Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase Four
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (December 15, 2021)
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back, and I’m here to say that Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best Spider-Man film to date. There’s no wasting time for director Jon Watts and his writing team of Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna. It picks up moments after the events of the second film Far From Home as Spider-Man’s real identity is revealed to be of the teenage Peter Parker. His life is forever changed as now all eyes are on him, his family, girlfriend MJ and best friend Ned. His senior year is already stressful enough prepping for college and the residual impacts now greatly weigh on Peter. He seeks help from Doctor Strange to reverse time so that no one remembers that he is Spider-Man. The plan goes horribly awry opening up a world of multiple universes colliding and villains from the past return causing even more chaos.
ETERNALS (November 2, 2021)
Director: Chloé Zhao
Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee
Get ready Marvel fans as Oscar winning director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) takes the MCU in a bold new direction with Eternals. The Eternals are team of immortal heroes looking down at Planet Earth from the cosmos. Their goal is to protect humanity from the Deviants, an all-powerful unstoppable collection of monsters. Their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek) informs them when it’s time to come together as they’ve spent many centuries dating back to 5000BC protecting humans. There’s a fine line as they’re told not to interfere with human conflict, including Thanos. In present day London, Gemma Chan’s Sersi and Lia McHugh’s Sprite are the first to witness the return of the Deviants. They know the Eternals must reunite if they’re going to stop the Deviants. It’s been centuries since they’ve all seen each other and they’re now living across the world leading their own private lives.
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (September 3, 2021)
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Wab Yuen, Florian Munteanu
Add Simu Liu to your list of fantastic new Marvel actors. He leads their exciting new film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In present day San Francisco, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi, who goes by Shaun in America, and best friend Katy (Awkwafina) work as valet drivers at a fancy hotel. After an action-packed bus ride, Katy learns Shaun can kick butt and save the day with his precise martial arts skills. He opens up about his family history after receiving a threat made against his sister, Xialing. It’s a part of a larger plan brought on by his father, the legendary master Wenwu and his army, the Ten Rings. Shaun’s brought back into a family history he thought he left behind for good.
BLACK WIDOW (July 9, 2021)
Director: Cate Shortland
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, Ray Winstone, William Hurt
Scarlett Johansson first introduced audiences to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow back in 2010 when she first appeared Iron Man 2. Eleven years and many Avengers movies later, we get to dive deeper into her story with Black Widow. It was back in 1995 in Ohio when Natasha and her sister Yelena were separated from their parents (David Harbour and Rachel Weisz) as Agents of SHIELD appear to be after Harbour’s character, who’s also known as infamous Red Guardian. The girls were then taken into custody and are forced to join a Russian army program for young girls. The story jumps to Natasha hiding out in Norway following the events of Captain America Civil War. It’s here where she’s reunited with her sister, now played by Florence Pugh, who has gotten her hands on a synthetic gas used for mind control. They must put their differences and rivalry aside if they want to stop the dangerous Black Widow program once and for all. In theaters July 9 and will be streaming same day on Disney+ with Premier Access
The Television Series
HAWKEYE (November 23, 2021)
Creator: Jonathan Igla
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Linda Cardellini, Tony Dalton, Florence Pugh
Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was one of the original Avengers, but he was always treated as a supporting character in many of the Marvel movies. Now he’s getting his own stand-alone story in the new series Hawkeye, which will be streaming on Disney+. It seems like Clint Barton/Hawkeye wants to hang up the bow and arrow and live a quiet life with his family following the tragic events of the Blip. He wants this to be the “Best Christmas Ever” with his kids as they plan out their Christmas traditions. We all know a hero’s job is never over as Clint gets caught up with a young archer named Kate Bishop (Steinfeld) As a kid, Kate witnessed Hawkeye save New York City from Loki and set out to be an archer like her hero. Kate finds herself wrapped up in the seedy underworld and confiscates Clint’s old Ronin suit at a black market auction. Clint sees her on the news and can’t help but get involved knowing Kate’s in way over her head.
WHAT IF…? (August 20, 2021)
Director: Bryan Andrews
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Haley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Chadwick Boseman, Michael Rooker, Josh Brolin, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper
Marvel has ventured into animation with their latest Disney+ series, What If…? The story continues to play into the idea of a multiverse that’s posed in Loki and teased in future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. There’s a celestial being known as The Watcher that poses as the series narrator. He introduces the audience to alternate realities to some of our favorite MCU movies in a “What If” style fashion. The first episode poses a question as to what would have happened if Peggy Carter become the first Avenger instead of Steve Rogers. She jumped in and received the serum instead of Steve altering their relationship and the events of that movie. The second episode imagines what would have happened if T’Challa became Star Lord instead of Peter Quill. We get a look at what took him from Wakanda to outer space.
LOKI (June 9, 2021)
Director: Kate Herron
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, Richard E. Grant.
Loki has been a Marvel fan-favorite villain since he made his appearance in Thor in 2011. Ten years later he’s starring in his own television series aptly named Loki. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and the series picks up after the events of Avengers Endgame. We saw him grabbing the Tesseract in the time shift during Endgame and he’s transported to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. There he’s taken into custody by the Time Variance Authority for screwing up the timeline we’ve grown familiar with in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While in custody, Agent Mobius, played by Owen Wilson has plans for our God of Mischief to find other Lokis or variants, as they’re referred to, who are disrupting the timeline.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER (March 18, 2021)
Director: Kari Skogland
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl, Emily VanCamp, Adepero Ouye, Wyatt Russell
Marvel wowed audience with WandaVision, their first foray into streaming television series. Up next is The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which starts its six-episode run on Disney+ March 19. We first met our titles heroes, played respectively by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan back in The Captain America movies. They’ve been a staple in the Avengers franchise since then, but we haven’t really gotten to known them on a deeper level until now. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier picks up following the events of Avengers Endgame. Both are navigating the world without Steve Rogers/Captain America. Sam is still flying all over the world as The Falcon saving the day and is recognized wherever he goes for being an Avenger. Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier, is plagued with nightmares and is a bit ambivalent during his therapy sessions. Deep down he understands he must make amends with his adversaries if he wants to move on.
WANDAVISION (January 14, 2021)
Director: Matt Shakman
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, Teyonah Parris
Marvel is going in a new direction to kick off Phase 4. Their latest project is not a massive blockbuster film, but rather WandaVision, a new 30 minute series now streaming on Disney+. Audiences were introduced to Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff in Avengers Age of Ultron while Paul Bettany first provided the voice of Vision in Iron Man. Throughout the extensive Infinity Saga, we’ve seen both characters put through the ringer. Now, we’re finding them in a new setting as characters in a sitcom. The first two episodes live within the classic black and white sitcom akin to The Dick Van Dyke Show or Bewitched. Wanda and Vision are newly married and have moved into the cheery suburban life in Westview. They still have their powers but try to keep them hidden from their nosy neighbors, including Kathryn Hahn’s hilarious Agnes. There’s no mention of the Avengers, but as the episodes progress, they start to suspect something is not quite right about their new surroundings.