Companies always try to bring their A-game to San Diego Comic-Con, which is basically nerd-Mecca. A strong showing at this convention can make or break a company’s fortunes over the following year and it was clear that Marvel Studios weren’t going let their guard down as they basked in the steadily growing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kevin Feige and his gang came out swinging. Let’s break down what they revealed.
Given the explosive high that the Marvel Cinematic Universe finished its third phase on, it’s no surprise that a lot of people were eagerly anticipating what MCU boss Kevin Feige had to share regarding Phase 4. And they certainly gave us plenty to chew on, both expected and less expected:
Firstly, we have the title of the Doctor Strange sequel. We currently only have a few details, though the title does all but confirm that we’ll finally get an exploration of the concept of the multiverse; a topic that’s been brought up a few times towards the end of Phase 3. According to Variety, Strange’s next solo outing will be drawing liberally from the horror genre. However, the Sorcerer Supreme won’t have to face down a Multiverse full of madness all on his lonesome; Scarlett Witch, Wanda Maximoff, will be fighting alongside him. Supposedly the events of her Disney+ show (see below) will lead her to get in touch with the good doctor.
Thor: Love and Thunder is one of the more exciting upcoming projects we’re waiting for. Or at least that became the case once we got some details about it. Because we knew Thor 4 was coming; Hemsworth hasn’t exited the MCU yet like some of his co-stars. We also already knew that Taika Waititi is returning to the Director’s chair. The return of the man who elevated Thor’s solo movies from ‘perfectly average’ to ‘hilarious and amazing’ with Thor: Ragnarök is definitely good news. But Marvel’s SDCC presentation revealed the return of someone else in a manner few of us were expecting. Yes, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster will return to the franchise after sitting out the third instalment. Portman’s departure from the MCU was explained in-universe as Jane having broken up with Thor off-screen due to his repeated extended absences without touching base. What makes this so exciting is that Portman’s Foster won’t be returning in her role as a plucky but, ultimately, non-action girl. Instead, she’ll be following in the footsteps of her comic-book counterpart and proving that she’s just as worthy of lifting Mjolnir as her ex-boyfriend and that old WW2 hero.
That’s right nerds; kneel before the Goddess of Thunder.
Next up is the long-awaited Black Widow movie. That’s right, it only took until the fourth phase for a major character who debuted way back in Iron Man 2 to finally get her own movie. It’s been known for a while now that Natasha Romanov’s solo outing would be a prequel to Infinity War/Endgame, but it wasn’t entirely clear exactly where in the MCU timeline that it would be set. We now have confirmation that it sits between ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’; the period in which Black Widow is an international fugitive alongside Cap and his team of Secret Avengers.
Perhaps a sign that the MCU is really starting to get ambitious is that we will also be getting an Eternals movie. Here we see Marvel adapting some of their less universally known franchises. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, the Eternals are a race of extremely powerful beings created when a race of god-like beings (known as Celestials) did experiments on a group of early humans. What makes this such an interesting development is that in the comics at least, Thanos is an Eternal. Given that the overall Big Bad of phases 1-3 had no explanation of his origins in the movies, we might see that in this movie. Assuming, of course, that his origins remain the same in the MCU. Confirmed cast members are Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Lia McHugh, Angelina Jolie, Don Lee and Lauren Ridloff.
More big news kept coming with the reveal that two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will be playing the title role as Blade is brought into the MCU fold. A half-vampire, half-human hero who was played Wesley Snipes in the original movies, this hero of the night protects Marvel Earth from the undead. So, you know, pretty cool.
Rounding out the movie offerings (mostly, but we’ll get to that) is Marvel’s first Asian-led move; ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’. Shang-Chi is the result of creative duo Starlin and Steve Englehart wanting to do an adaption of popular TV show Kung Fu but DC comics owner Warner Media owning the rights to it. Instead, they created Shang-Chi.
While Marvel continuing to expand the diversity of their line-up is always good news, another exciting thing about this particular entry is the inclusion of ‘The Ten Rings’; the terrorist organisation that kidnapped Tony Stark in the original Iron Man movie way back at the dawn of the MCU.
Of course, the MCU is more than movies these days. I’m not talking about shows like ‘Daredevil’ or ‘Agents of Shield’ which, while good shows, weren’t really connected to the MCU itself (the movies influenced the shows, not the other way around). However, with the dawn of Disney-brand streaming service ‘Disney+’ comes shows that will seemingly be more closely tied to the movie instalments.
‘WandaVision’ is a show about, well, Wanda Maximoff and Vision. More details are a bit thin on the ground right now, but what we do know is that Monica Rambeau (daughter of Carol Danver’s old pilot buddy) will be making an appearance. As stated above, the show will lead into the events of Doctor Strange’s next solo movie.
Continuing the ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ approach to show naming, ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ details the adventures of the aforementioned duo following Steve Roger’s ‘retirement’ from the superhero life. Whether the show will build up to Falcon taking up the mantle of Captain America the way Steve wanted him to is unknown. What is known is that Civil War villain Zemo and Sharon Carter will be appearing on the show. Hopefully, this will allow Sharon to do something outside of being Steve’s underdeveloped (and ultimately unsuccessful) love interest as she was in the movies themselves.
Reportedly one of Marvel’s highest priorities amongst these new tv shows is the Loki tv show. While the mainstream Loki died in Infinity War, the Avengers unintentionally allowed an alternate timeline version to escape from his capture at the events of the original Avengers movie during Endgame. Time travel may be involved as Loki will apparently be causing trouble at various historical events. Of course, this is a Loki at the height of his villainy, so what direction they take the character is anyone’s guess.
Speaking of alternate timelines, ‘What If’ is an animated entry into Disney+’s line up. Narrated by The Watcher Uatu (voiced by Jeffery Wright), this show will explore, ‘what if’ scenarios that didn’t occur in the actual MCU timeline like the comic series of the same name. What makes this animated series distinct from others on both sides of the Marvel/DC divide is that a huge slew of characters will be voiced by their actual live-action actors. From Michael B Jordan (Killmonger) to Josh Brolin (Thanos) to Samuel Jackson (Nick Fury), these marvel stars will help flesh out these alternate timelines.
Closing out the Disney+ line up is… well. Now, far be it for me to perpetuate the myth that Hawkeye is the most useless Avenger; much less the suggestion that the Marvel studio executives feel the same way. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that, of the two original Avengers who haven’t had their own movie up to this point; Black Widow finally is, while Hawkeye is making his way to the small screen.
All joking aside, Hawkeye will debut in the Autumn of 2021 with Jeremy Renner returning as the eponymous main character alongside the, as yet, uncast character of Kate Bishop. From what few details we have, the implication is that Clint will be something of a mentor to Kate.
Apart from all the above projects that are already filming or set in stone, Disney’s acquisition of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men means (as confirmed by Kevin Feige) will be getting their own MCU inclusive movies in the, not too far, future. Other titles confirmed, but not currently in production, including Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy sequels.
So yeah, Marvel really didn’t rest on their laurels following the end of Phase 3. Keep checking The Book The Film The T-shirt for more news as it breaks.