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Marvel Studios: The Next Three Years

by Nathaniel R

Angelina Jolie, Simu Liu, and Scarlett Johansson the stars of "Eternals", "Shang Chi", and "Black Widow"

Over the weekend Comic-Con was in full swing so Marvel Studios took the well-timed chance to share their "Phase Four" schedule now that Avengers: Endgame provided the behemoth finale to their first dozen years. Spider-Man Far From Home was its after dinner feast mint...

It's rare to get so many stars in one room but part of the golden handcuffs of franchise jobs is contractually obligated appearances so everyone who has a part in the immediate future of Marvel was there. It would be exhausting to even type out all the names, so "everyone" will do. Though I don't wish to be a pessimist, I do wonder if Marvel Studios can keep up their Hollywood dominance. Even Pixar eventually lost some lustre. The next few years feel very low-key compared to what we're used to them delivering: they've got a few new TV series, some risky C-level characters now that they've run out of the A and B legends... that is until they reboot Fantastic Four and X-Men but they're clearly waiting on both until the bad films from other studios recede in the collective memory.

The schedule with a few notes. 


Black Widow (May 1st, 2020) Scarlett Johansson gets her looooong delayed solo outing with a very rich supporting cast: Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenie, Rachel Weisz... we love all of those people! Cate Shortland directs.

The Eternals (Nov 6th, 2020) Angelina Jolie headlines with Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee co-starring as the other immortal heroes. This is a big swing for Marvel because people don't really know the Eternals -- hell, I dont even know them and I was a comic book nut as a kid --  which are a race of beings called The Celestials. The backstory sounds very complex and a bit silly. But you never know. Marvel pulled off The Guardians. Chloe Zhao (The Rider) directs. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Feb 12th, 2021)
This is the one we're really excited about because Marvel f***ed up Iron Fist so badly and because our favourite Chinese actor of all time Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Hero, Lust Caution, etcetera) will be playing its big bad, the Mandarin! Yes, Mandarin, who already had one go with Marvel via Ben Kingsley's con-artist imposter in Iron Man 3. Simu Liu, a Chinese-Canadian actor, has won the lead role of the titular martial arts hero. Liu hasn't had much in the way of high profile roles though he's made guest appearances on several dramas and sitcoms. He's also a martial arts expert and former stunt double so they've clearly avoided the dumbness of casting somehow who couldn't do martial arts in a 'best there is' martial arts role (*cough* Iron Fist*). Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) directs. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
(May 7th, 2021)
Noooo. We were really hoping that Marvel didn't indulge in the Multiverse because all the alternate realities really destroy the ability to have actual dramatic stakes in stories. Doctor Strange (2016) was a slight underperformer for Marvel -- only the Ant-Man series is less box office popular as Marvel films go --  so we'll see if he has more bankability post all those Avengers outings. Elizabeth Olsen costars as The Scarlet Witch (yay!). No other cast members have been announced but Scott Derrickson (Sinister) is returning to direct and reportedly promises a more horror-tinged sequel. 

Thor: Love and Thunder
(Nov 5th, 2021) 
Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman will star. Natalie Portman will wield Mjölnir this time becoming her own version of Thor. The very much indemand Taika Waititi returns to direct which means his adaptation/remake of the anime classic Akira is now on hold. This movie wraps up a short "Phase Four" for Marvel. 

(release date TBA... though we presume spring 2022 given their usual three-per year tactics)
Mahershala Ali stars in the rebooted franchise about the half-vampire vampire hunter that once starred Wesley Snipes. 

WHAT'S NOT HAPPENING QUITE YET? That'd be Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2, and Captain Marvel 2... none of which are arriving before 2022 at the earliest. You'd think they would have moved quicker on the latter two. And obviously Fantastic Four and X-Men will get rebooted. But we're guessing they'll be very careful since the former is so obviously difficult to do right and the latter is so potentially Avengers-huge if they do the comics justice for once. 


Disney and Marvel have relegated a bunch of non-lead heroes from their first 10 years onto the small screen now. But Elizabeth Olsen's co-starring role in Doctor Strange 2, suggests these TV series will be more tied to the "Cinematic Universe" than Marvel's various Netlix series or ABC's Agents of SHIELD were. 

The Falcon and Winter Soldier (Fall 2020) Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles.

WandaVision (Spring 2021) Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany star. Somehow Vision is alive again? We don't understand but we love him (the actor and the character) so we're good with this. Teyonah Parris, who is a terrific actress (If Beale Street Could Talk) will play Monica Rambeau, the little girl character from Captain Marvel all grown up now. 

Loki (Spring 2021) Tom Hiddleston stars. He's alive again too due to the shenanigans of Avengers Endgame.

What If? (Summer 2021) Those who grew on on comics will recognize this title... and though I got all tingly hearing about it, one wonders whether it will have broad appeal because it requires so much knowledge of Marvel history and mythology. It's basically one-off twists on the known formulas and characters. This concept is kind of redundant though if they're going with a "multiverse" moving forward.

Hawkeye (Fall 2021) Jeremy Renner reprises his role in a series about the archer superhero training Kate Bishop to replace him (she has not been cast yet). 

What do you make of all this? Are you excited or do you only long for it to end? 


