Disney announces release dates for upcoming MCU Phase 4 movies and Disney+ shows

Marvel StudiosOkay, deep breath. Thanos is snapped away along with his minions, and Ironman (luv u 3000) is hanging out with his daughter in the Soul Stone.

That’s the past. It’s time to create new stories, heroes, villains and get the MCU Phase 4 underway.

Here’s the movie/TV lineup Disney has announced:

2020

black-widow-may-2020May 1st, 2020 – Black Widow

What we know so far: the story takes place between the events of Civil War and Infinity War.

Stars: of course, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, and also introducing Florence Pugh (Angela in Malevolent, Saraya Knight in Fighting with My Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, Dexter Tolliver in Suicide Squad) as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff…and oh yeah, this guy named Robert Downey Jr. may have a cameo as Tony Stark.

eternalsNovember 6, 2020 – The Eternals

What we know so far: It introduces the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

Stars: Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden (Robb Stark in GOT) as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Gemma Chan (Astrid Young Teo in Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Kit Harington (Jon Snow in GOT) as Dane Whitman, Kumail Nanjiani (Stu inStuber, in Silicon Valley) as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff (Connie in The Walking Dead) as Makkari, Barry Keoghan (George in Dunkirk) as Druig, Brian Tyree Henry (Jefferson Davis in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) as  Phastos, Lia McHugh (Jessica Nolan in American Woman) as Sprite, and Dong-seok Ma (Sang-hwa in Train to Busan) as Gilgamesh.

falcon-and-winter-soldier-show-disney-plusNovember 12, 2020: The Falcon and Winter Soldier on Disney+

What we know: Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) will direct all six episodes of the series.

Stars: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will officially reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Daniel Bruhl and Emily VanCamp will both be joining the cast — reprising the roles they played in Captain America: Civil War.

2021

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsFebruary 12, 2021 – Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

What we know: an introduction of the Marvel Comics character Shang-Chi the Kung-Fu Master. In the comics Shang Chi’s main power was really just a skill: the ability to rapidly master forms of combat. Although in later years, he did gain the power to replicate himself, which could come in handy. It’s unknown if the MCU will duplicate that power from the comics.

Stars: Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as The Mandarin.

wandavisionSpring 2021: WandaVision on Disney+

What we know: There will be six episodes that follow after the events of Avengers: Endgame. It’s unknown how they will explain Vision’s return after he was killed/unstoned by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. We do know that the events of WandaVision will cross over into the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which premiers around the same time.

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles of Maximoff and Vision. They will be joined by Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies and Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man. In addition Kathryn Hahn (Afternoon Design, Bad Moms) will also be joining as a “nosey neighbor.” Teyonah Parris is cast to play the role of Monica Rambeau — the young girl introduced in Captain Marvel.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessMay 7, 2021 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

What we know: the plot is unknown but it will involve a crossover with the Disney+ show WandaVision.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer (Strange’s girlfriend from the first Dr. Strange movie), Benedict Wong as Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, and a To-be-confirmed actor as Nightmare.

Who is Nightmare, you ask? In Marvel Comics, Nightmare is a Class 3 demon —equal to Dormammu, Shuma Gorath, and Cthulhu — who rules the Nightmare World, located within the Dream Dimension. Nightmare feeds off humanity’s collective psychic dream energy, and terrorizes humans and superheroes alike.

Loki on Disney+Spring 2021: Loki on Disney+

What we know so far: Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki, even though Thanos killed him in the first scene of Avengers: Endgame. But remember, later in the movie the Avengers go on their time travel adventures —  and Loki ends up holding the Tesseract and disappearing with it.

Hiddleston said: In the years since Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which came out this Spring… Two questions I’ve been asked are ‘is Loki really dead?’ and ‘what’s Loki doing with that cube?’ It’s always the cube somehow. And this series will answer both of those questions.

Spider-Man-3July 16, 2021 – Spider-Man 3

What we know: not much. The good news is that Spider-Man is returning to the MCU at all. The bad news is this is likely his last solo movie in the MCU. The plot is unknown, but will likely pick up on the ending of Far From Home, where Spider-Man was revealed to the public to be Peter Parker. And since Sony and Disney aren’t playing very well with each other, this movie might reveal why Spider-Man won’t be continuing as an Avenger. Unless Disney buys Sony and makes this whole mess go away.

MCU What IfSummer 2021: WHAT IF…?

What we know: this is the first animated adventure in the MCU. The first season will have 23 episodes that explore what would have happened in previous MCU stories had things gone differently.

Stars: Jeffrey Wright (West World as Bernard, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Beetee ) stars as the Watcher, who narrates the series.

Thor Love and ThunderNovember 5, 2021 – Thor: Love and Thunder

What we know: Director Taika Waititi, who did Thor: Ragnarok, is back. So is Natalie Portman as Jane, only this time she’s going to level up and gain the powers of Thor herself. (50/50 odds that she cries at some point.)

Stars: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tessa Thompson as Brunnhilde/Valkyrie, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor, Taika Waititi (the director) as Korg.

hawkeyeFall 2021: Hawkeye on Disney+

What we know: The show will act as a passing of the baton as Clint Barton ( Jeremy Renner) passes the title of “Hawkeye” to a new character: Kate Bishop. Kate is rumored to be played by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Enders Game, Bumble Bee), but that is not yet confirmed.

