After months of theories and debates about what Marvel Studios was planning for the next
phase of their cinematic universe, studio head Kevin Feige dropped some major news at
Comic-Con, laying out two years worth of film and television projects.
Here's a potentially spoiler-filled look at what we can expect in Marvel Studios' Phase
After the universe-shaking events of Avengers: Endgame, fans were wondering just where the
MCU would go from here.
So it's no surprise to learn that the studio is dedicating Phase 4 to introducing new characters
and ideas, and expanding the idea of what the MCU is and can do.
2020 will see the release of Black Widow, a flashback film set between Captain America:
Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as Eternals, which introduces a whole new
mythos to the MCU. 2021 will also introduce viewers to a new hero, Shang-Chi, as well
as deliver Marvel's first horror film with the Doctor Strange sequel, and re-invent the
god of thunder yet again in Thor: Love and Thunder.
And Marvel will also be expanding into television with a slate of new shows on the upcoming
Disney+ streaming service shows that will closely tie in with the films.
With all that going on, it's no wonder there wasn't room for a new Avengers film making
Phase 4 the first phase without an Avengers blockbuster anchoring it.
The next Marvel movie to hit theaters will be the long-awaited Black Widow solo film,
and Feige revealed a ton of exciting details including the fact that part of the film takes
place in Budapest.
Maybe we'll finally learn what happened to Natasha the last time she was there!
"Just like Budapest all over again!"
"You and I remember Budapest very differently!"
And there was also some exciting casting news.
Florence Pugh, who recently dazzled audiences in Midsommar, appeared in the teaser trailer
as a fellow secret agent named Yelena who has a strained relationship with Natasha.
It seems very likely that Pugh's character is Yelena Belova, who was Black Widow's successor
in the comics.
Given Natasha's fate in Avengers: Endgame, could this be a tease of things to come?
Plus, fan favorite Stranger Things actor David Harbour was on hand, revealing that he will
be playing Alexei Shotakov, better known as the Red Guardian, the Soviet Union's counterpart
to Captain America.
He shares more than just a homeland with Natasha, though in the comics, they were once married!
Harbour told Entertainment Weekly,
"In a way he’s a super-soldier, but he’s also a very complicated guy.
He has a lot of flaws, a lot of idiosyncrasies.
It’s a very rich character."
And the teaser also confirmed rumors that Black Widow will be battling the villainous
Just who will be playing Taskmaster is still up in the air.
Could he actually be Red Guardian in disguise?
Or someone entirely different?
We'll just have to wait and see!
One of the biggest surprises of Comic-Con was the shock announcement that not only is
Natalie Portman returning to the MCU as Jane Foster, she'll be gaining the powers of Thor
Directed by Taika Waititi, who helmed the fan favorite Thor: Ragnarok, the fourth movie
in the franchise called Thor: Love and Thunder will be based in part on a recent run of comics
that featured Jane becoming the new Thor after the old one was found to be no longer worthy
of wielding Mjolnir.
"You're all not worthy."
And she's not the only fan favorite powerhouse returning to the franchise.
Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie will be back and she may have a new lady love interest.
After Avengers: Endgame, Feige announced that Marvel would feature, quote, "prominent LGBT
heroes," and Thompson told the comic-Con crowd that Valkyrie, who succeeded Thor as the leader
of the Asgardian people in Avengers: Endgame, would be at the forefront of that push.
"First of all, as king, as new king [of Asgard], she needs to find her queen.
So that will be the first order of business."
2016's Doctor Strange was a solid film, but critics dinged it for sticking a little too
closely to the Iron Man story formula: arrogant rich guy falls victim to a surprise accident
and is forced to rebuild his outlook using new tools, etc. etc.
This was especially surprising considering the film's director, Scott Derrickson, was
best known for horror films like Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Well, that horror background may finally to pay off, as Derrickson revealed that Doctor
Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to be the MCU's first horror film.
And there's another unexpected twist: Elizbeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch will co-star in the
film, which will tie into her Disney+ TV series, WandaVision.
It's all coming together!
That wasn't the only surprise announcement regarding WandaVision.
Besides Olsen and co-star Paul Bettany, who is reprising his role as Vision, Marvel revealed
that Dear White People's Teyonah Parris will be appearing in the show as Monica Rambeau.
That name should sound familiar: the character, who is the daughter of fighter pilot Maria
Rambeau, previously appeared as a child in Captain Marvel.
And Wanda's fellow avenger Hawkeye is also going to be connecting with the younger generation
on Disney+, as it was officially confirmed that the series Hawkeye will feature Jeremy
Renner's archer Clint Barton passing on his skills to the new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, in
a storyline from the comics.
Renner told the crowd,
"I get to teach someone else how to be a superhero without superpowers."
Marvel also announced details for the upcoming martial arts flick Shang-Chi and the Legend
of the Ten Rings.
Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu will be playing the title role, while Awkwafina will be appearing
in an undefined role.
And Chinese superstar Tony Leung is poised to play long time Iron Man villain the Mandarin,
who in the comics wields the power of advanced alien technology shaped into 10 rings.
Of course, a different version of the Mandarin appeared in Iron Man 3, but it turned out
to be an actor named Trevor Salttery, played by Ben Kingsley.
Marvel later released a short film teasing that there is a real Mandarin out there somewhere.
And there's a good chance that Leung's version of the character will be Shang-Chi's father:
in the comics, Shang-Chi dedicated his life to defeating his supervillain father Fu Manchu,
but since Marvel doesn't own the rights to that character, the Mandarin could make for
a cool if only slightly less problematic replacement.
The Ten Rings have been teased since the very beginning of the MCU in the first Iron Man
film, so it will be awesome to finally see that plot thread pay off.
"Who are these people?"
"They are your loyal customers, sir.
They call themselves the Ten Rings."
Maybe the biggest jawdropper of the whole convention, though, came during Feige's closing
First, he teased a bunch of projects beyond Phase 4 including Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
"There's a lot of other stuff we didn't get to talk about today.
We didn't even mention that we're making Black Panther 2.
We didn't mention the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is coming.
We didn't have time to talk about Captain Marvel 2, by the way.
I didn't even have time to talk about the Fantastic Four.
And there's no time left to talk about mutants."
But there was time to talk about one more thing: Blade.
Yes, in a true mic drop moment, Feige welcomed two-ime Oscar winner Mahershala Ali onto the
stage to reveal that the onetime Copperhead actor from Luke Cage will be playing Blade
in a reboot of the classic Wesley Snipes action franchise.
With any luck, they'll make sure to definitely include Blade's classic, iconic catch-phrase:
"Some m----------- are always trying to ice skate uphill."
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