A quicky guide to what all these film titles mean
San Diego: Comic-Con 2019 was a while ago and one of the biggest talking points was Marvel's Phase Four plan. Newbies who are jumping on the Avengers hype train post "Avengers: Endgame" (2019) might be confused as to what all this talk about phases means. Ever since the first Iron Man film in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been split up into different segments known as phases. Usually, these phases conclude with an Avengers film wrapping everything in a nice neat bow. There are exceptions, however, like the recently released "Spider-Man: Far From Home" (2019) which came right off the heels of Endgame. For the longest time, fans were left speculating what could possibly come next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Personally, as someone who has been a part of this journey since the very beginning, I would've preferred that it all ended with Endgame. An "end to an era" as some would call it. But we live in a new age where Hollywood is milking every dime possible with this pop culture trend. The 2020s are going to be packed with more superhero content and we all have to go along with the ride. I think everyone was more surprised at how soon we found out what's next for the MCU.
For years, Marvel Studios has shied away from attending Hall H, the infamous arena where new movie announcements and trailers are showcased for the world to see. Ever since Disney started doing their own press conference, known as D23, Marvel has saved their announcements for that exclusive event. But this year, since DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. decided not to promote their upcoming films, Marvel saw an opportunity to pounce and claim the slot. For two hours on a Saturday night, we fans anxiously kept refreshing our twitter feeds to see what our lord and savior Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) had in store for us. For phase four, it seems Marvel Studios is going to incorporate the new Disney+ Streaming service launching in November. These live-action shows will have the A-list actors of the MCU in their own mini-series going on adventures in a post endgame world. On top of that, there will still be new films releasing in theaters for the general audience. All this talk may sound confusing, so I am going to break it down for all of you.
Black Widow (May 2020)
For years, I've been wanting a Black Widow film. In the Avengers films she is usually relegated to either a plot point or just a useless background character. One of the few films in the MCU to do her justice was "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014). In that film the Russo Brothers helped craft Natasha into a competent character working alongside Steve Rogers. We won't talk about what the Russos did to Natasha's character in Endgame. Anyway, while facts on what the film will be about are hearsay at the moment; it is clear that this film will be a prequel that shows Natasha's time before becoming a Shield Agent and an Avenger.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)
Taking place after Endgame, this Disney+ series will feature Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan returning as their MCU counterparts Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. I can not get too much into this series without spoiling the ending to "Avengers: Endgame" (2019). Let's just say that the world is not ready for Captain America again.
The Eternals (November, 2020)
This is a strange entry on the list for the MCU. The Eternals are one of those obscure Marvel Universe creations. Their lore consists of Celestial beings from space coming down to Earth and giving certain human beings superhuman powers. Subsequently creating a subspecies of humans. I theorize this is how the MCU is going to introduce the X-Men for phase five. But that is pure speculation. Hopefully this film does not flop at the box office. It will probably be another Guardians of the Galaxy situation where the general public loves them.
Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings (February, 2021)
This will be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to feature an Asian lead and will follow Shang Chi and his hunt for the Mandarin. The Mandarin in the comics is a long time Iron Man villain. Arguably, Iron Man's greatest foe who was butchered in "Iron Man 3" by director Shane Black. I've always loved the dynamic between Iron Man and the Mandarin. While I am disappointed that the two won't be facing off in this film, I am glad the Mandarin is finally getting the proper character development one screen.
WANDAVISION (Spring, 2021)
This an oddball just on the name alone. "WandaVision" will be a Disney+ series that follows Elizabeth Olsen's character Scarlet Witch and her reintergration into society. Her character ever since her introduction has lost everything. Her brother, the love of her life and now the Avengers. This series is a ways away so there isn't much news on it yet. Production should start next year in 2020.
Doctor Strange: in the Multiverse of Madness (May, 2021)
Now this film seems to be the most hyped entry for Phase Four. The first Doctor Strange film released in 2016. Following that Doctor Strange has had only cameo roles in films like "Thor: Ragnorak" (2017), "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018) and "Avengers: Endgame" (2019). Doctor Strange was one of the first Marvel characters to catch my eye when I was getting into comics, so I am so glad that he is finally getting another movie. If the announcement of his film wasn't enough, Doctor Strange will have Elizabeth Olsen's character Scarlet Witch shadowing the Sorcerous Supreme. I cannot wait for this film.
Loki (Spring 2021)
The logo design aside, this film follows the Loki we saw in Endgame and his adventures as he travels throughout time causing mischief. All the Loki Stans seem so excited for this series. I'll watch for sure but I am not over the moon for it. Tom Hiddleston is set to reprise the God of Mischief in the series.
What if? (Summer 2021)
The first animated series for the MCU. A loose adaption of the Marvel comic series from the past. It takes key events or characters in the Marvel Universe and introduce a spin to the original story. Examples in the past are: "What if Peter Parker wasn't the only person bitten by the Spider" or "What if the Hulk had the brain of Bruce Banner." Maybe it will be good, maybe it won't. For me it depends on the art style.
Hawkeye (Fall 2021)
One of my most anticipated Disney+ series. It follows Jeremy Renner's character Hawkeye, the laughing stock of the MCU for the longest time, and sees him mentoring an apprentice named Kate Bishop. The series has the potential to be as good as the comic run from a couple years ago. It seems they are incorporating a lot of elements from the comic in that, like the title. Jeremy Renner leaked some of the promotional footage seen during Hall H for those fans and let me just say whoever that graphic designer is needs a raise.
Thor: Love and Thunder (November, 2021)
The fourth Thor film was announced days before Comic Con to be in some sort of production. Fans were not expecting such an early confirmation by Kevin Feige and director Taika Waititi. The film will have Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman reprising their characters from the Thor series and is set for a 2021 release date.
Finally, Blade was a surprise announcement for Phase 4. With Academy Award winning actor Mahershala Ali playing the vampire slayer. Details on the production is scarce but hopefully more info will be revealed at D23.
In conclusion, I don't know if Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can live up to the hype of the Avengers. In a post Endgame world, general audiences need something more to pull them into these films. Personally, I am just waiting for phase 5 when the real stars and future of the MCU can rise up. Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four are all ready to fill the Avengers shoes. Hopefully, as fans, we can see them on the silver screen soon.