Avengers: Endgame was the end of Marvel's cinematic universe as we know it -- but it was not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phase 3 officially came to a close with Spider-Man: Far From Home; now, the MCU continues on in new and exciting directions, with heroes we know and love and plenty of intriguing new faces.
So, what comes next? Kevin Feige, the president and top secret-keeper for Marvel Studios, managed to keep plans for Phase 4 and beyond close to his chest until Endgame and Far From Home had come and gone, but he's since pulled back the curtain on what will be released through 2022. ("Although we know five full years," Feige demurred to ET.)
Marvel unveiled its Phase 4 slate during San Diego Comic-Con, announcing five films and as many Disney+ TV series, the latter of which is set to be the MCU's next frontier. The next month at D23, Feige added three series and confirmed an additional film. Below, a glimpse into the future as we break down everything we know about what's coming next. (Be warned, that involves spoilers for everything that's come until now.)
Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
Natasha Romanoff has been part of the MCU since the beginning -- or since Iron Man 2, at least -- and 23 films in, she is finally fronting a film of her own. Considering she died in Endgame, it's not exactly surprising that Black Widow is a prequel, of sorts: It takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and is expected to include flashbacks to Natasha's life before S.H.I.E.L.D. and that long-teased Budapest mission.
Black Widow will also introduce comics characters such as fellow spy Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Russia's answer to Captain America, Red Guardian (David Harbour), and the villainous Taskmaster. Whether we'll get a cameo from Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is TBD.
Directed by: Cate Shortland (Lore)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and O-T Fagbenle
Find out even more about Black Widow here.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2020 on Disney+)
Promising to be more intrinsically connected to the MCU than the previous television series, Marvel's first Disney+ offering centers on Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) and will pick up with their characters following the events of Endgame. "I want to see what really makes him tick, what ticks him off," Mackie says about Bucky. "How much ticking can that clock do before that tick goes tock and that tock goes boom?"
The odd-couple pairing will face a familiar foe in series: Daniel Brühl reprises his role as Zemo, who attempted to turn the Avengers against one another in Civil War and will now don his trademark purple hood as he evolves into his final form, Baron Zemo. Turns out Falcon wasn't just bequeathed Captain America's shield; he inherited his enemies, too. Emily VanCamp will reprise her role as Sharon Carter and Wyatt Russell joins as John Walker, aka U.S. Agent.
Directed by: Kari Skogland (The Handmaid's Tale) | Head writer: Malcolm Spellman (Empire)
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp and Wyatt Russell
Find out even more about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier here.
The Eternals (Nov. 6, 2020)
One of the most ambitious Marvel titles making its way to the big screen is an adaptation of Jack Kirby's The Eternals. "The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent here by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants," actor Richard Madden explains. (We've met one Celestial already: Peter Quill's father, Ego.)
Further plot details are currently under wraps, but director Chloe Zhao says, "Through [the Eternals'] journey we really get to explore what it means to be human." Angelina Jolie and Selma Hayek topline the ensemble cast as the Eternal warrior Thena and the group's leader Ajak, respectively, while The Walking Dead's Lauren Ridloff will play the MCU's first-ever deaf hero, Makkari.
Directed by: Chloe Zhao (The Rider)
Starring: Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Dong-seok Ma and Angelina Jolie
Find out even more about The Eternals here.
WandaVision (2020 on Disney+)
Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany's Vision have been integral, if somewhat secondary, characters in larger Avengers stories, but they'll be central to the intriguingly titled WandaVision. "We're gonna get weird. We're gonna go deep," Olsen teased of the Disney+ series. "And we're going to finally understand Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch."
The series will be "half classic sitcom and half full-MCU spectacular," about "two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives who begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems." Considering it takes place after the events of Endgame, WandaVision will have to reckon with the fact that Vision died during Infinity War.
The supporting cast, meanwhile, will include characters we've met before -- like Kat Denning's Darcy Lewis and Randall Park's Agent Jimmy Wu -- as well as a nosy neighbor played by Kathryn Hahn and the grown-up Monica Rambeau, played by Akira Akbar in Captain Marvel and now, as a superhero in her own right, by Teyonah Parris.
