Disney and Marvel Studios have a whopping 13 upcoming MCU movies releasing in theaters after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Phase 4 is now in full swing and Marvel Studios is showing no signs of slowing down – in fact, there are a whopping 13 upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies releasing after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Originally, the MCU’s Phase 4 would’ve gotten underway in 2020 with Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals coming out in the summer and fall, ultimately leading into a bigger 2021 filled with sequels and TV shows. Of course, things changed because of the pandemic, but overall, the slate has remained mostly the same.
The 2021 movies have been kept in their same release order, though the Marvel TV shows that have been airing on Disney+ shifted around a bit. WandaVision ended up being the first Phase 4 release instead of Black Widow, which led into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, of which the former would’ve ideally come out after Scarlett Johansson’s film. Still, it all worked out in the end and by and large, the fundamental story for the MCU hasn’t been altered a whole lot.
For Marvel fans, all of these changes and moves just means there will be more MCU content to consume in a shorter period of time. Practically every week there will be something MCU related either in theaters or on TV – sometimes both. At the time of Shang-Chi‘s release, What If…? is still in the first half of season 1. But despite that, Marvel has established a thought process of always looking ahead to the next release, and to see how what’s airing right now will connect to what releases in one month, two months, and even two years later. That’s why the studio has already announced more than a dozen upcoming MCU movies.
Eternals is one of the most intriguing movies coming from Marvel Studios. Not only does it introduce several new superpowered beings into the MCU but it also revamps what audiences know about the world and the history of superheroes. As a race of immortals created by the Celestials, the Eternals arrived on Earth thousands of years ago and remained in the shadows until the events of Avengers: Endgame, and the return of the blipped people, force them out of hiding. Now they will have to battle the other race the Celestials created: the Deviants.
The interesting thing about the Eternals isn’t their immortality but their power levels; practically each of them can take on the Avengers alone (and even Thanos) and come out victorious. It’s why bringing this story to life required a stacked cast of A-list stars, such as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, and more. Furthermore, those involved with the film have hyped up the movie’s quality, owing its unique feel to director and Academy Award winner Chloe Zhao. Of course, specific details regarding the plot of the film have remained under wraps, with some characters like Kit Harington’s Black Knight even being hidden from most of the marketing. There’s potential for Eternals to reshape the entire MCU, so it makes sense that Marvel producers are keeping things close to the chest.
It’s fair to say the most anticipated Marvel movie at the moment is Spider-Man: No Way Home, which broke Avengers: Endgame‘s all-time trailer views in just 24 hours. And it makes why, considering No Way Home is the third installment in an immensely popular superhero trilogy; it features Doctor Strange, one of the MCU’s most popular characters; and brings back characters from past Spider-Man franchises, such as Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. Combining all that with a story exploring the newly-formed Multiverse, there’s potential for No Way Home to become one of the biggest superhero movies of all time.
Tom Holland is back as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man in the film, along with Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds from the previous two installments, not to mention Benedict Wong as Wong and Jamie Foxx as Electro as well. Jon Watts is also back to direct the film, which will mark his final Spider-Man movie before he moves on to helm Fantastic Four for Marvel Studios. Based on the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, the Multiverse and Sinister Six villains like Doc Ock and Green Goblin will be prominent throughout the plot, but how it all comes together and leads into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be what draws in many MCU fans.
Coming almost six years after the first Doctor Strange movie hit theaters, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be Phase 4’s big team-up movie in lieu of The Avengers 5. Doctor Strange was integral to saving the universe from Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, and he can no longer remain on the sidelines following Tony Stark’s death and Steve Rogers’ retirement. The world needs a hero like Doctor Strange, and unfortunately for him and the Masters of the Mystic Arts, the universe will need his help. Loki‘s season 1 finale officially created the MCU Multiverse, something that resulted in What If…? and will impact Spider-Man: No Way Home. All of it will culminate in the story of Doctor Strange 2.
Doctor Strange will have his job cut out for him when he attempts to secure the Multiverse in his upcoming sequel, which also sees Elizabeth Olsen return as Scarlet Witch, Tom Hiddleston back as Loki, and depending on what happens in No Way Home, possibly Tom Holland as Spider-Man. They will all be joined by Xochitl Gomez, who’s making her MCU debut as America Chavez, with Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, and Chiwetel Ejiofor all reprising their roles from the first movie. Not only will Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness bring together various corners of the MCU, but there’s a high chance it can drastically impact the rest of Phase 4 and beyond. It could become a culminating film in the same way Captain America: Civil War was.
