Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Four

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Phase Four
Produced by
Based onCharacters published
by Marvel Comics
StarringSee below
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
2020–2021
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a group of American superhero films and television series produced by Marvel Studios based on characters that appear in publications by Marvel Comics. Phase Four features all of the Marvel Studios productions set to be released in 2020 and 2021. It is the first phase in the franchise to include television series, with Marvel Studios developing several event series for the streaming service Disney+ in addition to the feature films that it was already set to produce.

The phase will begin in May 2020 with the release of the film Black Widow by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, starring Scarlett Johansson. That will be followed by ensemble film The Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings starring Simu Liu, sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with Benedict Cumberbatch returning as Dr. Stephen Strange, a sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home with Tom Holland returning as Spider-Man, and concluding with another sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder, with Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster / Mighty Thor.

A number of television series will be released on Disney+ as part of Phase Four. These include The Falcon and the Winter Soldier with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in the title roles, WandaVision with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in the title roles, Loki starring Tom Hiddleston, animated series What If...? narrated by Jeffrey Wright, and Hawkeye starring Jeremy Renner. Three other series, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk, have also been announced for the phase.

Development[edit]

Kevin Feige announcing Phase Four at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

By October 2016, Disney had scheduled multiple release dates for untitled Marvel Studios films for 2020 and 2021. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said some of the films for those dates were already known, explaining, "We know what [films] we'd like them to be for 2020. Over the years, where we're aiming we've been lucky enough that it's usually been the same thing but we always leave ourselves the opportunity to bob and weave and adapt if we have to."[1] Feige was not sure if Marvel would continue to group the films of the MCU into phases once Phase Three concluded in 2019, saying that "it might be a new thing",[2] but by December 2018 Marvel was believed to be using the term Phase Four.[3] Feige said Marvel hoped to reveal some upcoming films after the release of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[4] with Disney CEO Bob Iger later indicating that Marvel would reveal its slate of post-Avengers: Endgame movies in mid-2019.[5]

By November 2017, Disney was developing a Marvel series specifically for release on its new streaming service Disney+, which it planned to launch before the end of 2019.[6] In September 2018, Marvel Studios was revealed to be developing several limited series for the service, to be centered on "second tier" characters from the MCU films who had not and were unlikely to star in their own films; the actors who portrayed the characters in the films were expected to reprise their roles for the series. Stories for each series were still being decided on, but the series were expected to be six to eight episodes each and have a "hefty [budget] rivaling those of a major studio production". The series would be produced by Marvel Studios rather than Marvel Television, who produced the previous television series set in the MCU. Feige was taking a "hands-on role" in each series' development,[7] focusing on "continuity of story" with the films and "handling" the actors who would be reprising their roles from the films.[8] Feige stated in February 2019 that the series would be "entirely interwoven with both the current MCU, the past MCU, and the future of the MCU",[9] and a month later he elaborated that the series would take characters from the films, change them, and see those changes reflected in future films, unlike the weaker relationship the films have with the Marvel Television series. He also said that new characters introduced in the Disney+ series could go on to appear in films.[10] In May, Feige compared the Disney+ series to the Marvel One-Shots short films that Marvel Studios had previously released alongside their films, saying, "The best thing about the One-Shots is that we got to flesh out other characters. It's tremendously exciting that we now have Disney+ series where we get to do that on a grand scale".[11]

In July 2019, Marvel Studios held a panel at San Diego Comic-Con where Feige announced the full Phase Four slate. This included five films to be released through 2020 and 2021—Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Thor: Love and Thunder—as well as five event series to be released on Disney+ in that time—The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If...?, and Hawkeye.[12] He confirmed that there would be connections between the films and series, with the events of both WandaVision and Loki set to tie directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.[13][14] Feige stated that these ten projects were the full Phase Four slate at that point, despite Marvel already developing further projects at that time.[15] A month later at D23, Feige announced three more Disney+ series that would be released as part of the Phase Four slate: Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.[16] In September, Disney and Sony Pictures announced that Marvel Studios and Feige would produce a third Spider-Man film for Sony following Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), set for release during this phase.[17]

Films[edit]

Film[15] U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Producer(s) Status
Black Widow May 1, 2020 (2020-05-01)[12] Cate Shortland[18] Eric Pearson[19] Kevin Feige Post-production
The Eternals November 6, 2020 (2020-11-06)[12] Chloé Zhao[20] Matthew K. Firpo & Ryan Firpo[21] Filming
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings February 12, 2021 (2021-02-12)[12] Destin Daniel Cretton[22] David Callaham[23] Pre-production
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness May 7, 2021 (2021-05-07)[12] TBA Jade Bartlett[24]
Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel July 16, 2021 (2021-07-16)[17] TBA Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers[25] Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal
Thor: Love and Thunder November 5, 2021 (2021-11-05)[12] Taika Waititi[26] Kevin Feige

Black Widow (2020)[edit]

After the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016),[27] Natasha Romanoff finds herself alone and is forced to confront her past.[28]