Directed by: Matt Shakman (It's Always Sunny) | Head writer: Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow)
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, Kat Denning, Randall Park and Kathryn Hahn
Find out even more about WandaVision here.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Feb. 12, 2021)
Perhaps this will be the mea culpa Marvel fans need for Iron Fist? Shang-Chi (to be played by Simu Liu, who successfully campaigned for the role on Twitter) is known in the comics canon as the "Master of Kung Fu." In those books, he's often pitted against his father, immortal crime lord and sorcerer Fu Manchu, but onscreen he will face a familiar adversary.
"The Ten Rings has been in the MCU since the very beginning, those sons of bitches that Obadiah Stane hired [in Iron Man]. They helped out Whiplash a little bit in Iron Man 2," Feige revealed. "There was an imposter that played the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. In an awesome short we did called All Hail the King, we revealed there is a real Mandarin and he was quite upset with the shenanigans they pulled in Iron Man 3."
Legendary Chinese actor Tony Leung will play the real Mandarin, with Awkwafina co-starring in a yet-undisclosed role. (Perhaps as undercover MI-6 agent Leiko Wu?) Now, here's hoping they opt to keep Shang-Chi's pet monkey, Chee.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12)
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Leung
Find out even more about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings here.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch's good doctor has made quite a few appearances since his debut in 2016's Doctor Strange -- in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as Infinity War and Endgame -- but the Sorcerer Supreme will face new terrain in his next solo outing: Horror.
"We're going to make the first scary MCU film," Scott Derrickson (who directed horror films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister before joining the MCU) says. Stephen Strange will contend with villains from the multiverse and other "psychedelic weirdness" alongside an enchanting new co-star: The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, who says the events of WandaVision will tie directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).
"I remember seeing movies when I was a kid, Spielberg movies [like] Poltergeist and Raiders [of the Lost Ark], that had scary moments," Feige told ET. "Scott Derrickson, our director, is going to do a great job of instilling a little bit of scares into an otherwise big, adventure-filled MCU film."
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Wong
Find out even more about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness here.
Loki (Spring 2021 on Disney+)
Tom Hiddleston's Loki may have died in Infinity War, but Endgame undid his death -- sort of. Remember the Time Heist sequence, during which Hiddleston's god of mischief makes off with the Tesseract? The Disney+ series Loki will reveal where its titular antihero teleported to and explore what happens to him in this newly branched timeline.
Which makes Loki's seeding within the broader MCU a bit...complicated. The series is set after the events of the first Avengers in the in-universe year of 2012, but in an alternate timeline created when the current-day Avengers traveled back in time in Endgame.
"Just about the last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk smashed," Hiddleston explained. "It's a lot of psychological evolution that is still yet to happen. But Kevin [Feige] has generously shown me what his plans are -- I can't tell you any of them -- but it is one of the most exciting creative opportunities I've ever come across. This is new territory."
Directed by: Kate Herron (Sex Education) | Head writer: Michael Waldron (HarmonQuest)
Starring: Tom Hiddleston
Find out even more about Loki here.
Spider-Man 3 (July 16, 2021)
For a moment there, it seemed Peter Parker's time in the Marvel universe would be cut short. Following the events of Endgame and Far From Home -- not to mention that massive post-credits cliffhanger -- the fate of Tom Holland's web-slinger was up in the air when the deal between Disney and Sony to share the character was on the verge of dissolving.
Thankfully, our national nightmare is over, as the studios -- with a bit of nudging by Holland himself -- reached an agreement that will see Marvel producing a third Spider-Man film set within the MCU and allow Peter Parker to appear in a future, as-yet-revealed Marvel Studios film.
"Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe," Feige said in a statement. "He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spider-Verse you never know what surprises the future might hold."
Directed by: TBD
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau and J.K. Simmons
Find out even more about Spider-Man 3 here.
What If...? (Summer 2021 on Disney+)
Marvel Studios' first animated series, What If…?, is based on a series of comics that ask that question, well, what if...? What if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? What if Peggy Carter had taken the super soldier serum? What if the Avengers were all zombies? The Disney+ series takes events from the MCU canon and spins them, with the movie actors reprising their roles "in very different forms."
