© Kevin Winter

Culture

With Phase Four, Marvel tells us they're here to stay

Endgame was really just the beginning

It was a relatively quiet Comic-Con this year: a couple of promising TV trailers here and there, but nothing truly earth-shattering—until, that is, until Kevin Feige, the daddy of the MCU, took the Hall H stage and talked us through the next two and a half years of Marvel Studios' plans. Some of the announcements were really cool, and some of them were... the Hawkeye TV show on Disney+. The main takeaway, though, is that in a post-Endgame world—it's now officially the biggest movie of all time, having finally dethroned AvatarMarvel Studios is here to stay, and it's going to take its sweet, sweet time building to its next huge crossover. Let's look at the biggest news:

First of all, what was announced?

The current MCU Phase Four slate reads as such:

Black Widow - May 1, 2020

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ series) - Fall 2020

Eternals - November 6, 2020

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - February 12, 2021

WandaVision (Disney+ series) - Spring 2021

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - May 7, 2021

Loki (Disney+ series) - Spring 2021

What If...? (Disney+ series) - Summer 2021

Hawkeye (Disney+ series) - Fall 2021

Thor: Love and Thunder - November 5, 2021

All this is, of course, subject to change. Just look at Marvel's original Phase Three plans, which included an Inhumans movie, contained no sight of Spider-Man or an Ant-Man sequel, and had Endgame originally titled as Infinity War Part II.

Okay, but which parts should I care about?

Here's what I've got:

Eternals has the potential to be completely batshit and unlike anything we've seen from the MCU so far. Think back to 2014, when Guardians of the Galaxy came out and changed our perception of what Marvel movies could be, and dial the weirdness levels way, way up.

Shang-Chi! Finally, Simu Liu will be Marvel's first Asian superhero, with Tony Leung as the real Mandarin and Awkwafina cast for good measure.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could also be a game-changer. Director Scott Derrickson, who directed the first film, as well as 2012's terrifying Sinister, has promised to make the "first scary MCU movie." PG-13 horror can work if it's done right, and if Marvel's going to continue to evolve, it's going to have to trust its filmmakers to take a few more risks and lean further into genre than it has previously. I hope this film keeps its promise.

Finally, Thor: Love and Thunder already looks like it's going to be a banger. Taika Waititi's back writing and directing, Tessa Thompson has all but confirmed Valkyrie as the MCU's first out LGBTQ hero, and Natalie Portman is back as not only Jane Foster, but a new iteration of Thor. She's going to have Mjolnir and everything.

Wait, where's Black Panther 2?

Phase Five, I assume? Feige only took us through the next two years and change, officially, but name-dropped a bunch of other projects in the works: Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Blade starring Mahershala Ali. He also hinted at future plans for the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, now that Fox has been brought into the Disney fold. Like I said, the slate above will probably move around a bunch, and I wouldn't be surprised to see another film slot in between 2021's Doctor Strange and Thor sequels at some point.

And where's the big team-up movie to close out this phase?

I guess Marvel is either holding off on another big announcement or feels like we don't need one for a while! Avengers: Endgame was a huge undertaking and literally the biggest movie of all time, and the studio understandably might not want to fly another film under the Avengers banner for a good few years while the new landscape settles in. Marvel Studios, after all, is no longer looking at a finish line. It's crossed the line, collected its gold medal, done a victory lap and a few backflips, and now it can, frankly, do whatever the hell it wants. If there's one big takeaway from Phase Four, it's that the MCU is in no rush to re-create old successes; it's at the top of the food chain, and happy to try out a few new things.

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