Marvel’s mantra has often been ‘go big or go home.’ And they haven’t gone home yet. Never has this been more evident that in Phase 4, a wild swing for the fences that not only does away with the old guard in favour of fresh faces, but also puts a new twist on some familiar members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
But that’s a whole lot to take in – dozens of new cast members and even a step into the unknown with TV shows on Disney Plus – and very little time to get acquainted with everything and everyone that makes Marvel Phase 4 so utterly unique and unmissable.
It doesn’t have to be a Hulk-sized task to find out about the next chapter in the MCU, however. We’ve condensed each new entry, both in film and TV, down to its bare essentials. Everything below is a snapshot of Marvel Phase 4 – who’s arriving, what’s to come, and why you should be excited. It’s time to get ready for Marvel going big. Again.
- Everything we know about Black Widow
- Every Marvel post-credits scene explained
- How to watch the Marvel movies in order
- All the Marvel contracts explained
- Our complete MCU recap
- The MCU timeline explained
- New Marvel TV shows
- All the new superhero movies
Marvel Phase 4 release dates
Marvel Phase 4 release dates for both the MCU movies and Disney Plus TV shows were inititally announced at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) 2019, while Spider-Man 3 was added at a later date. But now, it's all change.
Here are the updated Phase 4 release dates in the wake of the Black Widow shift to November, which means essentially every MCU movie for the next couple of years has been pushed back. It's time to memorise these all over again, with the added caveat that these are most definitely subject to change.
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TBC)
- The Black Widow movie (October 28, 2020/November 6, 2020)
- WandaVision (December 2020)
- The Eternals (February 2, 2021)
- Loki TV show (Spring 2021)
- Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings (May 7, 2021)
- What If...? (Summer 2021)
- Hawkeye series (Fall 2021)
- Spider-Man 3 (December 17, 2021)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (February 11, 2022)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
Marvel Phase 4 movies
The next stop in the MCU will be the Black Widow movie, arriving on October 28 in the UK and November 6 elsewhere. Need to prepare for Nat's standalone adventure? Watch the first trailer now.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow's confirmed cast includes Scarlett Johansson returning as Natasha Romanoff; Stranger Things’ David Harbour as Alexi; Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova (a “sister figure to Natasha” who takes up the Black Widow mantle in the comics, hint, hint); O-T Fagbenle as Mason, and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff AKA Iron Maiden in the comics. The Taskmaster will also be in the Black Widow movie, but we don't know who's behind the mask just yet.
The cast may expand even further - if you believe some of the juiciest unconfirmed rumours, that is. Robert Downey Jr. has been mooted for a quick cameo, while William Hurt's General Ross also appears in the first trailer
The story, according to director Cate Shortland, will have the audience understanding Black Widow’s past and “she gets to put all the pieces of herself back together.”
Scarlett Johansson has also talked up her part in the movie, saying: “She gets to play Natasha as a fully-realised woman… and I’m excited for fans to see the flawed side of her" and telling sister publication Total Film "Natasha Romanoff in a family drama is the least expected thing."
As for the much-questioned timeline, Harbour has revealed to IGN that it, indeed, takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. We already had a good idea as to where it fits in thanks to a leaked product placement shot from 2019, but it’s now been confirmed.
The Eternals will be the second Phase 4 movie will be arriving on February 12, 2021, having been pushed back from its original November 2020 slot.
The Eternals cast includes Richard Madden as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kumail Nanjiani will be playing Kingo, Salma Hayek (Ajak, the “leader of the Eternals,” according to Feige), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos, a “genius,” says the actor), Don Lee as the hulking Gilgamesh, while Lia McHugh and The Walking Dead’s Lauren Ridloff rounds out the current confirmed cast, playing Sprite and Makkari respectively. Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington will also appear as the Black Knight.
Brazil's CCXP featured the first Eternals trailer, but unfortunately it was a behind-closed-doors affair. Expect a full trailer once Black Widow releases, or perhaps at this summer's "SDCC@Home" virtual event.
