Why: Of the Phase 4 movies confirmed to be in development, Black Widow is simultaneously the one least problematic in terms of production time and cost and most problematic in terms of story. Widow was killed off during the events of Avengers: Endgame, sacrificing herself to gain the Soul Stone in 2014. However, whilst that does mean her appearance in this movie would be her last, it actually paints a much easier picture as to what this film is. A prequel detailing Nat's rise through the KGB and later her recruitment by SHIELD would give the audience some payoff in untangling the mystery that is her past. Given that the movie has already started casting roles, and a spy espionage movie definitely isn't as effects heavy as something like Endgame, I would say this one is coming much sooner rather than later.
Potential Release Date: May 1st 2020
Why: An Eternals movie has long been cooking over at MCU HQ, with Kevin Feige talking openly about how it is the next level of the cosmic MCU characters, so I'm guessing we'll see this one sooner rather than later. The large roster of characters gives a lot of wiggle room for big names to come on board in a leading role as an MCU superhero. We already know that Richard Madden and Angelina Jolie have come on board as Ikaris and Sersi, with Kumail Nanjiani in talks to take on a role, so the brief going into this was a diverse array of characters. I think we can count on seeing some big names come on board, as well as some smaller names take the spotlight for themselves. Because the Eternals is such an out-there concept in the Marvel pantheon, it will be interesting to see how much of the 2008 Neil Gaiman run, of which the script is apparently being built on, will appear in the movie. Fingers crossed this isn't a bridge too far even for Marvel.
Potential Release Date: November 6th 2020
Black Panther: Secret Empire
Why: The biggest question going into this one was 'Why not Namor?'. Personally, I don't see Disney wanting to play ball with Universal just yet. They've turned Marvel into one of the most profitable movie franchises with history and that was when they were only playing with half the toybox. Now that the Fantastic 4 and X-Men are back in the fold, the question really should be 'Do we even need Namor?'. Anyway, off the back of the more mercurial Erik Killmonger, it's clear that the next villain should be Achebe. Unsettling, cunning and unassuming, he would make for an interesting mirror image to Killmonger and dabble in something that would put us tonally at odds with the afro-futurism of the first movie: black or voodoo magic. Giving Lupita N'yongo something interesting to do as the reincarnated Malice (Which would also require her character to die, maybe as a part of the fallout from Endgame?) would also make for a great change from her uninteresting romantic female lead from the first flick.
Potential Release Date: February 12th 2021
Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu
Why: The most recently talked about new franchise for phase 4 is Shang Chi, a character whose two prolific periods in the comics can be accurately described as 'arguably racist 70s kung fu serial' and 'Oh hey, we forgot we had this Asian character, let him train Spider-Man'. Shang Chi is a character just not used that effectively in the Marvel roster, so it's interesting as to why he's being fast-tracked for a solo movie outside of the whole 'race to the first Asian superhero' thing. Hell, he wasn't even a superhero so to speak until late 2015 when an energy bomb gave him the ability to create copies of himself. Now, that's not to say that he hasn't done cool stuff you could do in a movie: He fought his super-villain dad, he used Pym particles to grow in size, he battled Iron Fist to a stalemate, he once trained Spider-Man when he lost his spider sense and he can tussle with dragons and not lose. He's also been a Hero for Hire, an agent of MI-6 and an Avenger at various points in comic history, so there's plenty to pull from and amalgamate in this outing. The movie itself just needs to be a solid kung-fu globetrotting adventure and kids will be queuing up for a Shang Chi action figure and replica nunchaku round the block.
Potential Release Date: May 7th 2021
Doctor Strange: Illuminati
Why: A sequel to Doctor Strange is almost inevitable (Given that is has been confirmed to be in development), as is the inclusion of Nightmare, which is one of director Scott Derrickson's favorite Marvel characters. Almost as inevitable is the continuation of Mordo's path into full villainy, much like he is presented in the comics. Whilst it doesn't particularly give room for a lot of new characters, it kind of doesn't have to. Strange has always played more in the fantastical, meaning that the purpose of another Doctor Strange movie really only has to do one thing in the grand scheme of this phase: Explore parallel dimensions. But more on that later.
Potential Release Date: November 5th 2021
Why: Thunderbolts ticks two big boxes: What to do with Winter Soldier in a world where he doesn't take up the mantle of Captain America and the inclusion of Deadpool into the MCU. For the former, giving Winter Soldier a redemptive arc in the eye of the world would give him suitable parallels to Steve Rogers arc of trying to save him from his brainwashed ways, and for the latter it invents an excuse to pull Deadpool as he is directly into the MCU; quips, fourth wall breaks and Ryan Reynold's goodness all intact. Throw in a cast made up of actors that deserve to be represented in the franchise and you have a nice, gritty, boots-on-the-ground assault team movie with some very flashy powers thrown in for good measure.
