Loki, WandaVision, Shang-Chi, Fantastic Four: All the Marvel news at the Disney Plus event
Disney just flooded us with MCU news -- 2021 is going to be a marathon, starting with WandaVision next month.
Caitlin PetrakovitzDirector of audience
Caitlin Petrakovitz studies the Marvel Cinematic Universe like it's a course in school, with an emphasis on the Infinity Saga years. As an audience expert, she rarely writes but when she does it's most certainly about Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Westworld, San Diego Comic-Con and great streaming properties. Or soccer, that's a thing she loves, too.
Most touching, however, was the official announcement that Marvel will not recast Black Panther after the death of Chadwick Boseman. Instead, the Ryan Coogler directed sequel will dive into the world of Wakanda.
In 2020, Disney and Marvel gave us a break from the MCU after Avengers: Endgame, so all the Phase 4 info (and the presumed multiverse it'll bring) was exciting. The announcements were fast and furious, and we have a packed 2021 in front of us. Here's what the future holds for fans as we leave this terrifying year behind:
While some set photos appeared over the summer, we still had no big official announcement on casting, filming or storylines for Loki -- until the Disney Plus event. And then we got a flood of info, including casting, a trailer and a release time frame: mark your calendars for May (just the whole month, sorry no exact date yet).
The "crime thriller" series, as Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige teasingly described it, will be equally confusing for Loki, he said.
Tom Hiddleston is returning as the lead character, but we can see this is an entirely different trickster, appearing to be the 2012 alt-version of Loki we glimpsed muzzled in Endgame. The series has been one of the most anticipated upcoming Disney Plus shows, and the first look was most welcome.
The series also stars Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant.
Bringing back the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), little is known about the series other than it's going to bring on the multiverse. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Feige confirmed that the series will directly set up 2022's Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, with Olsen set to star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange. Feige also told EW the sitcom-esque series won't rely on past Marvel films, potentially creating new fans.
"If you haven't seen any of them and just want to step into this weird thing because you love The Dick Van Dyke Show, it's going to work. But if you've been tracking the 23 movies we've made and following along the stories into Phase 4, there'll be a wealth of rewards waiting for you as it all unfolds."
The series also stars Kathryn Hahn as neighbor Agnes (though her reappearance in each of the decades already has us asking who she *really* is); Teyonah Parris as the grown version of Captain Marvel's Monica Rambeau (aka Lt. Trouble) and in the recent trailer she seemed, well, let's just say extremely out of sorts; Kat Dennings returns as Darcy Lewis from Thor and its first sequel; and Randall Park is set to star as Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent from the Ant-Man movies.
While The Falcon & the Winter Soldier was originally set to be the first Marvel series to launch on Disney Plus, we'd seen little to nothing about it until this event (the first footage was way back during the 2020 Super Bowl ad for Marvel on Disney Plus). Now we finally get to see a bit more about the relationship dynamics we can expect in the "buddy comedy" series.
But we know shareholders have still seen even more. ComicBook.com reported at the time that multiple clips were shown, though the final one sounds like some bits from the new trailer:
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier footage opens with Bucky (Sebastian Stan) visiting Zemo (Daniel Brühl) in an elaborate prison. Zemo tries to activate Bucky's Winter Soldier programming, which of course no longer works. Bucky reveals that he has come to see Zemo because someone has restarted the Super Soldier program.
The next clip shown is a rally with a heavy Americana theme (red, white, and blue decorations, cheerleaders, the works). An announcer is introducing the new Captain America to the world, and we see a figure with the shield standing backstage draped in silhouette.
An action-packed montage is then shown, which showcases the action stuntwork and battles that will take place in the series. This includes Zemo fighting in his Marvel Comics mask. As Bucky points out, the two men are not friends; they're two guys who had a mutual friend (Steve Rogers) and now need to help one another.
With the careful language it used, Disney made it clear they still believe in the power of the theater. Black Widow is still set to release on May 7, but to the question of when will it hit Disney Plus? We still have no idea. It's safe to assume the film will stream exclusively on Disney's platform, but the "not the same day" vibes are still strong. In light of the brewing WarnerMedia/HBO Max backlash, and since this film is expected to launch a new generation of Marvel stars with Florence Pugh playing Yelena Belova, that's probably for the best.
We did learn that a handful of future live-action movies will transition to Disney Plus, including Cruella, the 101 Dalmatians prequel starring Emma Stone, Tom Hanks's Pinocchio and sequels to Enchanted and Sister Act. Pixar's Soul recently made the jump to Disney Plus and will be available to watch on Dec. 25, no $30 "Premier Access" charge necessary -- we're not sure what the cost of the others will be, if any.
As predicted, we didn't get a new look at the summer movie, but we did get new casting announcements and some reassurance it would be in theaters.
We know that Shang-Chi completed filming in October months ago thanks to Instagram postsfrom Samu Liu and director Destin Daniel Cretton, so the countdown to a teaser or trailer begins. We knew the Disney presentation was expected to focus on streaming shows not movies, and since the studio isn't taking a cue from WarnerMedia and shifting to streaming first, we got nothing new here.
What If...? trailer unveiled
Announced last year, the show stars Jeffery Wright as The Watcher, and a slew of returning MCU stars lend their voices to the animated series.
No Hawkeye news, just confirmations
Feige mentioned Hawkeye and also confirmed Hailee Steinfeld would play Kate Bishop but what we know about the series remains pretty minimal. We know it will find its roots in the Matt Fraction comic book run and during the event we got confirmation of four of the six previously rumored new cast members: Vera Farmiga as Kate Bishop's mom, Fra Fee as Kazi (aka Clown, which was rumored), Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez (aka deaf hero Echo). The other two rumored to be attached but not announced at the event are Tony Dalton as Swordsman and Zahn McClarnon as Maya's father.
The third Ant-Man film has a name now, and it's a mouthful to be sure: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (which no, is not a real word as some have asked). Peyton Reed is director again and Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return as the title characters, along with Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer reprising their previous roles. Additionally, Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country) will play Kang the Conqueror and Cassie Lang has been recast and will be played by Kathryn Newton.
Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder will begin filming early next year and Christian Bale joins the cast, playing Gorr the God Butcher.
Brie Larsen will return in Captain Marvel 2, to be directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman) and include Ms. Marvel and the adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris, also in WandaVision).
And finally, last but in no way least, Marvel's first family will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a future film currently referred to as Fantastic Four, to be helmed by MCU Spider-Man director Jon Watts.
OK, you can breathe now: 2021 is gonna be a long year -- hopefully in the opposite way 2020 was.