Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase Four
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (November 11, 2022)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Guria, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Tenoch Huerta, Michaela Coel, Richard Schiff, Dominique Thorne
Director Ryan Coogler has done it again. It may have seemed next to impossible to do a sequel to Black Panther without Chadwick Boseman, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever one of the best Marvel movies to date. Coogler opens his film in the only way possible, we find Letitia Wright’s Shuri desperately trying to save T’Challa’s life but is unsuccessful. What transcends is a private ceremony for the fallen king with a grand processional in Wakanda. One year later, Queen Ramonda (Bassett) is facing the United Nations with growing concerns over the distribution of vibranium. There is a new threat that looms when a tribe of sirens infiltrate from the water. They have winged feet, pointy ears and live in the underwater nation called Talokan. Their leader, Namor (Huerta), is not to be messed when he poses an ultimatum to the Wakandans.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (October 6, 2022)
Director: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriett Sansom Harris, Eugenie Bondurant, Leonardo Nam, Kirk R. Thatcher, Jaycob Maya, Al Hamacher
Marvel is getting into the Halloween spirit with their new special presentation Werewolf By Night. Marvel seems to be billing this as a special presentation given this is a 50 minute TV movie instead of their traditional big theatrical blockbusters or their multi-episode series on Disney+ Their latest series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is wrapping up its current season. Werewolf By Night is a little off-shoot story for Marvel. It follows a secret legion of demon hunters who gather at the estate of their leader, Ulysses Bloodstone, in the wake of his passing. One of them is Jack Russell (Bernal) who has his own secrets. It becomes a “who’s who” of hunters and a game of “show and tell” as they try to prove their worth. Ulysses’ widow, Verusa (Harris), has planned a ceremonial hunt for them to find the bloodstone relic. It’s a deadly competition full of secrets and a gnarly monster.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (July 8, 2022)
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe
Taika Waititi is a jack of trades winning an Oscar for his film Jojo Rabbit to producing multiple TV series and now he’s back with his second Thor movie for Marvel. Thor: Love and Thunder is the best Thor movie date. Chris Hemsworth is once again back as Thor, god of thunder, and movie kicks off with a little catch up with what Thor’s been up to since Avengers Endgame. He’s been working closely with the Guardians of the Galaxy and getting back into God-like shape. He receives word that Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) renounces the gods and sets out to kill every one of them after the death of his daughter. Thor arrives back in New Asgard with his buddy Korg (voiced by Waititi) to find old friend Valkryie (Thompson) and his ex, Jane Foster (Portman), battling The God Butcher’s shadow monsters. It’s a double take for Thor seeing Jane who’s now wielding his old hammer as the Mighty Thor.
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (May 6, 2022)
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Marvel has been teasing the concept of the multiverse in many of their projects recently, but they’re diving in full force with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Benedict Cumberbatch is back as Doctor Stephen Strange who first dealt with the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and now his dreams are blurring with reality after meeting a young woman named America Chavez (Gomez). She informs him and Wong (Wong) that she has the uncontrollable power to travel from one multiverse to the next. She needs their help as a demon is after her to steal her powers. Doctor Strange turns to the only person who can help, Wanda Maximoff (Olsen), aka Scarlet Witch whose powers of witchcraft rival his sorcery.
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
SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW (August 17, 2022)
Creator: Jessica Gao
Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, Benedict Wong, Jameela Jamil, Charlie Cox, Ginger Gonzaga. Josh Segarra
The Incredible Hulk was first played by Edward Norton in the MCU before Mark Ruffalo took over in the first Avengers movie. Now we’re getting more from the Hulk family in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany leads the series as Jennifer Walters who is the cousin of Bruce Banner aka The Incredible Hulk. They’re both victims of a car crash due to an alien spaceship flying over Earth, and the impact leaves Jennifer with Hulk blood and the ability to transform into a hulk herself. She has no interest in being a hulk and would rather save the day by being a lawyer. Easier said than done when her new alter-ego comes out in the courtroom causing a media frenzy. She’s later hired by a new law firm but only if she’ll work as “She-Hulk” in their super human law division. Streaming on Disney+
MS. MARVEL (June 7, 2022)
Creator: Bisha K. Ali
Starring: Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Anjali Bhimani, Rish Shah, Alysia Reiner
Imagine cosplaying as your favorite superhero only to come into superpowers of your own. That’s the spin on Marvel’s latest series, Ms. Marvel. Iman Vellani is the latest rising start in the Marvel family as she leads the series as Kamala Khan. Kamala is a high school student living in New Jersey with her Muslim American family. She’s obsessed with the Avengers, specifically Captain Marvel played by Brie Larson in the movies. Kamala is excited to attend AvengerCon as Captain Marvel but fears her parents’ strict rules about attending. She’s gifted a golden bangle from her grandmother and wears it as part of her costume, and it’s there at AvengerCon when she finds out her golden bangle comes with magical powers making her the superhero she only dreamed about becoming.
MOON KNIGHT (March 30, 2022)
Creator: Jeremy Slater
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham, Fernanda Andrade
Marvel has had a string of hit series based on beloved characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their latest series, Moon Knight, introduces audiences to a brand-new character whose played by Oscar Isaac. When we first meet Oscar Isaac’s character, Steven Grant, he’s a socially awkward guy who works at the gift shop of a museum dedicated to Egyptian history. At night, he’s forced to strap himself to his bed and tape his door shut due to his debilitating nightmares. His reality and nightmares begin to merge together, and he finds himself with special powers, hearing voices, and mixed up in the life of a mercenary named Marc Spector who has a connection to Egyptian gods.
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.