After exploring the backstory of Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Kevin Feige expressed interest in exploring it further in a solo film.[29] By January 2018, Jac Schaeffer was hired to write the script,[30] with Cate Shortland hired to direct that July.[18] Ned Benson was rewriting the script the next February.[31] Schaeffer and Benson would receive story credit on the film, with Eric Pearson being credited for the screenplay.[19] Filming began in May 2019 in Norway and the United Kingdom,[32][33] and ended in October.[34] Black Widow is scheduled to be released on May 1, 2020.[12]

The Eternals (2020)[edit]

After the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[35] the Eternals, an immortal alien race created by the Celestials,[36] reunite after an unexpected tragedy to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.[35]

By April 2018, Marvel had met with multiple screenwriters to craft a film based on the Eternals, with a focus on the character Sersi.[37] A month later, Matthew and Ryan Firpo were hired to write the script for the project.[21] By late-September, Marvel hired Chloé Zhao to direct the film.[20] Filming began in July in London.[36] The main cast, headlined by Angelina Jolie, was announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con,[12] with Gemma Chan cast as Sersi a month later.[38] The Eternals is set to be released on November 6, 2020.[12]

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)[edit]

By December 2018, Marvel was "fast-tracking" development on a Shang-Chi film, which would be their first Asian-led film. Chinese-American writer David Callaham was hired to work on the screenplay,[23] and by March 2019, Marvel hired Destin Daniel Cretton to direct the film.[22] At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, Simu Liu was revealed to be cast in the title role, with Tony Leung portraying the Mandarin.[12] Filming for Shang-Chi is set to begin in early 2020, in Australia.[39] Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to be released on February 12, 2021.[12]

The Ten Rings organization has been referenced in Iron Man (2008), the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King (2014), and Ant-Man (2015).[40] An impostor posing as the Mandarin was portrayed by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 (2013).[12]

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021)[edit]

By December 2018, Scott Derrickson had completed a deal to return to direct a sequel to Doctor Strange (2016), with Benedict Cumberbatch reprising the title role.[3] The sequel's title was officially announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, along with Derrickson's intention to explore more of the "gothic" horror elements from the comic books than the first installment.[12] In October 2019, Jade Bartlett was hired to write the film.[24] In January 2020, Marvel and Derrickson announced that he would no longer direct the film due to creative differences, but would remain an executive producer on the film. Filming is expected to begin in May 2020.[41] Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled to be released on May 7, 2021.[12]

The film will co-star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch, and will tie directly in with her Disney+ series WandaVision, as well as with the series Loki, making this the first MCU film to be directly tied to any television series.[13][14]

Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel (2021)[edit]

In April 2017, it was announced that a third Spider-Man film was planned,[42] with Spider-Man actor Tom Holland saying that June that the film would take place during Peter Parker's senior year of high school.[43] In July 2019, Feige stated that the third film would feature "a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film" due to 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home's mid-credits scene.[44] In August 2019, it was reported by Deadline Hollywood that Disney and Sony could not reach a new agreement for Marvel Studios and Feige to have continued involvement in Spider-Man films.[45] However by the following month, Sony and Disney jointly announced that Marvel Studios and Feige would produce the third film, with Holland starring.[17] Sony had also hired Far From Home writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers to work on the sequel at that time.[25] Filming is expected to begin in July 2020, in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Iceland.[46] The film is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.[17]

Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)[edit]

In January 2018, Chris Hemsworth indicated his interest in continuing to play Thor, despite his contract with Marvel Studios being scheduled to end after Avengers: Endgame (2019).[47] By July 2019, Taika Waititi had signed on with Marvel to write and direct a fourth Thor film after previously directing Thor: Ragnarok (2017).[26] At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, the film's title was announced along with the return of Natalie Portman, who did not appear in Ragnarok, with her character Jane Foster taking on the mantle of Mighty Thor in the film.[48][49] Thor: Love and Thunder is set to start filming in August 2020, in Australia,[39] and is scheduled to be released on November 5, 2021.[12]

Television series[edit]

SeriesSeasonEpisodesOriginally releasedHead writerStatus
First releasedLast releasedNetwork
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier1[50]6[51]Late 2020[12]TBADisney+Malcolm Spellman[52]Filming
WandaVision1[50]6[53]2020[54]TBADisney+Jac Schaeffer[55]Filming
Loki1[56]6[57]Early 2021[12]TBADisney+Michael Waldron[58]Pre-production
What If...?1[59]10[60]Mid 2021[12]TBADisney+A. C. Bradley[61]In production
2[60]10[60]TBATBATBAPre-production
Hawkeye1[62]TBALate 2021[12]TBADisney+Jonathan Igla[63]Ordered
Ms. Marvel1[38]TBATBATBADisney+Bisha K. Ali[64]Ordered
Moon Knight1[38]TBATBATBADisney+Jeremy Slater[65]Ordered
She-Hulk1[38]TBATBATBADisney+Jessica Gao[66]Ordered

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier[edit]

At the end of October 2018, Malcolm Spellman was hired to write a limited series that would focus on Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson / Falcon and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier.[52][8] The series was officially announced and titled in April 2019, with Mackie and Stan confirmed to be starring. Filming began in October 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia,[67] with Kari Skogland directing the six episodes. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to premiere in late 2020;[12] Deadline Hollywood previously reported that the series would be released in August 2020.[51]

