MCU’s Insane 2021
The past decade saw the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) rise to prominence and become the biggest movie franchise in cinema history. The twenty-three feature film arc, dubbed The Infinity Saga, saw our beloved characters come together to battle the mad titan Thanos. With the films broken up into phases, we saw the end of ‘phase 3’ with the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home in July 2019 after the climatic Avengers: Endgame in April a couple months earlier.
2020 was set to kickstart phase 4 of the MCU and fans eagerly anticipated where Marvel would take these characters next. Then COVID-19 hit the world. Cinemas were shut, production on movies and television shows was halted to keep everyone safe and studios put procedures in place to allow everyone to work as safely as possible going forward. This disruption to everyday life caused Disney and Marvel to rethink their release schedule for the MCU and ultimately left fans with a content void longer than anything since the saga began with Iron Man in 2008.
This delay in content though, has resulted in a 2021 line up that dwarfs any year in the MCU’s history. To date, the most content we have had in one year is three feature films. In 2021 we are scheduled to not only be getting four MCU films but also six MCU series that will debut on Disney+. This means that 2021 will see the release of ten MCU projects, more than Disney released between May 2017 and July 2019.
So what are these MCU projects we will see over the next year and when will we be seeing them? Let’s break down what we know so far.
January 15th 20201 – Disney+
WandaVision kicks off Marvel’s Phase 4 of the MCU on January 15th. What’s more, it will be Marvel’s first venture into serialised shows to expand the MCU rather than just feature films.
The show will be released weekly via Disney+ and will see the return of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision respectively.
From what we have seen, we can expect sitcom elements infused with the classic Marvel action we have come to love. Where things get interesting though, is the show seems to be set within multiple time periods. Fans of the comics will know that Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch, has the ability to alter reality with her mind. Could this show be incorporating these abilities to help Wanda deal with her heartbreak at the end of Infinity War? Based on reports we can expect this show to have ramifications throughout the MCU however, with Kevin Feige stating this show will tie into the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Thankfully we won’t have to wait long to discover the mysteries surrounding this show.
March 19th 2021 – Disney+
Disney’s second MCU show is set to see Falcon and Winter Solider team up to take on a returning Baron Zemo. Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and Daniel Brühl all reprise their roles in what looks to be an action-packed series that likes up to the MCU’s reputation.
Expect to see Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes dealing with a post Captain America world and the responsibilities that now rest on their shoulders. While little is known outside of the trailer, we can assume that this show will also tie into the MCU as a whole. Perhaps even featuring more returning characters or introducing us to heroes and villains that will play a prominent role in projects going forward.
May 7th 2021 – Theatrical Release
Originally set to kick start Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow will once again see Scarlett Johansson wear the iconic black outfit and portray the titular role. Set following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha will confront her past as a spy before she was classed as an Avenger. The film will introduce us to Romanoff’s ‘family’ as we get to discover more about the infamous Red Room and her shady past.
From what we have seen the film will embrace the action spy thriller tone that fans have wished for ever since rumours of a stand-alone film started circulating.
**Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame**
With Natasha sacrificing herself in order to obtain the Soul Stone, many have also wondered if this film will set up Florence Pugh’s involvement in the MCU going forward as the new Black Widow.
**End of spoilers**
May 2021 – Disney+
Also releasing in May is the third Disney+ show which will focus on the god of mischief, Loki. Tom Hiddleston once again takes up the role as we explore what happened to Loki after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
From the trailer we can expect to see the series taking place in various locations across the galaxy as we find out more about what Loki gets up to when Thor isn’t around.
As mentioned with the other Disney+ shows, we will likely see more characters show up in unexpected places as Marvel builds out their cinematic universe beyond what we have seen so far in the films.
July 9th 2021 – Theatrical Release
With each new phase of the MCU we have been introduced to new characters. This time Shang-Chi takes centre stage in a feature film that will see his debut in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
Shang-Chi is a martial arts expert amongst Marvel characters and the master of kung fu. Little is currently known as to the plot of his film however fans of the MCU will recognise the group mentioned in the title, the Ten Rings.
First mentioned in Iron Man 3, the Ten Rings is a global terrorist organisation lead by the Mandarin. While the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 turned out to be an imposter, fans have speculated since then that the real Mandarin would make an appearance at some point. With Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings leaning fully into the organisation we can surely expect to see their true leader when the film launches in July.
November 5th 2021 – Theatrical Release
Eternals is the final dated release of the year from Disney and, like Shang-Chi, will introduce brand new characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The ensemble cast of characters are ancient alien beings who have been living on earth in secret for thousands of years. The film is set to take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and will see the ancient beings being forced to reveal themselves to unite and take on an ancient enemy called the Deviants.
