Marvel Phase 4 Includes Its First Gay Superhero, Female Thor & Other Diversity Milestones

After the massive hit that was Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios truly must have felt like the world was its playground — and judging from Marvel’s Phase 4 timeline, announced at Comic-Con 2019, that’s exactly how they’re treating it. The line-up, presented by Marvel president Kevin Feige, includes many MCU firsts: their first superhero of Asian descent, Shang-Chi; their first “scary” movie, the Doctor Strange sequel; and of course, the first onscreen female Thor, played by Natalie Portman.

Marvel isn’t just breaking its own MCU mold with its Phase 4 choices. As the film and TV industry continues to struggle with diversity, at least two of Marvel’s upcoming Phase 4 features are directed by women, and three by people of color. With the immense popularity Marvel has gained in recent years, other industry players will no doubt look to them for how to replicate their success. Marvel is wise to make it clear that diversity is essential to that success — and to make Phase 4 their most diverse (on- and off-screen) yet.

Finally, even the method of viewing will change for Marvel’s Phase 4 titles, with six Disney+ TV series announced in their line-up. Disney+ is an upcoming streaming platform that will have exclusive access to all titles by Marvel, Disney, Pixar and more — scheduled to launch in November 2019. So, to catch over half of Marvel’s upcoming Phase 4, you’ll need to get access to Disney+. But on the bright side, more TV = more hours of content, right?

Here’s everything we know is coming for Marvel’s Phase 4.

Black Widow (May 1, 2020)

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Scarlet Johansson is reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff (AKA Black Widow) in a solo film scheduled for a May 1, 2020 release. The film will be directed by Cate Shortland, and will co-star Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, and David Harbour. The main villain was revealed at Comic-Con as Taskmaster.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)

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Set for a fall 2020 release, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is one of Marvel’s Disney+ TV series, starring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes. The villain will be Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo, last seen in Captain America: Civil War. 

The Eternals (November 6, 2020)

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The Eternals comes out November 6, 2020 and features a new group of superheroes for MCU to explore. Directed by Chloe Zhao, the film tells the story of a group of immortals watching over Earth, who are asked to intervene against a group called the Deviants. The film will feature MCU’s first disabled character: the deaf character Macary, who will be played by deaf actor Lauren Ridloff. Other stars of the film include Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)

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Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will feature MCU’s first superhero of Asian descent. The film stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung and is set for a February 12, 2021 release. Leung will be playing the film’s villain, the Mandarin.

Loki (Spring 2021)

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Loki is another of Marvel’s Disney+ series and features Tom Hiddleston reprising his eponymous role. The show is set for a spring 2021 release and follows Loki’s storyline after he steals the Tesseract in Endgame.

WandaVision (Spring 2021)

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Plenty of familiar faces are returning in this Disney+ series: Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Captain Marvel‘s Monica Rambeau, now played by Teyonah Parris. Set for a Spring 2021 release, the series is rumored to be set in the 1950s — but how and why Vision is now alive and interacting with Monica Rambeau, remains to be seen.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)

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Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is back — and apparently, scarier than ever. Director Scott Derrickson teased that the film will be “the first scary MCU film,” while Marvel president Feige added that the film will have a connection to the events of WandaVision. Elizabeth Olsen will co-star as Scarlet Witch, and the film is set to debut May 7, 2021.

What If…? (Summer 2021)

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In a truly wacky twist, What If…? will be an animated Disney+ series that explores alternate storylines from the Marvel universe, which will be different than the comics-inspired plots the MCU has often followed. The insanely star-studded voice-acting cast includes Michael B. Jordan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Karen Gillan, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Sean Gunn, Natalie Portman, Jeff Goldblum, Stanley Tucci, and Jeffrey Wright. The Disney + series is due in summer 2021.

Hawkeye (Fall 2021)

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Set for Fall 2021, this Disney+ series will star Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye) and will heavily feature superhero Kate Bishop. The artwork revealed at Comic-Con suggests the series will draw on Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comic book run.

Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)

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Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is taking on Thor: Love and Thunder next, set for a November 5, 2021 release. The cast includes Natalie Portman as Jane Foster Thor and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Thompson confirmed the rumors at Comic-Con that Valkyrie will be openly bisexual in the film (as she is in the comics). The character will be MCU’s first openly LGBTQ+ superhero since Deadpool‘s Negasonic.

Blade (TBA)

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Marvel hasn’t set a release date or a director for Blade yet, but they did announce the star: Mahershala Ali, who apparently called up Marvel after winning an Oscar for Green Book and proposed the idea. Judging from the response at Comic-Con, the story of Ali’s half-immortal vampire hunter will be one of the most hotly anticipated of Phase 4.

Captain Marvel 2 (TBD)

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Naturally, Phase 4 will include Captain Marvel 2: no date set, no director set and not even Brie Larson officially confirmed — but Marvel has indicated that another installment of the series is coming up.

Black Panther 2 (TBD)

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The next Wakanda adventure has confirmed writer-director Ryan Coogler and is set to begin shooting at the end of this year. Other details of the cast and plot remain unknown.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)

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Now that writer-director James Gunn has been un-fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Marvel can once again move forward with the Chris Pratt-led feature. Likely due to the crew re-shuffling, Guardians was not officially included on Marvel’s upcoming schedule, but both the studio and Gunn have confirmed that plans are in place to shoot the third installment as soon as possible.

 

 

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