Perhaps you thought Avengers: Endgame was the end for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Folks, we’re just getting started. With Endgame dominating box office records and Spider-Man: Far From Home ushering in the MCU’s fourth phase, Marvel is hotter than ever, and everyone wants a piece of the action.
Naturally, Disney’s MCU is set to continue with a full slate of TV shows for Disney’s new streaming service and movies that expand the story that began with 2008’s Iron Man, but Marvel Studios isn’t the only game in town. Sony is hard at work on its own Spider-Man-themed mini-universe. A few lingering holdouts from Fox’s X-Men franchise have yet to see the light of day, and Hulu, which is now controlled by Disney, has a full slate of non-canon Marvel projects in the pipeline, too.
In other words, there’s more Marvel action than ever on the way. Here’s everything that you have to look forward to. (Warning, light spoilers below. If you’re not caught up on the MCU, proceed at your own risk.)
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Phase Four of the MCU kicks off on May 1, 2020 with a look back at the past. Despite her Endgame fate, Scarlett Johansson is slipping into her black catsuit at least one more time for a Black Widow solo flick. The film will be a prequel, and it will introduce Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, who also assumed the mantle of the Black Widow in the comics, to the MCU. Rachel Weisz and Stranger Things‘ David Harbour also star.
Black Panther 2
Black Panther made over $1 billion at the global box office and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. So yeah, it’s going to get a sequel. While details about the next Wakandian romp are scarce, it does have an official release date: May 6, 2022. Reports indicate that almost every member of Black Panther‘s sprawling cast will return for the follow-up, as will director Ryan Coogler, who admits that he’s nervous about helming his first sequel. Rumors say that Michael B. Jordan might be back as Killmonger, too. Given how the first Black Panther ended, that’s probably going to be difficult, but you never know. This is the MCU. Almost anything could happen.
Sorry, Wesley: There’s a new Blade in town. At Comic-Con International 2019, Marvel Studios blew the roof off of Hall H by announcing that Oscar-winner and former Luke Cage villain Mahershala Ali will portray Marvel’s half-vampire monster-hunter on the big screen. No other details were given, although looking at Marvel’s crowded schedule, expect Blade to arrive in 2022 at the earliest.
Captain Marvel 2
Marvel hasn’t officially said that Captain Marvel 2 is in the works, but given how well Carol Danvers connects the Earth-bound and the cosmic sides of the MCU — and how much money her first solo movie made — a sequel is like Thanos: Inevitable. Brie Larson and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige have already started talking about the follow-up, too. Feige hints that Carol’s next big adventure could bridge the gap between Captain Marvel and Avengers: Infinity War, and might introduce Kamala Khan, the fangirl-turned-superhero also known as Ms. Marvel, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
According to returning director Scott Derrickson, Doctor Strange‘s next mind-bending adventure will be Marvel Studios’ first truly “scary” film, but don’t be too frightened: The good doctor has enlisted some powerful friends to help him out. Benedict Cumberbatch will be joined in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, who’ll be coming directly from Wanda’s own Disney+ series, when the film debuts on May 7, 2021.
Move over, Thor. There’s a whole new pantheon of gods coming to the MCU. If you’re not familiar with the Eternals, we have a great Eternals guide for you. If you want the Cliff’s notes, it’s Jack Kirby’s superhero take on Greek mythology, and it’s even wilder than it sounds. For the big-screen adaptation, Marvel has assembled its most star-studded cast to date. As revealed at Comic-Con, Game of Thrones‘ own Robb Stark, Richard Madden, will play lead character Ikaris, Angelina Jolie will portray Thena, Salma Hayek will be Ajax, and Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and many other big names will pop up, too. The Eternals arrives on November 6, 2020.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Breath easy, fellow Guardians. Director James Gunn is back. After Gunn lost his Marvel Cinematic Universe gig thanks to some old, off-color tweets, Disney reversed course and decided to bring Gunn back for the interstellar outlaws’ third outing after all — after he’s done making a Suicide Squad sequel for DC, that is. For Gunn, getting fired worked out pretty well. Given how the second Guardians movie ended, the even money says that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will see the MCU debut of interstellar champion Adam Warlock. We wouldn’t be shocked to see a newly space-bound Thor play a major role either, even if volume three’s pun-tastic Asgardians of the Galaxy title turned out to be little more than wishful thinking.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Marvel’s first foray into the world of superhero kung-fu, Iron Fist, was something of a bust, but Danny Rand isn’t the only martial artist on Marvel’s roster. Shang-Chi, master combatant and son of a supervillain, will be portrayed by newcomer Simu Liu, who will make his MCU debut in February 2021 alongside Awkwafina and Tony Leung as the real Mandarin (i.e. not the one played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3).
