Upcoming Marvel Movies and TV: From 'WandaVision' to 'Fantastic Four' and More
By John Boone
The dawning of Phase 4 is upon us. (And would have been here already, had the pandemic not caused Marvel Studios to postpone their entire slate. Alas, 2020 will be the first year since 2009 without a single MCU movie.)
Avengers: Endgame marked the end of Marvel's cinematic universe as we know it -- but it was not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home, the MCU will continue on in new and exciting directions, with heroes we know and love and plenty of intriguing new faces. So, what comes next?
Below, we break down everything we know about Phase 4 and beyond.
Marvel Studios: Legends (Now Streaming on Disney+)
Before embarking on something new, Marvel is taking a moment to reflect on what's come before with this series that "will dive deeper into the stories of the MCU's most compelling characters" and "revisit some of their most iconic moments." (Assumedly, Legends will be to the MCU what The Gallery: The Mandalorian is to Star Wars.)
The series will kick off with two episodes highlighting Wanda Maximoff and Vision, appropriately leading into...
WandaVision (Jan. 15, 2021 on Disney+)
Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda and Paul Bettany's Vision have been integral, if somewhat tertiary, characters in larger Avengers stories, but they'll be central to the intriguingly-titled WandaVision. "We're going to finally understand Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch," Olsen teased.
The series will be "half classic sitcom and half full-MCU spectacular," about "two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives who begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems." Considering it takes place after the events of Endgame, WandaVision will have to reckon with the fact that, uh... Vision died during Infinity War.
The supporting cast, meanwhile, will include characters we've met before -- like Kat Denning's Darcy Lewis and Randall Park's Agent Jimmy Wu -- as well as a nosy neighbor played by Kathryn Hahn and a grown-up Monica Rambeau, played as an adult by Teyonah Parris.
Directed by: Matt Shakman | Head writer: Jac Schaeffer Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, Kat Denning, Randall Park and Kathryn Hahn
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19, 2021 on Disney+)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier centers on Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) following the events of Endgame. "I want to see what really makes him tick, what ticks him off," Mackie has said of Bucky. "How much ticking can that clock do before that tick goes tock and that tock goes boom?"
Turns out Falcon won't just inherit Captain America's shield, but his enemies too: Daniel Brühl reprises his role as Zemo, who attempted to turn the Avengers against one another in Civil War and will now don his signature purple hood from the comics as Baron Zemo. Emily VanCamp, meanwhile, returns as Sharon Carter and Wyatt Russell joins as John Walker, aka U.S. Agent.
Directed by: Kari Skogland | Head writer: Malcolm Spellman Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman and Georges St-Pierre
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. Considering she died in Endgame, it's not exactly surprising that Black Widow is a prequel, of sorts: It takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War but before Infinity War and will explore the "darker parts of [Natasha's] ledger."
Black Widow will also introduce comic characters such as fellow spies Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina (Rachel Weisz); Russia's answer to Captain America, The Red Guardian (David Harbour); and the villainous Taskmaster. Whether we'll get a cameo from Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is TBD. (The movie has teased a long-awaited return to Budapest, after all.)
Directed by: Cate Shortland Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt and Ray Winstone
Tom Hiddleston's Loki may have died in Infinity War, but Endgame undid his death -- sort of. During the Time Heist sequence, Hiddleston's god of mischief makes off with the Tesseract -- and now his Disney+ series will reveal where its titular antihero teleported to and explore what happens to him in this newly branched timeline.
Which makes Loki's seeding within the broader MCU a bit...complicated. The series is set after the events of the first Avengers in the in-universe year of 2012, but in an alternate timeline created when the current-day Avengers traveled back in time in Endgame.
"Just about the last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk smashed," Hiddleston explained. "It's a lot of psychological evolution that is still yet to happen. But Kevin [Feige] has generously shown me what his plans are -- I can't tell you any of them -- but it is one of the most exciting creative opportunities I've ever come across. This is new territory."
Directed by: Kate Herron | Head writer: Michael Waldron Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, 2021)
Perhaps this will be the mea culpa Marvel fans need for Iron Fist? Shang-Chi (played onscreen 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 Ten Rings has been in the MCU since the very beginning, those sons of bitches that Obadiah Stane hired [in Iron Man]. They helped out Whiplash a little bit in Iron Man 2," Feige revealed. "There was an imposter that played the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. In an awesome short we did called All Hail the King, we revealed there is a real Mandarin and he was quite upset with the shenanigans they pulled in Iron Man 3."
