Upcoming Marvel Movies and TV From 'Eternals' to 'Fantastic Four' and More
By John Boone
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While Avengers: Endgame marked the end of Marvel's cinematic universe as we know it, it was not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU will continue on in new and exciting directions in Phase 4, both with heroes we know and love and plenty of intriguing new faces.
The introduction of heroes like Shang-Chi and the Eternals on the big screen and Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk in their own streaming series on Disney+, plus a third Spider-Man movie, a fourth Thor film and, at long last, the Fantastic Four.
Below, we break down everything we know about Phase 4 and beyond.
Black Widow (In Theaters and on Disney+)
Natasha Romanoff has been part of the MCU since the beginning -- or since Iron Man 2, at least -- and 23 films in, she is finally fronting a movie of her own. Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, the globetrotting spy thriller explores the "darker parts of Natasha's ledger."
Black Widow also introduces comic characters including fellow Widows Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina (Rachel Weisz); Russia's answer to Captain America, The Red Guardian (David Harbour); and the villainous Taskmaster. In theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.
Directed by: Cate Shortland Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt and Ray Winstone
Think of it as Disney Gallery for the MCU. The docuseries goes "behind the scenes of the shows and movies," with spoiler-filled installments for The Making of WandaVision, Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki. Future Assembled offerings will drop the week after the streaming series air their finales, with special episodes for big screen Marvel outings like Black Widow.
What If...? (Aug. 11 on Disney+)
Marvel Studios' first animated series, What If...?, is based on an anthology comic series that ask that question, well, what if...? What if Peggy Carter had taken the super soldier serum? What if T'Challa had joined the Ravagers? What if the Avengers were all zombies? Jeffrey Wright voices The Watcher. "He's watching over the multiverse and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of Earthlings."
The Disney+ series takes events from the MCU canon and spins them, with many MCU actors reprising their roles "in very different forms." What If...? will also feature a final voice recording from the late Chadwick Boseman.
Directed by: Bryan Andrews | Head writer: Ashley Bradley Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Sean Gunn, Natalie Portman, David Dastmalchian, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Toby Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Rooker and Chris Sullivan
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Sept. 3)
Perhaps this will be the mea culpa Marvel fans need for Iron Fist? Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu) is known in the comics canon as the "Master of Kung Fu." In those books, he's often pitted against his father, immortal crime lord and sorcerer Fu Manchu, but onscreen he will face a familiar adversary: the real Mandarin, not the imposter seen in Iron Man 3.
Legendary Chinese actor Tony Leung will play the Mandarin (aka Wenwu), with Awkwafina co-starring as Shang-Chi's friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan. Now, here's hoping they opt to keep Shang-Chi's pet monkey, Chee.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton Starring: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng
One of the most ambitious Marvel titles making its way to the big screen is an adaptation of Jack Kirby's The Eternals. "The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent here by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants," actor Richard Madden explained. (We've met one Celestial already: Peter Quill's father, Ego.)
According to Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, "Through [the Eternals'] journey we really get to explore what it means to be human." Angelina Jolie and Selma Hayek topline the ensemble cast as the Eternal warrior, Thena, and the group's leader, Ajak, respectively, while The Walking Dead's Lauren Ridloff will play the MCU's first-ever deaf hero, Makkari.
Gemma Chan, who played Minerva in 2019's Captain Marvel, will return to the MCU in a new role as the Eternal, Sersi. Richard Madden is Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani is Kingo, Barry Keoghan is Druig, Dong-seok Ma is Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh is Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry is Phastos and Kit Harington is Dane Whitman, who in the comics becomes the sword-wielding hero Black Knight.
Directed by: Chloe Zhao Starring: Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Dong-seok Ma and Angelina Jolie
Jeremy Renner is the last OG Avengers to front his own project, but 10 years after a cameo in Thor, he will get a Disney+ event series that will delve into the archer's time as the samurai sword-wielding mercenary Ronin and see Clint Barton train a protégé: Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a beloved comic character who inherits the Hawkeye mantle and goes on to become a central member of The Young Avengers.
Fra Fee is the villain Kazi, newcomer Alaqua Cox is Maya Lopez, Marvel's deaf superhero Echo, and Vera Farmiga plays Kate's mom, Eleanor Bishop. "Hailee kills it in the role," Farmiga told ET. "It's going to be pretty special, I think."
