Phase 4 and Beyond: Breaking Down the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

This is a very exciting time for Marvel fans. While we’ve all enjoyed what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us so far, but after Thursday’s Disney Investor Day presentation, we know there is still so much more to come. There is a lot on the MCU slate now and it can be difficult to image what it will all look like in a few years. So, let’s take a look at what we can expect from the MCU in the near future.

Packed Schedule

The next entry into the MCU is the Disney+ original series WandaVision, which will debut on January 15. We got a look at a new trailer for the upcoming series during Investor Day, but it was what followed that was more exciting. We learned that the following Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, will follow soon after WandaVision.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to debut on March 19 while Loki will follow up in May. With each series slated for six episodes, we’ll get just a short break of a few weeks in between each. Those two will be followed by What If…? (Summer 2021) and Ms. Marvel (Late 2021) for an absolutely packed year of new Marvel series. Plus, Black Widow is still set to debut on May 7, likely just ahead of the premiere of Loki. 2021 will be a busy year for Marvel and we’ll likely see just as much content in the years after.

Crossing Over

The MCU has always been sort of a shared playground of sorts. Ever since Nick Fury encountered Tony Stark in 2008, we knew we were getting something unlike anything we’d ever seen in cinema. Soon, that playground will be shared a little bit more.

We’ve seen heroes cross paths in Avengers movies in the past (and Captain America: Civil War as the one outlier), but it appears they’ll be sharing the screen a lot more. We already knew Wanda was set to show up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and that Doctor Strange would join Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3 in turn, but now we know there will be even more crossover.

Ms. Marvel, the focus of another upcoming Disney+ series of the same name, will be showing up in Captain Marvel 2, Bruce Banner will be appearing in the She-Hulk series and the announcement of the Ironheart and Armor Wars series seem to insinuate from crossover as well. Plus, another newly announced series calls for even more.

Major Villains

Of all the announcements made last week, there were two that potentially shaped the entirety of the future of the MCU. The first was a new Disney+ series titled Secret Invasion. The series is based on one of the biggest crossover events in Marvel Comics history and involves the infiltration of Earth by the shapeshifting alien race known as the Skrulls. This may come as a surprise to fans of the MCU who are only familiar with the Skrulls as the refugees in Captain Marvel, but these aliens pose one of the greatest threats our heroes could ever face. It seems likely this story will spill out into other series and films and the Nick Fury and Talos-centered series will simply serve as an introduction to the arc.

The second major villain announced is the classic Avengers foe Kang the Conqueror. Jonathan Majors will portray the time-traveling character in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and likely several projects beyond that. Kang is a Thanos-level threat whose arrival seemed imminent after the time-traveling plot of Avengers: Endgame. Now, we know Kang is coming and he’s likely going to cause some very big problems for the Avengers. It already appears that he has some role to play in the Loki series as well.

The New Wave of Heroes

The MCU has already given us classic characters like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man and so many more, but there are a lot of great Marvel characters who have yet to make their debut. While this fourth phase gives us some exciting sequels, it will also introduce some great new characters, including Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Kate Bishop, just to name a few.

We’ll also get to see some beloved character who have appeared on screen before, but never within the MCU. Kevin Feige announced the long-expected and highly anticipated Fantastic Four film, with Jon Watts set to direct. Reed Richards, Sue Storm, the Human Torch and the Thing will finally stand side-by-side with the Avengers.

Joining them will be the vampire-hunting Blade. We already know of the planned Blade film, which was announced back at San Diego Comic-Con last year, but now we know just how big the universe will be when the character joins the fray. Or, I should say we have an idea of how big it will be. After all, as the Doctor Strange sequel title tells us, the universe is about to become a multiverse.

The Schedule

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (erm, Multiverse) is going to be growing rapidly over the next few years. While many of the upcoming projects do not have specific dates in place, here is a look at the MCU schedule:

  • January 15, 2021 – WandaVision
  • March 19, 2021 – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
  • May, 2021 – Loki
  • May 7, 2021  – Black Widow
  • Summer, 2021 – What If…?
  • July 9, 2021 – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Late 2021 – Ms. Marvel
  • Late 2021 – Hawkeye
  • November 5, 2021 – Eternals
  • Likely 2022 – She-Hulk
  • Likely 2022 – Moon Knight
  • March 25, 2022 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • May 6, 2022 – Thor: Love and Thunder
  • July 8, 2022 – Black Panther 2
  • October 7, 2022 – Untitled Marvel film
  • November 11, 2022 – Captain Marvel 2
  • Late 2022 – The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
  • Likely 2022/2023 – Secret Invasion
  • Likely 2022/2023 – Ironheart
  • Likely 2022/2023 – Armor Wars
  • Likely 2022/2023 – I am Groot
  • Likely 2023 – Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
  • Likely 2023 – Blade
  • Likely 2023 – Fantastic Four
  • 2023 – Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3

There are four “Untitled Marvel” films on the schedule for 2023 in the following dates:

  • February 17
  • May 5
  • July 28
  • November 3

Those dates seem as though they could be the homes to the four films planned for 2023 releases above. However, October 7, 2022 is also set for an “Untitled Marvel” film so that offers some flexibility. It also means there is one yet-to-be announced Marvel film, which could serve as the introduction of mutants to the MCU.

Beyond Phase 4

While this is an unbelievable amount of content spread throughout the next three years, it is still just what is being described as “Phase 4.” What will follow? It’s nearly impossible to say right now, given how many storylines and new characters are set to be introduced in the next three years. There are hundreds of stories and characters for Marvel Studios to choose from for future movies and series. With the introduction of the Fantastic Four set for this phase, perhaps the X-Men will be held for the next phase. And after Secret Invasion and the involvement of Kang the Conqueror, what will be the next big threat for our heroes to face?



While we don’t have all the answers regarding what we’re going to see in the next few years of the MCU, we do know it’s going to be quite an exciting ride.

We talked a bit more about all of these exciting new announcements regarding the future of the MCU. Check out our discussion in the video below:

Be sure to check back for more new on the MCU as it becomes available, as well as recaps, reviews and other insights every step of the way.

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Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."