Marvel Cinematic Universe architect Kevin Feige stunned a crowded Hall H with a slew of announcements for the next phase.
Beginning with a highlight reel from what is now known as the Infinity Saga, Feige revealed films and series that will further expand the universe with new characters, and with some we have only just begun to get acquainted.
The long awaited film “The Eternals” is no longer just a hope or a rumor. Director Chloé Zhao introduced the very basics of the story, with the Eternals being a race of beings that have lived for some 35,000 years. The idea of the Eternals was introduced in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” with Kurt Russell playing one such being.
Zhao and Feige also introduced the stars from the film, including: 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, Don Lee as Gilgamesh and Angelina Jolie as Thena.
Hayek, whose Ajak is the leader of the Eternals, took a moment to speak about the monumental experience of taking on the role of a female leader in the MCU.
This film will hit theaters November 6, 2020.
Next, Feige introduced the first series for Disney+, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan arrived to thunderous applause, Mackie bearing the shield of Captain America. Both expressed their excitement to dig in more to these beloved characters and get to know them in a way that has not yet been explored in the films.
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will premiere on Disney+ in Fall of 2020.
The already excited crowd got very loud when Feige introduced the next film. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” introduces the first Chinese Avenger, a kung-fu master who got his first comic books in the 1973.
Feige hit the audience with two major reveals. The first is that the Legend of the Ten Rings has been part of the MCU since “Iron Man,” and a collection of clips revealed the rings in unexpected places throughout the last 23 films.
Director Dustin Daniel Cretton joined Feige onstage to announce that Tony Leung will star as a character we thought we met before, The Mandarin. That character was introduced in “Iron Man 3” and played by Ben Kingsley who was, in fact, pretending to be a the secretive mass murderer. In fact, the Mandarin is very real and will be a major part of the “Shang-Chi” film. Also joining the cast is Awkwafina in an as-yet-undisclosed role.
But the surprises weren’t over as Cretton introduced Shang-Chi himself, Simu Lu, who was only cast a few days ago. Lu will be a new face for many, having worked primarily in television before this.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be in theaters February 21, 2021.
And the Disney+ announcements kept coming with news about “WandaVision.”
Stars Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen came to the stage to share their enthusiasm for the series that is now confirmed to take place after “Avengers: Endgame.” Considering what we thought of Vision’s fate in “Infinity War,” the hows and whys have not been answered. Although some are guessing that Wakanda’s brilliant Shuri was able to download enough of his memory to bring Vision back.
While the series was already confirmed awhile back, there was one major reveal about a new cast member: Monica Rambeau, who will be played by Teyonah Parris. Monica was the young daughter of Captain Marvel’s BFF, Maria Rambeau. But that was in 1995 and she is now all grown up. How she fits into “WandaVision,” we don’t know. However Elizabeth Olsen and Kevin Feige did confirm that pieces of that series will fit into future films.
“WandaVision” premieres on Disney+ in the spring of 2021.
Next up is another series for Disney+, “Loki.”
Feige said that one of the most asked questions he got after “Endgame” was about the fate of Loki when he stole the Tesseract. Well, that question will be answered in his very own series. Star Tom Hiddleston is eager to reprise his role. The interesting twist is that we will pick up with the 2012 Loki. In other words, Hiddleston explained with a grin, he hasn’t been through the character growth we saw in “Thor: Ragnarok.” This isn’t the same Loki we caught up with in “Infinity War.”
As for who will join the god of mischief, that remains to be seen.
“Loki” is also hitting Disney+ in spring of 2021.
Next came the official confirmation for the sequel to “Doctor Strange.”
Feige introduced director Scott Derrickson and star Benedict Cumberbatch to the stage to talk about “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
The concept of multiverses was introduced when Strange first met the Ancient One. The idea was further teased in this summer’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” though the concept has not yet been fully explored. That changes with this upcoming sequel that Derrickson described as a “strange acid trip” and also as “the first scary MCU film.”
Feige also referred to it as a horror film, but did confirm that they are still going for a PG-13 rating.
Derrickson also said that Dr. Strange makes a good sorcerer, which calls for a good witch. And Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will turn up in this film.
“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” is due in theaters May 7, 2021.
