Marvel Phase 4: upcoming movies in order of release

We've got a thrilling slate of Marvel movies to look forward to in the coming months and years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has entered its Phase Four stage, so stay on top of what's coming with our blog list of the upcoming films in order of release.

 

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1. Black Widow

What is the story of Black Widow?

In between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers team member Natasha Romanoff takes a journey back into her past. She returns to Soviet Russia to confront her own history, the history that turned her into a feared and deadly assassin.

She then comes face to face with the deadly Taskmaster, who can imitate the abilities of all those around him. Taskmaster is training a squadron of assassins within the mysterious 'Red Room', with which Natasha is familiar. She must team up with her extended family to take Taskmaster down. The director is Cate Shortland, who helmed the claustrophobic thriller Berlin Syndrome, starring Teresa Palmer.

Who stars in Black Widow?

Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, in an origin story that takes us back to the time before her death in Avengers: Endgame.

Johansson is joined by Little Women Oscar nominee Florence Pugh as Natasha's 'sister' Yelena Belova, while The Favourite's Rachel Weisz plays operative Melina Vostokoff. And Stranger Things' David Harbour portrays the Russian equivalent of Captain America, Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian.

 


2. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

What is the story of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings?

Again unknown, but Shang-Chi will make MCU history by being the first movie in the series to be centred on an Asian character. The titular Shang-Chi is a revered martial artist, proficient in numerous fighting styles and also adept with weaponry.

The film re-introduces the character of the dreaded Mandarin, previously portrayed (to controversial effect) by Ben Kingsley in 2013's Iron Man 3. The latter was controversially introduced as fake Mandarin actor Trevor Slattery, and makes a scene-stealing appearance in Shang-Chi when he helps guide our hero towards his ultimate goal.

Who stars in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings?

Canadian-Chinese actor and stuntman Simu Liu portrays Shang-Chi. Noted performer Tony Leung, famous for Wong Kar-wai's atmospheric In The Mood For Love, portrays The Mandarin.



3. Eternals

What is the story of Eternals?

Eternals centres on the eponymous beings, a group of all-powerful, humanoid aliens created by an ancient race known as the Celestials.

The movie spans over 7,000 years, and introduce the war between the Eternals and their enemies, the Deviants. The film is directed by Chloe Zhao, who scored an Oscar-winning hit in 2021 with Nomadland.

Who stars in Eternals?

Maleficent's Angelina Jolie portrays Thena, a warrior member of the Eternals. She's joined by The Big Sick's Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Humans' Gemma Chan as Sersi,  Widows' Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Frida's Salma Hayek as Ajak and Dunkirk's Barry Keoghan as Druig.

Meanwhile, Game Of Thrones' Kit Harington plays human character Dane Whitman who, judging from the Eternals post-credits scene, is set to play an important role in the MCU moving forward.



4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

What is the story of Spider-Man: No Way Home?

Unclear at this stage. Tom Holland will return as Peter Parker in his third Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) solo movie, and director Jon Watts is back behind the camera. It's set to continue the shock developments of the 2019 blockbuster Far From Home, in which Spidey's identity was exposed to the wider world.

Spider-Man: No Way home has made MCU history as the first-ever live-action multiverse movie, the possibilities of which are set in motion by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The highly emotional multiverse union between Holland and ex-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield united audiences in nostalgic celebration. It has since become one of the most successful superhero movies ever made at the box office, grossing more than $1.8 billion worldwide.

Who stars in Spider-Man: No Way Home?

Tom Holland, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei and Jacob Batalon all feature. The movie also incorporates Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin (from Spider-Man), Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (from Spider-Man 2) and Jamie Foxx as Electro (from The Amazing Spider-Man 2). As mentioned, Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange is also a key player.

 


NEXT RELEASE


5. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

What is the story of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness?

The storyline is cloaked in mystery, but it has recently been confirmed that Evil Dead and Spider-Man helmer Sam Raimi will be directing the movie. He takes over from the first film's Scott Derrickson, who departed over "creative differences".

The movie is being billed as the first proper horror movie in the MCU, so that would appear to be in Raimi's ballpark. We can surely expect to see many more of the weird, wondrous and terrifying dimensions teased in the first Doctor Strange movie.

