Shang-Chi, Loki, Black Widow: Which Marvel movies and TV shows are coming in 2021
Black Widow will be the first post-Endgame movie, opening this summer, followed by Shang-Chi in September. Here's what to know about every upcoming MCU property in theaters and on Disney Plus.
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.
Then the 2020 coronavirus pandemic changed everything. The well-timed launch of the Disney Plus streaming service, landing shortly before lockdown, has now changed the order in which we've seen the planned MCU properties release, but hasn't made them any less enjoyable. WandaVision was an undeniable hit earlier this year, and 2021 has more new MCU shows planned for release than Marvel Studios films.
On Monday, Marvel Studios gave the world a gift for Shang-Chi star Simu Liu's birthday: The first trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. If the trailer has you as hyped as many for the fall film, read on for more about Marvel's Phase 4 offerings coming this year and beyond.
Disney's latest release date updates suggest we may be getting even more MCU movies in 2022 and 2023, but the list just matches dates with the description "Untitled Marvel Film," so who knows if these will be MCU, X-Men or Fantastic Four movies -- or all of them together (!??!!). Here's what we do know:
Director: Cate Shortland
Writer: Jac Schaeffer (yes, the same Schaeffer who was showrunner of WandaVision)
What we know: Very little, despite an almost two-year wait. In 2019, SDCC attendees were treated to an epic fight scene between ScarJo and Pugh where we learned the two are "sisters." Entertainment Tonight also learned some key Black Widow details after that year's epic Marvel panel. As the film introduces more than one Black Widow, there's potential for any of them to take over the mantle from ScarJo. Since then we've had a new trailer drop, but it just confirms how little we know, even while giving us a more in-depth look at the film's (presumed) villain, Taskmaster.
Starring: Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Tony Leung as Wenwu/Mandarin, and Awkwafina as Katy, BFF extraordinaire
What we know: Not a whole lot, except the villain will be The Mandarin (and not the same one as Ben Kingsley's imposter in Iron Man 3). December's Disney Plus investor event was mostly focused on TV shows, but we did get a more comprehensive cast list. The first trailer gave us a look at Shang-Chi's past, his ever-loyal BFF Katy and the real, true, scary AF Mandarin -- it was just a "teaser" trailer though, and like most Marvel trailers didn't reveal much about the plot.
Director: Chloe Zhao
Writers: Matthew and Ryan Firpo
Release date: Nov. 5
Starring: Angelina Jolie (playing Thena), Richard Madden (Ikaris), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Lauren Ridloff (Makkari), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Salma Hayek (Ajak), Lia McHugh (Sprite), Don Lee (Gilgamesh) and Kit Harrington (Dane Whitman)
What we know: Some of the roles have been gender-swapped, like Hayek as Ajak, who was originally the male leader of the Eternals. We also know from the official synopsis that our Eternals are ancient aliens who've been on Earth for ... well, a bit, and following the events of Endgame they're forced to "reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, The Deviants.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Release date: Dec. 17
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya return with Jacob Batalon. We also know Cumberbatch will join as Doctor Strange and Jamie Foxx has confirmed he'll appear as Electro (yes, again). There are loads of rumors Sony's OG Spideys Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will reprise their roles as part of a storyline about the multiverse, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
What we know: Rumors suggest it will build upon the idea of the multiverse as teased in Far From Home -- for one, because we know it'll directly feed the next Marvel Studios film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Second, reports say past Spideys may be turning up again. However, No Way Home wrapped filming at the end of March without confirmation of multiple Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?).
What we know: Spider-Man: No Way Home and the events of WandaVision on Disney Plus will lead directly into this sequel in a way we can only imagine will be epic. (Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has previously featured characters from the films, including Lady Sif, but those plot points have never affected the MCU films. This is definitely a departure we're excited to see.) On stage at SDCC in 2019, Feige said just because Quentin Beck (from Spider-Man: Far From Home) lied about the multiverse, it doesn't mean there isn't one. Previously attached director Scott Derrickson had mentioned he wanted a gothic horror tone and had dreams of making the "first scary MCU film." Since his departure and the subsequent announcement of Raimi and Waldron taking over, we're not sure what direction the film will take. In addition to his work on Loki, Waldron has written for Rick & Morty (fourth season episode The Old Man and the Seat), so the idea of a multiverse is nothing new to him.
Thor Love & Thunder
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Taika Waititi
Release date: May 6, 2022
Starring: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson return, (re-)joined by Natalie Portman as The Mighty Thor. Christian Bale joins as Gorr the God Butcher
What we know: Filming began in Australia earlier this year. Thor's hammer Mjolnir will be handed to Portman's character, but we have no clues as to how that power shift will happen. Thompson also confirmed Valkryie's sexuality on stage at SDCC 2019, saying she needs to find her queen. As with Thor: Ragnarok, expectations are high for Hollywood cameos (Russell Crowe!), and some have already been pictured on set (Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy).
