In the dying embers of a dumpster-fire year for Hollywood — one that will go down as the first since 2009 absent a feature entry from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (sorry, The New Mutants) — Disney used its 2020 Investor Day Thursday to announce date changes, status updates, and brand-new information pertaining to a wide swath of upcoming Marvel movies and series aimed for Disney+. The sheer volume of Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four announcements and the geyserlike force with which they quickly overran the entertainment news cycle brought to mind one of the studio’s shock-and-awe Comic-Con presentations more than any Wall Street quarterly earnings call — signaling both the company’s megalithic streaming ambitions as well as a continuing commitment to theatrical film releases.
As part of a larger, four-hour Disney spiel that sparked fan excitement for new content across its vast media empire — a Buzz Lightyear origin story! a Patty Jenkins-directed Star Wars! It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia renewed for four more seasons! — the Marvel news was somewhat overshadowed by buzzy Lucasfilm, Pixar, Hulu, FX, and even Nat Geo announcements. Vulture will try to remedy that here:
All the MCU Movies News You Need to Know
Black Widow (May 7, 2021)
Just days removed from Warner Bros.’ widely decried decision to debut the entirety of its 2021 slate on HBO Max, Marvel surprised the industry by keeping the Scarlett Johannson Avengers prequel to its May 7 theatrical release date and not pivoting the blockbuster to Disney+ as Big Disney did with Mulan and Pixar did with Soul. “Fans have been patient, and I can’t tell you just how ready we are for this Avenger to finally have her own stand-alone film,” Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige said during the presentation.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, 2021)
Likewise, with production having recently concluded on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the film — which features Simu Liu as its titular star alongside Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng, and Michelle Yeoh — is set to hit mutliplexes July 9 of next year.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
The update: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (directed by Sam Raimi) will not only tie in to the streaming series WandaVision (more on that below) but also to Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man movie (slated for a December 2021 release).
Thor: For Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022)
Continuing Marvel’s increasingly boilerplate tradition of hiring Academy Award–winning Serious Thespians such as Cate Blanchett to face off against comedy’s favorite intergalactic-rainbow-traipsing Hammer Hero, Christian Bale will play a villain named Gorr the God Butcher, no doubt intent on making mincemeat of the God of Thunder. Shooting in Australia next year, the Taika Waititi–directed fourth Thor installment reaches theaters May 6, 2022.
Black Panther 2 (July 8, 2022)
Black Panther 2 is uprooting to July 8, 2022 from its original May 6 date. On Thursday, Feige confirmed the lead role of T’Challa, originated by Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August, will not be recast. Instead, the sequel (directed by Ryan Coogler) will cherry-pick a new protagonist from elsewhere in Wakanda to carry T’Challa’s story forward. “To honor the legacy that Chad helped us build through his portrayal of the king of Wakanda, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film,” Feige said.
Captain Marvel 2 (November 11, 2022)
The much-awaited follow-up to 2019’s $1.1 billion–grossing megahit is moving to November 11, 2022 from July 8 (with Candyman filmmaker Nia DaCosta in the director’s chair). Imani Vellani will reprise her role as Kamala Khan alongside Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers.
Fantastic Four Reboot
Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home filmmaker Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the studio’s Fantastic Four reboot — a move that was hailed as a kind of homecoming of its own for Marvel’s so-called “First Family,” which finally joins the MCU fold after a disastrous 2015 reboot directed by Josh Trank.
All the Streaming MCU Series News You Need to Know
Wandavision (January 15, 2021)
Launching on Disney+, Marvel Studios’ first-ever series features Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen reprising their Avengers characters (respectively, a punctilious android and a reality-skewering witch who overcome their molecular disparity to fall in love) in a kind of period-set, mid-century-style sitcom in the I Dream of Jeannie/Bewitched mold.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (March 19, 2021)
Originally intended as Marvel’s first streaming at-bat, the series was postponed because of the coronavirus but hits Disney+ March 19, featuring fellow Avengers alum Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan as a kind of post-Cap buddy-cop superhero team.
Loki (May 2021)
Set to premiere on Disney+ sometime in May 2021, the show stars fan-favorite Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s brother, a charming trickster demigod who teleported away from impending incarceration in Avengers: Endgame and resumes his antihero ways (with a supporting cast that includes Owen Wilson, Richard E. Grant and Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Like Wandavision and TFATWS, the series underscores Marvel’s overall strategy of expanding its cinematic universe beyond the cinema with interconnecting characters and storylines jumping from small screen to big and back again..
What If … ? (Summer 2021)
Another first: Marvel Studios’ debut animated series, expected summer 2021. The stated idea is to deliver hypothetical takes on established plot lines from the MCU’s 23-film franchise, featuring voice portrayals from the actors in those films, including Michael B. Jordan, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, and Paul Rudd. Among the plot lines: “What if Peggy Carter took the super soldier serum that birthed Captain America?” and “What if T’Challa became Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star Lord?”
Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye (TBD 2021)
These series are set for “late” 2021 on Disney+. Although details for both were fewer and farther between, newcomer Iman Vellani was confirmed as Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old gamer-nerd/fan-fic-scribe who flukes into incredible powers and becomes the heroic Ms. Marvel. And Avengers Hawkeye Jeremy Renner passes the Hawkeye baton to a Gen Z embodiment of the deadshot marksman character played by Dickinson star Hailee Steinfeld.
After much “Will-she? Won’t she?” to and fro, Emmy-winning Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany was finally confirmed as the star of She-Hulk, another spinoff series in which Mark Ruffalo will contribute appearances in his mean, green Bruce Banner incarnation.
Other quick hits out of the Investor Day: Feige touted the show Secret Invasion as “arguably the biggest crossover of the last 20 years” next to Captain America: Civil War, putting Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character and Ben Mendelsohn’s evil Talos (from Captain Marvel) in some kind of dynamic confrontation. Ironheart will center around a young genius (Dominique Thorne of If Beale Street Could Talk) who fashions a high-tech Iron Man super suit. And Don Cheadle will return to his own Tony Stark-adjacent role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine for Armor Wars, in which the character must put the super suit back on to stave off dystopian armageddon. Vin Diesel’s single-sentence-spouting sentient tree character Baby Groot will be getting his own Guardians of the Galaxy spinoff series I Am Groot. And after being unceremoniously fired by Disney over controversial tweets, director James Gunn will return to the Marvel fold for an as-yet undated Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.