The Infinity Saga has been and gone, so it's time for the next phase of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). It won't be a total clean slate of course, but along with returning favourites we'll also get a host of new characters and groups, now expanding onto the smaller screen thanks to the new Disney+ shows.
The Marvel films and shows that are being released between 2021 and 2023 will make up Phase 4 of the MCU. We don't know exactly where Phase 4 will end and Phase 5 will begin, so for the time being we're counting everything officially confirmed by Disney so far, with unconfirmed plans like the X-Men as Phase 5.
As so much has been announced, it can be hard to keep track of what exactly is on the way. This is especially true with all the delays due to the pandemic, which has had a massive effect on TV and film production and release dates.
Fortunately, we’ve done all the research for you and collated all the titles, information and release dates, and arranged them in chronological order so you can plan out your cinema trips and TV binges for the next few years - though we have a separate guide to watching all the Marvel movies and TV so far in order too. Phase 4, assemble!
Spoiler warning for previous Marvel films & TV shows, including Avengers: Endgame.
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany
It may initially seem confusing to have a series that focuses around Wanda Maximoff and Vision, as the latter met his demise in Avengers: Infinity War. The premise of this show is that the pair are trying to live a suburban fifties lifestyle, but something much more sinister is bubbling beneath the surface.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell
Following the resolution of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes team up to take on new foes together. Sam is trying to deal with the responsibility of being given the shield from Steve Rogers, whilst Bucky is trying to make amends for his past mistakes. Their fight against a dangerous group of violent enhanced fighters leads them to Civil War villain, Baron Zemo.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson
Loki has become one of the most beloved characters of the MCU, swinging back-and-forth between being a hero and a villain throughout the Thor and Avengers films. In his debut series, we see more from the God of Mischief in a new timeline that was opened up in Avengers: Endgame.
Unusually for Marvel's Disney+ series so far, this is getting a second season - find out more in our Loki series news roundup.
Out now in cinemas and on Disney+ Premiere Access
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh
Finally, Natasha Romanoff has a standalone film. In the MCU timeline, this film is set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, following Black Widow as she is on the run for not obeying the Sokovia Accords and assisting Steve Rogers. The movie features the character Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (played by David Harbour), who has a history with Romanoff, and Yelena, who is played by the brilliant Florence Pugh.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Black Widow is available in both cinemas and via Disney Plus Premiere Access. You can read more about the Black Widow release here.
Disney+ series release date: 11 August 2021
Starring: Hayley Atwell, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Rooker
The first animated title in the Phase 4 line-up, this anthology series will explore alternative universes for each of the MCU films. For example, the debut episode will tell the story of what would happen if Peggy Carter got the Super Soldier serum as opposed to Steve Rogers in Captain America, while another sees T'Challa (aka Black Panther) become Star-Lord.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Cinema release date: 3 September 2021
Starring: Simu Liu, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Awkwafina
Simu Liu shot for the stars and asked Marvel openly on Twitter to include Asian American hero Shang-Chi in the MCU, and ended up bagging the role for himself. Shang-Chi is known as ‘The Master of Kung-Fu’, and will be going head-to-head with the REAL Mandarin (not Ben Kingsley’s version as seen in Iron Man 3) and the terrorist group the Ten Rings.
Cinema release date: 5 November 2021
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington
A new area of the Marvel Comics will be explored with Eternals. This film will follow a race of immortal aliens created by the Celestials, who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following Avengers: Endgame, a tragic turn of events brings them out of hiding to fight against an ancient enemy called the Deviants.
Disney+ series release date: 24 November 2021
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld
Jeremy Renner may not be getting his own standalone film, but he will get a full Disney Plus series. Clint Barton will be joined by Marvel Comics character Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who will be the protégé of the current Hawkeye, and eventually take on the name of the sharpshooting Avenger. Find out more in our roundup of the Hawkeye series.