Madden also revealed a little about the premise back at SDCC 2019, saying: “The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent [to Earth] by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants.”
Feige himself has given a small peek into what to expect from the Eternals story, having told ComicBook.com: “It will be a story that will introduce you to this incredibly eclectic group of immortals, they're the focus of the story." He siad of the setting: "It takes place in our universe – it takes place in the MCU.”
Chloe Zhao, who will be directing The Eternals, said at SDCC: “I just really, really wanted to make a Marvel movie for so long… For this film, The Eternals, it’s about this incredible group of immortals but, through their journey, we get to explore what it means to be human.”
Marvel has even given us two pieces of Eternals concept art , one from August 2019, showcasing the Eternals' creators, the Celestials, stomping through an unknown planet and looking every inch the world-razing sentient beings that were feared long ago in the Marvel universe. The other is an out-of-this-world shot of a towering Celestial that features at 1:33 on this 2020 Marvel preview.
Get a look ahead at all things Marvel in 2020, including Marvel Studios' #BlackWidow, the "Marvel's Avengers" game, Avengers Campus, and so much more! 💥What are you most excited for? Tell us in the replies! #EarthsMightiestShow pic.twitter.com/Uc6ZT8BdPOJanuary 4, 2020
Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings was announced at SDCC as the third Marvel Phase 4 movie.
Releasing on May 7, 2021, the first Asian-led superhero movie will feature Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu and Tony Leung will be playing the real Mandarin and leader of the Ten Rings. Awkwafina will also appear in Shang-Chi in an as-yet-unnamed role.
While no one else apart from those three cast members have been announced, Simu Liu is already making waves on social media thanks to some fantastic old Twitter posts. In them, he’s openly calling for Marvel to cast an Asian lead in the MCU and, wouldn’t you just know it, he’s now made it come to life.
Destin Daniel Cretton (who worked with Captain Marvel herself Brie Larson on The Glass Castle) is directing the movie, which is set to resume filming imminently.
Rejoice! The as-yet-untitled Spider-Man 3 (can we make a suggestion? Spider-Man: Back Home) has been confirmed for December 17, 2021 after a delay and will be part of Marvel Phase 4. Phew.
To understand why it's such a big deal, we should recap how we got here. First, Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man agreement broke down. The result? Spider-Man was out of the MCU. Then Tom Holland spoke out about it, saying: "It's been a crazy week... I love you 3000." Sony Pictures chairman Tony Vinciquerra even firmly stated "the door is closed" on a Spider-Man return.
Then, it happened. The story that broke the web. Spider-Man returned to the MCU in late September, alongside news of a Spider-Man threequel (something Tom Holland had previously called, "something very special") and that the character would appear in a "future Marvel Studios" project. Holland's Peter Parker will also feature in Sony movies moving forward.
No news yet on what the plot will entail, though you'd imagine it would follow on from that Spider-Man: Far From Home cliffhanger, which involved Mysterio giving up Spidey's secret identity.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Thor: Love and Thunder – intially the last movie of Marvel Phase 4 before a release date reshuffle – is coming February 11, 2022, and will almost definitely shock you with its big reveal: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is the new Thor (now officially called Mighty Thor). Just let that sink in for a moment.
Not only that, but Chris Hemsworth is back at the OG God of Thunder, while Tessa Thompson is playing Valkyrie for the third time in the MCU. Taika Waititi is also returning to direct and write Love and Thunder. The villain of the piece is reportedly none other than ex-Batman actor Christian Bale. He'll take some beating.
Waititi recently hosted a watchalong of Ragnarok, wherein he let slip a few Love and Thunder details. Valkyrie will continue to look for a queen to rule alongside her in Asgard, while Korg is also confirmed to be back, though love might not be on the menu for our rock-based friend in Thor 4.
The God of Thunder himself, Chris Hemsworth, has also recently spoken about the Phase 4 sequel. He told the Philadelphia Enquirer, "[It’s] Taika at his most extreme, and at his best. If the version I read is the one we get running with, it’s going to be pretty insane.”