Thor: Love and Thunder
If you liked Thor: Ragnarok — and if you like Marvel movies, how could you not? — then get ready for a treat. Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has signed on to write and direct Thor 4. That’s great news. Waititi’s signature sense of humor and Jack Kirby-esque aesthetic sense went a long way toward making Thor: Ragnarok the best Thor film, and we see no reason why the God of Thunder’s lightning won’t strike twice when Thor: Love and Thunder hits on November 5, 2021. Chris Hemsworth will pick up Mjolnir once more, Tessa Thompson will be back as Valkyrie, and in a shocking twist, there will be a new female Thor played by none other than Natalie Portman.
Jared Leto didn’t exactly change the world of superhero cinema with his edgelord-inspired take on the Joker in Suicide Squad. Maybe the second time’s the charm. In Columbia Pictures’ upcoming Spider-Man spin-off, Leto plays Michael Morbius, a scientist who tries to cure his own blood disorder and transforms himself into a “living vampire” instead. Leto will be joined by Jared Harris, who’s been tearing it up on shows like The Terror, The Expanse, and HBO’s hit miniseries Chernobyl, as well as former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, Tyrese Gibson, and others. Morbius arrives in theaters on July 31, 2020.
Fox’s long-running X-Men franchise officially ended with 2019’s Dark Phoenix (and Disney’s acquisition of virtually all of Fox’s intellectual properties), but there’s still one Fox-made Marvel adventure waiting in the wings. New Mutants, a horror-tinged take on Marvel’s merry mutants inspired by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz’s run on the comic of the same name, got a moody trailer in October 2017, but has been delayed repeatedly and undergone massive reshoots. Right now, Disney has New Mutants scheduled for April 3, 2020, but will we ever actually get to see Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams as Wolfsbane, Stranger Things star Charlie Heaton as Cannonball, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik? We’ll have to wait to find out.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequels
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Amy Pascal has promised that a sequel to the Oscar-winning animated feature is already in pre-production. The big question: Is there really only one? Over the past few months, various reports have claimed that an entire animated Spider-Man sub-series is in the works, with Spider-Verse leading the way. There’s the direct sequel, which is said to focus on the budding romance between Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen; the female-led spin-off, which stars Gwen, Spider-Woman, and relative newcomer Silk; there are rumblings of a Spider-Ham animated series; and you don’t introduce Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099 in a post-credits sequence for nothing.
Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff shouldn’t have been any good, and yet it was — we think? Against all odds, Venom managed to be a campy action movie, a buddy flick, a romantic comedy, and a legitimately entertaining superhero adventure all at once, with a truly unhinged performance by Tom Hardy pulling everything together. Expect the sequel to be even crazier, with Woody Harrelson ready to chew the scenery as the symbiote-infected serial killer Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage. Venom 2 should be arriving fairly soon, too. Sony has two Marvel flicks scheduled for 2020. If one of them ends up being Venom, don’t be too surprised.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
Agents of SHIELD, the MCU’s first TV spinoff, launched to big fanfare in 2013, only to be greeted with a resounding “meh.” Well, guess what? These days, it’s actually pretty good. Disney must agree, too, because the company ordered a seventh season of the show in November 2018, half a year before season 6 began. The current season’s main mystery — who is the villainous Sarge, and why does he look exactly like dear, departed Phil Coulson? — makes it difficult to guess what next year’s installment will be about, but you can count on more action, more hijinks, and more subtle MCU Easter eggs when the good agents return in 2020.
