By Nick Maylor
It was a big weekend for Marvel Studios as they recently celebrated Avengers: Endgame (2019) surpassing Avatar (2009) to become the highest-grossing film of all time. I suppose it shouldn’t really matter as both film franchises are now owned by Disney but I am personally happy about Endgame besting James Cameron’s visually stunning, yet narratively lazy 2009 movie. Marvel’s film isn’t the greatest movie ever made, but when compared to Cameron’s, it is simply a better movie.
It took legions of superheroes, 11 years and over 20 films to set up Avengers: Endgame, but somehow, it always seemed destined to be the biggest movie of all time. With an all-star ensemble cast unlike anything we’re likely to see again, the highest production budget possible and everyone involved delivering their absolute best efforts, Endgame is a cinematic titan; an achievement that can likely never be rivaled or duplicated. So many intricate pieces had to come together to make the movie possible and it received near-universally praise along with its massive box-office haul. I loved it as a culmination of Marvel’s Infinity Saga, a massive story arch that has encompassed every film the studio has released since Iron Man (2008). It also delivered exceptional performances from its A-list cast members including (as Tom Holland puts it) “The godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe”, Tony Stark/Iron Man A.K.A Robert Downey Jr. Downey’s portrayal of the hero has even got some Oscar buzz going. Tony Stark’s death in Endgame served to mark a turning point for the studio, definitively embracing the end of one era and the beginning of the next. After the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), fans found themselves in an unfamiliar position. We had no idea what was coming next from Marvel. They had no future films that had been “officially” announced. Sure, we all knew something was going on with a Black Widow movie and there were rumours about another entry in the Thor, franchise, but nothing set in stone. That was until Comic-Con.
So what can we expect next from Marvel Studios?
The answer is: much.
As we are a film site, I will be focusing on what’s coming to theatres as my main focus but it is worth mentioning that Kevin Feige has said streaming shows will be a large focus of the future MCU, and there are several stars moving to their own episodic properties. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will see Anthony Mackie return as Sam Wilson/The Falcon A.K.A. the new Captain America. Sebastian Stan will also reprise his role as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier. The alternate timeline version of Loki from Avengers: Endgame will star in his own series, with Tom Hiddleston returning to portray our much-beloved villain. Wanda Vision will star Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, reprising their MCU roles and Jeremy Renner will headline his own Hawkeye series. All of these shows are expected to appear on Disney+, the company’s new streaming service. There will also be a series called What if…? based on the comic series of the same name. The basic premise features familiar characters and storylines with major details changed from the established versions we know, showing us alternate versions of what we have seen and know.
Now, onto the feature films.
Here’s everything coming from Marvel Studios that was announced this past weekend:
BLACK WIDOW – May 1, 2020
A solo film starring Scarlett Johansson, taking place after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016). The is directed by Australian Cate Shortland. The film marks a full decade since Johansson first appeared as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (2010).
THE ETERNALS – Nov 6, 2020
Based on the comic-book race of the same name, the film was just announced with Chinese director Chloé Zhao featuring an ensemble cast including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee. The
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS – Feb 12, 2021
Directed by Asian-American David Callaham and starring Canadian actor Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. It was also revealed at Comic-Con that Tony Leung Chiu-wai will portray the Infamous Iron Man villain, The Mandarin; who was previously portrayed as a decoy by Ben Kinglsey in Iron Man 3 (2013). It seems that the “true” Mandarin (something Marvel had planted clues about in a short film) will be revealed in this film. Marvel Studios’ first Asian Suphero Picture.
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS – May 7, 2021
Director Scott Derrickson returns for this follow-up to Doctor Strage (2016). It has been called Marvel Studios’ first horror film and it will also star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular Master of the Mystic Arts. I’m all kinds of excited about this. Doctor Strange contained some truly brilliant use of the 3D technology that these films are employing.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER – Nov 5, 2021
Director Taika Wattiti will return to make a sequel to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) that will feature Natalie Portman as Jane Foster who will become a female Thor. This is something that was recently explored in the comic-books. Tessa Thompson will also return to play Valkyrie, the new King of Asgard. Valkyrie has been confirmed to be searching for a Queen as Marvel Studios’ first openly-gay superhero.
Some notable absentees from this list include films we know are still coming. Black Panther (2018), Captain Marvel (2019) are sure to be getting sequels released and we know that James Gunn will write and direct a third Guardians of the Galaxy film. We should also expect to see another solo Spider-Man film sooner rather than later. Although a film has not been announced yet, Mahershala Ali has been confirmed to play Marvel’s Blade, a half-vampire hero that was previously played by Wesley Snips. The Blade film is said to be part of Phase 5 of Marvel’s timeline. Phase Three ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home. Phase Four begins with Black Widow (2020).
Far From Home showed us that Marvel still has stories to tell. It seems that the cosmic and mystical corners of their universe will be a huge part of those stories. This will all no doubt lead to some new incarnation of The Avengers down the road. Until then, Endgame has assumed the throne at the Box Office.
Are you excited about the future of Marvel?
Nick is an actor/writer/comedian/musician from Hamilton, ON Canada. Having been a film nut since the early days of his life, Nick has had an obsession with cinema and popular entertainment. Nick has written for thecinemaholic.com and is the current Foote & Friends “expert” on all things geek/superhero/comic-book related. Nick met John when studying acting at the Toronto Film School, for which John H. Foote was director and Film History professor. The two have been arguing ever since.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickMaylor