Captain America may have retired and gotten old, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s other Captain is just getting started. Disney announced today that a sequel to Captain Marvel is officially underway. Brie Larson will play Carol Danvers once again, although original directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will not be returning for the sequel, so Marvel is currently searching for a female director to take the reigns.
It’s not a surprise that Marvel is making a Captain Marvel sequel. The first movie made $1.13 billion, and the heroine has proved very popular. She’s an important part of the MCU’s future, both within fiction (as she’s the most powerful hero around) and in the real world, because she’s going to be one of the pivotal tent poles supporting the franchise now that Iron Man and Captain America are gone.
Even though it’s no mystery why Disney would make a Captain Marvel sequel, the future of the MCU is still quite mysterious at the moment. Avengers: Endgame marked the end of a decade-long saga, and the upcoming Phase Four will be the start of something quite new. Sure, some established heroes like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy are coming back, but not right away. First, Marvel’s going to take some creative risks, and we’ll soon see exactly what that means for the future of its ever-expanding universe. Here’s a breakdown of what’s next in the MCU (both in theaters and on Disney+) and what it means. Please note that movies and TV shows, even in a franchise like the MCU, should be able to be enjoyed on their own merits rather than just as pieces of a puzzle. That said, it’s hard not to speculate how these titles might connect, given the success of the Infinity Saga.
Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
The first upcoming MCU movie doesn’t actually move the MCU forward—it takes it back in time instead. Black Widow’s long-awaited solo movie appears to be a prequel to Endgame (considering she, spoilers obviously, died in that movie), so while Black Widow will likely reveal new secrets about Natasha Romanoff’s past, it probably won’t introduce the franchise’s next Thanos, or whatever overarching plot might be next.
Eternals (November 6, 2020)
Eternals is where things get important—and weird. This is probably the MCU’s biggest risk, as the Eternals are a fairly obscure (but influential) group of comic characters that are essentially the Marvel Universe’s Gods, for lack of a better term. The movie, which stars Angelina Jolie, newly ripped Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, and more, will likely be cosmic in scale, and will introduce viewers to a whole new side of the MCU. Exactly what that entails is a mystery for now, but it will almost assuredly have long-lasting ramifications for future plots.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Late 2020, Disney+)
Two Marvel series are hitting Disney+ this year, though it’s unclear which will premiere first. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which brings back Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan to reprise their film roles, will likely explore the post-Endgame careers of two established Avengers—one of whom now wields Captain America’s shield. Daniel Brühl, who played Helmut Zemo in Civil War, will also appear in the series, suggesting that the duo will battle with him again. Beyond that, the plot’s a mystery.
WandaVision (2020, Disney+)
Marvel is hyping WandaVision up to be very important to the larger plot of the MCU, and the events of the series will directly tie into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If Disney+’s promise that the TV shows are going to be essential viewing for the films is to be believed, this is the first real test. WandaVision’s exact plot is still an intriguing mystery, but it seems we'll see Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s characters living in some eerie ‘50s style paradise, which is unsettling because Vision is currently dead in the main continuity. Supposedly, the series will explain how Wanda gets her Scarlet Witch moniker, and Teyonah Parris joins the cast playing an adult version of Captain Marvel's Monica Rambeau, who in the comics is also the superhero Spectrum.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
Simu Liu will play Shang-Chi, a martial arts-based superhero and, notably, Marvel’s first Asian-lead. Interestingly, the titular “Ten Rings” belong to The Mandarin, who was revealed to be a hoax when he was portrayed by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3. Tony Leung will play the real deal in Shang-Chi.
Loki (Early 2021, Disney+)
Tom Hiddleston returns to play the alternate timeline version of Loki who escaped with the Space Stone during Avengers: Endgame’s return to the Battle of New York. Since the series presumably takes place outside the main MCU continuity, you’d think this probably wouldn’t have many ramifications for the “main” plot, but Loki is reported to tie into the next, multiverse-hopping movie in the MCU...
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
With two Disney+ series reportedly leading up to the Doctor Strange sequel, it seems likely that this will be an important movie for the structure of the MCU. Benedict Cumberbatch and his good-not-great American accent will return, and a purported plot synopsis indicates that Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo will unleash catastrophe as he attempts to get rid of sorcerers. Elizabeth Olsen will also appear in the film. Director Scott Derrickson left the project earlier this year.
Untitled Third Spider-Man Film (July 16, 2021)
Because Sony and Marvel made up, there will be a third Spider-Man film starring Tom Holland in the MCU. Presumably, they’ll find some way to work “home” into the title of this one, and it will likely explore Peter Parker’s life after Mysterio outed his secret identity. The plot is currently unknown, and it’s also unclear if any of Sony’s standalone movies, like Venom or Morbius, will matter. Licensing rights are so exhausting.