Waititi has also hinted that Love and Thunder will also take some inspiration from Jason Aaron’s Mighty Thor comic run, which introduced the concept of Jane Foster as Thor. If you need a primer on what to expect, check out what the comics tell us about Natalie Portman's Mighty Thor.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
It's all change here in the Sanctum Sanctorum for the Doctor Strange sequel, which is now slated for March 25, 2022. The sequel was initially meant to come before Thor: Love and Thunder, but was moved to after in a release date reshuffle.
Director Scott Derrickson, who helmed the original Doctor Strange, has departed Multiverse of Madness, citing “creative differences.” His writing partner, C. Robert Cargill, has also left the project. No replacement has yet been officially announced, though Sam Raimi told a conference call at which GamesRadar+ was present that he will be involved in the project.
Derrickson, who has a history of making horror movies – including Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose – was thought to be a perfect match for the potentially darker Doctor Strange sequel, though Raimi, of course, is no slouch in the scare game having directed Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell.
The Sorcerer Supreme himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, even teased the scarier direction of the film previously at San Diego Comic-Con, saying that there will be “a twist of horror that will really have people gripped… We’re going back to try and destroy [Doctor Strange] a bit I think.”
Outside of Cumberbatch, other cast members have yet to be announced, though Benedict Wong is expected to return, while Rachel McAdams is not likely to be back for the sequel. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Baron Mordo, told GamesRadar+ "I'm very excited to see what Sam Raimi does with that world."
Interestingly, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is widely expected to feature in the Phase 4 movie. Kevin Feige has since refuted those claims.
Feige, though, has teased the multiverse aspect at CCXP: "The multiverse is the next step in the evolution of the MCU and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is going to crack it wide open in ways that will have repercussions."
Marvel Phase 4 TV Shows
Word of warning: these aren't just mere offshoots and spin-offs. This is the full-fat MCU. On television. A report reckons each "six to eight episode" run will have budgets comparable to an MCU movie. On that excitable note, let's go through each upcoming entry show-by-show, though expect several of these release dates and windows to change in the coming weeks.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been delayed as per a recent Variety report which suggests that its exclusion from an upcoming Disney Plus slate means it's certainly not going to make either the previously mooted August release date, nor the official Fall 2020 release window. Pickup filming is set to resume soon, however.
The series itself, meanwhile, will see the newly-anointed Captain America, Sam Wilson, teaming up with Bucky Barnes. The synopsis describes the pair teaming up "in a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience." The series will be directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer.
CCXP was home to the very first images from the show. They were snapped by Brazilian outlet Omlete during the panel.
PRIMEIRAS FOTOS DE FALCAO E SOLDADO INVERNAL! #ccxp19 #geekse #painelMarvel pic.twitter.com/MpiJH1iZHSDecember 7, 2019
At SDCC, Anthony Mackie said he wants to find out “what makes The Winter Soldier tick… and what ticks him off.” With that in mind, we can perhaps expect a buddy comedy-style set-up for the dynamic duo.
The big reveal, though, came during the 2020 Super Bowl. Marvel tipped its hand to the glut of Disney Plus Marvel series coming our way, including a rapid look at Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Daniel Bruhl's Baron Zemo even makes a return in a tense standoff with Buck. You can see the video below.
WandaVision has been moved up. Previously set for a Spring 2021 release, the show is now set to release at the tail-end of the year in December 2020. Don't be surprised if it changes back, though, even with the news that the show is reportedly going to resume filming this July.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will be reprising their roles as Scarlet Witch and Vision, and Jac Schaeffer (one of the co-writers of Captain Marvel) is reportedly the series showrunner, as per Variety.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, though, as to how Vision will return to life after his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Bettany said he “has no idea” about Vision’s return. Kevin Feige has also teased what’s to come, telling a packed Hall H that “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before.”
On the opportunity to explore Scarlet Witch some more, Olsen said: “We’re gonna have a lot of fun. We’re gonna get weird, it’s gonna get deep, and have lots of surprises. We’re finally going to understand Wanda Maximoff.”