Directed by: Bert and Bertie, Rhys Thomas Starring: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James and Alaqua Cox
Ms. Marvel will introduce the MCU's first Muslim superhero: Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City and a polymorph capable of changing size and shape. She assumes the mantle of Ms. Marvel, which was a title that belonged to Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel) in the comics.
A great student, an avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, she has a special affinity for superheroes, particularly Captain Marvel. But Kamala struggles to fit in at home and at school -- that is, until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life is easier with super powers, right?
Newcomer Iman Vellani, who stars as Kamala, will follow Ms. Marvel with her first big screen appearance in The Marvels.
Directed by: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, Meera Menon and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy | Head writer: Bisha K. Ali Starring: Iman Vellani, Aramis Knight, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Laith Naki, Azher Usman, Travina Springer and Nimra Bucha
For a moment there, it seemed Peter Parker's time in the MCU would be cut short. Following the events of Endgame and Far From Home -- not to mention that massive post-credits cliffhanger -- the fate of Tom Holland's web-slinger was up in the air when the deal between Disney and Sony to share the character was on the verge of dissolving.
Thankfully, our Spidey senses can chill, as the studios -- with a bit of nudging by Holland himself -- reached an agreement that will keep Spider-Man in the MCU for No Way Home. Now, the intriguing part: No Way Home seems to be setting up some its spin on Into the Spider-Verse, with Doctor Strange said to be taking over as Peter's mentor alongside a supporting cast from past Spider-Man films: Former Spideys Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, their respective love interests (Kirsten Dunst's MJ and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy) and villains including Jamie Foxx's Electro and Alfred Molina's Doc Oc.
Directed by: Jon Watts Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori and Marisa Tomei
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
Benedict Cumberbatch's good doctor has made quite a few appearances since his debut in 2016's Doctor Strange -- in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as Infinity War and Endgame -- but the Sorcerer Supreme will face new terrain in his next solo outing: Horror.
The sequel will be helped by horror maistro Sam Raimi, who knows his way around both a horror flick (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell) and superheroes. (He's the man behind the original Spider-Man trilogy.) Multiverse of Madness will to connect to both WandaVision -- Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch co-stars -- and Spider-Man: No Way Home and will introduce fan favorite comic book character: America Chavez, played by The Baby-Sitters Club's Xochitl Gomez.
Directed by: Sam Raimi Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Xochitl Gomez
Trilogies, be damned! After rebranding the god of thunder for Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth's Thor is returning for a fourquel, titled Thor: Love and Thunder, along with director Taika Waititi and the new King of Asgard herself, Tessa Thompson. (Confirming Valkyrie is indeed queer, Thompson revealed that her first order of business as king will be finding a queen.)
Last we saw Thor, he was boarding a ship with the Asgardians of the Galaxy, leaving many to predict he might pop up in the third Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) will pop up here, in an adaptation of Jason Aaron's The Mighty Thor. "It's full of emotion and love and thunder and it introduces for the first time female Thor," Waititi said.
Like in the comics, that female Thor -- called Mighty Thor -- is none other than Jane Foster, and Natalie Portman is indeed returning to franchise for Love and Thunder. Christian Bale, meanwhile, joins the cast as the villain Gorr the God Butcher, with Russell Crowe appearing as Zeus.
Directed by: Taika Waititi Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Taika Waititi, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Matt Damon, Sam Neill, Luke Hemsworth and Melissa McCarthy
We've known a Black Panther sequel was in the works with Ryan Coogler returning to write and direct. On Aug. 28, 2021, star Chadwick Boseman passed away at age 43, with Marvel Studios vowing not to recast the character of T'Challa. Instead, Wakanda Forever, as the sequel is subtitled, will "continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film."
"There have been about five incarnations of the script and I hear another one's coming," Queen Ramonda herself, Angela Bassett updated ET. "Thankfully, Ryan and Joe Robert Cole, they're such masterful storytellers that they've found a way into this world and hopefully it will be satisfying, I think, for the fans and it will be honorable of our Chad."
