Recently Marvel Studios released a trailer previewing all of its phase four films. The trailer included slow-motion shots, inspirational music, flashbacks and voice-overs, somehow making us nostalgic and reminiscent of films released only in the past 15 years—as only the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) can. But most importantly, it officially laid out when every phase four film would be released (touch wood, those dates are now set in stone) and gave us some teasers and sneak peeks at the newest slate of stories we’re impatiently awaiting.
So far, the 23 MCU films released since 2008’s Iron Man have been divided into three phases. Phase three effectively ended after the world-stopping events of Avengers: Endgame (well, technically after Spiderman: Far from Home), and we have now officially entered phase four. For the first time, this also includes TV shows like the already aired WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Perhaps the most exciting part of the upcoming films is the more diverse representation of race and gender, often missing from the MCU’s earlier phases.
We’re getting you up to speed with every MCU phase four film to expect between 2021-2023–what storylines are confirmed, who will be starring or directing and any general gossip or buzz around each movie.
Release date: 8 July, 2021
Already delayed three times thanks to the global pandemic, Marvel fans are praying that we’ll finally see Black Widow’s standalone film in a couple of months. The film is a prequel story (for obvious reasons if you’ve seen Endgame) following Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, in the period between the Civil War and Infinity War events. Returning to Russia, Romanoff is forced to confront her past with the help of her family, played by Rachel Weisz, Stranger Thing’s David Harbour, and best of all, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova. If you’ve watched the trailer for the upcoming Hawkeye TV show, then you’ll know that Pugh’s role is going to expand further into the MCU–which is bloody excellent news for all. Black Widow looks to be the action-packed, full-on, ass-kicking film that Scarlett Johansson and the first great MCU female hero always deserved.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Release date: 2 September, 2021
Last month, the trailer for Shang-Chi dropped on the world and left us with more than a few excitement goosebumps. If there’s one thing truly missing from the MCU, with its out-of-this-world fighting, it’s a true martial arts superhero: enter one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel universe, Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu). The trailer doesn’t really get into many plot details, and even if it did, we’d probably miss them by focusing too much on the outrageously cool fight choreography and battle sequences. Also, if there was one other thing desperately missing from the MCU, it was Awkwafina. The film also stars Michelle Yeoh and Aussie comedian Ronny Chieng–bring it on!
Release date: 28 october, 2021
We’re now moving into teaser territory, with this week’s Marvel trailer giving fans some sneak peek footage of films that are yet to release trailers. Created in the 1970s, the Eternals are an advanced race of immortal beings who have lived on earth for thousands of years, tasked with its protection. When Marvel Studios first announced some of its phase four films, we honestly couldn’t believe the calibre of actors attached to their stories. Eternals does not disappoint with its star power: Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington and Brian Tyree Henry all feature. Jolie holding a golden sword in the teaser trailer and presumably about to end some poor fool should be all the motivation you need. But best of all, the film is directed by the recent two-time Oscar-winning director of Nomadland, Chloé Zhao. The last time Marvel handed the reigns over to a small, independent, non-American filmmaker for one of its biggest films, Taika Waititi delivered Thor: Ragnarok.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release date: 12 December, 2021
Now we enter the phase where we’ve seen no film footage whatsoever. The teaser trailer simply rose its music in a dramatic crescendo, throwing film names and dates at us while we resisted pumping our fists in the air. So, what do we know about Spider-Man: No Way Home’s plot? Nothing. But, if you’ve seen the first two Tom Holland films, you know what to expect–and we’re always here for that. Alongside Holland, Zendaya is back as probably the coolest version of MJ ever portrayed and Marisa Tomei is back as Aunt May. We’re also being promised a solid Benedict Cumberbatch appearance as Doctor Strange. Here’s where it gets really exciting: Jamie Foxx will reprise his role as Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Alfred Molina will reprise his role as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
Release date: 24 March, 2022
The newest Doctor Strange film will follow Dr Stephen Strange directly after the events of Avengers: Endgame and WandaVision, as he continues his research on the Time Stone and facing a friend-turned-enemy. In an exciting turn, Sam Raimi (director of horror classic The Evil Dead and the three Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies) will direct. Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong will all reprise their roles from the first film, with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch also joining the team (I mean, we’re talking multiverses here, so that makes sense). But how about this: Chiwetel Ejiofor enters as Karl Mordo, Strange’s former friend turned enemy and villain for the film.
Thor: Love And Thunder
Release date: 28 April, 2022
While we may know nothing about this film’s plot, we know that it is currently being filmed in Sydney–so it’s basically an Aussie film? After announcing himself and subtle Kiwi humour to the world, Taika Waititi is back at the helm of Thor: Love and Thunder. After Ragnarok, we don’t need to pump you up for this film, but here’s the cast list just in case. Chris Hemsworth is obviously returning as Thor (we presume the buff version). Chris Pratt and Karen Gillan are featuring as Peter Quill and Nebula. Tessa Thompson is back as Valkyrie, Taika Waititi as Korg and Natalie Portman returns from the original Thor films as Jane Foster. For newcomers, we can expect Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher (greatest villain name of all time?) and Russell Crowe as Zeus. Rounding out basically the rest of Hollywood are Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy, Sam Neil and Luke Hemsworth, all doing cameos.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release date: 7 July, 2022
We know close to nothing about the follow-up to the worldwide sensation that was 2018’s Black Panther. We know that Ryan Coogler will return to both co-write and direct the sequel and that the script will address the untimely passing of actor Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/the Black Panther). There’s no word yet on where the story will venture without its main character. Still, we can likely expect a greater focus on one of the first film’s other characters like Letitia Wright as Shuri or Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia.
Release date: 10 November, 2022
Officially revealing its title as The Marvels, fans now know that the sequel to Captain Marvel will be shared by more than Brie Larson’s character from the 2019 film. Joining Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, will be Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (properly introduced in WandaVision) and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel (who will star in the upcoming Ms. Marvel TV show). Directing the three heroines will be Nia DaCosta, who is also in charge of the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman remake.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania
Realise Date: 17 February, 2023
Alright, now we’re talking about films being released in two years–so there’s not much to discuss. We can expect the full gang back, including Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, with Kathryn Newton joining as Cassie Lang, Scott Lang’s daughter. Jonathan Majors from HBO’s Lovecraft Country is also confirmed to play the film’s villain, Kang the Conqueror (again, just loving these baddy names). Keep your eyes open because rumour has it that Kang could appear in the upcoming Loki TV show.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date: 5 May, 2023
Who knows what the world will look like by May 2023, but if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a part of it, we’ll be happy. We have no story details or cast rumours beyond the core space-roaming heroes we’ve come to love. We’re just excited to see what version of Groot we get this time.
Release date: TBA
Everyone’s favourite celebrity couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, are being thrown around as favourites to lead the latest reboot of Fantastic Four–although those seem like deep internet rumours at this stage. All we can say is: please, get it right this time.
Image Credit: Marvel