Speaking of surprises, Monica Rambeau is returning to the MCU. Having previously been seen in Captain Marvel as a child, this will be an all-grown-up version of the character, played by Teyonah Parris. Parris curiously described herself as a “Marvel superhero.” Could we expect Photon to be teaming up with Scarlet Witch and Vision?
If you're eager to see the first (black-and-white!) image for WandaVision, in the style of classic sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, then you're in luck:
Here’s the first official on-screen look at Elizabeth Olsen and @Paul_Bettany in the #WandaVision series! pic.twitter.com/Y7WTBPfnT9December 7, 2019
The above "Big Game" Disney Plus trailer also offers a glimpse at the wackiness of WandaVision. It's borrowing liberally from classic TV sitcoms, while Wanda is even wearing her classic comics-accurate Scarlet Witch outfit. Not only that, but she's pregnant in another blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene.
The synopsis reads: "Marvel Studios’ WandaVision blends the style of classic sitcoms with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)—two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems. The new series is directed by Matt Shakman; Jac Schaeffer is head writer. Debuts on Disney Plus this year."
Loki TV show
Tom Hiddleston is back in this Spring 2021 Disney Plus series.
During the Marvel SDCC 2019 panel, Feige says that Loki’s escape with the Space Stone in Avengers: Endgame will tie into the Loki TV show and will “tell you what happened with Loki right after [Endgame].”
Tom Hiddleston has described Loki as going up against "more formidable opponents" while those wondering about the God of Mischief's death and what plans he gets up to with the Tesseract can rest easy. Hiddleston also promised "this series will answer both of those questions."
The very first shot from the series also aired during the Super Bowl, with Loki donning a 'TVA' jumpsuit. That stands for Time Variance Authority, hinting that someone's been a very naughty boy in temporal terms.
There's even some sneaky leaked Loki set photos. Not only do they show the God of Mischief in a detective get-up, but also could be the first hint at Lady Loki.
The most curious of the Marvel Phase 4 offerings – in more ways than one. Disney Plus will be the home for “What If…?” an animated anthology series dedicated to exploring “different versions” of iconic MCU scenes and moments.
The cast reads like a who’s who of Marvel icons: 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, Nicole Portman, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Toby Jones, Djimon Honsou, Michael Rooker, and Jeff Goldblum will be lending their voices and reprising their Marvel roles in the cartoon. Phew.
There’s even a new face in town. Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright will be voicing The Watcher, otherwise known as the being dedicated to chronicling universe-shaking events across the cosmos.
What If…? will be releasing in Summer 2021.
The furthest out of the currently-announced Marvel Phase 4 TV shows is the Hawkeye series, starring Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, which will shoot its way on to Disney Plus in Fall 2021.
Of course, with the show still being over two years out, Marvel only has so much info stocked in its quiver to fire out there. One of which, however, is that the show will feature Barton training Kate Bishop, who Renner describes as “the best Hawkeye… and I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers.” Feige also confirmed at SDCC that we’ll explore more of Hawkeye’s time as Ronin in-between Infinity War and Endgame.
Recently, the Hawkeye directors have also been announced. THR states that Bert and Bertie and Rhys Thomas will be helming some episodes.
Beyond Phase 4 – AKA Marvel Phase 5
Feige, being the showman that he is, left us with a few more breadcrumbs at SDCC 2019. At the tail-end of the Hall H reveal, he confirmed that Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Blade, and Captain Marvel 2 would be coming to the MCU. The head of Marvel Studios also mentioned a certain Fantastic Four, and even name-dropped “mutants.” Ant-Man 3 was also later confirmed.
However, they aren’t officially part of Marvel Phase 4, nor do they have official release dates aside from Black Panther 2 and Captain Marvel 2. Here's what we know so far:
- Black Panther 2 – May 6, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 – July 8, 2022
- October 7, 2022
- February 17, 2023
- May 5, 2023
- July 28, 2023
- November 3, 2023
One thing that’s not coming just yet, though, is an Avengers movie in Marvel Phase 4. Feige told IGN this new chapter is all about “beginnings” but didn’t rule out a future return for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Here's what we do know, though, about some of the movies in pre-production.