In fact, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness picks up the multiverse thread introduced in Spider-Man: No Way Home. This means dark and ominous times for Benedict Cumberbatch's title character as he must contend with a dangerously unravelling time-space continuum.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks set to introduce Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier into the MCU. This is almost certainly anticipating the arrival of the wider X-Men collective in the MCU for the first time. There are also appearances from fan-favourite characters including Gargantos, and rumours suggest that Tom Cruise will portray Superior Iron Man.

Who stars in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness?

Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the Sorcerer Supreme, an arrogant neurosurgeon turned superhero. Strange foresaw the impossible odds of defeating Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, crumbling into dust in front of Iron Man's (Robert Downey Jr.) eyes.

However, Strange and the rest of the Avengers were triumphantly resurrected for the final battle in Avengers: Endgame. Since then, he's posed as a reluctant mentor to Tom Holland's Spider-Man, and had to untangle the latter's mess after casting a spell to wipe everyone's collective memories of Peter Parker being Spider-Man.

The new Doctor Strange movie will grapple with the ongoing aftermath of these actions. It also places Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) front and centre as she seeks her own measure of redemption following the events of WandaVision.

The possibilities of the multiverse also result in the introduction of the dimension-spanning character America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez).

When is Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness released in cinemas?

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is released on 6th May 2022.


COMING SOON


6. Thor: Love And Thunder

What is the story of Thor: Love And Thunder?

We only know the most general details, namely, that Jane Foster from the first two Thor movies will return to lift hammer Mjolnir. She will, effectively, become the new incarnation of Thor, who has himself taken off across the galaxy with the Guardians. Meanwhile, the new King of Asgard, Valkyrie, will be searching for a Queen to rule by her side.

Taika Waititi is back as director, having galvanised the Thor character with 2017's riotously entertaining Thor: Ragnarok.

Who stars in Thor: Love And Thunder?

Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, alongside Natalie Portman as Jane and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Former Batman Christian Bale will be playing the film's villain, Gorr the God Butcher. And Chris Pratt will be reprising his role as Star-Lord.

Hemsworth has praised the film's script: "One of the best scripts I’ve read in years. It’s Taika at his most extreme, and at his best. If the version I read is the one we get running with, it’s going to be pretty insane."

When is Thor: Love And Thunder released in cinemas?

Thor: Love And Thunder will arrive on 8th July 2022.


7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (11th November 2022)

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, African superhero Black Panther broke new ground for Marvel upon his debut in 1966. The character was the first representation of a black superhero in comic book lore, a noble prince (named T'Challa) living in the vibranium-rich country of Wakanda.

The pressure was on the 2018 movie adaptation to get everything right – after all, Black Panther has been embraced as a progressive pop culture symbol, not just a comic book figure. Fortunately, in the assured hands of Fruitvale Station and Creed director Ryan Coogler, Black Panther emerged as a stirring, spirited tribute to Lee and Kirby's creation.

Anchored by Chadwick Boseman's noble performance as the title character (but stolen by Michael B. Jordan as insurgent villain Killmonger), this was a Marvel movie with brains and brawn. Both Coogler and Boseman are set to return for Black Panther 2, although story details are being concealed from view – not unlike the way Wakanda treats itself.

Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira and Martin Freeman will all be back, playing Shuri, Okoye and Everett Ross, respectively. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has indicated that there are "ideas and a pretty solid direction on where we want to head with the second one".

Coogler says that he wants to "focus on trying to make something that has some type of meaning". Fingers crossed that our return to T'Challa's kingdom will live up to our lofty expectations.

In the wake of Chadwick Boseman's death in August 2020, Disney has confirmed they will not recast the role of T'Challa.


8. The Marvels (17th February 2023)

Released in 2019, Captain Marvel unleashed Oscar-winner Brie Larson as the eponymous Marvel superhero. The movie acts as a jigsaw, re-constructing Captain Marvel's memory as she recalls her human life as pilot Carol Danvers. And because the film is set in 1995, it allows de-ageing CGI to reach new heights with its depiction of the younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the movie eventually soared to grosses of more than $1 billion worldwide. It remains to be seen how Captain Marvel 2, now officially titled The Marvels, will continue Carol's journey – the last we saw of her, she assisted in the fight against Thanos (Josh Brolin) during the climax of Avengers: Endgame. This was, of course, made possible by the all-encompassing powers that we saw her achieve at the end of the solo Captain Marvel movie.

