Marvel Studios unveils Phase 4 lineup at Comic-Con

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For a studio known for sketching out its film schedule years in advance, Marvel Studios was surprisingly tight-lipped about its plans through the release of “Avengers: Endgame.” While some details had already slipped out, there was no official announcement about the future of the MCU, even as “Spider-Man: Far From Home teased some tantalizing possibilities.

That all changed this weekend at Marvel’s panel at Comic-Con in San Diego. Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige pulled back the curtain on the release dates and titles of Marvel’s next crop of movies and Disney+ shows. And this being Marvel, the presentation even came with a post-credits surprise. Read on for a complete look of Marvel’s newly-announced film and TV lineup through 2021 (and beyond).

“Black Widow”

Release date: May 1, 2020
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz
Director: Cate Shortland

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Given that the film has already been shooting for about a month, the “Black Widow” announcement was perhaps the least surprising of Marvel’s presentation. However, we did learn a few details about the movie. Set shortly after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” the story will center on Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) and a pair of women (Pugh and Weisz) who have also been subjected to the “Red Room” spy training program.

“I think you’ll learn about what Natasha is afraid of, and I think you’ll learn about what parts of herself she’s afraid of,” Johansson told CNN. “You really see her in, like, a pretty broken-down place, and she kinda has to build herself back up and pull all the pieces together in this film. It gets kind of gnarly, but good gnarly.”

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”

Release date: Fall 2020
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl

Previously teased during an investor’s meeting for the upcoming streaming service Disney+, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will find Mackie and Stan reprising their roles of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barns, respectively. Details were scarce, but MCU fans can expect the show to be set sometime after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” as Steve Rodgers’ closest friends adjust to a world without Captain America.

However, Feige did reveal one other detail at Comic-Con: Daniel Bruhl will reprise the role of Baron Zemo from “Captain America: Civil War.” 

“The Eternals”

Release date: Nov. 6, 2020
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee
Director: Chloé Zhao

With casting announcements leaking over the past several months, “The Eternals” was another of Marvel’s poorly kept secrets. Still, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” before it, “The Eternals” doesn’t have the cachet of many other Marvel properties.

As GOTG proved, that could be a good thing. Based on characters created by comics legend Jack Kirby, The Eternals are a group of immortal, superpowered beings who have secretly coexisted alongside humans since the dawn of time. With an outstanding, diverse cast (including Marvel’s first deaf hero) and an intriguing premise, “The Eternals” looks to follow Guardians’ lead as the next obscure franchise breakout.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Release date: Feb. 12, 2012
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

After a relatively quiet 2020 in which Marvel is only releasing two movies, things heat up in 2021. Kicking things off in February is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which will feature Marvel’s first Asian title character. 

Canadian-Chinese actor Simu Liu will portray the eponymous character, with “Crazy Rich Asians” breakout Awkwafina in an unnamed role. In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of the crime boss Fu Manchu. After discovering his father’s nefarious schemes, the Kung Fu master swears vengeance on his family. 

However, in the Marvel short film “All Hail the King,” embedded above, it was revealed that the real Mandarin wasn’t too happy about pretentious actor Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) pretending to be him. Shang-Chi will finally give us a look at the genuine Mandarin, who will be played by Chinese actor Tony Leung. It’s also possible that they retcon Fu Manchu in favor of the Mandarin.

“WandaVision”

Release date: Spring 2021
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris

Marvel’s second Disney+ series will find Olsen and Bettany reprising their roles of star-crossed lovers the Scarlet Witch and Vision. Given that Vision was killed in “Avengers: Infinity War,” it remains to be seen how his character will come back (if he even is; in the comics, Scarlet Witch has the power to bend reality, which could also explain the series’ premise).

Also intriguing, the show will feature Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. Last seen as a kid in the ‘90s-set “Captain Marvel,” she eventually assumes that mantle in the comics. Her character could factor into the long term future of the MCU.