Directed by: Ryan Coogler Starring: Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman and Michaela Coel
When your movie makes a billion dollars at the box office, you make another one. Captain Marvel 2, which will see Candyman director Nia DaCosta assume directing duties, is leaving the '90s behind, as Vellani's Ms. Marvel and Parris' grown-up Monica Rambeau will both co-star alongside Larson in The Marvels.
Directed by: Nia DaCosta Starring: Brie Larson, Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Late 2022 on Disney+)
Move over Life Day, the MCU is getting its very own yuletide one-off courtesy of -- who else -- James "Long Elf" Gunn, who will write and direct an "irreverent" live-action special set after the events of Thor: Love and Thunder and before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
"Even seeing this here makes me laugh. One of my favorite stories ever, which I have bugged [Feige] endlessly about over the years. I can’t believe we’re actually doing this. And, yes, I unironically loved the Star Wars Holiday Special as a kid," Gunn tweeted following the announcement. "The story is as crazy & fun as can be, & it’s live-action & in the MCU. OH MAN I WISH I COULD TELL YOU MORE!"
Directed by: James Gunn Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Loki, Season 2 (TBD on Disney+)
There's space on the Sacred Timeline for a second season of Loki. The series forwent a traditional teaser-y post-credits scene and instead confirmed the series is getting another season, with the God of Mischief's TVA case file being stamped with: "Loki will return in season 2."
"Bruce Banner is no longer the only Hulk in the MCU," Feige revealed when he announced that She-Hulk would be coming to the MCU. A fan-favorite character first introduced in the '80s, Jennifer Walters is "a Hulk, she's a lawyer and she's going to star in a show unlike anything we've done before."
In the comics, Jennifer Walters is cousins with Bruce Banner and inherits the ability to Hulk out after receiving an emergency blood transfusion from him. With her newfound powers, she moonlights as a superhero and, by day, works as a lawyer who specializes in superhuman-oriented legal cases, allowing for any number of Marvel characters to pop up during her cases.
The half-hour legal comedy will star Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer, with Mark Ruffalo returning as The Hulk and Tim Roth as Abomination, a character first introduced in one of the MCU's first films, 2008's The Incredible Hulk. Jameela Jamil, meanwhile, joins the MCU as the villainous Titania.
Directed by: Kat Coiro and Anu Valia | Head writer: Jessica Gao Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Tim Roth and Mark Ruffalo
Moon Knight (2022 on Disney+)
Moon Knight will be "a new action-adventure series," Feige announced, likening the property to Indiana Jones. Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a mercenary left for dead in the Egyptian desert who now "may or may not be infused with powers from Khonshu the Moon God -- or he might just be crazy." (Marc suffers from dissociative identity disorder, with each of his multiple identities becoming distinct characters within the series.)
The series stars Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight and Ethan Hawke in a yet-to-be-revealed tole. "We’re all hard at work crafting something special for you," series creator Jeremy Slater has tweeted. "So stick around and stay tuned. Moon Knight is on the way, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride."
Directed by: Mohamed Diab | Head writer: Jeremy Slater Starring: Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke
Secret Invasion (2022 on Disney+)
Marvel Studios will tackle "arguably the biggest crossover comic event" since Civil War in a Secret Invasion series, fronted by Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos. The comic book run on which the series is based concerns a sect of Skrulls who have infiltrated every aspect of life on Earth. Basically, anyone could be a Skrull. Cue the paranoia.
To bring one of Marvel's most lauded comic stories to the screen, the series has tapped what is shaping up to be one of the MCU's most lauded casts: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke and Killian Scott are all set to be a part of Secret Invasion.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke and Killian Scott
Ironheart (2022 on Disney+)
Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk) will play the titular genius Riri Williams, inventor of the most high-tech supersuit since Iron Man, in a series penned by Snowpiercer writer Chinaka Hodge.
Head writer: Chinaka Hodge Starring: Dominique Thorne
Armor Wars (2022 on Disney+)
Don Cheadle's War Machine (aka James Rhodes) is getting his own series, which is said to explore Tony Stark's worst fear: What happens when his technology falls into the wrong hands.
Starring: Don Cheadle
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (Feb. 17, 2023)
Paul Rudd's Scott Lang and the entire Pym/Van Dyne family are back for a Peyton Reed-directed threequel, which has an official subtitle (Quantumania), a newly recast daughter (Kathryn Newton will take over as Cassie Lang) and a new villain in Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conquerer. All aboard for a trip back into the Quantum Realm.