Note: Disney+ series for Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight are also in the works, and will debut after Hawkeye.

2022

October 7 – untitled movie

I’m going out on a limb to speculate that there will be more than one MCU movie released in 2022.

2023

February 17 – untitled movie
May 5 – untitled movie
July 28 – untitled movie
November 3 – untitled movie

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

Natalia Alianovna Romanoff – AKA Black Widow – Original Avenger (spoilers)

Warning: Endgame spoilers begin right away. See the movie first! Black Widow

Natlianovna Romanoff, better known in the U.S. as Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow, Avenger, Agent of SHIELD, and former KGB Assassin. These are the only known occupations of this founding member of the Avengers.

Romanoff’s Early Life

Born in 1984s Soviet Russia, Natasha’s early life remains a relative mystery. It is known she was recruited into the KGBs Red Room Academy, where she received training in spycraft, including combat with and without weapons.

According to leaked SHIELD/HYDRA documents, leaked by Agent Romanoff herself during the fall of SHIELD and the destruction of the Triskelion, the late Director of SHIELD (Nicholas J. Fury) took notice of the master assassin in the mid-late 1990s. At this point, Agent Clint Barton was dispatched to locate and terminate Natasha, code-named Black Widow. Agent Barton persuaded Director Fury to recruit and facilitate her defection from the Soviet Union.

Code Name Black Widow as an Avenger

Black Widow’s activities pre-defection paint her as a clear enemy of the U.S., but her loyalty post-defection clouds the initial analysis. Her membership among the Avengers — indeed —  her presence as a Founder of the group of heroes, solidify her status as an ally for most.

Romanoff was instrumental in the destruction of SHIELD and exposure of HYDRA. She was a part of the Avenger’s failed counter-operation to stop Ultron’s destruction of Sokovia, and as a result, an initial signer of the Sokovia Accords,  regulating the activities of so called “enhanced” individuals, primarily the Avengers themselves.

While obeying the new Accords and helping track down and stop the illegal activities of Steve Rogers/Captain America, Romanoff broke rank and betrayed the task force, ultimately becoming a fugitive, disappearing from intelligence agency sight.

While on the run, the Black Widow continued vigilante operations with Captain America, resurfacing in Wakanda during the first battle with the alien Thanos. For the next five years after The Decimation, Romanoff became the leader of what remained of the Avengers, no longer counted as a fugitive.

Black Widow Post Snap – AKA The Decimation

Finally, according to sources close to the Avengers, during the successful mission to return The Decimated, Natasha Romanoff sacrificed herself on an alien planet, in a time before our own, in order to obtain a necessary piece of equipment to reverse the decimation.

The Black Widow was not able to fight in the Battle of the Returned at the destroyed Avengers facility. Romanoff is survived only by her team of heroes.

A memorial service is to be scheduled in the days following the private funeral of her fellow Avenger Tony Stark.

RIP Natalia Alianovna Romanoff, 1984-April 26, 2023/2014.

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Mark Ruffalo Sneaks in a Hulk Movie

We’ve had two prior Hulk movies no one was happy with, and then Avengers rolled around. [pullquote position=”right”]Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was the one we’ve been waiting for, gifting us with a charming, quietly surprising underdog in his version of Bruce Banner.[/pullquote] His friendship with Tony Stark enchanted, matching Robert Downy Jr.’s alpha male character unassumingly, while Banner’s tender, unexpected, and  tentative relationship with Black Widow was satisfyingly organic (if completely up in the air at this point).

Suffice to say Ruffalo could sell the big green goods in a way no one since the 1970s could, when the combo of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno touched us via small screen.

All well and fine. So, will we finally we get a proper Hulk stand-alone movie? Apparently there are rights issues. Spiderman had rights issues, and it worked out eventually with Marvel’s Civil War and Homecoming. But at this point in the MCU (Phase Whatever), I’m not sure a Hulk standalone would fit. He’s shown up in an outstanding co-starring role for Thor: Ragnarok, and Hulk’s story will continue through Avengers 3 and 4 (the Infinity Wars).

According to this quick interview below, Hulk gets a “mini-movie” snuck in, spread out over the course of other Marvel ensembles. I guess we’ll have to be content with that. If Ruffalo is fine with it, we can be too.

So…for Thor 3 – Ragnarok…Rotten Tomatoes has it rated among the highest-rated Marvel films yet. Our two RunPee Ragnarok reviews (here and here) rate it in the A to A+ range, and we agree it’s a magnificent addition to the MCU. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s Ragnarok is hysterically weird and beautiful, with a great plot and stylish characterization.[/pullquote] It’s also got a direct lead-in to Thanos’ big entrance. A must-see before Avengers – Infinity Wars!

Where the Hulk will continue his “mini-movie” is anyone’s guess, now that we know Bruce and the Green Guy are at dire odds in their uneasy connection.  We’ll probably see Bruce Hulk out again…but at what cost?

How would you continue — or possibly end — this story? And will a Black Widow romance be a part of it? We find out part of these answers during the first part of Avengers: Infinity Wars. Soon, friends, soon.

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