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Reader Comments (23)

The only one I'm not sure of yet is Blade. If they get Guillermo back or snag Jordan Peele? Yay. Otherwise? Eh, not sure that goes anywhere. As far as the multiverse goes? Doctor Strange is definitely the franchise for that. If the multiverse does destroy tension? Well, I value go for broke crazy (which the multiverse absolutely enables) over pedestrian "tension" in superhero stuff anyway. Save the tension for the John Wicks of the world.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Well, Marvel, if you are casting Natalie Portman in a Taika Waititi movie, you got me. For the first time, I am actually interested in seeing one of these movies... I've been dragged to them before, but this time I'll go willingly.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Long for it to end.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I think Mahershala is perfect casting in Blade. Excited for Natalie to rejoin the MCU. The TV series look like flops. Has anyone seen the cringe music videos Jeremy Renner has been releasing?

Also, how can you mention Tony Leung and not his gay Wong Kar Wai film Happy Together?

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

Everyone should check out the cute Canadian sitcom KIM'S CONVENIENCE on Netflix if they want to see Simu Liu in action. He's... pretty.

All in all, I'm intrigued. Most because one would think they WOULD have fast-tracked sequels to BLACK PANTHER and CAPTAIN MARVEL. Them not doing that HOPEFULLY means there's an actual plan in place and they also don't want to rush projects they hold dear.

I have no complaints about any of the new casting. In fact, some really fun names.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I find it interesting that blade was apparently what Ali wanted to do. They brought him in for a general meeting just to talk projects and he suggested blade. Made me wonder if his true detective cast mate Dorff suggested it to him.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Troutman

I really hope that this is when Marvel actually experiments with the form or takes more artistic risks. I doubt that they will because more likely than not, they will stick to tried and true with untested characters, but it's still nice to hope.

And man, I would have been so excited for a Black Widow movie when the first Avengers came out, but Scarlett Johansson has been such an asshole in the past few years that I actively have to force myself to disassociate the character from the actress. Luckily Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz will be there to distract me, so I will still be there will bells on, but more for the other women in the movie.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

@starlit: what has Scarlett Johansson been doing that's been so objectionable? I'm sorry to hear about it, at any rate.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Can we not have a Michelle Pfeiffer post instead,whatever she's up to on Instagram will be far more interesting and appealing than this brain washing phenomenon,Why is everyone so hung up on this set of films.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Not interested.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

I don't mean to be shady but when's the last time you enjoyed Angelina Jolie in something? For me it's Mr. and Mrs. Smith, back in 2005.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterH

make it stop

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterdan

@Rob-Don't worry about starlit, he/she is just an idiot who just doesn't understand what an actor/actress should be. Plus, Scar-Jo 3:16 doesn't need to apologize for anything. Especially from these Fascist SJWs and PC Principals who claim to be inclusive when they're just really full of shit.

As for the Phase 4 period of the MCU!!!!!! I'm fucking excited for these films and who are directing them and what they're going to for. Plus, the idea of PO'TMAN MOTHAFUCKA becoming Lady Thor... I'm going to die happily at that moment when I see it in the theaters while drowning in my own cum.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

@Rob - SJ has said some things I don't agree with about the casting process when it involves actors like her and roles for people of color and differing gender orientations I'm part of those communities, so her comments had some sting where for many people they may not. My comment was perhaps out of line, but I won't profess to be impartial about SJ and will never claim to be, and it was foolish to type that comment here somehow expecting people to know my specific context.

So I guess I am after all an idiot who doesn't understand what acting can be, a fascist SJW, and a PC principal (?). I'll be that any day to avoid thevoid99's "cum" blasts. Have at it, voidy! I'm out of the splash zone!

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

The only one I really would see is "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" but let them be gay and in love with each other- they can bond over Captain America

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

FYI, Simu Liu ain't nobody. Like somebody said above, he's spent the last few years co-starring in the brilliant Canadian sitcom, "Kim's Convenience," about a Korean-Canadian family in Toronto who runs a convenience store, based on the hit play of the same name. Its first three seasons are on Netflix, and it is absolutely DELIGHTFUL. And he is also HOT.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Kim’s Convenience!!!

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMark

To be fair, taken from a large sample size, only douchebags have ever referred to Scarlett Johansson as Scar-Jo 3:16. Just to be objective on things...

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Oup

Richard & Mark -- i have started watching it. It's cute and agreed on the charms, physical and otherwise, of Simu Liu.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Mahershala Ali is so insufferable. I can't. Snipes made such a perfect Blade, anyway, it'll be an easy pass for me.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManny

@starlit-Geez, you must've gotten your ass kicked all the time. Why don't you go tweet about your complaints like the rest of the whiny-ass millennials since none of you have any balls, brains, or heart. You're just a bunch of whiny little bitches where decades from now. People will look back at your generation and realize how pathetic you guys are.

@Anna Oup-Well, if I'm a douchebag. Thank you. Yet, you wouldn't understand where I'm coming from probably because either you didn't watch pro wrestling back in the 1990s or you're just one of those losers who watch "sports entertainment".

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

thevoid -- seriously, will you look at what you are typing lately? You're always insulting people. Lighten up. This is a website to enjoy the movie and share thoughts about movie obsessions..full stop. It's not a place for strangers to go at each other's throats.

July 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My mother birthed me by scooping cum out of a used condom at the park.

July 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

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