In Avengers: Endgame, Carol alludes to having been away from Earth, assisting other planets who don't have an Avengers initiative to save the day. Might we see some of those adventures in the sequel? One thing is likely: a continuation of the Skrulls' storyline, the shape-shifting aliens initially established as the villains in Captain Marvel, before later being revealed as the victims of the insidious Kree regime, to which Captain Marvel herself once belonged.

Candyman helmer Nia DaCosta will direct while new faces Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris will be joining the cast. Both actors will be incorporated from their respective Disney+ projects, playing Ms Marvel and the grown-up Monica Rambeau (from WandaVision), respectively.


9. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (5th May 2023)

The third Guardians movie has had a bumpy journey en route to the big screen. Initially, writer-director James Gunn was set to round off the pop-infused, candy-coloured nirvana that had made the first two Guardians movies such a joy. But tweets dredged up from the filmmaker's past led to his sacking from the project, to the anger of the film's actors, including Dave Bautista.

In the aftermath, Gunn agreed to helm the Suicide Squad reboot for rivel studio DC, which is due for release in August 2021. Subsequently, he's been reinstated as the director of Guardians Vol. 3, although all the disruption has bumped the release date back. It's now expected that we'll get the movie in 2022 at the earliest, although Gunn has tweeted that, as per his plans pre-coronavirus, he's still on course to shoot the movie this year.

Right now the plans with Vol 3 are also exactly the same as they were before coronavirus. https://t.co/cVHe31gtPQ

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 12, 2020

Whatever happens, we can't wait to be re-acquainted with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the gang. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, the Guardians took off into space with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), so we might expect some overlap with the different Marvel properties. Gunn has even released Meredith Quill's complete Awesome Mix to tide us over until more news comes in.


10. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (28th July 2023)

Both Ant-Man movies have proved critical and commercial success stories, plunging us into the world of miniature thief-turned-superhero Scott Lang (the ever-likeable Paul Rudd).

In 2018, sequel Ant-Man And The Wasp introduced the notion of the Quantum Realm, an area in which any human conception of time ceases to exist. It was into this realm that Scott disappeared, before re-emerging five years later in Avengers: Endgame. Many correctly predicted that the Quantum Realm would have a bearing on the storyline of Endgame, and indeed it did, as our superhero collective splintered the space-time continuum to reclaim the infinity stones.

While Scott and his quantum knowledge proved to be unexpected saviours in Endgame, it remains to be seen where his own story will go in Ant-Man 3. We've already seen his brief reunion with his grown-up daughter Cassie, so maybe a third movie will explore how he's coming to terms with that loss of five years. We're also curious as to how Scott's allies Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), both of whom were present at the funeral of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Endgame, will play their part.

Director Peyton Reed is set to return, and based on the previous two movies, we can expect a zippy, humorous, palate-cleanser of a movie. The title has now been revealed as Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, which tells us two things. Firstly, that Hope van Dyne will again be front and centre, as per the 2018 movie. Secondly, that we have a lot more to learn about the mysteries of the Quantum Realm.

Michael Douglas will be reprising his role as Scott Lang's mentor (and Hope's father) Hank Pym, the original designer of the Ant-Man suit. And Michelle Pfeiffer returns from the 2018 movie as Pym's wife Janet van Dyne. Lovecraft Country's Jonathan Majors, meanwhile, will be making his MCU debut as Kang the Conqueror.


MOVIES THAT MIGHT FALL INTO MARVEL PHASE FOUR


1. X-Men

The X-Men movies previously fell under the jurisdiction of 20th Century Fox. However, given that Fox has now been absorbed into Disney, the Marvel ensemble can now officially fall under the umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What this means in terms of the cast or storylines is anyone's guess at this stage. Hugh Jackman resolved his powerful character arc as Wolverine in 2017's acclaimed Logan, a fitting end to a journey he began in 2000's X-Men. The Dark Phoenix saga has already been tackled twice, and the franchise underwent its own, youth-oriented reboot in 2011's X-Men: First Class. That film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, introducing James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the younger Charles Xavier and Magneto. The two characters were portrayed as older men by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

In 2019, Kevin Feige warned that it would be "a while" before the X-Men joined the MCU. "It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set. So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time."

