Since the end of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ the world has been wondering what is next for the Marvel Universe. Well, the wait is over. Our questions have been answered. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, unveiled the Phase 4 slate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at San Diego Comic-Con.
Though some projects had been hinted at, leaked, basically announced or rumoured, the panel was the chance for Feige, his team and the various filmmakers to clarify the shape of the MCU as it moves into Phase 4. And with so many announcements and news stories arriving, we decided to look at what’s coming up chronologically, gathering the information and present what will be coming to screens over the next few years.
Further along than any of its other Phase-mates, the film that finally promises to explore Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff in a real way is actually in production right now, having shot for 30 days already under the direction of Cate Shortland.
Partly set after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ the film will also, as long suspected, dig into the widow’s past. “I think that’s what drew me to the story is she has so many secrets and she’s got so much vulnerability and that’s what makes her such a great heroine,” Shortland said at the panel. “In this film we get to understand her past and she gets to put all the pieces of herself together and come out a whole person.”
“I don’t think I could have played this iteration of Natasha 10 years ago, it would have been a very different fit,” Johansson said. “I get to play Natasha as a fully realised woman in all her many facets, and I’m excited to see the fans see what she perceives to be that flawed side of her. And I’m looking to wipe that red in my ledger.”
While the Marvel universe has extended its tendrils out to TV before, the connection has always been largely tenuous, with SHIELD having the odd crossover and the Defenders barely acknowledging the MCU timeline. All that changes with the dawning of the Disney+ streaming service and the shows run directly by Feige and co, which will weave into the main Phase 4 story.
First up will be a buddy action drama, with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan returning to the roles they’ve made their own on the big screen. With Empire TV series veteran Malcolm Spellman as head writer, joined by John Wick’s Derek Kolstad. While none of the behind-the-scenes crew were present at the panel, Mackie and Stan strode on stage, with Mackie carrying the Captain America shield. The show will be set after the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ which saw Sam “Falcon” Wilson become the new Cap (Captain America). Mackie said in an interview before the panel that he’d already been fitted for the new Cap suit at least once.
But while the heroes were there in person, the villain of the show also wanted to make himself known. Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo, last seen in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, broke into the panel with a threatening video message and the revelation that he’ll be using the comic book version’s iconic purple mask. “Beat you once, we can beat you twice,” Mackie said once the video had played. Beyond that, no details were revealed.
Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ is set to be released on November 6th, 2020. The series boasts one of the starrier casts of recent MCU times, at least in terms of people who were big names before they joined the movies.
With Feige promising “something entirely new, entirely different for the MCU,” the producer added that, ”this film is full Jack Kirby.” What does that mean? Expect yet more galactic action, giant set pieces and a timeline that spans eons instead of years.
Director Chloe Zhao is in charge of bringing that vision to life, with a cast that included Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as leader Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, and Angelina Jolie as Thena.
“It’s about this group of incredible immortals, but through their journey we’re going to get to explore what it means to be human and humanity in our time on this planet,” Zhao told the crowd. Madden described their characters as “a race of immortal aliens sent to earth by the celestials to protect humankind from the deviants.”
Television series slated for Disney+ also include ‘WandaVision’, ‘Loki’, ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘What If…?’ Feige and his team went into some more detail about a couple of shows, including ‘Loki’. The show will follow the character after he escaped with the tesseract in 2012 – something that only happened thanks to ‘Avengers: Endgame’. The version of Loki played by Hiddleston appears to be one that didn’t experience the events of several films, like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, and ‘Avengers: Endgame’.
While there are many shows and films to be slated for release, it looks as though the stories will fit closely together, with projects like ‘The Falcon’ and ‘Winter Soldier’ picking up after ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Hawkeye’ exploring some of the character’s time as ‘Ronin’ did, and with the events in ‘WandaVision’ leading right into ‘Doctor Strange 2’. Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger previously said the MCU films and Disney+ series would intertwine and now we know what that looks like. There's a good chance other characters from all the aforementioned films will intertwine in some way, too.
That will also extend to the Disney + show ‘What If...?’, a non-canon, animated series that presents alternate takes on the existing MCU, like what if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? The panel revealed that numerous MCU actors will reprise their roles for these alternate takes.