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The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps getting bigger.
During Thursday's massive Disney investor presentation, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced a huge slew of new projects, including Disney+ series and theatrical films centering on familiar faces and new heroes alike.
The news came quickly, with Feige zipping through updates on both new projects and previously announced ones, dropping the kind of revelations that are usually reserved for a giant, audience-packed Comic-Con panel at Hall H.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell is that Disney is finally bringing Marvel's first family into the MCU, with Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts on board to helm the long-anticipated Fantastic Four movie.
Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm have long been some of Marvel's most beloved characters and have appeared on the big screen three times before: First in a 2005 film and its 2007 sequel, then with a poorly received 2015 reboot. But ever since Disney's purchase of Fox, fans have wondered whether Disney might reboot the franchise once more and welcome the quartet into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jon Watts will direct the new feature film for Marvel's First Family, Fantastic Four! pic.twitter.com/Eu26ghxbGT
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) December 11, 2020
Feige also announced several new TV projects for Disney+, in addition to those that are already in the works (more on those in a minute). First up is Secret Invasion, a series centering on Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, joined by Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos. Jackson has been a key player in the MCU since the end-credits scene of the very first Iron Man, but this new show will give the former S.H.I.E.L.D. leader his own time in the spotlight.
Also getting his own Disney+ series is Don Cheadle. War Machine, a.k.a. Colonel Rhodes, will be the centerpiece of Armor Wars, which Feige says is "a classic Marvel story about Tony [Stark]'s worst fear coming true" — his tech falling into the wrong hands.
In fact, Tony Stark may have met his end in last year's Avengers: Endgame, but his legacy looms large over a few of the newly announced projects. Feige also announced the new Disney+ show Ironheart, which also introduce a fan favorite hero from the comics: teenager Riri Williams, a brilliant tech mind who follows in Tony's footsteps and builds her own suit of armor. Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk) has been cast as Riri.
And while James Gunn is currently hard at work on the planned Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Feige also revealed that the writer-director will film a Guardians holiday special, to debut exclusively on Disney+ in 2022. And in related Guardians news, the beloved Baby Groot will also get his turn in the spotlight in I Am Groot, a series of shorts debuting on — you guessed it — Disney+.
In addition to the many new projects, Feige also provided a few key updates on previously announced films and TV shows. On the Disney+ side, he shared new trailers for WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter and Soldier, and Loki, all of which will debut on Disney+ in 2021. He also provided some updates on the Hawkeye series, finally (finally!) confirming that Hailee Steinfeld will star alongside Jeremy Renner and new cast members Vera Farmiga, Fra Free, and Alaqua Cox.
And while many of the new Disney+ shows center on familiar heroes from the films, a few series will also introduce some newcomers: Feige confirmed that Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany will star in the She-Hulk series as lawyer Jennifer Walters, and she'll officially be joined by her cousin Bruce Banner, played once again by Mark Ruffalo. Also returning from the Hulk sphere is Tim Roth's villain Abomination, who last popped up in the 2008 Incredible Hulk.
Marvel also shared a first behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming Ms. Marvel series, introducing newcomer Iman Vellani as the comic fan favorite Kamala Khan. A sizzle reel teased the show's coming-of-age tone, and the series will launch on Disney+ in "late 2021."
Ms. Marvel, a newer character to Marvel comics has grabbed the world's imagination and we are excited to announce Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan.
Ms. Marvel, an Original Series from Marvel Studios, is coming late 2021 to #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/ArHe8vMCXd
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) December 11, 2020
Notably, Feige also confirmed that Vellani's Kamala will star alongside Brie Larson in the upcoming Captain Marvel 2. Nia DaCosta (who's helming the much-hyped new Candyman movie) will direct the Captain Marvel sequel, which will also pair Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel with the adult version of Monica Rambeau, who is played by Teyonah Parris and will make her debut in January in WandaVision. (Fun fact: In the comics, Monica also goes by the moniker Captain Marvel, which means that between Larson, Parris, and Vellani, the film will have two Captain Marvels and one Ms. Marvel!)
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) December 11, 2020
One recurring theme of Feige's presentation was how closely the Disney+ series will tie into their big-screen counterparts. Not only did Feige reiterate that the events of WandaVision will lead directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but he also revealed that film will closely line up with the next Spider-Man movie (which also stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange).
Also on the film side, he shared new casting details about the recently wrapped Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (which stars Simu Liu), as well as Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder. Returning cast members Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tessa Thompson will also be joined by Christian Bale, making his MCU debut as the villain Gorr the God Butcher.
Also joining the theatrical schedule is a third Ant-Man film, once again directed by Peyton Reed and officially titled Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer are all returning, and they're joined by Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as the villain Kang the Conquerer.
All in all, it was an overwhelming amount of news for a franchise that's mostly been quiet in 2020. After last year's record-breaking Avengers: Endgame, Marvel was poised to kick off its next phase with new films like Black Widow, Eternals, and Shang-Chi. But after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters and shut down production worldwide, Marvel's slate was largely pushed back, and now, the next MCU thing to debut will be WandaVision, hitting Disney+ in January 2021. (For context, 2020 will be the first year since 2009 without a new MCU movie.)
But if Thursday's massive news dump is any indication, Marvel is showing no signs of slowing down. And between Disney+ and theaters, Marvel is making it clear that so far, we've only seen a very tiny corner of a very large — and quickly expanding — universe.