What If…? (Mid 2021, Disney+)
This animated series will, like the comic it’s named after, explore tantalizing alternate Marvel histories. For instance, what if Peggy Carter took the super-serum instead of Steve Rogers? What if T’Challa became Star-Lord? And what if zombies invaded the MCU? Should be fun and, by design, not essential to driving the larger plot of the franchise forward.
Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)
Taika Waititi comes back to recapture some of that Ragnarok magic, this time joined by a returning Natalie Portman, whose Jane Foster will become the new Thor. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson also return, with Thompson’s Valkyrie confirmed to be the franchise’s first major LGBTQ character. This movie should be lots of fun, but it’s too far in the distance to make any real guesses about how it slots into any larger vision for the MCU. Whether or not the Guardians of the Galaxy, who Thor was last seen flying off with in Endgame, will appear in Love and Thunder is unclear.
Hawkeye (Late 2021, Disney+)
Everyone’s favorite archer is getting a Disney+ series. Jeremy Renner will return as Clint Barton, and he’ll be training a new character, fan-favorite comics character Kate Bishop, to take over the Hawkeye mantle.
Untitled Black Panther Sequel (May 6, 2022)
We’re now getting into what should be Phase Five, so making real predictions about what the MCU is going to look like would be like building the third floor of a house without having seen blueprints for the second story. Many of the established top-tier heroes are coming back for sequels, though, including Black Panther. Ryan Coogler will return to direct T’Challa’s next adventure.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 (TBA)
The third Guardians of the Galaxy was delayed when Disney fired (and later rehired) James Gunn as a result of a targeted campaign from members of the alt-right. It was a whole exhausting thing, but vol. 3 is happening once Gunn finishes making The Suicide Squad for Marvel’s rival, DC. The plot is unknown, but there are many dangling threads that the movie could explore, like the alternate timeline version of Gamora, Adam Warlock, or Thor’s pseudo-membership in the Guardians. Filming is expected to begin this year.
Untitled Ant-Man and the Wasp Sequel (TBA)
Peyton Reed is confirmed to return to direct a third Ant-Man movie, possibly for a 2022 release. There aren’t many more details, but it’s certainly possible that Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie, who is older now as a result of Endgame’s time jump, could take on her comic book superhero identity of Stature/Stinger. No confirmation about that yet, though.
Untitled Captain Marvel Sequel (TBA)
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many details about the Captain Marvel sequel, though it’s said to be set in the present day, rather than the original’s ‘90s timeframe.
Mrs. Marvel (TBA, Disney+)
At 2019’s D23 Expo, news broke that Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim heroine and arguably the most popular new character of the past decade, will come to Disney+ for a Mrs. Marvel series. It would make sense that this series could tie into the Captain Marvel movie, given that Kamala was inspired by Carol Danvers in the comic, but that’s not confirmed.
Moon Knight (TBA, Disney+)
The 2019 D23 Expo also saw news about a Moon Knight series, which will follow the adventures of a somewhat mystical hero who also has multiple personalities.
She-Hulk (TBA, Disney+)
Finally, a She-Hulk series was also announced at that same D23 Expo, though there are not many additional details. The series will presumably follow the legal exploits of Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin who gains Hulk-like powers following an emergency blood infusion.
Untitled Blade Film (TBA)
These next movies are all way out there, so there are essentially no details about them beyond word that Marvel is pursuing them. During last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Marvel announced that Mahershala Ali will play the vampire hunter Blade in a future movie, although there were no details about when that movie might come out. It’s not part of Phase Four—that’s all we know.
Untitled Fantastic Four Film (TBA)
Similarly, because Disney owns Fox, Marvel once again has the film rights to the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed at Comic Con that they’re going to make a Fantastic Four movie, but there were no further details. Fun, though!
Untitled X-Men Film(s) (TBA)
Similarly, Feige said that Marvel was developing movies based on the X-Men franchise now that Disney owned the film rights, but there were no additional details. He did, however, say the MCU’s X-Men would be different from the Fox films, though it’s unclear what that means.
Untitled Third Deadpool Film (TBA)
Finally, for now, Ryan Reynolds confirmed in December that a third Deadpool movie is on the way from Marvel Studios. Given that Deadpool’s whole shtick is being R-rated, and the Disney-owned MCU is pretty family friendly, your guess is as good as mine as how this is all going to work.
Let's untangle all the super-powered cinematic worlds.
Originally Appeared on GQ