With Eternals introducing us to a wide range of new characters in a post Avengers: Endgame world, this film could very well help shape the MCU beyond just Phase 4. With these characters having lived on earth for so long I am very interested to see how their reveal effects the heroes we have come to love.
Untitled Spider-Man Sequel
December 17th 2021 – Theatrical Release
While not made by Disney, Sony’s Tom Holland Spider-man films are still part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First introduced in in Captain America: Civil War, this iteration of the web slinger has gone on to have two of his own films as well as appearing in the Avengers movies. Very little has been officially detailed by Sony or Marvel regarding this film, however the casting reports have sent the MCU world spinning.
**Potential spoilers ahead**
Tom Holland and his ensemble cast will of course return in their roles from the previous films but the real news comes in who is supposedly returning from past Spider-Man movies. Jamie Fox who played Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is said to be once again playing the villain as is Alfred Molina, returning as Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. Couple that with countless reports of Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone are all said to be in talks to return as their past characters and this could tie all previous Spider-Man films together.
While this may sound like fan theory craziness, Benedict Cumberbatch is also meant to be playing Doctor Strange once again in this sequel. With his next solo film titled the Multiverse of Madness, and WandaVision teasing some reality bending events, it seems far more likely that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man 3 could in fact offer fans a live action Spider-verse film.
**End of potential spoilers**
2021 – Disney+
What If…? is the biggest departure from the MCU we have come to know so far. This is the first animated series set within the world of the Avengers but with some major changes. Each episode will focus on a significant moment or event from the MCU’s history and reshape reality based on what could have been. Two examples we see in the trailer show what would happen if Peggy Carter was given the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rodgers and what if T’Challa was taken from earth by the Ravengers instead of Peter Quill.
The concept of alternate realities has gradually been introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 looks to be really delving deep into that aspect of the comics. The Watcher is also set to narrate the events of the show which could tie into a more celestial future in the MCU going forward and perhaps have some role to play in the multiverse events set to come.
For those that don’t know the Watcher, we have actually seen them briefly in the MCU. One of the post credit scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 saw them on screen with Stan Lee’s cameo as an astronaut.
2021 – Disney+
Ms. Marvel sees another new hero introduced to MCU with Kamala Khan. Many people may recognise Ms. Marvel from the 2020 Marvel’s Avengers game which saw Kamala take centre stage in that story. A more recent addition to the world of Marvel comics, Ms. Marvel has very quickly risen to prominence amongst comic fans and so it was only a matter of time before we saw her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Kamala is a teenage girl who takes inspiration from her hero, Captain Marvel, after discovering she has special abilities. In the comics Ms. Marvel is an Inhuman so it is unclear if she will help introduce them to the MCU too or if they will use another method to explain her origins.
Iman Vellani will portray Ms. Marvel in the Disney+ show and it has been confirmed by Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige, that Iman will also appear in the 2022 Captain Marvel 2. Vellani’s inclusion in that film once again reiterated the fact that these shows will play an integral part of the MCU going forward.
2021 – Disney+
Jeremy Renner once again picks up the bow in the Hawkeye Disney+ show scheduled to air this year. Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye will allow us to get a more focused look at Clint Barton outside the role he plays within the Avengers.
The show will also introduce us to a brand-new hero, but one fans of the comics have known for a while, Kate Bishop. Kate will take the role of Clint’s protégé as she trains to one day take on the mantle of Hawkeye.
Hailee Steinfeld, who has long rumoured to be playing Kate Bishop, has officially been confirmed in the role and will star alongside Renner in the limited series.
Expect this show to be a ‘passing of the torch’ type story that ultimately sets up Barton’s departure from the franchise with Kate Bishop transitioning to other projects down the road to interact and work with other Avengers.
Those are the ten projects scheduled to release in 2021 from Marvel Studios. There is still a way to go before we no longer have to worry about Covid-19 so there is a chance that some of these are delayed out of the calendar year but if they do all release then Marvel is set up to have an incredible year.
If the quality of The Mandalorian is anything to go by, the six Disney+ shows that Marvel are set to release this year could end up being some of the best Marvel content we have had to date. 2021 could truly see a shift in how we consume MCU content over the coming years and I have complete faith in Marvel Studios to keep delivering incredible stories with characters we love.
Let me know which project from Marvel you are most excited to see in 2021 as well as any theories you have for what we might see in the MCU going forward.