Avengers: Endgame felt like the end of an era. Those of us who followed the nascent adventures of Tony Stark in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man could not have foreseen how wide the comic book movie net would be cast. While the natural break in proceedings may cause us to wonder what our superheroes and supervillians are doing with their time, we’re here to look at what is coming next. Twelve years, and twenty-two films down the MCU finds itself at an exciting and precarious point. The future, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is upon us and here’s what we’re really looking forward to seeing.
There are spoilers below for everything that has come before, but we’re assuming you’re up to date.
Scarlett Johansson’s intriguing Russian assassin was an essential part of The Avengers, eventually making a bold sacrifice to ensure our heroes would live to fight another day. It’s a shame that, multiverses-aside, this is the last we’ll get to see of Black Widow, but at least we have another female-led MCU film.
Before the pandemic this film was scheduled to be out in early 2020, and is now set for mid-2021, but with a stellar cast including Stranger Things’ David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and the stratospheric talent of Florence Pugh this is one to (finally) watch.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
In 2013 Destin Daniel Cretton directed one of the best films of the decade with Short Term 12, featuring a pre-Captain Marvel Brie Larson. Next year he makes his MCU debut with one of the most interesting and bold moves for the future of Marvel Studios. The film will take the characters created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin and introduce a far lesser-known ensemble to the MCU.
It is a good thing to see the biggest movie franchise in the world featuring an Asian superhero, lead by a mostly Asian cast. If the first three phases of the MCU were concentrated around the established characters, Phase Four and beyond has the benefit of being able to populate its films with a wider variety of visions and voices. And it’ll be all the richer for it.
Thor: Love and Thunder
If the likes of the two previous entries on this list (and adding the god-like Eternals into the mix) showcase the exciting new entrants into the MCU, the forthcoming Thor: Love and Thunder feels like a throwback to the MCU of old. Not least because director Taika Waititi returns to direct one of the most interesting occurrences in the franchise thus far.
Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster, and joins Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale in the film. It is thought that Portman will take on the mantle of Thor, and maybe even join the New Avengers. What is for certain, however, is that with Waititi back behind the camera this will be something special.
The second lead outing for Benedict Cumberbatch’s sorcerer was dealt a blow when original director and screenwriter, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill were replaced during pre-production. Luckily for us Marvel Studios have enlisted Sam Raimi, who arguably kicked off the 21st century superhero boom with Spider-Man, for the film.
We know that several MCU mainstays will appear in the film, with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch playing a large part in the unfolding of events. Given the current trend for Multiverse variants of Superheros colliding with one another (take a well-earned bow Spider-Verse…), there is a chance that the more playful side of the MCU will make for a very fun Phase Four experience.