"All I can say is that I'm excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe," Newton teased to ET. "It's a dream come true, and I'm going to do my best to be the best superhero of all time."
Directed by: Peyton Reed Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton and Jonathan Majors
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023)
Guardians 3 was originally meant to kick off Phase 4, but when James Gunn was fired from the franchise in 2018, the threequel was put on hold. That is, until Disney reinstated the director in March, putting the production back on track but with a postponed release date. (Gunn will first write and direct The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.)
The entire gang -- Peter Quill, Drax, Gamora, Groot, Mantis, Nebula and Rocket Raccoon -- is expected to return, though what their continued adventures will entail is to be determined: Will it center on the hunt for Gamora following the events of Endgame? And will Guardians 3 introduce Adam Warlock, as teased in the post-credits scene of Guardians 2? If so, we need to know who's playing him immediately.
Directed by: James Gunn Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Fantastic Four (TBA)
Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox returned the screen rights to Marvel Comics' most well-known superheroes to Marvel Studios, which means the Fantastic Four, aka Marvel's First Family, are now fair game to be introduced into the MCU. During 2020's Disney Investor Day, Feige made it official: A Fantastic Four film is happening, directed by Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home helmer Jon Watts. Might we see the characters pop up even sooner in his next Spidey film?
Directed by: Jon Watts
Mahershala Ali will play Blade within the MCU. ("But he was in Luke Cage!," you scream into the void about the fact that Ali played Cottonmouth on season one of the Netflix series, which purported to take place within the MCU. Turns out it was all less connected than we'd been told, and Daredevil was never going to be in Infinity War.)
For those who never saw the Wesley Snipes trilogy of films, Eric Brooks, aka Blade, is a half-human/half-vampire Daywalker on a quest to rid the world of bloodsucking fiends. How the MCU plans to introduce literal vampires into a largely science-based universe remains to be seen, but we do know one foe from the comics he won't be facing any time soon: Morbius the Living Vampire, who is part of Sony's Marvel-verse and will be played by Jared Leto in a 2020 film.
During 2020's Disney Investor Day, Feige confirmed the movie is still in the works and further announcements would be coming "very, very soon."
Deadpool 3 (TBA)
The Merc with a Mouth is officially coming to the MCU. Though Deadpool 1 and 2 were made under Fox's watch, Feige confirmed that Marvel Studios is working on a third installment that will be set within their cinematic universe. Whether this will involve some multiverse hopping from Wade Wilson is to be seen, but him breaking the fourth wall for a joke about Josh Brolin playing both Cable and Thanos is all but guaranteed.
Ryan Reynolds will oversee the script, which is being penned by sisters and Bob's Burgers writers Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin and Wendy Molyneux, with Deadpool 3 set to be Marvel's first R-rated film.
I Am Groot (TBA on Disney+)
We haven't seen the last of Baby Groot. Though everyone's favorite talking tree is growing up before our very eyes in the MCU proper, this series of short films will showcase a younger Groot alongside feature several "new and unusual" Marvel characters.
Captain America 4 (Reported)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ends with Sam Wilson officially picking up the star-spangled shield and an updated title card that acknowledges his new moniker: Captain America and the Winter Soldier. Reports following the finale said Anthony Mackie would next front his own Captain America movie, to be scripted be FAWS's Malcolm Spellman and staff writer Dalan Musson.
For his part, Mackie says, "They always have some kind of plan. But there's, like, 30 million projects in production right now, so I just wait for the phone call from Kevin [Feige] and Nate [Moore] to tell me what I'm doing," while Spellman says, "When Kevin says it, then it is."
Disney's Fox acquisition also made it possible for the X-Men to join Marvel Studio's sandbox. And during Comic-Con 2019, Feige confirmed they will be, eventually, though that was as much as he was willing to say about when, where and how we'll see the likes of Wolverine and Deadpool and Mystique rub elbows with the Avengers. Asked by ET if he has future plans to discuss introducing mutants into the MCU, Feige simply said, "Yes."
[This story was originally published on April 30, 2019.]