After a yearlong absence, Marvel Studios returned to Hall H on Saturday to unveil their plans for the next two years, better known as Phase 4. It took the better part of three hours, but I was lucky enough to get into Hall H and witness the announcements first hand which included the line-up of films and television shows airing on Disney+.
The audience, packed to capacity, erupted into cheers when Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Endgame) entered the audience. Tickets were handed out, presumably for free items toward the end of the panel, and then the lights dimmed as footage from all the films up to this date where shown, capping off with a silvery title card: “THE INFINITY SAGA.”
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige then took the stage and introduced several of the producers who helped work on the films including Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito. After announcing that Endgame had officially surpassed Avatar as the highest-grossing film in history, Feige pulled up a calendar with eight titles, all obscured by the Marvel logo. As announcements were made, each film and/or TV show was unveiled, with cast members arriving on stage to talk about the films and engage with the audience.
Opening November 6, 2020, the film is directed by Chloe Zhao (The Rider) and focuses on Jack Kirby’s race of ancient space gods, who are responsible for the origins of several races in Marvel comics. It stars Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Dong-seok Ma as Gilgamesh, and Angelina Jolie as the Eternals’ leader Thena.
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
Coming to Disney+ in the fall of 2020, the series reunites Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who is adjusting to his new role as Captain America, and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they battle Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl.) A brief clip showed a bearded Zemo donning a purple hood which strongly resembled his iconic mask in the comics.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings
Director Destin Daniel Crettin (Short Term 12) took the stage to announce that actor Simu Liu would be playing the titular Master of Kung Fu. “Literally, guys, I was cast on Tuesday,” Liu exclaimed. “This is just the craziest dream!” Tony Leung also stars as the true Mandarin, the leader of the Ten Rings, and Awkwafina has a currently undisclosed role. The film is set to release on February 12th, 2021.
Releasing in the spring of 2021, the series follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany) after the events of Endgame. The latter’s involvement may end up being the thrust of the series, as Vision perished at Thanos’ hands during Avengers: Infinity War. But the biggest surprise was when Feige announced that Teyonah Parris (Dear White People) would be playing an adult Monica Rambeau, who in the comics gained mastery over the electromagnetic spectrum and even took up the mantle of Captain Marvel.
Tom Hiddleston‘s God of Mischief will also have a series debuting in the fall of 2021, which tracks an alternate timeline Loki; specifically, the Loki who stole the Tesseract during Endgame. Hiddleston said that the series was “one of the most exciting creative territories I’ve ever come across.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Director Scott Derrickson returned on stage to announce that he was helming the Sorcerer Supreme’s sequel, claiming, “We’re gonna make the first scary MCU film.” He then brought Benedict Cumberbatch on the stage and led the audience in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday”. Olsen will also reprise her role as Scarlet Witch in this film, which will take place after the events of WandaVision. The film is set to release on May 7th, 2021.
Feige announced that the MCU’s first animated series would debut in the summer of 2021, with several Marvel alums returning to provide voiceover work and Jeffrey Wright(Westworld) starring as the Watcher. The first episode will explore what happens when Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers.
Jeremy Renner strode through the crowd to announce this series, coming in the fall of 2021, which will focus on Clint Barton training Kate Bishop.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Next up was director Taika Waititi and stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. “I was reading one storyline by Jason Aaron, called THE MIGHTY THOR,” Waititi said of his time shooting Thor: Ragnarok. “And for those of you that don’t know that storyline, it’s incredible and full of emotion and love and thunder. And it introduces, for the first time, a female Thor.” With that, Natalie Portman-who portrayed Thor’s first love Jane Foster-walked onto the stage and Waititi handed her Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.
Though Natasha Romanoff may have sacrificed her life for the Soul Stone in Endgame, her story isn’t over as Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as the super spy for a standalone adventure. Hitting theaters on May 1, 2020, the film is directed by Cate Shortland and stars David Harbour as Alexei, O-T Fagbenle as Mason, Rachel Weisz as Melina, and Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova. The footage screened for the crowed showed Natasha in Budapest and engaging in hand to hand combat with Yelena and the deadly mercenary known as the Taskmaster.
The panel seemed to wind down as attendees were given free Black Widow hats and all the stars and creators behind Phase Four took the stage. But the best was yet to come, as Mahershala Ali entered and announced that he would be playing Blade! The crowd erupted into applause and cheers-and I may have been the loudest in the building! I’ve spoken at length about how important the Daywalker is to the comic book movie boom and I cannot wait to see Ali’s take on the character.
The panel finally closed with Feige telling fans that there are plans for sequels to Black Panther and Captain Marvel, along with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and new takes on the Fantastic Four and mutants. With Endgame closing a few doors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase Four looks to be unlocking a whole new set. I loved the energy that fueled the panel and I cannot wait to watch all of these films, especially Blade.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.