Jeffrey Wright voices The Watcher, who first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, and is, he explains, "a non-Earthly being who observes all things. He's watching over the multiverse and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of Earthlings."
Directed by: Bryan Andrews | Head writer: Ashley Bradley
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Sean Gunn, Natalie Portman, David Dastmalchian, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Toby Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Rooker and Chris Sullivan
Find out even more about What If...? here.
Hawkeye (Fall 2021 on Disney+)
Jeremy Renner is the last remaining OG Avengers to front his own project, but 10 years after an uncredited cameo in Thor, he will get a Disney+ event series, aptly titled Hawkeye, that will delve into the archer's time as the samurai sword-wielding mercenary Ronin and see Clint Barton train a protégé: Kate Bishop, a beloved comic character who inherits the Hawkeye mantle and goes on to become a central member of The Young Avengers.
"The better version of Hawkeye," Renner said of helping to introduce Kate Bishop into the MCU. "I think the fiber of what Hawkeye is is a superhero without superpowers, and I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers."
As for reports that Hailee Steinfeld has been cast as Kate Bishop, see how she reacted to ET here.
Directed by: TBD | Head writer: Jonathan Igla (Mad Men)
Starring: Jeremy Renner
Find out even more about Hawkeye here.
Thor: Love and Thunder (Nov. 5, 2021)
Trilogies, be damned! After rebranding the god of thunder for Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth's Thor is returning for a fourquel, titled Thor: Love and Thunder, along with director Taika Waititi and the new King of Asgard herself, Tessa Thompson. (Confirming Valkyrie is indeed queer, Thompson revealed that her first order of business as king will be finding a queen.)
Last we saw Thor, he was boarding a ship with the Asgardians of the Galaxy, leaving many to predict he might pop up in the third Guardians of the Galaxy. But that won't arrive until Phase 5 and, instead, Love and Thunder will adapt Jason Aaron's The Mighty Thor. "It's full of emotion and love and thunder and it introduces for the first time female Thor," Waititi said.
Like in the comics, that female Thor -- called Mighty Thor -- is none other than Jane Foster, and Natalie Portman is indeed returning to franchise for Love and Thunder. "I love Tessa and Chris so much, so it's exciting to work with them again," Portman told ET. "And I'm very excited to wield the hammer."
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman
Find out even more about Thor: Love and Thunder here.
Untitled Marvel Movies (2022 - 2023)
The only post-Phase 4 movie to get a release date is the Black Panther sequel (below), though that hasn't stopped Marvel from planting their flag on a handful of dates throughout 2022 and 2023. And after the Spider-Man threequel bumps 2021's slate to four MCU films per year, subsequent years will follow suit: To-be-revealed films with come out on Feb. 18, May 6, July 29 and Oct. 7, 2022 and Feb. 17, May 5, July 28 and Nov. 3, 2023.
As for which films they will be, we have some ideas...
Black Panther 2 (May 6, 2022)
We've known a Black Panther sequel was in the works with Ryan Coogler returning to write and direct, and Feige and Coogler made that official at D23 when the latter announced the film's release date. "Ryan is hard at work on another Black Panther film," Feige said, noting that Coogler had delivered a treatment for the film.
Though Coogler wasn't willing to reveal the movie's official title or its villain just yet, he promised, "We're hard at work on it trying to give you something special. We just really, really want it to be right."
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira and Martin Freeman
Find out even more about Black Panther 2 here.
Marvel capped off its big Phase 4 announcement with one final surprise and tease for what's to come in Phase 5: Mahershala Ali will play Blade within the MCU. ("But he was in Luke Cage!," you scream into the void about the fact that Ali played Cottonmouth on season one of the Netflix series, which purported to take place within the MCU. Turns out it was all less connected than we'd been told, and Daredevil was never going to be in Infinity War.)
For those who never saw the Wesley Snipes trilogy of films, Eric Brooks, aka Blade, is a half-human/half-vampire Daywalker on a quest to rid the world of bloodsucking fiends. How the MCU plans to introduce literal vampires into a largely science-based universe remains to be seen, but we do know one foe from the comics he won't be facing any time soon: Morbius the Living Vampire, who is part of Sony's Marvel-verse and will be played by Jared Leto in a 2020 film.
