It was a big weekend for Marvel, in the midst of its biggest year yet. As Avengers: Endgame overtook Avatar for the title “#1 movie of all time that isn’t called Gone With the Wind,” Marvel Cinematic Universe overlord Kevin Feige appeared at Comic-Con to deliver to rabid fans all the news they’ve been craving about what happens next.
The MCU is at a pivotal moment. Now that the sprawling Infinity Saga has been completed, several of the original Avengers have moved on to differently colored pastures, most notably Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. While there are still many more-than-viable MCU franchises going—Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently kicking box-office butt, for instance—the Universe is undoubtedly in a transitional phase. Although Feige and company typically telegraph their films years in advance, their last project with an announced title and release date has long been the new Spider-Man, leaving fans itchy to know what to expect in 2020 and beyond.
After the weekend’s enormous news dump, though, fans need not wonder anymore. Here are the five crucial takeaways from Feige’s Comic-Con appearance.
1. Sequels and reboots
Obviously, Black Panther 2 and Captain Marvel 2 are on the way—writer-director Ryan Coogler confirmed last October that he would return to make the former—so it was only a little exciting to hear Feige mention those projects in passing. Much more interesting were the surprise reboot announcements, especially Blade, which will see powerhouse actor Mahershala Ali take over the vampire-hybrid role that Wesley Snipes originated in the ’90s. Feige also hinted at forthcoming revivals of Fantastic Four and X-Men, for which Marvel has regained the rights in Disney’s acquisition of the Fox studio, although neither team is likely to appear until Phase 5.
— Variety (@Variety) July 21, 2019
Elsewhere in sequel news, Benedict Cumberbatch and director Scott Derrickson will return for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, due in theaters May 7, 2022 (Derrickson is describing it as Marvel’s first scary movie), and Chris Hemsworth and director Taika Waititi will return in the previously announced fourth Thor movie, which now has the title Thor: Love and Thunder and is set for November 5, 2021. There’s some other big news about the next Thor movie, though . . .
2. Lady Thor is coming
Writer Jason Aaron’s recent take on the Thor comics controversially featured a female Thor, and now that vision is coming to the big screen. In the past, Feige has hinted that a female Thor movie might be coming, but it was unclear whether he was serious. Almost more surprising than the inclusion of a Lady Thor is the fact that Natalie Portman is returning to the MCU to play her. Portman costarred as Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, in the first two Thor movies, but there were rumors that Portman was upset with Marvel for firing original Thor 2 director Patty Jenkins, who would’ve been Marvel’s first woman director, and replacing her with Alan Taylor. (Jenkins went on to direct Wonder Woman for DC, to much acclaim, while Thor: The Dark World is among the least loved of all Marvel movies.) Whatever problems arose in the past, however, must now be resolved, with Portman back and in an innovative spin on the series.
3. Get ready for The Eternals
As Guardians of the Galaxy proved, in the right hands, even Marvel’s weirder, lesser-known characters can become crowd-pleasing box-office smashes. Created by old-school Marvel godhead Jack Kirby back in 1976, The Eternals are ostensibly a by-product of the evolutionary process that created life on planet Earth—not quite human and not quite gods. Casual Marvels may have no idea who The Eternals are, but that’s about to change. The crew zooms into the MCU on November 6, 2020, with a killer cast who Feige welcomed onstage at Comic-Con: Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani.
4. Disney+ shows
If you’ve avoided all entertainment news over the past few years, you might not realize that pretty much every movie and TV studio is currently scrambling to introduce its own streaming network with its own original programming. One of the more highly anticipated of these networks is, of course, Disney+, which will feature MCU TV shows that Feige very much wants fans to believe will be more compelling than Netflix’s now-defunct Marvel shows and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Here’s what Feige revealed over the weekend about the Disney + lineup:
- Falcon & Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie (whose character, Sam Wilson, took over the Captain America title from Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers in Endgame) and Sebastian Stan, is due in fall 2020. Daniel Brühl’s Captain America: Civil War villain Baron Zemo appeared in a video message during the presentation to confirm his involvement.
- WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen (MCU’s Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision), is due in spring 2021.
- Loki, featuring Tom Hiddleston’s singularly disloyal trickster god, is also due in spring 2021.
- What If…?, an alternate reality animated series with Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher, is due in summer 2021.
- Hawkeye, starring Jeremy Renner, is due in fall 2021.
5. Representation matters
Aside from Lady Thor, there will be plenty more diversity introduced into the white-guy-heavy MCU in the next couple years. Chloé Zhao (The Rider) is directing The Eternals. Scarlett Johansson will star in nontree form in the next scheduled MCU film, Black Widow, which opens on May 1, 2020, and will be directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome). Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, due February 12, 2021, will feature Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero, with supporting roles from Tony Leung and Awkwafina, and will be directed by Filipino filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12). Finally, Tessa Thompson had a big announcement about her Thor character, Valkyrie, who was crowned New Asgard’s king in Avengers: Endgame. Thompson said at Comic-Con that the new king’s first order of business will be to find her queen, making Valkyrie the first official LGBTQ character in MCU history.