Speaking of factoring in, Feige revealed at the presentation that “WandaVision” will directly lead into the events of Marvel’s next feature…

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

Release date: May 7, 2021
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen
Director: Scott Derrickson

Following a false start in “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the multiverse is coming to the MCU in 2021. Elizabeth Olsen will be returning as the Scarlet Witch to co-star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange in the follow-up to the 2016 original. 

Director Scott Derrickson is also returning and he promised that “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be “the first scary MCU film.” Given his background on horror films like “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Sinister,” Derrickson is uniquely positioned to deliver on that promise (but don’t worry, it will still be rated PG-13). 

Because the plot is also tied to the events of “WandaVision,” little is known about the story at this point. But Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill have previously hinted that fan-favorite Nightmare will be the villain in this installment. 

“Loki”

Release date: Spring 2021
Starring: Tom Hiddleston

“Loki” is another series that has been previously confirmed for Disney+, but Feige spilled a few other details at Comic-Con. Specifically, he seemed to confirm that the show’s version of Loki would be the one who disappeared with the Tesseract during the Avengers’ botched time heist in “Endgame.” 

As Hiddleston noted at Comic-Con, that’s actually a pretty different character from the last few films Loki appeared in.

“He’s still that guy” whose plans for planetary domination were foiled at the end of the first “Avengers,” Hiddleston told the crowd. “Just about the last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk smashed.” Given this, fans should expect a slightly darker, though no less intriguing, version of the character.

“What If…?”

Release date: Summer 2021
Starring: Jeffry Wright

Premiering on Disney+ in summer 2021, “What If…?” will be Marvel Studios’ first animated series. The show is based on the cult one-off series, which imagines a series of alternate scenarios for the Marvel universe (the pilot episode is rumored to explore what would have happened if Peggy Carter was given the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers). 

In addition to a voice cast that finds many of the most popular actors in the MCU reprising their film roles, Jeffrey Wright will play The Watcher. In the “What If…?” comics, The Watcher basically serves as the narrator of these tales, a role we can expect him to assume in the upcoming series.

“Hawkeye”

Release date: Fall 2021
Starring: Jeremy Renner

The final show announced for Disney+ will be a Hawkeye spin-off starring Jeremy Renner. The show will introduce the character of Kate Bishop, who eventually takes over the mantle of Hawkeye. Female-centered stories appear to be a hallmark of Marvel’s Phase 4 plan, as evidenced by…

“Thor: Love and Thunder”

Release date: Nov. 5, 2021
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson
Director: Taika Wattiti

Shortly before Comic-Con, “Thor 4” was announced, with both Chris Hemsworth and “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Wattiti returning. However, perhaps the splashiest moment of Marvel’s presentation took place when Feige revealed that 4HOR would also see the return of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster as…Thor?!?

The script will apparently be based on a recent comic arc that found Foster wielding the hammer of Thor after the original Norse God is deemed unworthy. However, given that the script will again be handled by Wattiti, fans should expect another comical entry in a series that has somehow become one of the funniest corners of the MCU. Tessa Thompson will also return as the MCU’s first LGBTQ hero, Valkyrie. 

Post-Credits Stingers

While those 10 titles are all that Marvel officially announced, Feige hinted at what’s still to come. In addition to sequels to “Black Panther,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Captain Marvel,” Feige confirmed that they have begun developing “Fantastic 4” and “X-Men,” properties that Marvel obtained thanks to Disney’s recent merger with Fox.

Fitting with the Marvel brand, Feige still had a major surprise up his sleeve. Just as the presentation was winding down, he revealed that Marvel would be rebooting “Blade” with two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. While no specifics were revealed, it’s possible that the vampire hunter could join the MCU with an appearance in one of the aforementioned titles, similar to the introduction of Black Panther and Spider-Man in “Captain America: Civil War.” 

With the next Dr. Strange movie taking on a “gothic horror” tone, that could be the natural choice, but we’ll have to wait and see. If nothing else, Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation confirmed that, even with almost another year before its next movie, Marvel is still commanding our attention.