Disney+ series release date: Late 2021
Starring: Iman Vellani
Kamala Kahn (AKA Ms. Marvel) is a relatively recent addition to the Marvel Comics, and also the first Pakistani American, Muslim superhero. In the comics she lives in New Jersey, idolises Captain Marvel and can alter her appearance at will. We imagine that this series will explore her origin story, before she also pops up alongside Brie Larson in Captain Marvel 2.
You can read more about Ms. Marvel here.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Cinema release date: 17 December 2021
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon
Although it was touch-and-go for a while, we will be getting Spider-Man 3 as part of the MCU. The end of Far From Home featured the shocking return of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), who revealed Peter Parker's identity to the rest of New York on a Buzzfeed-esque news show. The consequences that this has for Peter are enormous, especially for his family and friends, so doubt that the big bad of the film will exploit this.
It's now been confirmed that numerous actors from previous Spider-Man films will return - hinting towards a multiverse plotline. This includes Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx as Electro. Collider has also reported that Kirsten Dunst will return as MJ, Emma Stone may possibly star as Gwen Stacey and previous Peter Parker actor, Andrew Garfield, will make an appearance. Allegedly Tobey Maguire is also in talks to reprise his role.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Cinema release date: 25 March 2022
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen
The sequel to the 2016 film Doctor Strange will surprisingly fit under the horror genre. Dr. Stephen Strange will continue to investigate the workings of the Time Stone after the events of Endgame - but his plans will be thrown into disarray when a friend-turned-foe ends up triggering events that will unleash a new evil upon Earth. People suspect that the new enemy will be Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), who will plan to destroy all the world's sorcerers, as hinted at in the original film's post-credits scene. We’ll also see this title tie in to WandaVision, with Wanda Maximoff playing a pivotal role in the film.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Cinema release date: 6 May 2022
Starring: Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson
After Taika Waititi revamped the Thor films with Ragnarok and gave a new comedy angle to the Norse branch of the MCU, Thor will be the first Marvel character to get a fourth film in this franchise. However, there’s a big twist, as Jane Foster will be returning, taking on the role of another Thor - Mighty Thor. We’ll also see the return of the original Thor, and the new King of Asgard, Valkyrie.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Cinema release date: 8 July 2022
Despite the tragic death of lead Chadwick Boseman, Marvel is moving ahead with a new Black Panther film - though has confirmed that it won't be recasting his character, T'Challa. Instead the sequel will explore the rest of its Wakandan cast, and no doubt see someone else step into the now-iconic armour.
Cinema release date: 11 November 2022
Starring: Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris
Captain Marvel's second outing will be directed by Nia DaCosta - the creator behind the 2021 Candyman reboot. Brie Larson will of course be back in the lead role, but she'll be joined by the new Ms. Marvel, Iman Vellani, and Teyonah Parris's Monica Rambeau following on from her appearance in WandaVision. In addition, Zawe Ashton has been cast as the villain - though we don't know who.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Disney+ release date: Holiday 2022
James Gunn is back to write and direct this seasonal special starring the Guardians. We don't know which members of the cast will appear, but we do know that it will count as canon and tee up Guardians 3, making it essential watching for MCU fans.
Disney+ series release date: 2022
Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, Jameela Jamil
Bruce Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters will star as She-Hulk. In the comics, Walters is an attorney for her full-time profession, but struggles to balance her uncontrollable gamma-radiation powers that she’s inherited from her cousin. Excitingly, Mark Ruffalo will also appear in the series, as will Tim Roth - reprising his role as Abomination from that Edward Norton Hulk movie way back when.
You can read more about She-Hulk here.
Disney+ series release date: 2022
Starring: Oscar Isaac
Moon Knight will tell the story of Marc Spector, a billionaire superhero who lives quite a grittier life than the likes of Tony Stark. Details about the shows are scarce, but in the comics Moon Knight appears under the light of the full moon (go figure) to fight his enemies in the criminal underworld. He's been both good and evil, and has been possessed by an ancient Egyptian god, who grants him superpowers.
You can read more about Moon Knight here.
