The Infinity Saga may have come to an end, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe just keeps growing.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday for an hour-and-a-half panel that laid out all of the studio’s plans for the next few years. New films were announced, old favorites got their own starring moments, footage was shown, and a lot of news was broken.
Below, we break down all the biggest announcements and news.
Black Widow opens her ledger
At long last, Natasha Romanoff is stepping into the spotlight. Feige introduced the cast of the upcoming Black Widow movie (hitting theaters May 1, 2020), directed by Cate Shortland and starring Scarlett Johansson as Nat, David Harbour as Alexi, O-T Fagbenle as Mason, Rachel Weisz as Malena, and Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova.
“I don’t think I could have played this iteration of Natasha 10 years ago,” Johansson told the audience. “It would’ve been a very different film. I get to play Natasha as a fully realized woman and in all of her many facets. I’m excited for fans to see the flawed side of her, what she perceives to be the flawed side of her. And I’m looking to wipe out some of that red in my ledger, so you guys will be seeing a lot of that.”
Johansson added that the film had only been shooting for about 30 days, but they still brought some footage to show the Hall H audience, featuring a no-holds-barred fight scene between Johansson and Pugh and the introduction of the copycat villain Taskmaster.
Introducing the Eternals
Marvel added a whole host of new faces to the MCU with the official announcement of Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals (in theaters Nov. 6, 2020). The film focuses on a group of immortal beings who watch over the Earth, and it features star-studded cast including Angelina Jolie (Thena), Richard Madden (Icarus), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Lauren Ridloff (Makkari), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Salma Hayek(Ajak), Lia McHugh (Sprite), and Don Lee (Gilgamesh).
“It’s about this group of incredible immortals but through their journey we really get to explore what it means to be human and humanity on our time on this planet,” Zhao told the audience. (Read more on the Eternals here.)
While much of the news focused on existing heroes in the MCU, Feige also introduced a new one: the martial arts master Shang-Chi. Short Term 12’s Daniel Destin Cretton is directing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu.
Tony Leung is also joining the film as the Mandarin (the real Mandarin, not the one from Iron Man 3), while Awkwafina is also a part of the cast.
Liu is best known for the Canadian show Kim’s Convenience, and he told the audience that he screen tested for the part on Sunday, got the role on Tuesday, and flew to Comic-Con for the Hall H panel on Saturday.
A new Thor
Earlier this week, news broke that Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi was returning for a new installment with the Lord of the Thunder, and he was on hand (along with returning cast members Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson) to officially announce Thor: Love and Thunder (Nov. 5, 2021).
Waititi added that while they were shooting Ragnarok, he read Jason Aaron’s comics run The Mighty Thor, which introduces the female version of the Asgardian god. For him, he says, there was “only one person who could play that role”: Natalie Portman, returning after starring in the previous installments.
Portman then took the stage with Thor’s hammer Mjolnir in tow, lifting it high over the crowd. “I’ve always had a little hammer envy,” she joked.
A universe expanded with Disney+
While there was plenty of film news, Feige also shared new details about several TV series coming from the upcoming streaming service Disney+.
First up is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan and scheduled debut in fall 2020. The pair took the stage with Captain America’s shield (which Chris Evans’ Captain America passed on to Mackie’s Falcon at the end of Avengers: Endgame). The presentation was also interrupted by a pre-taped video message from Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo, who made his debut in Captain America: Civil War and will be returning for the series. (The footage also included a brief shot of him in the character’s classic purple mask, which up until now, we’ve only seen in the comics.)
For spring 2021, Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen will be reprising their roles as Vision and Scarlet Witch for WandaVision, a trippy adventure with ’50s-inspired visuals. The film will also feature Teyonah Parris as the grown-up version of Monica Rambeau, who we last saw as a child in this year’s Captain Marvel.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” Olsen teased. “It’s going to get weird. We’re going to go deep, we’re going to have lots of surprises, and we’re going to finally understand Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch.”
“Last thing I knew, I died in Infinity War, so I literally have never been this confused in front of this many people in my whole life,” Bettany added.
Also on the Disney+ slate is a Loki series scheduled for Spring 2021. Feige introduced Tom Hiddleston as the returning baddie, and he explained that the series will focus on the Loki we saw grab the Tesseract and disappear in Endgame. “The question I get asked more than any other question in Endgame was, where did Loki go, and what happened to Loki?” Feige said. “This series will answer where he went.”
Hiddleston added that this Loki hasn’t gone through the redemption arc the character had in Thor: Ragnarok. Here, he’s still the selfish villain from 2012’s The Avengers, and, Hiddleston adds, “the last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk-smashed. So there’s a lot of psychological evolution that is still yet to happen.”
For summer 2021, Marvel is also venturing into the animated sphere with the series What If…? which explores different timelines and stories throughout the Marvel multiverse. Dozens of MCU actors will lend their voice to the series and reprise their roles, while Jeffrey Wright is signing on as the voice of the Watcher.
“The Watcher is a being, a non-earthly being who observes all things,” Wright told the audience. “He’s watching over the multiverse and occasionally may or may not intervene with the doings of earthlings. Other than that, he’s off doing his own thing.”
Finally on the Disney+ slate is the Hawkeye series, scheduled for fall 2021, featuring Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton teaching a young Kate Bishop to take on the Hawkeye mantle. Renner ran through the crowd before jumping on stage, and he explained that the show follows Clint as he gets to “shepherd an amazing character to hopefully be a better version of [Hawkeye].”
Journey into the Multiverse
Speaking of the multiverse, Feige also officially announced a sequel to Doctor Strange. Scott Derrickson is returning to direct Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, hitting theaters May 7, 2021.
“Just because Quentin Beck makes up lies about the multiverse doesn’t mean it isn’t real,” Feige told the audience, referencing Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the recent Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Benedict Cumberbatch is returning as the mystical doctor, and Elizabeth Olsen will also make an appearance as Scarlet Witch. (Feige teased that the events of WandaVision will play a major role in Doctor Strange.)
“He’ll be facing unexpected things,” Cumberbatch said of his character. “I think he’ll be in a position rather like the audience of not knowing what’s coming at him. There was a lot of authority I thought in the Avengers iterations [of Strange], so we’re going back to kind of destroy him, I think.”
Derrickson added that he wants to make The Multiverse of Madness into “the first scary MCU film” — although Feige was quick to caution that it’ll still be rated PG-13.
A familiar hero returns
Feige closed out the panel with a massive group shot of all the cast and filmmakers, and the told the audience that Marvel has many, many other things planned for the future. (He mentioned Fantastic Four and the mutants of X-Men as two things to expect in the future.) He also officially announced Captain Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Black Panther 2, though those didn’t get release dates or any further information.
But, Feige added, they had one more piece of news to announce.
He then brought out Mahershala Ali, who put on a baseball cap to reveal that he’ll be playing the iconic vampire hunter Blade in a new movie based on the character.