Avengers: Endgame — the final movie of what Marvel has dubbed the Infinity Saga, the cornerstone of Phase Three — is out, and it has shaken up many things for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We got many answers to yearning questions, but though Endgame answered most of them, one still remains: What comes next?
More specifically, what films do we have to look forward for in Phase Four — post-Infinity Saga, post-Thanos? Marvel has been quite tight-lipped on details of the future of the MCU, though Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige did reveal some details.
“The slate that we’re building over the next five years [is] not apples to apples,” said Feige to io9. “It is two very distinct things and I hope they’ll feel very distinct.”
New to the Marvel Cinematic Universe this time around is an extra focus on the tie-in television shows that will air on Disney Plus. While the Netflix shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the like) and Agents of SHIELD technically were set in the same universe, the Disney Plus shows will actually center on the movie characters that we know.
So what’s next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
[Ed. Note: This post contains big spoilers for Avengers: Endgame!]
The MCU movies
Marvel has been whispering about a solo Black Widow movie for years, with Scarlett Johansson reprising the lead role. By 2018, Cate Shortland signed on as director. Florence Pugh and O. T. Fagbenle joined the cast, with Rachel Weisz and David Harbour rumored to join as well. The film is rumored to be a prequel, which means it could focus on Natasha Romanoff’s life before she joined SHIELD — or perhaps even a few of her earlier missions (hello Budapest). This makes sense, of course, given the character’s final fate in Endgame.
There is no set release date, but with filming set to begin in June 2019, expect 2020 at the earliest.
In Marvel lore, the Eternals are a super-powered offshoot of early man, with functional immortality. Like the Asgardians, the Eternals have a heavy hand in shaping Earth’s mythology. For instance, most of them were immortalized in human myth, like the Eternal Sersi, who inspired the Greek story of Circe.
Talk of an Eternals movie began in 2018 and by September, Chloe Zhao was set to direct. Angelina Jolie will reportedly play the lead role of Sersi. Kumail Nanjiani is rumored to co-star. It is rumored that the movie would focus on a love story between Sersi and another Eternal named Ikaris. Filming will begin in Aug. 2019, so once again, expect a 2020 release date at the earliest.
Doctor Strange 2 (May 2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the role of Stephen Strange. Dr. Strange is back in action, after setting things in motion in Infinity War. Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, and Chiwetel Ejiofor will reprise their MCU roles. Scott Derrickson, who directed the first Doctor Strange, will also return. Nightmare — an evil ruler of the “Dream Dimension” — is set to be the main antagonist.
Filming is planned to begin in early 2020, with a tentative release date of May 2021.
Black Panther 2 (2021)
Plans for a Black Panther sequel were revealed a month after the movie’s premiere. Ryan Coogler will return to the director’s role and it’s confirmed that Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright will reprise their roles as T’Challa and Shuri respectively.
Plot details are unknown, but there are rumors that Killmonger could return — well, at least according to Angela Bassett’s husband.
Filming will begin in late 2019 to early 2020, which means Black Panther 2 won’t hit theaters till 2021.
Shang-Chi will be Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero movie. Marvel tapped Asian-American director Destin Daniel Cretton (who directed the upcoming Just Mercy, which stars MCU actors Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson). Much like Iron Fist, Shang-Chi was created in the kung fu craze of the 1970s. Unlike Iron Fist, Shang-Chi is fully Chinese and doesn’t have superpowers. There is no casting or plot information on Shang-Chi, or even a production schedule, but there are rumors it will be filmed in Sydney.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2021)
After Disney fired James Gunn over a series of controversial tweets that were dug up by an alt-right group, the third installment of Guardians existed in limbo. While the actors involved maintained it would happen, Marvel did not hire a new director and James Gunn snagged a directing role over with DC.
In March, however, Disney rehired Gunn and the project was back on track — albeit pushed to a further date than the original 2020 release date.
Likely, this film will focus on a search for Gamora, as the final scene with the Guardians showed Peter Quill longingly looking at a hologram of her. At the end of Endgame, Thor joins the gang, so there’s a chance he could be present — unless the Guardians decide to drop him off somewhere. Asgardians of the Galaxy, anyone?
Filming for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won’t begin till after Gunn wraps up The Suicide Squad, which is currently set to begin filming in 2019 and release on Aug. 6, 2021.
The Disney Plus Shows
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. Even out of the movies, the two actors enjoy a fun dynamic, so seeing them team-up on the small screen should be an interesting turn of pace. Depending on when this series takes place, there may be a title change given that Sam has now taken on the mantle of Captain America.
Starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision, the series will focus on the relationship between these two characters. The details of this series are quite baffling — Vision died before the Decimation, so he wasn’t brought back by Hulk’s snap; and his consciousness was dependent on the now-destroyed Mind Stone. Olsen spoke to Variety and said that at the Disney Plus launch, they showed a photo of the pair in the 1950s.
Maybe something to do with the Quantum Realm time traveling? But how does Vision get back?!
Tom Hiddleston will take up his role of the mischievous trickster Asgardian. Since Loki died early on in Infinity War and thus was not resurrected by Hulk’s snap, it’s not likely that this show will be about what happens post-Endgame. But Asgardians live far longer than mere mortals — Loki’s series could explore nearly 900 years of human history and a whole world of space. There is also the possibility that this takes place in the version of 2012 where Loki stole the Tesseract and yeeted off to who knows where.
This one hasn’t been officially confirmed, but there have been rumors about Jeremy Renner coming to Disney Plus for a limited series. Speculation is that he will be training his daughter Lila to take on the role of Hawkeye. Given Lila’s affinity for archery in the opening moments of Endgame, as well as an existing precedent for a female Hawkeye, that could definitely be a possibility.