MCU’s Phase 4 is tackling the unknown

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2/Netflix

Here’s everything we know so far.

For the past decade, the first, second, and third phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe set us up for a fully encompassed ride through Marvel’s expansive and explosive worlds. But MCU Phase 4 is tackling something even greater: the unknown.

Part of that is by design. In the past, Marvel would have multiple films with upcoming release dates or in various stages of production. In interviews, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige would tease upcoming projects alongside the movie he was promoting. But so far, Marvel’s been pretty mum on life after Spider-Man: Far From Home; initially, confirming what sequels were in the works could’ve spoiled the end of Avengers: Endgame.

mcu phase 4 - Thanos Infinity War Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

However, we do know a few things about Phase 4. We know where it starts: after Spider-Man: Far From Home, the film that concluded Phase 3. Feige has said that eight separate films are in production after Avengers: Endgame and that even with several MCU characters already involved, the next phase of Marvel movies might not be called “Phase 4.”

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Apart from a few films in production, the rest is left up to speculation and analyzation of previous comments with the potential for Marvel to reveal a few more tricks up its sleeve.

MCU Phase 4 confirmed films

1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

mcu phase 4 - ayesha Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Disney rehired director James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 eight months after firing him for old tweets resurfaced by the alt-right; production on the film had been halted since August 2018, although Disney had planned to use Gunn’s script. With Gunn working on Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros., it’s unclear when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be released.

Before Gunn’s exit and return to the film, we knew very little about what the third Guardians of the Galaxy film would entail. Adam Warlock, the android created by Ayesha to destroy the Guardians of the Galaxy who was teased in one of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post-credits scenes, is believed to make an appearance.

“[Adam Warlock]’s not in Infinity War,” Feige told /Film in April 2017. “But he will be a part of the future Marvel cosmic universe and a pretty important part of that.”

Feige added, “If he appears anywhere in the future, it’ll be in Guardians.”

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MCU Phase 4: Movies in the works

mcu phase 4 - Loki gives an Infinity Stone to Thanos Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Marvel Studios has yet to announce how many years Phase 4 will span or confirmed any of the films in it beyond Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which currently has no release date. With several open slots after Far From Home—Marvel is planning to release three films in theaters a year up until 2022—Marvel has plenty of movies to schedule.

It’s unclear which of these films in the works or simply floated around as potential movies will actually be part of Phase 4. For now, we’re including them all below.

1) A Black Widow movie

mcu phase 4 black widow Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

MCU fans have been asking Marvel Studios for a Black Widow movie for years, but it wasn’t until January 2018 that it felt like anything more than a fever dream. (The first MCU film with a solo female lead, Captain Marvel, debuted in March 2019.)

Scarlett Johansson, who’s played Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow since 2010, is likely on-board. Marvel hired Cate Shortland (Lore) to direct after meeting with more than 65 directors and made an effort to find a female director for the job. Jac Schaeffer is writing the screenplay. Florence Pugh (MidsommarLittle Women), David Harbour (Stranger Things), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Ray Winstone (The Departed) are co-starring, and the movie appears to be in production despite having yet to be confirmed by Marvel.

Given Black Widow’s death in Endgame, her film is almost certainly a prequel, although it’s unclear if it’s strictly an origin story or might take place during an interlude in the MCU.

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2) A Doctor Strange sequel

mcu phase 4 doctor strange Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Feige told Cinemablend in June 2018 that we will get a sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, but he didn’t elaborate on when that would happen. The reason for a delay is, in part, due to scheduling, although fans have seen him make appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. (We presume he’ll also show up in Avengers: Endgame at some point, presumably if Thanos’ snap is undone.)

“Sometimes it’s where do those characters pop up? [Doctor] Strange, you know, whenever we do another Strange one, which we will do, it will be a number of years from the first Strange, and yet he’s a very big part of Avengers: Infinity War,” Feige explained. “So it is just a good problem to have when you have too many beloved characters that people want to see more of, whilst keeping to our core belief that we need to keep exploring nuance and keep doing different types of things.”