Black Panther sequel
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler
Release date: July 8, 2022
Starring: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke and Angela Bassett are all expected to return
Release date: 2023 (presumably after the GOTG Holiday Special in winter 2022)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana are all expected to return
Status: Gunn, who has been at work on The Suicide Squad for WarnerMedia's DCEU, has confirmed filming will begin this year on GOTG3. And the director has been hyping the project steadily on Twitter.
We also know the MCU will introduce the Fantastic Four in the coming years, helmed by director Jon Watts (who has guided the MCU's Spider-Man trilogy as well), but that's all we know. Bet on this coming in 2023, at theearliest.
Disney Plus TV shows
WandaVision unexpectedly became the first Disney Plus Marvel show to premiere, catapulting fans into a sitcom with surprising depth. And the final of episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hits the streaming service this Friday at midnight PT.
We know many of the streamer's shows will be integral parts of future MCU canon, feeding characters (and maybe plotlines) into the films, as Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige first confirmed at SDCC 2019. These Disney Plus series are overseen by Feige and apparently they have bigger budgets than what's typically allocated for "traditional" television shows.
As the MCU grows, it's important to note that earlier shows like the Netflix series and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were produced by Marvel TV, under Jeph Loeb, then executive vice president and head of television. But they were never explicitly referenced by the movies, which is what really separates this new era of Disney Plus Marvel series (Loeb reportedly left Marvel Television at the end of 2019).
The year is already packed and Disney isn't done by a long shot. Here's what's still to come on the small screen.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston returns, joined by Owen Wilson (we presume as Mobius M. Mobius), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant
What we know: The show will focus on The Avengers' 2012 version of Loki, directly after the timey-wimey events of Endgame. That means we likely have some pre-redemption, wildly selfish escapades coming our way. And if that sounds confusing, don't fear: The "crime thriller" series, as Feige teasingly described it, will be equally confusing for Loki. Given the latest trailer prominently features the TVA, or Time Variance Authority, throughout, we can be pretty certain the series will revolve around the bureaucratic agency -- and would guess Loki will be running some very interesting errands for them (including playing the role of real-life mystery man D.B. Cooper, as seen in the first trailer?).
Release date: Summer 2021
Starring: Jeffery Wright will be The Watcher and a lot of MCU stars will voice alternate versions of their famous characters, including Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman and Chris Evans
What we know: The animated series will look at "new realities" rethinking the events seen in the MCU, such as Peggy Carter becoming a super soldier instead of Steve Rogers.
Directors: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, Meera Menon and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Expected release date: "Late" 2021
Starring: Iman Vellani as the title character, joined by Aramis Knight, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Laith Naki, Azher Usman, Travina Springer and Nimra Bucha
What we know: The show will focus on 16-year-old Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American girl living in Jersey City who's a "great student, avid gamer, and voracious fan-fic scribe." We also know she'll get powers and will make her way to the big screen in Captain Marvel 2. Feige confirmed as much to THR recently: "Some characters we've announced like She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight you will meet for the first time on a Disney Plus show and then they'll go into the movies but the MCU will now go back and forth."
Showrunner: Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie
Expected release date: Late 2021
Starring: Jeremy Renner returns as Clint Barton, Hailee Steinfeld joins as Kate Bishop, Alaqua Cox will star as Maya Lopez (aka Echo). Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Brian d'Arcy James and Zahn McClarnon round out the cast in unconfirmed roles
Expected release date: All signs point to 2022 at the earliest
Starring: After serious denials, Tatiana Maslany was confirmed as the show star. We also know Mark Ruffalo with join as Bruce Banner/Hulk and Tim Roth will appear again as Abomination (first seen in 2008's The Incredible Hulk).
What we know: She-Hulk will be directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia, and will focus on Jennifer Waters. The inclusion of Roth also means the most missable MCU film ever might just become a must-watch before this series drops (lol, no jk).
Expected release date: "Soon," says Disney -- but more likely mid-2022
Starring: Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector, joined by Ethan Hawke
What we know: The official description is that the series "centers on the character Marc Spector, aka Moon Knight, a complex vigilante who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. These multiple identities who live inside him are distinct characters in the series and will appear against a backdrop of Egyptian iconography." It will be directed by Mohamed Diab, an Egyptian writer and director.
And more to come about these Disney Plus series...
Secret Invasion: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury teams up again with Ben Mendelsohn's Talos in a show focusing on shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth. Since debuting in Captain Marvel, Skrulls have slowly crept into other MCU projects including the end scenes of Far From Home and WandaVision.
Ironheart: Riri Williams is getting her moment! Dominique Thorne will play the young genius and successor to Tony Starks' Iron Man technology in the new series, which Feige confirmed will cross over with the larger MCU films.
Armor Wars: Don Cheadle returns as War Machine facing consequences of "Tony Stark's worst nightmare," as Feige put it.