Directed by: TBD
Starring: Mahershala Ali
Captain Marvel 2 (TBD)
When your movie makes a billion dollars at the box office, you make another one. The big question is when Captain Marvel 2 will take place, considering Brie Larson's Carol Danvers has appeared in two different time periods within the MCU: in the '90s of her origin story and in the present day, as seen in Endgame.
So, will the follow-up return to the past and continue Carol's quest to take down the Central Intelligence, as teed up at the end of the first film? (There's also Lee Pace's Ronan, who ominously pledged to return for Carol.) Or will it be set after Endgame, considering the MCU has established that Skrulls are still very much in play in the present timeline? "We have ideas for both," Feige has told ET.
Directed by: TBD
Starring: Brie Larson
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)
Guardians 3 was originally meant to kick off Phase 4, but when James Gunn was fired from the franchise in 2018, the threequel was put on hold. That is, until Disney reinstated the director in March, putting the production back on track but with a postponed release date. (Gunn will first write and direct The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.)
The entire gang -- Peter Quill, Drax, Gamora, Groot, Mantis, Nebula and Rocket Raccoon -- is expected to return, though what their continued adventures will entail is to be determined: Will Guardians 3 introduce Adam Warlock, as teased in the post-credits scene of Guardians 2? Will it center on the hunt for Gamora following the events of Endgame? And what about the Thor of it all?
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Ms. Marvel (TBD on Disney+)
Ms. Marvel will introduce the MCU's first Muslim superhero: Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City and a polymorph capable of changing size and shape. She assumes the mantle of Ms. Marvel, which was a title that belonged to Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel) in the comics.
"You will meet her in her Disney+ series and then you will see her in our films," Feige announced at D23. (Translation: Get ready for Carol and Kamala to meet on the big screen sooner rather than later.) No talent has been confirmed yet, but Mindy Kaling and Riz Ahmed previously expressed interest in the project.
Directed by: TBD | Head writer: TBD
Moon Knight (TBD on Disney+)
Moon Knight will be "a new action-adventure series" that "is something very unique and exciting for us," Feige announced. Often likened to the Batman of the Marvel universe, Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a mercenary left for dead in the Egyptian desert who now "may or may not be infused with powers from Khonshu the Moon God -- or he might just be crazy." (His comic book counterpart has dissociative identity disorder.)
"We've assembled a room full of brilliant writers who truly love this character, and we’re all hard at work crafting something special for you," series creator Jeremy Slater has tweeted. "So stick around and stay tuned. Moon Knight is on the way, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride."
Directed by: TBD | Head writer: Jeremy Slater (The Umbrella Academy)
She-Hulk (TBD on Disney+)
"Bruce Banner is no longer the only Hulk in the MCU," Feige revealed when he announced that She-Hulk would be coming to the MCU. A fan-favorite character first introduced in the '80s, Jennifer Walters is "a Hulk, she's a lawyer and she's going to star in a show unlike anything we've done before."
In the comics, Jennifer Walters is cousins with Bruce Banner and inherits the ability to Hulk out after receiving an emergency blood transfusion from him. With her newfound powers, she fights in the courtroom by day and takes on supervillains at night. No word yet if Mark Ruffalo will cameo.
Directed by: TBD | Head writer: Jessica Gao (Ricky and Morty)
Find out even more about She-Hulk here.
Fantastic Four and X-Men (TBD)
Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox returned the screen rights to Marvel Comics' most well-known heroes to Marvel Studios, which means the Fantastic Four, aka Marvel's First Family, and the X-Men are now fair game to be introduced into the MCU. And Feige confirmed they will be, eventually, though that was as much as he was willing to say about when, where and how we'll see the likes of Johnny Storm and the Thing, Wolverine and Deadpool and Mystique rub elbows with the Avengers.
Asked by ET if he has future plans to discuss introducing the X-Men, Feige simply said, "Yes."
[This story was originally published on April 30, 2019.]