The MCU’s first foray into animation comes with the Disney+ series, “What If…?”
Since Dr. Strange will delve into the multiverse and explore the concept of multiple realities, that idea will go a little further with this inventive series. The show explores outcomes and wonders how things might have been different if any one thing had changed in the life of any of our characters.
Many MCU alum will turn up for voice performances, including Robert Downey Jr and many of our favorite Avengers. You can also look forward to characters we met only briefly, in the likes of Stanley Tucci, Chris Sullivan, and many more. Jeffrey Wright will voice the character known as The Watcher, and will tell the stories of what might have been.
“What If…?” premieres on Disney+ in summer of 2021.
Jeremy Renner brought the crowd to their feet as he burst through a side door of Hall H and shook hands along the aisles on his way to the stage.
The fourth series hitting the streaming service is “Hawkeye.” Feige described this as an Event Series which will explore Clint Barton’s identity as Ronin, the vigilante he became during the five years now known as The Blip. Feige and Renner confirmed that Kate Bishop, a well-known character from the Marvel comics, will play a vital role in the series. No other details were confirmed.
“Hawkeye” is set to hit Disney+ in the fall of 2021.
One of the most delightful moments of the Marvel presentation came when Taika Waititi joined Kevin Feige to talk about the just announced fourth Thor film, “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson also joined Waititi for the love fest. Thompson was asked about Valkyrie’s first order of business after being named the King of New Asgard. She said “A King needs a good Queen.” She also spoke about the idea that Asgard is not a place but a people, and that she loves the idea of Asgard being a refuge for people who need somewhere to go.
But Waititi had a major surprise for fans. He said that he was eager to introduce a female Thor into the universe, and Hall H exploded with delight when Natalie Portman came to the stage. Yes, Thor’s erstwhile love, Jane Foster, will return and she will apparently wield Mjölnir. Portman joked that she had been suffering from hammer envy.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” will strike theaters on November 5, 2021.
But before any of those films and series come about, the very next film in the MCU is now official. “Black Widow” is finally getting the solo film fans have been asking for since “Iron Man 2.”
While the timeline still isn’t exactly clear, what we do know is that this is not Natasha Romanoff’s origin story. At least not exactly. But we will finally learn what happened in Budapest and why she has spent so many years trying to repent for her secretive past.
Director Cate Shortland introduced her cast, which includes Scarlett Johansson as Natasha/Black Widow. David Harbour is Alexei/The Red Guardian, Florence Pugh is Yelena, O-T Fagbenle is Mason and Rachel Weisz is Melina.
The movie has only been shooting for 30 days, so the crowd was stunned when Johansson announced that they had brought some footage with them. Marvel has not yet released the teaser, which began with a montage of clips from Black Widow’s first introduction in “Iron Man 2” right up until the end of her journey in “Avengers: Endgame.” And then the picture resolved into a cityscape with the word Budapest emblazoned across the screen. The fans cheered. From there, Natasha enters an apartment and encounters Yelena, where the two engage in a brutal fight before talking things out. From there, we see cars flipping over, chases, and then the reveal of Task Master, a person capable of mimicking your every move. The only thing we don’t know: Who is the Task Master?
We will found out that and much more when “Black Widow” hits theaters on May 1, 2020.
And while the Marvel Phase Four timeline was complete, Feige assured the crowd that there is plenty more he hasn’t gotten to yet. There will be a “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3,” and a “Black Panther 2” and a “Captain Marvel 2.”
And a “Fantastic Four?”
And he mentioned a seemingly off-handed reference to Mutants. Are the X-Men finally joining the MCU?
What we do know for sure is that Feige finished the panel by introducing Mahershala Ali. But who would he play? None other than Blade in an expected but uncertain reboot of the films originally brought to life by Wesley Snipes. Ali will take on the role of the half-vampire/half-mortal hunter who sets out to kill evil vampires.
There is no word on who will join Ali, who will direct the film, or when it can be expected in theaters. But given that the panel focused on Marvel’s next two years, it seems likely that it will be in theaters somewhere in that time frame.
Disney’s upcoming D23 convention will also introduce more information about the future of the MCU, so many more details are coming soon.
What do you think of the Phase Four announcements? Which films, characters, and stars are you most excited for? Comment below and share!