Falcon and Winter Soldier
Avengers: Endgame left Captain America’s two closest allies in an interesting place. Bucky Barnes finally escaped his Hydra brainwashing and became the hero he always meant to be, while Sam Wilson reluctantly took ownership of Steve Rogers’ shield. What happens next will unfold in Falcon and Winter Soldier, a miniseries that will air exclusively on Disney+, Disney’s upcoming Netflix competitor. The show will debut in the fall of 2020, and will pit Steve’s best buddies against a returning Baron Zemo, the villain who caused all kinds of trouble for the Star-Spangled Avenger in Captain America: Civil War.
Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was already retired when the Infinity War began, and only suited back up after Thanos snapped his family away. Now that the Barton clan has been reunited, it’s time for someone else to pick up Hawkeye’s bow and quiver for good. In Hawkeye, Renner will venture to Disney+ to train his replacement, a young woman named Kate Bishop. In the comics, Bishop has already proved herself as an excellent Hawkeye, and she has great chemistry with Clint. If Disney can translate that to the small screen, it has another winner on its hands.
The last time that we saw Loki, he was traveling to parts unknown with the Space Stone in hand after the Avengers’ time-traveling adventures in Endgame went sideways. That wasn’t a loose plot thread. It’s the setup for the Loki series on Disney+, which debuts in spring 2021. Worried about rumors that Loki won’t be quite as evil this time around? Don’t be. At Comic-Con, Tom Hiddleston confirmed that Loki is “still that guy” who caused so much mischief in The Avengers. Thank goodness.
In the Marvel Comics canon, She-Hulk is actually Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters. After she receives a blood transfusion from her superhero cousin, she develops powerful abilities similar to — but not exactly like — those of Hulk. The biggest difference: She retains all of her memories, intelligence, and awareness when she goes green. Her popular, hilarious solo comic-book series had her juggling life as both a costumed, green-skinned hero and a full-time attorney dealing with legal matters involving superpowers. Think Ally McBeal with superheroes and supervillains, and you’ve got a decent handle on the comics’ tone. Disney announced that a She-Hulk series would premiere on Disney+ at some point after Hawkeye debuts in 2021, but that’s all we know at this point.
Widely regarded as Marvel’s answer to Batman, Moon Knight is a street-level vigilante who grapples with multiple personalities vying for control of his actions. His origin story has been revised so many times over the years that it’s difficult to guess which version of the character will make it to the screen in the Moon Knight series headed to Disney+ at some point, but given that he’s often been portrayed as one of Marvel’s most brutal — and crazy — characters fighting on the good guys’ side, it’s bound to be interesting.
Marvel’s first Muslim superhero to get her own solo comic will also be the MCU’s first Muslim superhero to get her own show. In Marvel’s comics lore, Kamala Khan is a teenager who develops the ability to change the size and shape of her body at will (“embiggening,” as she calls it) after being exposed to an alien mutating element. She eventually adopts a code name inspired by her favorite superhero, Captain Marvel. The Ms. Marvel series has Bisha K. Ali, a comedian and screenwriter on Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral series, attached as head writer and showrunner. The series is headed to Disney+, but there’s no word yet on when it will premiere.
Believe it or not, the MCU’s least-talked-about property (aside from Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger, which is currently in limbo) is ramping up for its third outing. Good thing, too, because the sophomore season of Hulu’s live-action series ended on a major cliffhanger. That’s not all of the trouble in store for Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s teenage superheroes in season 3, either. Elizabeth Hurley is set to join the Runaways cast as classic Marvel villain Morgan le Fay. You know, the evil sorceress who brought down Camelot? Yeah, that lady.
Avengers: Infinity War looked like the end for the MCU’s No. 1 power couple, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. Well, here comes Disney+ to the rescue. In spring 2021, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will return as the dynamic duo in WandaVision, a six-hour miniseries that finally gives Wanda Maximoff the spotlight she deserves. Of course, there’s a chance that she’ll be overshadowed anyway: In addition to the returning stars, WandaVision will feature the Captain Marvel character Monica Rambeau. She’ll be played by Teyonah Parris. Kat Dennings and Randall Park will also reprise their MCU roles as intern Darcy Lewis (from the first two Thor films) and FBI agent Jimmy Woo (from Ant-Man and the Wasp), respectively.