Potential Release Date: February 18th 2022
Why: The MCU is guaranteed to get more diverse in this phase and plans have been made internally to have Kamala Khan be a part of those plans, according to Kevin Feige. Kamala is one of the few characters introduced in recent years that have immediately become a hit with fans, akin to how fans embraced Miles Morales. Pulling from Disney's kids programming, Rowan Blanchard can bring a likable, wondrous nature to the role of Kamala. The problem comes in the shape of her villains, as they haven't been particularly strong in the comics thus far. Pulling from her two first big runs, both Inventor and Lineage will pull equal villain duties as the big bads, as well as Kaboom for a brutal mid movie fight and Kamran who will give some complexity to Kamala's development as well as a bit of high school romance drama, apeing what we've seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The hope is this movie can serve as a familiar structure to both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Captain Marvel, as well as spin an identity all of it's own, which will be a driving force of the narrative: deciding what kind of hero you are going to become. Of course, don't expect that to wrap up here, Kamala is destined for team ups, maybe getting a visit from Captain Marvel herself in the post-credits?
Potential Release Date: May 6th 2022
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Why: With James Gunn finally back on board the 3rd space epic, you can guarantee this will come later rather than sooner, definitely after the 2021 release of Gunn's Suicide Squad reboot. We can also expect this to be the final movie featuring Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, Gamora and Groot as the core Guardians, hence the inclusion of Nova and Adam Warlock, with scope for Moondragon, Quasar and Bug to carry on the mantle of the Guardians. The plan is to make the roster flexible, so characters can be swapped out between appearances, all acting as one giant cameo that you can plug into the other cosmic movies. Either way, it's a Guardians movie. It's a licence to print money and Gunn can be guaranteed that he can do whatever the hell he wants in this outing.
Potential Release Date: July 29th 2022
Captain Marvel and The Valkyries
Why: A second Captain Marvel movie is inevitable, but the vision for a story is fairly unpredictable. What seems like an easy choice though is to make it the A-Force movie. Whilst the A-Force names seems a bit derivative, the Valkyries was a name all of its own to female characters. And with Valkyrie herself ascending the Asgardian throne, it's a name that's going unused. Obviously, Tessa Thompson will be on board as our supporting female lead to give fans the Danvers/Valkyrie 'sisters doing it for themselves' movie that will make serious bank. Throw in Kamala Khan, cool cameos for Nebula and Wasp and the set-up for Stature for a future Young Avengers movie, and you've got the recipe for a neat sequel with a lot of girl power.
Potential Release Date: March 2023
Why: I will admit, this one is wish fulfillment. The Nova movie is something I have wanted since Guardians of the Galaxy got announced as a movie, and even then, Nova has been THE go-to cosmic hero. So, with my personal favorite Guardians team managing to pass the Human Rocket in a race to the silver screen, it;s only fair we right this wrong. Thing is, Richard Rider's Nova is absolutely the best version of that character, but the younger Sam Alexander version is the one that is most popular with the kids. The solution? Put both of them in the movie. We introduced Rider in Guardians 3 as a set up for what's coming at the end of the phase and now we use the solo outing as a compare and contrast exercise for Sam Alexander. His dad disappeared after becoming part of the Nova force, so the helm seeks him out. He shoots off into space only to be met with a ridiculously overpowered version of what he could become in Richard Rider (At this point, a battle-hardened, nigh-on immortal warrior and sole protector of the World Mind). On the way, Alexander crosses paths with Uatu the Watcher, the Guardians and maybe a few wacky cosmic villains. Meanwhile, Rider's story gives the power trip that was Nova's 2008 run into Annihilation with the full power of the Nova Force at his disposal. Make the dynamic between the two a cross between Batman and Robin or Obi-Wan and Luke and you have a fun family-dynamic movie that also happens to take place in space.
Potential Release Date: July 2023
The New Avengers: Secret Wars
Why: The inevitable team up movie may as well do something interesting if it's going to exist. With the OG Avengers either dead or retired, the New Avengers have to form up to stop The Beyonder, a omnipotent 70's lounge lizard with a penchant for bloodsport. Ripping straight from the pages of Secret Wars, this can also be used as a device to introduce pretty much any Marvel character you'd like without having to explain why it is they are here and giving them a new reason to exist in the MCU; most notably, The X-Men. Ripped from their own time, the mutants will have to go toe-to-toe with the MCU's best and, come the conclusion of the story, find themselves in a strange new world where they are viewed as outcasts and shunned from society, retroactively engineering in their allegory for racism. This could also apply to anyone you want in this timeline. The Fantastic 4? Sure. Miles Morales? If you want. Namor, She-Hulk, Galactus, they're all possible now. You're welcome for the fix-all.
Potential Release Date: April 2024
So that's Marvel movies sorted up until 2024, seems like a good place to sign off. If you have any ideas for other Phase 4 movies or alterations to my ides, please do share them below. As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to follow me on Twitter for more moronic thoughts.