Doctor Strange co-writer and director Scott Derrickson is returning to direct the sequel, which does not yet have a script or a release date attached to it. Benedict Cumberbatch will probably reprise his role as Dr. Stephen Strange in MCU Phase 4. A now-deleted social media post from Derrickson is fueling rumors that Namor may show up in the Doctor Strange sequel.

3) A Black Panther sequel

mcu phase 4 black panther Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has signed a deal with Marvel to write and direct the Black Panther sequel, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Feige had previously told Collider that he wanted Coogler to return but it was a matter of working out the details.

Coogler will reportedly write the script next year with production possibly starting in late 2019 or early 2020, although nothing is set in stone. Marvel has yet to confirm a Black Panther sequel is happening, but it has stayed mum on the status of most of its planned films after Avengers: Endgame.

A Black Panther sequel would presumably see Chadwick Boseman return as T’Challa/Black Panther, but confirming the sequel right now would spoil Black Panther’s fate in Avengers: Endgame. (Let’s be real though: Black Panther is totally coming back from being turned into dust.)

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4) The Eternals

mcu phase 4 Infinity War jungle battle Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

Marvel has yet to confirm an Eternals movie, but according to trade reports, Marvel is in full casting mode. Angelina Jolie is set to play Sersi (although her deal isn’t set in stone), Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden will portray Ikaris, and Kumail Nanjiani and Train to Busan‘s Ma Dong-seok have been cast in undisclosed roles. Salma Hayek is in early talks to join the cast.

Created by Jack Kirby, the Eternals taps into the cosmic part of Marvel lore and includes a group of biologically advanced people who’ve been around for millions of years who were created by gods called the Celestials.

According to a May 2018 report from the Hollywood Reporter, Marvel has hired Matthew and Ryan Firpo—whose script for Ruin led the 2017 Black List—to write the script for an Eternals movie. Feige has discussed the possibility of Marvel taking on that property at some point in recent interviews.

“It’s a very … you know, [Eternals is] an ancient aliens kind of sci-fi trope that we think would be fun to explore someday,” Feige told Screen Rant in June 2018.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Chloe Zhao (The RiderSongs My Brother Taught Me) has been tapped to direct The Eternals after she was among the directors Marvel considered to direct the Black Widow movie.

While promoting Captain Marvel, Feige also spoke about introducing new ensembles like the Eternals to the MCU. He compared them in function (but not tone) to Guardians of the Galaxy while pointed out that their comics run—which covers tens of thousands of years—offered something new.

Eternals are one group [that the MCU could introduce], but we like the idea of introducing an ensemble, doing an ensemble movie from the start, as opposed to building up as we did with the first Avengers,” Feige told Collider. “More like Guardians, not tonally, but in terms of introducing a new group of people. You were asking about ’60s, and ’70s before. Jack Kirby did an immense, amazing epic with Eternals that spans tens of thousands of years, and that’s also something we haven’t really done, which is why that among many other things post-Avengers: Endgame, we find appealing.”

Feige also recently confirmed that in the MCU, an LGBT superhero is “percolating.” And although Feige didn’t give any indication as to who it might be or what film they would appear in, there are rumors that Marvel is looking for an openly gay actor to play a lead character in an Eternals film.

5) A Shang-Chi movie

mcu phase 4 shang-chi Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu Omnibus Vol. 1/Marvel

Marvel is developing a movie around Shang-ChiDeadline is reporting, making it Marvel’s first superhero movie centered around an Asian protagonist. Shang-Chi is a master martial artist, and he finds himself at odds with the shadier business dealings of his crimelord father. At one point, he joined the Avengers.

David Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984) is writing the script while Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) will direct. No cast has been announced, but the film will reportedly have a large Asian and Asian-American cast.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Michelle Jaworski

Michelle Jaworski

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.