Black Panther 2
After the wildly-successful first movie, leaving Black Panther 2 off the table would be among the worst things Marvel Studios could potentially do. Don’t worry, it’s definitely happening. Kevin Feige, of all people, has confirmed that a Black Panther sequel is coming to cinemas (via CNet) and that director Ryan Coogler is back on board. He’s currently working on the story.
Coogler recently took to the stage at D23 2019. He teased unveiling both the official title – it won’t be called ‘Black Panther 2’ that’s for sure – as well as the villain, but stopped short of revealing who will be threatening Wakanda this time around. Instead, he gave us the Black Panther 2 release date: May 6, 2022. That should make it one of Marvel Phase 5’s first MCU movies.
Captain Marvel 2
Carol Danvers was always going to return, but we now have a better idea of exactly when she'll be going supernova again.
Captain Marvel 2 will release on July 8, 2022. Sources close to THR also indicate that Carol's next adventure will be in the modern day, not in the '90s. Phew. No more questionable style choices.
Not much is known about Ant-Man 3 at this early stage, but the original THR report states that it is filming in 2020 or 2021 with the aim to release in 2022, while Rick and Morty writer Jeff Loveness is penning the script. That could put it in Phase 4 territory, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Paul Rudd is also expected to return.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3
The curious case of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has as many twists, turns, and misdirects as a trailer for a Russo Brother film. James Gunn was initially fired by Disney. Then he was re-hired less than a year later. Now, a Guardians of the Galaxy 3 script is bringing people to tears. Gunn, though, is still working on a Suicide Squad reboot and won’t be transferring back to the MCU until that’s released in 2021. With that being the case, a late 2022 release could be a distinct possibility.
Expect Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel to return. The movie may even focus on the search for Zoe Saldana’s Gamora after the events of Endgame, with James Gunn even teasing on Instagram Live (H/T Screen Rant) that a character will die. Meanwhile, we shouldn’t discount Chris Hemsworth joining the crew of the Milano and making it a big Asgardians of the Galaxy shindig.
Marvel has announced that a Blade film, starring Mahershala Ali as the eponymous vampire hunter, is in development at the studio. This will be Ali's second role within the MCU, having previously played Cottonmouth in the Netflix show Luke Cage.
The announcement was made at San Diego Comic-Con, with Marvel head Kevin Feige confirming a Blade standalone movie alongside another nine new MCU movies are currently in development.
One of a trio of Disney Plus MCU shows to be revealed at D23 (more on the other two below), She-Hulk is confirmed to be coming to the streaming service at an unconfirmed time in the near future. At the moment, all we’ve got is a logo to go on – but it certainly matches the colour scheme of She-Hulk’s (Jennifer Walters) costume, which is nice.
Not heard of Moon Knight? Don’t fret. Effectively acting as Marvel’s answer to Batman, Marc Spector is an uber-rich crimefighter, except his playboy persona is often shown as being part of Spector’s multiple personality disorder. It could’ve been a little too Tony Stark-lite but, now Robert Downey Jr.’s character is out of the MCU, it might be time for moneybags Moon Knight to step up to the plate in his TV show. No casting has yet been announced but, much like with She-Hulk, we also have a logo to tide us over until the next wave of news crashes over us.
News of Ms. Marvel’s imminent arrival into the MCU actually leaked ahead of its planned D23 announcement. That didn’t cause Marvel Studios to change its course, however, as news of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (the first Muslim superhero in the MCU) appearing in Marvel Phase 4 or 5 still landed alongside reveals of She-Hulk and Moon Knight. All three will be shows on Disney Plus. Check out the logo above.
A new Avengers movie
Not to be confused with New Avengers (though that could certainly make its way to the MCU beyond Phase 4), a new Avengers movie, or at least a new Avengers team has been briefly touched upon by Kevin Feige.
Feige told MTV News that "[The Avengers] will be a very different incarnation of the team with some people you’ve already met and some you haven’t met yet."
No word yet on anything other than that, but expect Earth's Mightiest Heroes to make their presence keenly felt after 2022.