The series takes place following the events of Avengers: Endgame.[12] Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp reprise their MCU roles of Helmut Zemo and Sharon Carter in the series.[68][38]

WandaVision[edit]

With the September 2018 report of the limited series, one was expected to follow Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch.[7] By the end of October, Paul Bettany's Vision was expected to play a large role in the series, which would focus on their relationship.[69] Jac Schaeffer was hired to write the first episode and serve as head writer in January 2019.[55] The series was officially announced and titled in April 2019, with Olsen and Bettany confirmed to be starring.[50][70] Matt Shakman serves as the series' director.[38] WandaVision will explore where the character's alias Scarlet Witch comes from.[71] Filming started in November 2019.[72] WandaVision is set to debut in 2020.[54]

The series takes place following the events of Avengers: Endgame and leads into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which also features Wanda).[73][13] Teyonah Parris will appear as an adult version of Monica Rambeau. The character was previously portrayed by Akira Akbar, as a child in Captain Marvel (2019).[74] Randall Park and Kat Dennings reprise their MCU roles as Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis in the series.[38]

Loki[edit]

Loki will follow the version of Loki who stole the Space Stone in 2012 in Avengers: Endgame.[12]

With the September 2018 report of the limited series, one was expected to star Tom Hiddleston as Loki.[7] Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed in November that the series was in development,[56] with Hiddleston returning to reprise his role.[75] Michael Waldron was hired as the series' head writer in February 2019.[58][50] In August 2019, Kate Herron was announced as the series' director.[76] Production is set to begin in early 2020.[77] Loki is set to debut in early 2021.[12]

The series will tie-in with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.[14]

What If...?[edit]

By March 2019, Marvel Studios was planning to create an animated series based on the What If concept from the comics for Disney+. The anthology series, which is not canon to the MCU, explores how the MCU would be altered if certain events had occurred differently, such as if Loki wielded Thor's hammer.[59] The series will star Jeffrey Wright as the voice of Uatu / The Watcher,[78] with many of the actors from the films also voicing their respective characters.[12] A.C. Bradley serves as the head writer of What If...?, with Bryan Andrews directing the series.[61] What If...?'s first season is set to debut in mid 2021,[12] and will consist of 10 episodes.[60] A second season, also consisting of 10 episodes, has been announced.[60]

Hawkeye[edit]

In April 2019, a limited series focused on Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton / Hawkeye was reported to be in development, with the plot involving Barton passing the mantle of Hawkeye to the character Kate Bishop.[62] The series was officially announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con,[12] with Jonathan Igla serving as the series' head writer.[63] In September 2019, Hailee Steinfeld was said to be in consideration to portray Kate Bishop.[79] Hawkeye is set to premiere in late 2021.[12]

The series takes place following the events of Avengers: Endgame.[12]

Ms. Marvel[edit]

At the 2019 D23 Expo, a series focused on Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel was announced to be in development, with Bisha K. Ali hired as head writer.[38] The character's involvement in the MCU was first discussed in September 2016, when Marvel Creative Consultant Joe Quesada stated that Marvel Studios had plans to implement Ms. Marvel in "other media" as a result of the character's rapid success and popularity amongst comic book readers.[80] In May 2018, Feige discussed the arrival of Ms. Marvel to the MCU, stating that she would be introduced following the release of Captain Marvel.[81] Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson also expressed interest in introducing Khan into the eventual sequel to Captain Marvel.[82]

Moon Knight[edit]

During the 2019 D23 Expo, Marvel Studios announced that a series centered around Marc Spector / Moon Knight was in development.[38] In November 2019, Jeremy Slater was announced as the series' head writer.[65]

She-Hulk[edit]

She-Hulk revolves around Bruce Banner's cousin, who gains superpowers after receiving a blood transfusion from him.[38]

At the 2019 D23 Expo, Marvel Studios confirmed that a series centered around Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk is in development.[38] In November 2019, Jessica Gao was announced as the series' head writer.[66]

Recurring cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)

This section shows characters who will appear or have appeared in multiple films and/or television series within Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and have appeared in the billing block for at least one film or have been a member of the principal ("main") cast for at least one series.

  • An empty, dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film or series, or that the character's official presence has not yet been confirmed.
  •  G indicates a guest appearance in the season.
  •  V indicates a voice-only role.
Character Films Television series
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
(2021)
Thor: Love and Thunder
(2021)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
(2020)
WandaVision
(2020)
Loki
(2021)
What If...?
(2021)
Hawkeye
(2021)
James "Bucky" Barnes
Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan[50] Sebastian StanGV[83]
Clint Barton
Hawkeye
Jeremy RennerGV[83] Jeremy Renner[84]
Jane Foster
Mighty Thor
Natalie Portman[48] Natalie PortmanGV[83]
Loki Tom Hiddleston[50] Tom HiddlestonGV[83]
Wanda Maximoff
Scarlet Witch
Elizabeth Olsen[13] Elizabeth Olsen[50]
Thor Chris Hemsworth[48] Chris HemsworthGV[83]

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