Before the coronavirus upended all of our lives and the global entertainment industry, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was poised to have a super weekend next month.
After Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home ruled the box office last year, Marvel Studios had lined up Black Widow to usher in its Phase 4 slate of films this coming Friday.
It was to be followed later this year by The Eternals, and two spinoff shows available on its streaming service Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision.
But we’ll have to wait to see what shape the rest of Marvel’s new world will take. Black Widow is now slated to open Nov. 6, taking the spot of The Eternals and shifting the rest of its titles well into 2023.
Endgame capped an 11-year saga that tied together many threads from the MCU’s 21 previous titles.
In an interview with the Sun last spring, Marvel president Kevin Feige said that the studio has planned out the next five years encompassing Phase 4 and beyond.
“We’ve charted out another five years of stories and all of them will be influenced by, and different from, what one is expecting based on Endgame,” Feige told the Sun in Los Angeles last year. “You need endings to have new beginnings.”
In previous interviews with the Sun, Feige has hinted that Marvel’s cinematic blueprint extends well into the late 2020s. With Disney’s acquisition of Fox — which owned the rights to the X-Men, Wolverine, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four — that roadmap might go even further. “One of the most exciting things about what’s coming up next is being able to continue to surprise and subvert expectations for what a Marvel Studios movie can be,” Feige said.
One of the things we’re likely not to see anytime soon is a reboot of Iron Man with another actor filling in for Robert Downey Jr. Feige said that a new version of that character won’t be in Marvel’s plans for many years still.
“I do think Iron Man — like Spider-Man, like Batman, like Superman, like James Bond — has existed long before most of us were around and will exist long after most of us are gone. So (recasting is) inevitable at some point, but certainly nothing I have to think about anytime soon.”
“One of the most exciting things about what’s coming up next is being able to continue to subvert expectations for what a Marvel Studios movie can be.”
Here’s a look at the films we’ll see between now and 2022 — and even beyond.
Black Widow (Nov. 6)
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Window finally gets her own movie in this stand-alone prequel set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Cate Shortland is directing, with Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova), Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff) and David Harbour (Red Guardian) co-starring in this story that digs deeper into Natasha Romanoff’s history.
Early reaction to the film’s trailers have likened its gritty action to the Bourne series.
“I thought it would be a certain thing,” Harbour teased in an interview with the Sun last year, “but it’s not that thing.”
In the Marvel comic books, Belova eventually becomes Black Widow, so it’s a safe bet that Pugh, one of 2019’s hottest stars, will become a mainstay in the MCU going forward.
“You really see her in like, a pretty broken-down place, and she kind of has to build herself back up and pull all the pieces together in this film,” Johansson tells CNN. “It gets kind of gnarly, but good gnarly.”
The Eternals (Feb. 12, 2021)
Created by Jack Kirby in 1976, the group of near-immortal cosmic beings known as Eternals aren’t household names among comic book fans. But most moviegoers will be familiar with the stars set to portray them: Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Gemma Chan and Richard Madden lead the cast. Feige pegs it as Phase 4’s “big ensemble” adventure.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (May 7, 2021)
Marvel’s Phase 4 will not only introduce new heroes but it’s promising to usher in more diversity. Shang-Chi will be the studios’ first film to feature an Asian lead. Based on the 1970s-era character, Destin Daniel Cretton is directing the story of the undisputed kung-fu master of the Marvel universe, with Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu as the titular hero and Hong Kong screen icon Tony Leung as the villainous Mandarin. Awkwafina will also appear in an unspecified role.
Spider-Man 3 (Nov. 5, 2021)
While doing the press rounds for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland let slip that he would appear as Peter Parker in three solo films. He even shared an idea of who he’d like to see the wall-crawler teaming up with in a future movie. “I think we could have a fun time with Spider-Man and Ant-Man,” Holland told the Sun. “A mini-Spider-Man could be really interesting and so cool.” One thing we’re certain of: the word Home will feature somewhere in the title.
