Feige Announces MCU Phase Four at San Diego Comic-Con – Special Features #54

Some people in the industry may have been questioning the future viability of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe after the incredible infinity saga came to an end recently. If Spider-Man: Far From Home didn’t convince the naysayers, then what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios announced last night certainly did. Today, let’s talk about the Marvel Studios announcements at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con.

Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase Four – Feature Films

Black Widow – dir. Cate Shortland – May 2020

Natasha died in Avengers: Endgame. But the Black Widow character is finally getting her movie. Scarlett Johansson is still playing the Eastern European super spy. You see, this is a prequel. The film will supposedly finally reveal the oft-quoted events of Budapest, and it will apparently include the Taskmaster, an iconic Marvel villain.

Berlin Syndrome-filmmaker Cate Shortland will direct the Marvel prequel, which will be the first Marvel Studios solo-film about a female hero, as well as the first Marvel Studios film to solely be directed by a female director (Captain Marvel was directed by a male and female directing duo).

Scarlett Johansson will obviously be playing the titular role, and the cast also includes David Harbour (Stranger Things) as Alexei Shostakov, Florence Pugh (Midsommar) as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) as Melina Vostokoff, and O. T. Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Rick Mason. Marvel Studios presented exclusive footage of the film at the convention.

The Eternals – dir. Chloe Zhao – November 2020

The Eternals film will be based on the race of beings and group of the same name created by legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby. This is a Marvel Comics deep cut, and I can’t say that I am well-versed in these characters’ lore. But I think it’s safe to say that Marvel thinks they’ll be able to introduce another mostly unknown Earth-defending group to the big screen successfully. If the film is as good as its director and cast, then we are in for a treat.

The film will be directed by the Chinese female director Chloe Zhao who made last year’s critically acclaimed and underseen gem The Rider. The film stars Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted; Maleficent) as Thena, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Ikaris, Salma Hayek (Frida) as Ajak, Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) as Kingo, Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) as Phastos, Don Lee (Train to Busan) as Gilgamesh, and others including Lauren Ridloff playing Makkari, which means a deaf actress is getting to play a superhero character. I think that is pretty awesome.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – dir. Destin Daniel Cretton – February 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be Marvel’s first solo film with an actor of Asian descent in the titular role. Shang-Chi is a Chinese-American superhero and skilled martial artists known as ‘the Master of Kung Fu.’ The subtitle indicates that the film will revolve around the characters referenced in Iron Man and Iron Man 3.

The film will be directed by Short Term 12-director Destin Daniel Cretton and will star the virtually unknown Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) in the titular role. The film will also star Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love) as the Mandarin and Awkwafina (The Farewell) in an undisclosed role.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – dir. Scott Derrickson – May 2021

It’s been a while since we first saw Benedict Cumberbatch in a Doctor Strange movie. The first film, which I loved, was praised for its trippy visuals but criticized for its formulaic narrative. Since then Strange has been a fan-favorite character in Thor: Ragnarok and both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. But now the sanctum sanctorum and the Sorcerer Supreme are without their infinity stone.

Scott Derrickson is returning to direct the Doctor Strange sequel with the subtitle that references In the Mouth of Madness. The multiverse exists and Strange will explore it in his sequel. Derrickson wants this to be the MCU’s first scary movie, and this seems like the perfect character to do it with. But Strange won’t be on his own. It was also revealed that this film will be directly connected with the Disney+ series WandaVision and also feature Scarlet Witch.

Thor: Love and Thunder – dir. Taika Waititi – November 2021

Other than the heavy metal and He-Man inspired title treatment, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about this fourth Thor-film. Taika Waititi will return to direct the film. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are both reprising their roles as Thor Odinson and Valkyrie, respectively.

On stage, Waititi cited a Jason Aaron comic book run and revealed that Natalie Portman will make her Marvel movie return as Jane Foster and become the female Thor. Natalie Portman is worthy! Not much else is known about the plot. I’ve enjoyed many of the Jane Foster-Thor comic books, and I’m definitely looking forward to this film. It makes a lot of sense. If Thor Odinson is leaving Earth to go with the Guardians of the Galaxy through space, then we need more than one or two characters to care about in New Asgård.