Does the Patrick Stewart semi-reveal in the Multiverse of Madness trailer indicate that we've reached the all-important moment?


2. Fantastic Four

Like the X-Men, the Fantastic Four fell under the ownership of 20th Century Fox. But with the Disney-Fox merger, Marvel's original superhero family can now, finally, be absorbed into the MCU where, hopefully, the franchise will do proper justice to the ensemble.

The Fantastic Four have been treated to a series of movies in the past. The most famous of these arrived in 2005 and 2007, and included a pre-MCU Chris Evans as the Human Torch. Those films were dismissed as campy nonsense, but were much better received than director Josh Trank's 2015 reboot, a notoriously troubled production that sank without a trace.

Feige confirmed the presence of Fantastic Four in the MCU at the 2019 Comic-Con. "I'm extremely excited about those characters, and about bringing Marvel's first family up to the sort of platform and level they deserve."

It's now been confirmed that the Fantastic Four will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man's Jon Watts will direct, but whether the new movie will arrive as part of Phase Four remains to be seen.


3. Deadpool 3

One Marvel character who did enjoy huge success under Fox's guidance was Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds stars as the sweary, fourth-wall-breaking antihero, attaining maverick status in a comic book franchise that's proud of breaking all the rules. This includes a hilarious, self-referential gag in 2018's Deadpool 2 in which Reynolds executes himself – the punishment for choosing DC's 2011 flop Green Lantern as a comic book project.

Given Deadpool's enjoyably violent excesses, it remains to be seen what will happen now that Disney has taken charge of the character. Original screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese say that any potential Deadpool threequel will be loyal to the spirit of what's come before.

"The promise [from Disney] is that there will be more Deadpool," Reese says. "He will live in the R-rated universe that we’ve created, and hopefully, we’ll be allowed to play a little bit in the MCU sandbox as well and incorporate him into that. We’ve just got to land on the right idea and once we do, I think we’ll be off to the races. We wake up thinking about Deadpool and we go to sleep thinking about Deadpool, so there will be another Deadpool and we just have to make it the right way."

In December 2019, Variety quoted Reynolds as saying that a Marvel Deadpool 3 movie is on the cards. "We’re working on it right now with the whole team," Reynolds explained. "We’re over at Marvel, which is the big leagues all of a sudden. It’s kind of crazy."

It's now been confirmed that the writers of award-winning animated comedy Bob's Burgers will be writing Deadpool 3. With Deadpool now falling under the jurisdiction of Marvel Studios and Disney, does this mean (squeal) that the character could amalgamate with a new-look X-Men or Avengers team?


4. Blade (release date TBC)

The Black Panther movie wasn't the first big-screen comic book blockbuster to showcase a black superhero. Back in 1998, actor Wesley Snipes portrayed maverick vampire-hunter Blade in the gnarly and blood-soaked Marvel movie of the same name. Preceding all thoughts of a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the first Blade film is far tougher and nastier than many of its successors, a facet that landed it with an 18 certificate in the UK.

The current wave of comic book epics owes itself to Blade, which arrived to tear up the big screen even before the first X-Men film. Snipes' stylish title character, who mixes martial arts, weaponry and swishy trench coats, appeared in two more films in 2002 and 2005, before being put on ice. The first of those was directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and was good, gory fun. The last film, Blade: Trinity, was critically mauled, and dogged by reports of Snipes' bizarre on-set behaviour.

Very soon, Blade is returning to reassert his dominance, as played by Mahershala Ali. The actor has swiftly ascended the Hollywood ranks to nab Oscars for his roles in Moonlight and Green Book, and the prospect of him playing Marvel's 'day-walker' is enormously exciting. 

The news was made public at Comic-Con 2019, attended by Ali and Kevin Feige. No writer or director has been assigned yet, so watch this space.

 


Which Marvel Phase 4 movie are you most excited about seeing? Let us know @Cineworld.