be one that has deserved to been told since the very beginning. Clint Barton / Hawkeye hasn’t always gotten the love he deserves. First, he barely got to be himself in the first Avengers film. Fast forward to Infinity War, he didn’t even make an appearance. Then in Endgame, he lost both his family and his best friend in the fight against Thanos. Yes, he eventually got his family back, but still, the guy’s been through enough and it’s time to let him enjoy his time in the spotlight.
That’s what we’ll finally get in the Disney+ series Hawkeye. The show is still a good way off, but we do know that the series will not only give more detail about Clint’s time as Ronin, the dark persona he adopted after his family was snapped from existence, but will also introduce his ward Kate Bishop. If the rumors are true, this may be Jeremy Renner’s final appearance as Hawkeye, as the character could pass on that mantle to Kate Bishop by series’ end.
10. Thor: Love and Thunder – November 5, 2021
The announcement of the final installation of Phase 4 brought about some of the biggest shocks and cheers of the entire SDCC. That’s right, Thor will be the first hero of the MCU to get a fourth film added to its franchise, and it sounds like Thor: Love and Thunder will be the best one yet. Following the events of Endgame, Thor made his way back to the stars in his attempt to find his place in the universe after passing the mantle of King of Asgard to his friend Valkyrie. I think a lot will happen in those two and a half years he’s away, because it was confirmed at SDCC that major changes are on the way for the character.
For one, he no longer be the only God of Thunder in the world as Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman in Thor 1 & 2, will be picking up the hammer as the first female Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder. Neither Portman nor Jane Foster were seen much in the MCU after Thor: The Dark World. The character has been mentioned a few times, and Portman made a very brief appearance in Endgame, but overall, it was long thought that the character’s story was over in the MCU. Guess not.
Beyond that crazy announcement, not much else is known about Thor: Love and Thunder. Of course, Chris Hemsworth will be returning to the role, as will Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Taika Waititi will be returning to direct. It’s going to be a long two years waiting for this one.
Even after the Phase 4 announcement was over, it didn’t seem like Feige was ready to stop doling out the surprises. According to him, there simply wasn’t enough time to go into detail about what could happen in Phase 5. But he dropped several titles, including Captain Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Black Panther 2, along with a few hints, including Fantastic Four and the word “mutants.”
Then, just as he was about to walk off stage, he introduced one last person. Mahershala Ali, fresh off his second Oscar win, joined Feige on-stage, pulled out a hat, and as he put it on, one word appeared on-screen: Blade. You read that right. It’s confirmed that Mahershala Ali will be taking on the character Blade in the MCU, presumably in Phase 5.
If that’s not enough to look forward to, I don’t know what to tell ya.
About the Author
Tyler Carlos is a proud nerd originally from Baton Rouge, LA. He completed his undergraduate in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University, and graduated from JPCatholic’s MBA in Film Producing in 2016. In his off time, he enjoys Crossfit, escape rooms, and watching Gotham and This Is Us. His ultimate goal in life is to learn how to fly.