Legendary Chinese actor Tony Leung will play the real Mandarin, 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
What If...? (Summer 2021 on Disney+)
Marvel Studios' first animated series, What If…?, is based on a series of comics that ask that question, well, what if...? What if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? What if Peggy Carter had taken the super soldier serum? What if the Avengers were all zombies? The Disney+ series takes events from the MCU canon and spins them, with the movie actors reprising their roles "in very different forms."
Jeffrey Wright voices The Watcher, who first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, and is, he explains, "a non-Earthly being who observes all things. He's watching over the multiverse and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of Earthlings."
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
Eternals (Nov. 5, 2021)
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.)
Further plot details are currently under wraps, but director Chloe Zhao says, "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
Ms. Marvel (Late 2021 on Disney+)
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?
"You will meet her in her Disney+ series and then you will see her in our films," Feige announced at D23. During 2020's Disney Investor Day, he confirmed that newcomer Iman Vellani, who stars as Kamala, will also appear in Captain Marvel 2.
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
Hawkeye (Late 2021 on Disney+)
Jeremy Renner is the last remaining OG Avengers to front his own project, but 10 years after an uncredited cameo in Thor, he will get a Disney+ event series, aptly titled Hawkeye, 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.
"The better version of Hawkeye," Renner said of helping to introduce Kate Bishop into the MCU. "I think the fiber of what Hawkeye is is a superhero without superpowers, and I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers."
Vera Farmiga is reportedly playing Kate's mom, Eleanor Bishop, with Fra Fee as villain Kazi and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez, aka Marvel's deaf superhero Echo.
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
Spider-Man 3 (Dec. 17, 2021)
For a moment there, it seemed Peter Parker's time in the Marvel universe 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 national nightmare is over, as the studios -- with a bit of nudging by Holland himself -- reached an agreement that will see Marvel producing a third Spider-Man film set within the MCU and allow Peter Parker to appear in a future, as-yet-revealed Marvel Studios film.
Now, the intriguing part: The Far From Home sequel 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.
"We're going to make the first scary MCU film," Scott Derrickson announced at Comic-Con, revealing that Strange would contend with villains from the multiverse and other "psychedelic weirdness" alongside an enchanting new co-star: The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).
Derrickson has since stepped down as director and been replaced by none other than Sam Raimi, who knows his way around both a horror flick (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell) and superheroes. (He is the man behind the original Spider-Man trilogy.) Multiverse is said to connect to both WandaVision and Spider-Man and will introduce a 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
Thor: Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022)
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.
Directed by: Taika Waititi Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Chris Pratt
On Aug. 28, 2021, star Chadwick Boseman passed away at age 43. "Marvel Studios will not recast the character, but will continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film," the studio would announce.
Directed by: Ryan Coogler Starring:
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."
Directed by: Starring: Mahershala Ali
Captain Marvel 2 (Nov. 11, 2022)
When your movie makes a billion dollars at the box office, you make another one. The sequel, 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.
Directed by: Nia DaCosta Starring: Brie Larson, Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris
She-Hulk (2022 on Disney+)
"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.
Directed by: Kat Coiro and Anu Valia | Head writer: Jessica Gao Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth
Moon Knight (2022 on Disney+)
Moon Knight will be "a new action-adventure series" that "is something very unique and exciting for us," Feige announced. Often likened to the Batman of the Marvel universe, 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."
"We've assembled a room full of brilliant writers who truly love this character, and 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."
During Disney Investor Day, Feige liked the series to Indiana Jones, revealing that Marc suffers from dissociative identity disorder -- with each of his multiple identities becoming distinct characters within the series -- and the show will backdropped by Egyptian iconography. He did not, however, confirm Oscar Isaac's reported casting as Moon Knight.
Directed by: Mohamed Diab | Head writer: Jeremy Slater Starring:
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.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn
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.
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
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 Gunn, who will write and direct an "irreverent" live-action special during production of 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
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (TBA)
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.
Directed by: Peyton Reed Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton and Jonathan Majors
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBA 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 Guardians 3 introduce Adam Warlock, as teased in the post-credits scene of Guardians 2? Will it center on the hunt for Gamora following the events of Endgame? And what about the Thor of it all?
Directed by: James Gunn Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
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.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
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 Starring:
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.
Starring: Vin Diesel
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.]