2019 has not been a quiet year for Marvel. Fans have met a new Captain, faced the Endgame, and traveled Far From Home—but for the first time in a while, the public has been largely unaware of just exactly what was next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there have been some markers along the road to give a vague idea of what the future held, but on Saturday, Marvel finally delivered the goods and dropped a whole bunch of information on just what we’ll have to look forward to as Phase 4 of the MCU kicks into full gear next year.
After tossing up an empty graphic that would serve as the roadmap for the show, it looked like Marvel’s Kevin Feige might seriously announce ten different movies. But as fans quickly learned, there was more at play: Six long-rumored Disney+ streaming television series were finally announced, as well as confirmation on five different films. Feige made it clear that each of these series, many of which will see MCU stars like Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen headline their own show, will be an essential part of Phase 4 storytelling.
With that in mind, let’s break it all down.
'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier'
'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'
'Thor: Love and Thunder'
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman
Release date: November 5, 2021
When it was announced earlier this week that writer/director Taika Waititi would return to direct the forthcoming (pun incidental) Thor 4, many speculated that now was the time to introduce Jane Foster’s version of Thor as seen in the recent Jason Aarron and Russell Dauterman Mighty Thor series.
Sometimes it’s a blast when the people get what they want.
After seemingly being on the outs with Marvel at the end of Thor: The Dark World, Natalie Portman will return to play Jane Foster Thor. Along for the ride will also be Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, who claimed that her first action as king of Asgard would be to “find her queen.”
The involvement of the Aaron/Dauterman run leads me to wonder what other elements, if any, we’ll see in this story. Is this a chance to bring back Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith? (Ed Note: Based off his performance in Dark World, please God no) The dark elf features heavily into the Jane Foster Thor run. Or is this perhaps the time to introduce the truly horrifying Gorr the God Butcher, a character that terrorized the original Thor across three different eras of his life.
Speaking of Thor: Chris Hemsworth was on stage along with Thompson, Portman, and Taika, but given that he was off with the Guardians at the conclusion of Endgame, I’m very curious about his involvement. There was speculation that the reason that Marvel planned on keeping the James Gunn script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was because it heavily featured the God of Thunder and that it’d be too complicated to rewrite otherwise. Because Love and Thunder will presumably come before the third Guardians, (GOTG3 and Black Panther 2, while confirmed, were conspicuously absent from the schedule) will Thor not feature as prominently here? Or will we get some sort of passing reference to his tenure that we’ll have to wait to see? Regardless, the reunion of Taika and the inclusion of Jane Foster is more than enough to make this one of the most anticipated releases of Phase 4.
And one more thing...
Starring: Mahershala Ali
Release date: n/a
As if all of this news wasn’t enough, Kevin Feige pulled a Steve Jobs on everyone in attendance. After saying he didn’t have time to talk about the Fantastic Four or “mutants," he said he did have one more thing. Enter: Mahershala Ali. Enter: Blade. That’s right, the two-time Academy Award-winning actor was officially announced as the MCU’s version of the Daywalker.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ali finessed his clout from winning two Oscars in two years to tie up a role that wasn’t seemingly even on Marvel’s radar yet. That’s probably the main reason why there isn’t a director or writer attached yet (though we have a few suggestions). Regardless, it made for a legitimately surprising, holy SHIT moment that proves Marvel is still capable of shocking and surprising us.
The biggest takeaway from Marvel’s Hall H presentation is that it’s betting big on fans committing to wanting to check out stories on Disney+ and in the theaters while finding new ways to innovate and pushing diversity and inclusion forward. The possibility of real LGBT characters, alongside a diverse cast of behind-the-camera talent (two females directors, three directors of color) is a breath of fresh air in a universe that will see its total film count come astoundingly close to hitting 30 by the end of 2021. If this year’s Hall H confirmed anything it’s that this is absolutely Marvel’s world (galaxy?) now. We’re just living in it.