Since 1977, Marvel has published the on-again, off-again series What If…?, which explores what would’ve happened if pivotal moments in Marvel’s sprawling comics continuity had taken a slightly different turn (spoiler: Usually, everyone dies). Soon, the upcoming animated series of the same name will do the same for the MCU. Marvel Studios says that many established MCU actors will voice their big-screen alter egos in the Disney+ series, and that the various scenarios will draw directly on MCU lore, with Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright guiding the action as the all-seeing Watcher. In the first episode, for example, we’ll learn what would’ve happened if Peggy Carter had become the world’s first super soldier, and rumors suggest we’ll see Loki pick up Thor’s hammer. Is it canon? Heck no. Should it be a lot of fun? Absolutely.
Hulu’s upcoming Ghost Rider series is in an odd place. On one hand, it stars Gabriel Luna, who debuted as Ghost Rider in Agents of SHIELD‘s fourth season. On the other, Marvel claims that this is a “completely new iteration of the character” with no connection to SHIELD or the larger MCU. Spinoff or not, though, Ghost Rider‘s basic premise should stay the same: Mechanic Robert “Robbie” Reyes dies and is reborn as the host for a demon who transforms Robbie into a superhero with a flaming skull for a head whenever it’s time to dole out vengeance. It’s not all bad for Robbie, though. At the very least, the poor guy gets a souped-up, flame-spewing ’69 Dodge Charger for his trouble.
Between Lucifer and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Satan is one of Netflix’s biggest stars — but can hellfire strike twice? Hulu and Marvel certainly hope so. Helstrom, which is based on the Marvel character known as “the son of Satan,” will chronicle the adventures of Damion and Ana, the son and daughter of an infamous serial killer, as they hunt down the very worst specimens humanity has to offer. That’s awfully dark for the MCU, which is probably why it’s not canon, but should be right at home on Hulu, home of other lighthearted chuckle-fests like The Path and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Look, it’s a monkey with a duffel bag full of guns who kills people for money. What else do you need to know? OK, OK. Hit-Monkey was created in 2010 by Daniel Way and Dalibor Talajić as a send-up of assassin movie tropes and has been a minor player in Marvel’s comics ever since. On Hulu, Hit-Monkey will be the star of one of four adult-oriented comedic animated series (more on those in a second), which will eventually come together for a one-off Avengers/Defenders parody called The Offenders. But also: Monkey with guns. You got that part, right?
Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck has the distinction of being the first Marvel character to get his own big-screen movie. Unfortunately, while beloved by some, it’s also one of the worst. Maybe Howard’s upcoming animated series on Hulu can turn his legacy around. With Kevin Smith — yeah, that Kevin Smith — at the helm, Howard the Duck should be a funny, biting, fourth-wall-breaking superhero satire that would make his creator Steve Gerber proud. Howard might be absurd, but he’s not a simple parody. The character is driven by righteous anger, not punchlines, making 2019 the perfect time for Howard to reclaim his title as Marvel’s No. 1 misanthrope.
MODOK, or the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, is Marvel maestro Jack Kirby at his absolute best: A giant floating head with itty-bitty arms and legs who runs an evil organization filled with henchmen dressed up like beekeepers. What’s not to love? Hulu is upping the ante for its animated series, too, by making MODOK balance his supervillain duties with his family life, and casting comedian Patton Oswalt in the lead role. The Venture Bros. (which is also on Hulu) mines similar territory, but with the official Marvel machine behind MODOK, this one could be something special.
Tigra & Dazzler
The X-Men might be coming to Marvel and Disney sooner than you think — one of them, anyway. Dazzler, a mutant-turned-pop-star with the ability to transform sound into light, already had a brief cameo in Dark Phoenix, and she’ll be co-starring alongside the cat-lady Tigra in Hulu’s fourth and final Offenders series. In the show, Dazzler and Tigra will travel to Los Angeles in search of fame and fortune (just like everyone else who lives there), with some super-powered shenanigans set to crop up along the way. At least they’ll have a showbiz pro helping them on their journey: Comedian Chelsea Handler is one of the creative minds behind the series.
We’ll be updating this list as more and more shows and movies inevitably take shape, so stay tuned!
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- Thwips and quips: Ranking all the Spider-Man movies from best to worst