Blade – No Director Announced – No Release Date Announced

Rejoice, the daywalker is back! Stephen Norrington’s Blade was arguably the Marvel movie that kickstarted the golden age of superhero movies, and I still have a lot of love for the Blade trilogy, which also included a film directed by Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro. Wesley Snipes isn’t back in the role, but Marvel hit the jackpot with the perfect replacement in two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight; Green Book). This is basically all we know about the movie at this point in time.

Though later revealed by Feige not to be a part of Phase Four (thus indicating that most, if not all, of the undated films are in the MCU’s Phase Five), Blade might be the film I am the most excited about. I never blogged about it, but I remember saying to my father that I think Mahershala Ali would be a great Blade.

But I actually didn’t think Ali would want to do another Marvel project after Luke Cage and Into the Spider-Verse. However, according to Feige, Ali asked for a Marvel meeting after having won his second Oscar. And at said meeting, the Oscar-winner basically announced that he wanted to play Blade.

As Kevin Feige was getting ready to exit the stage — mere moments before he announced Mahershala Ali as Blade — the President of Marvel Studios mentioned all of the things that they definitely didn’t have time to talk about, and he, therefore, in a roundabout way, confirmed that the following projects are in development:

  • Black Panther 2
  • Captain Marvel 2
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 3
  • Fantastic Four
  • X-Men — Feige didn’t actually say ‘X-Men.’ Instead, he casually mentioned an introduction of ‘mutants.’

On top of all of this, we can expect to see a Spider-Man 3 in the next couple of years, but that isn’t really Disney’s character to introduce. We are going to have to wait for Sony to make that announcement.

Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase Four – Disney+/Series

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Fall 2020

I’m excited about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but I hate the name of the show. I feel like they should’ve marketed this as a Captain America show more clearly because that is essentially what it is. Sam Wilson was handed the shield in Endgame, but Winter Soldier has been Captain America in the comic books as well. It’s a buddy cop Captain America show.

The most interesting tidbit about this show was the announcement that Captain America: Civil War villain Helmut Zemo played by Daniel Brühl will make his Marvel return in this series.

WandaVision – Spring 2021

WandaVision really could’ve used a different show-title too, right? I’m not sure these characters’ names will be enough to pull general audiences in. That said, if this show is anything like the Tom King Vision comic book-run, then this will probably be a very cool show. I think this show will revolve around Wanda’s attempts to resurrect Vision, and those attempts may lead to her losing her mind. In any case, I’m excited to see more of Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen’s characters and their relationship.

Now, the interesting curveball they presented at the conference was that the character Monica Rambeau will be in the series as well. Rambeau actually appeared in the MCU prequel Captain Marvel as a child, but she will be an adult in WandaVision. The character will now be played by Teyonah Parris.

Loki – Spring 2021

This title isn’t just self-explanatory, it’s also appropriate, but, for some reason, they decided to use different fonts for each letter in his name. That’s wild. Though Loki died in Infinity War, a Loki from an alternate timeline escaped with an infinity stone in Endgame. It appears that this series will revolve around this iteration of the character, which will still be played by Tom Hiddleston.

What If…? – Summer 2021

What If…? is Marvel Studios’ first animated series. The series will revolve around and explore non-canon ‘what if’ storylines. At Comic-Con, they announced the amazing voice cast which does include plenty of the actual Marvel movie voices. On top of all of this, Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) was announced to be the voice of The Watcher.

Hawkeye – Fall 2021

A while back, it was rumored that Hawkeye’s series would revolve around Jeremy Renner’s titular character as he is training the comic book character Kate Bishop, who hasn’t yet been cast. And, well, it appears that nothing has changed since then. The only interesting part about this official announcement is the title treatment design above which resembles the logo design from the best-selling Matt Fraction Hawkeye comic book-run.

Most of the Disney+ reveals weren’t really all that revealing. In all honesty, Blade was the only jaw-dropping moment of the night. I felt slightly lightheaded when I read that announcement. However, the titles, the casting announcements, and the female Thor reveal were all incredibly exciting. It is interesting, all things considered, that they aren’t planning a huge team-up movie in the fourth phase of the MCU. Endgame really did end the Avengers film series, at least for a couple of years.

What movie are you most excited about? Sound off in the comments.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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