Disney+ release date: 2022
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn
Nick Fury is back, and joined by Ben Mendelsohn's Skrull Talos from Captain Marvel, in a new Disney+ series that will explore one of the comics' iconic arcs: the Skrull secret invasion of Earth, when shapeshifters surreptitiously replaced countless political figures (and superheroes!) across the planet in a bid to take it over.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Cinema release date: 17 February 2023
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton, Jonathan Majors
Peyton Reed is once again directing the third Ant-Man movie, which is apparently going to lean hard into that dumb joke about putting 'quantum' in front of everything. Perhaps most excitingly, Jonathan Majors is confirmed to appear as Kang the Conqueror - a big bad we're now expecting to be the Thanos of Phase 4 and beyond.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Cinema release date: 5 May 2023
James Gunn is back in the Marvel fold for his third Guardians movie, long-delayed thanks to Disney firing and then re-hiring him. Vol. 3 will follow on directly from the Guardians Holiday Special, and could well be the final outing for the gang.
Disney+ release date: TBC
Starring: Dominique Thorne
Another recent comics addition, Ironheart follows Riri Williams, a genius young inventor who creates a suit of armour that puts Tony Stark's to shame. No word yet on whether anyone from the Iron Man movies will make an appearance, but we'd be surprised not to see Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan turn up somewhere.
Disney+ release date: TBC
Starring: Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle returns as War Machine in this adaptation of a popular comic arc that delves into the late Tony Stark's biggest fear: what happens when his armour falls into the wrong hands? Expect lots of big clank Iron Man suits fighting each other. We're sold, even if we'll have to get used to the American 'armor' spelling.
I Am Groot
Disney+ release date: TBC
Clearly Baby Yoda was enough of a hit that Baby Groot is getting his own turn in the limelight. This series of animated shorts will see the little tree meet "several new and unusual characters," but that's all we know so far. No word on whether Vin Diesel is back to voice the little guy, but surely they wouldn't do Groot without him?
Cinema release date: TBC
Starring: Mahershala Ali
It's been years since Wesley Snipes put down the katana, and now Mahershala Ali is back for his second Marvel role (he was in Luke Cage on Netflix, remember?) to play the Daywalker. The half-vampire vampire hunter is coming to the big screen, but we don't yet know when, or who else will join him.
Cinema release date: TBC
Marvel's first family is getting its third outing on the big screen, but hopefully this time they'll get it right. Most excitingly, Jon Watts - director of the recent MCU Spidey films - is behind the camera for this one, which gives us hope that Marvel might finally nail it.
If we look even further ahead in the MCU, there are other films and shows on the way that we expect are more likely to be part of Phase 5.
For starters, Disney has pencilled in a couple of dates for untitled Marvel films in 2023:
- 28 July 2023
- 3 November 2023
Of course, all the delays in phase four will likely shift these dates around.
Ryan Reynolds is working with Marvel studios on Deadpool 3 according to Collider, now that Disney has control of Fox. Allegedly the film will still be rated R, despite being under the Disney label. It's not being filmed this year, but the script is underway.
The Fox partnership means that X-Men movies will probably be in the works.
After a worrying bout of negotiations between Disney and Sony over the MCU Spider-Man films, the two studios have reached a compromise. As well as seeing Spider-Man 3 be a part of the MCU as originally planned, Tom Holland's Peter Parker will also appear in at least one more MCU film.
Whether Spidey will continue in the MCU beyond this is anyone's guess. Sony is continuing to build up their own spider-universe in the meantime with Venom and other titles, so these films may wrap up any loose ends. Or we could see negotiations on a film-by-film basis. Either way, we'll be keeping a close eye on future developments.
Allegedly there is a fourth instalment in the Captain America series, penned by Malcolm Spellman, creator of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. However, this hasn't been confirmed by Marvel. If this is true, it will likely star Anthony Mackie (playing Sam Wilson) in the titular role.
Ryan Coogler - the director of Black Panther - will also be directing a new series for Disney+ all about Wakanda (via io9). The series is part of a five-year television deal that the writer-director has signed with Disney.
Nothing is yet known specifically about the plot. We may encounter brand new characters, or delve back into the past and meet a young T'Challa.