Marvel Studios has made quite the impact this past weekend at San Diego Comic Con where, on Sunday, the film studio confirmed their upcoming projects for 2020, 2021 and beyond. After “Spider-Man: Far From Home” wrapped up Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was much speculation as to what would come next. While many projects were announced as being in development, the most fans got was the fact that a film centered around Black Widow, played by Scarlet Johansson, started filming in May.
Set to be released May 1, 2020, “Black Widow” stars Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, a merciless assassin. The film will also star David Harbour, best known for playing Jim Hopper in “Stranger Things,” as a Russian super-soldier named Red Guardian and Oscar winning actress Rachel Wiesz as Melina, a spy with a connection to Black Widow. “Black Widow’s” plot is to take place between the films “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” according to Digital Spy. This means that the character will be a fugitive from the U.S. Government following her role in “Captain America: Civil War.” It was also revealed at San Diego Comic Con that the villain/mercenary Taskmaster will appear in the film. However, it is unknown who will play him.
Black Widow won’t be the only Marvel hero in theaters next year, as “The Eternals” will be released Nov. 6, 2020. The film will be based on the Eternals comics which depict an ancient alien race gifted with superpowers. While The Eternals aren’t the most famous superhero team in comics, the talent behind this film is a force to be reckoned with. The ensemble cast includes Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris and Salma Hayek as Ajak. “The Eternals” will be helmed by acclaimed independent film director Chloé Zhao and principal photography started in July, according to Entertainment Weekly.
In 2021, there will be three Marvel Cinematic films, all of which were announced at San Diego Comic Con. “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be released Feb. 12, 2021 and will be the first Marvel film led by an Asian actor with Simu Liu cast as the titular master of martial arts. While Marvel has handled martial arts themes with the Netflix series “Iron Fist,” this will be the first film to tackle this kind of material.
While many Marvel Cinematic Universe films have had suspenseful scenes, there has never been a film in the franchise with horror overtones. However, on May 7, 2021, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be “the first scary MCU movie” according to director Scott Derrickson. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong will reprise their roles as sorcerers Doctor Strange and Wong. Elizabeth Olsen will also reprise her superhero persona of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch although this will be her first time in a film centered on Doctor Strange.
After “Avengers: Endgame” gave Thor a renewed sense of purpose, another film centered on the god of thunder seemed inevitable. “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi will return to direct “Thor: Love and Thunder” which is set for a Nov. 5, 2021 release. The film will star Chris Hemsworth as Thor and will have Tessa Thompson reprise her role as Valkyrie. Valkyrie’s bisexuality will be explored in the upcoming film, according to Kevin Fiege who, when asked if Valkyrie’s sexuality would be depicted, said “the answer is yes.” Natalie Portman will return to play Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest of “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” who was notably absent from “Thor: Ragnarok.” To make matters more interesting, it appears Foster will adopt the role of Thor, just as she did in the comics, as at the Marvel Panel at San Diego Comic Con, Taika Waititi presented her with Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.
One of the biggest surprises of the panel came when, at the end, Kevin Fiege confirmed that a film centered on vampire hunter Blade is in development with an undetermined release date. The protagonist will be played by two time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali who previously played Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes on Netflix’s superhero series “Luke Cage” which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other films Fiege announced were in development include sequels to “Captain Marvel,” “Black Panther,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” as well as films centered around The Fantastic Four and The X-Men. Marvel Studios attained the rights to the latter two following the Disney/Fox merger earlier in March.
On the television side of the MCU, many of the upcoming series Marvel Studios is working on will be featured on Disney+ as original content. Disney+ is an upcoming streaming service set to be launched Nov. 12 and, since Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of Disney, the service will contain content from Marvel. The first of these shows will be called “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and will be focused on Sam Wilson/Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan. Other prominent characters include former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter, played by Emily VanCamp, and Helmut Zemo, played by Daniel Brühl, who both appeared in “Captain America: Civil War.” The series will arrive on Disney+ during August of 2020, according to Deadline Hollywood.
Other television shows set to appear on Disney+ include “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “What If…?” and “Hawkeye.” “WandaVision” will star Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision. The series will also star Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau who was previously played by child actress Akira Akbar in “Captain Marvel.” Set for an early 2021 release date, the series will lead into “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as Elizabeth Olsen is set to star in both projects.
“Loki” and “Hawkeye” will star Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Renner as the titular protagonists and will debut on Disney+ in early 2021 and late 2021. “Loki” will follow the adventures of the god of mischief as he travels throughout space while “Hawkeye” will involve Clint Barton, played by Renner, passing the title of the bow-wielding superhero down to Kate Bishop. As of now, it is unclear who will play Bishop.
One of the strangest, and therefore most interesting projects, Marvel has for Disney+ is an animated series called “What If…?” The show will be “hosted” by Uatu The Watcher, voiced by Jeffery Wright, and will examine events in the MCU if they occurred differently. One example could be “What if Loki had successfully conquered Earth in 2012’s “The Avengers?” This kind of series could lead to all sorts of outcomes without derailing the MCU’s timeline as well as see actors like Robert Downey Jr. return to the role of Iron Man. The animated equivalent of comic book store debates will be released mid 2021.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Fiege also revealed that “Avengers: Endgame” had surpassed “Avatar’s” box office gross of 2.788 billion dollars to become the highest grossing film of all time over the past weekend. After nearly three months since its April 26th release, “Avengers: Endgame” broke a record that was nearly unbreakable with films like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Infinity War” reaching two billion and then tappering off. But after 22 successful films finally being cultivated into a three hour superhero epic, it makes sense that “Avengers: Endgame” takes the torch.
While Marvel’s “Infinity Saga” is over, the studio shows no sign of stopping. While all good things must end, it appears that won’t be for a long time in Marvel’s case.