Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige not only stuck the landing when they released “Avengers: Endgame” and capped off a nearly-two-dozen-film run that spans a decade, but they did so in record-breaking fashion. But what do you do after you release the biggest film of all time? Well, COVID-19 says that you take a full year off and regroup.
We are now in 2021, and the MCU hangover from ‘Endgame’ has fully worn off. It seems like the perfect time for Marvel Studios to once again dominate the film industry and fandom for the next decade. And that means it’s time for Phase 4, which is the most ambitious slate of projects in the studio’s history. Instead of just conquering film, which Marvel Studios has done handily, it’s now time to switch gears and tackle TV, thanks to Disney+.
So, as we move into Phase 4, we are given a list of 12 films, 12 series, and one Holiday Special. That is a massive step up from what we already thought was an ambitious lineup of 11 films in Phase 3. Marvel Studios is kicking into overdrive for the foreseeable future, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give our readers the rundown of everything the MCU has in store for fans over the next 3+ years. – Charles Barfield
It’s finally here – the first television project to be released by a Feige-led Marvel Studios, and, oh boy, is it a doozy! “WandaVision” finds Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living that happily-ever-after ‘burb life when certain happenings begin to occur that make them feel like things may not be as they seem. The nine-episode series is directed by Matt Shakman (“The Great,” “The Boys,” “Succession,” “Game of Thrones“) and features a deep bench of supporting cast members like Kathryn Hahn, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, Teyonah Paris, and Deborah Jo Rupp. The Playlist’s own Griffin Schiller says the first three episode’s “modulating tone isn’t only what makes it such a unique venture. The craftsmanship behind its loving recreation of the classic sitcoms that inspired it, including ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ and ‘Bewitched’ is also a remarkable accomplishment.” Come for the Marvel, stay for the delightful sit-com homages. “WandaVision” shows that Marvel Studios still isn’t afraid to swing for the fences.
Release Date: January 15 – Mike DeAngelo
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”
Our little sidekicks have grown up! Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” and finds its titular characters, Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) dealing with the void left behind by Captain America himself, Steve Rogers. Yes, Sam got the shield, but, by the looks of it, the U.S. government may be stepping in to override that decision in order to hand it over to a soldier, a Super Patriot, a…U.S. Agent named John Walker (Wyatt Russell). The six-episode series is directed by Kari Skogland (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “NOS4A2,” “The Punisher“) also features the return of Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Daniel Brühl as Zemo, and Georges St. Pierre as Batroc the Leaper. Captain America may be gone, but the consequences of his past seem to have returned stronger than ever! Heavy is the arm that holds the shield…
Release Date: March 19 – MD
We all saw it happen – Hulk suddenly bursts through the stair access doors of the Stark Industries lobby, effectively sending Tony Stark and the Tesseract flying across the floor. The Tesseract lands at Loki’s feet and POOF! The God of Mischief is in the wind. But as is always the case, the six-episode Loki mini-series finds Tom Hiddleston’s charismatic not-so-Asgardian landing himself in a bit of trouble – this time with the Time Variance Authority/TVA. Fans of Marvel Comics will know the TVA as the agency that monitors and polices the multiverse and even ends timelines that happen to be too dangerous to exist. Little else is known about the May 2021-released series outside of the fact that all six episodes are directed by Kate Herron (“Sex Education,” “Daybreak“) and new cast members include Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Owen Wilson, Richard E. Grant, and Sophia Di Martino, but, based on the trailer, it’s going to be chock full of insane time-traveling adventures with everyone’s favorite MCU troublemaker-in-chief.
Release Date: May 2021 – MD
Cate Shortland (“Somersault,” “Lore,” “Berlin Syndrome“) helms the first theatrical plunge into the MCU’s Phase Four with this twice-delayed solo outing revolving around the titular character’s events following “Captain America: Civil War” and her own complicated history that led to her eventually becoming a key member of the Avengers. Scarlett Johansson returns in what may very be her final appearance in the role, with Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, and O-T Fagbenle rounding out the cast of Romanoff allies along with such MCU veterans as William Hurt, once again reprising his role as Thaddeus Ross, though in what medium we’ll eventually see “Black Widow” remains something of a mystery to this day-though a release date of May 7 remains set at this moment, rumored discussions of a day-and-date theatrical/Disney+ release continue to materialize on a regular basis. It’s no question “Black Widow” will one day see the light of day, but how audiences will ultimately be able to take in the film will likely exist as a water cooler topic for some time to come.
Release Date: May 7 – Brian Farvour
Based on a quick question that has become legendary in Marvel Comics, “What If…?” is the first animated series to come from Marvel Studios. Each of the first season’s 10 episodes will ask another hypothetical. What if Peggy Carter got the supersoldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? What if T’Challa was brought to space and became Star-Lord and not Black Panther? Each animated half-hour brings your favorite MCU actors back to voice their characters in brand-new situations, including Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, and more. In fact, this series will also feature the final performance of Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa after the unexpected passing of the actor last year. Joining the MCU as the de facto host of the proceedings is none other than Jeffrey Wright, who voices the classic Marvel character, Uatu the Watcher. Marvel Studios is so high on the concept, a second season of 10 episodes has already been given the green light.
Release Date: Summer 2021 – Charles Barfield