Natalie Portman will wield Thor’s hammer alongside Chris Hemsworth in this fourquel. “For me, Thor: Ragnarok felt like we had just asked a bunch of five-year-olds what they wanted in a movie and (Marvel) just said, ‘OK,’ ” writer-director Taika Waititi told the Sun last fall. “I feel this will be about twice as ridiculous.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
The mystical Marvel hero will be getting a sequel with Feige teasing it as the MCU’s first scary movie. “It’s gonna be PG-13 and you’re going to like it.” Feige said at last summer’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Sam Raimi is now attached to direct and the film is undergoing a rewrite, but previous director Scott Derrickson told the Sun there was one idea he hoped made it into the sequel, which will again feature Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme. “There was one scene that we shot that was in the script that we ended up cutting out,” he said. “I’m not going to say what it is, but … it’s good enough to put in a future movie.” According to Feige, the events of WandaVision will directly tie into the film.
Chadwick Boseman will be returning to Wakanda. And after the overwhelming success of the first film, Ryan Coogler will return to write and direct the sequel. Michael B. Jordan is rumoured to be bringing back his villainous Erik Killmonger in some capacity with Donald Glover being eyed to join the fray.
Captain Marvel 2 (July 8, 2022)
With the original one of last year’s highest grossing films at the box office, Marvel will likely plot a Captain Marvel sequel that jumps off from the original’s 1990s setting. The film’s cosmic storyline will allow the heroine to explore the far reaches of the galaxy and help introduce new characters, while still offering up ties to some of the earlier MCU films. I just hope they figure out a way to also bring back Goose, the flerken cat.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD, possibly Oct. 7, 2022)
The third and final instalment in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy was due to start shooting last year for a 2020 release. But in 2018, Gunn was fired after some of his controversial old tweets resurfaced online. He then signed a deal to revamp the Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. before Disney reinstated him as the director on Vol. 3. He’ll now return to the Marvel fold after he completes work on the DC film, with shooting scheduled to start sometime next year.
“Basically the story of this group ends with Vol. 3,” Gunn told the Sun in 2017. He even hinted that death for one of the characters may be in the cards.
“(The Guardians) will grow and change; they’re going to live and they’re going to die and we’re going to be able to grow with them and see where they go.”
“The script is changing a bit because of (Marvel) timelines,” Bautista told the Sun last month. “We have to stay true to what Marvel is doing and what they’ve done, so we’ll switch things up a little bit. But like the first two, we’re going to continue to preach the message of family, diversity and good music.”
Ant-Man 3 (TBD)
Marvel announced a third film in the Ant-Man series late last year with Peyton Reed once again returning to direct. During the Sun’s visit to the set of Ant-Man and The Wasp in 2017, executive producer Stephen Broussard, Reed and Evangeline Lilly all teased they had ideas of where they wanted to go next, insisting it would be somewhere unexpected.
“The first Captain America was a WWII mission movie. Then it was a total left turn into paranoid ’70s spy thriller and then the third one — Civil War — was an epic universe colliding thing.
“That’s how you avoid sequel fatigue,” Broussard said.
Feige made this announcement at Comic-Con last summer. Little else is known about a possible storyline, but Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will play the half-human, half-vampire hero who hunts the undead. “We have, for years, wanted to find a new way into Blade,” Feige said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes.
“We love that character. We love that world. Now, with Doctor Strange and the supernatural elements coming into the MCU, it felt like we could definitely start exploring that.”
X-Men, Fantastic Four (TBD)
With Disney’s acquisition of Fox, Marvel will inevitably announce a reboot of the X-Men and Fantastic Four. John Krasinski has met with the studio recently, with some speculating he is gearing up to play Mr. Fantastic a.k.a. Reed Richards. During the Sun’s visit to the set of Infinity War, Avengers directors Joe and Anthony Russo certainly seemed intrigued by the idea of tackling some of Marvel’s most famous mutant heroes.
“Disney getting Fox and all those characters certainly is very appetizing,” Joe said. “I do look forward to the day when Kevin Feige calls us in 18 months and just sort of whispers an amazing name to us that we can’t resist,” Endgame co-writer Stephen McFeely added.