Taika Waititi revamped Thor with Thor: Ragnarok and turned the Asgardian hero into one of the franchise’s most popular characters. Now, he’s back with a sequel that sees Chris Hemsworth back as Thor – currently the only Phase 1 character to receive a fourth installment thus far – as well as Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, but this time wielding Mjolnir as the MCU’s version of Mighty Thor. And building off the success of Thor’s friendship with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the last two Avengers films, the core Guardians team will also appear in the film.
Thor: Love & Thunder is an exciting step for Thor’s narrative but also for the franchise as a whole, because it’s the first truly cosmic story of Phase 4, not to mention it’s a massive movie with lots of characters. In addition to people like Tessa Thompson and Jeff Goldblum reprising their roles from Ragnarok, Thor: Love & Thunder will see Lady Sif return to the big screen, along with Christian Bale appearing as the villain Gorr the God Butcher; furthermore, the Olympian gods will finally make their debut, thanks to Russell Crowe playing Zeus. By incorporating the Greek pantheon, Thor: Love & Thunder will open the door to a new corner of the MCU, one that could eventually see someone like Hercules have a prominent role with the Avengers.
It goes without saying that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be one of the biggest and most emotional movies ever to release in the MCU. Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death means fans will never get to see T’Challa again in a new role (other than Boseman’s brief stint voicing T’Challa’s Star-Lord in What If…?), but that doesn’t mean the weight of his absence won’t be felt. The Black Panther sequel will undoubtedly address T’Challa’s whereabouts (presumably his death), and coming to terms with it all will propel the story forward. Beyond tidbits of what the script is like, as well as the core cast from the first film returning for Wakanda Forever, not much has been revealed about the story. Reports suggest Atlantis and the character Namor will be involved, but that has yet to be confirmed, despite all the evidence suggesting the rumors are true.
Interestingly, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will introduce Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams, who will return in her own TV series Ironheart in the future. Riri ends up becoming her own version of Iron Man in the comics and will surely follow the same path on-screen. And although much of the sequel will be overshadowed by T’Challa not being there, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will have the opportunity to set up the future of Wakanda in the MCU, given there’s room for additional sequels as well as new TV shows in the works.
The Marvels perfectly encapsulates the MCU’s new approach to sequels; it’s a sequel, but not one that’s singularly about one character, nor is it a direct follow-up to the previous film. Instead, The Marvels follows Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel as she unites with Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan, both of whom will make their transitions from Disney+ to the big screen. The Marvels is a team-up movie that combines Marvel Studios’ two fronts – TV and film – and it works to harmonize the expanded universe the studio is creating.
Unfortunately, aside from the main trio involved in the film, not much is known about where the story will go. Of course, part of the sequel will need to explore Monica’s powers, which she unlocked during the events of WandaVision, as well as where Kamala’s story goes in this franchise following her debut in the Ms. Marvel TV series. Regardless, the possibilities are huge for The Marvels, which is being directed by Nia DaCosta; it can finally reveal what’s been happening across the galaxy following Thanos and Hulk’s snaps.
If it weren’t for Ant-Man, the universe might not have been saved in Endgame. And now that he’s officially become an Avenger and taken on Thanos, Marvel Studios is giving Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne aka the Wasp a bigger threat to deal with in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Loki’s season 1 finale introduced the character He Who Remains, who’s a variant of the iconic Marvel Comics villain Kang the Conqueror. Jonathan Majors will appear next in the upcoming sequel film as Kang, and he’ll likely dive further into the concept of the Multiverse as well as what the Quantum Realm has to do with it all. It allowed the Avengers to time travel in Endgame, after all, so it must play a part in exploring the Multiverse.
In addition to Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly returning in the title roles, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will also see Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer reprise their roles as the original Ant-Man and Wasp. However, Kathryn Newton will be taking over the role as an adult Cassie Lang from Emma Fuhrmann, who starred in Endgame. It remains to be seen specifically how the threequel will connect with the other MCU movies, other than Kang potentially becoming a multiversal villain for the franchise, but it should have some implications for Loki season 2.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was originally supposed to launch Phase 4 alongside Black Widow, but things quickly changed when Disney fired James Gunn, only to later rehire him – but by that point, he was already working on The Suicide Squad for WB. Now that The Suicide Squad has released and Gunn has wrapped filming on Peacemaker season 1, he can refocus on Marvel and get going on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as well as The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which will release in advance of the sequel on Disney+. Both releases will take place after the events of Thor: Love & Thunder.
Although the movie has been on the backburner for quite some time, the story hasn’t changed. Gunn’s script and much of its elements have been retained. Of course, Gunn may approach the film a little differently after his experience working on The Suicide Squad, particularly the realism factor, as he’s previously mentioned. So far, nothing has been revealed about the core story, other than when it takes place in relation to other films. However, cast members of the core Guardians team (all of whom will presumably return in the sequel) have expressed excitement about the script, with some calling it incredible. No matter what happens, though, it will be Gunn’s final Guardians of the Galaxy movie and likely his last Marvel film as well.
Ever since it was announced Disney was looking to acquire 21st Century Fox, MCU fans have been clamoring for Marvel’s take on X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but before the studio gets to the mutants, they will be adapting the First Family. This marks the second Fantastic Four reboot after 20th Century Fox’s two previous attempts, the last of which was in 2015. So far, the only thing confirmed about the Fantastic Four film is that Jon Watts is directing. Watts found great success in helming Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man trilogy, so there’s already an established working relationship there, not to mention he’s proven that he can turn around a film in two years. Each Spider-Man movie released two years apart, and as long as Watts retains that schedule, there’s no reason to assume Fantastic Four won’t release by the end of 2023 or early 2024. But before things get underway, Fantastic Four will need to cast its titular heroes.
Rebooting the Fantastic Four and diving into the Multiverse all made sense for Marvel Studios, but the surprising thing is the studio also plans to reboot Blade. Up until now, vampires have only been mentioned in passing, but they will become a focus in either Phase 4 or 5. Mahershala Ali apparently contacted Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige with the hopes of portraying Blade, and Feige was quick to jump on board. This will mark Ali’s second Marvel character on-screen, seeing as he originally portrayed the villain Cottonmouth in Netflix’s Luke Cage. Currently, there aren’t any details about which characters will appear in the movie or what the story will be about. However, Stacy Osei-Kuffour is writing the script, Bassam Tariq is directing, and filming is expected to begin in July 2022, thus suggesting that the movie could release in theaters as early as late 2023. It would be a prime candidate for Halloween 2023, given the vampiric and horror vibe.
Currently, the only character to be retained from the Disney-Fox deal is Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool. Since he’s the most popular character from Fox’s X-Men series, aside from Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, it makes sense that Marvel Studios will want to keep Reynolds on board for future installments. Plus, it’s easy to manage story-wise, knowing that Deadpool has the ability to break the fourth wall, and perhaps even crossover between universes. Marvel would be remiss to not plainly acknowledge the situation in the next film.
Two years after the acquisition was first announced, Reynolds revealed Deadpool 3 was in development. It was later confirmed that the sequel would be rated R (making it the first R-rated movie from Marvel Studios) and set in the main MCU continuity. A director hasn’t been hired yet, but the script is being worked on by Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, with filming expected to begin sometime in 2022. If everything goes according to plan, Deadpool 3 could release by the end of 2023 or in early 2024 – perhaps as a Valentine’s Day release like the first film.
Coinciding with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s finale, Captain America 4 was revealed to be in development with the story and script coming from the Disney+ series’ head writer and staff writer, respectively, Malcolm Spellman and Dalan Musson. The fourth Captain America movie will, of course, follow Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson who officially became the new Captain America at the end of his TV series, donning his own Captain America costume and saving the day as the country’s latest hero.
Mackie later signed on to star in the movie, thus suggesting that Marvel is looking to fast-track the project to release either in 2023 or 2024, so long as the studio lands a director by the end of 2021 or early 2022. It’s unclear if Sebastian Stan will return as Bucky Barnes in the sequel, but since he’s been in every previous Captain America film and co-starred in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it only makes sense for him to return, not to mention for Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter to return as well, since she was revealed to be the Power Broker.
At the end of Marvel Studios’ panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, studio head Kevin Feige teased plans to introduce the X-Men into the MCU. Disney had only recently closed their acquisition of 21st Century Fox at the time, and so, Marvel couldn’t have had anything concrete in the works given the rules and regulations around mergers and acquisitions in the United States. However, it’s been two years and there must be something on the board. When X-Men will release is unclear, but the fact that it’s been mentioned is great for fans. It means the team isn’t being completely shunned in favor of developing the Fantastic Four reboot, which will happen first.
Next: Complete Movie & TV Guide to The Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase 1 to Phase 4
Mansoor Mithaiwala is Screen Rant’s TV Lead Editor. He originally joined the site as a freelance writer on the Lists team before moving over to News and Features, eventually becoming an editor in 2018. Over time he’s done quite a few different things, including helping launch gaming on the site, often handling news, features, and guides simultaneously. Now he sticks primarily to movies and TV, and spends way too much time looking at analytics. It sure seems like he’s put his Political Science degree to good use, huh?
Disney and Marvel Studios have a whopping 13 upcoming MCU movies releasing in theaters after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.