Marvel MCU Phase 4 release dates, cast, plot and theories

Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 kicks into high gear with the release of the 24th film in the MCU – Black Widow.

But Natasha Romanoff’s prequel solo adventure is just the first in six surprising new Marvel superhero films coming your way between now and 2022.

Join us as we preview these Phase 4 Marvel movies in order of their slated release date.


Black Widow

Release Date: 7 May 2021

Black Widow is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow’s first solo adventure.

It’s a prequel, set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and sees Black Widow on the run and seeking out loved ones to help her take on a new villain, Taskmaster.

BLACK WIDOW Cast

Joining Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow on this explosive adventure are Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women) as Natasha’s fellow assassin Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, The Constant Gardener) as their mother figure Melina Vostokoff, and David Harbour (Hellboy, TV’s Stranger Things) as their father figure, Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. It’s also rumoured that Robert Downey Jr. will make an appearance as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

BLACK WIDOW - What We Know

  • Black Widow director, Cate Shortland has confirmed that Natasha Romanoff will be passing the Black Widow baton onto Yelena Belova, beginning a whole new Black Widow storyline in the future.
  • Although Natasha, Yelena, Melina and Alexei bicker like a regular family, they’re not blood relatives. Melina and Alexei are mentors to the two young women. In fact, in the comics, Melina AKA Iron Maiden was Black Widow’s adversary for some time.
  • Taskmaster has ‘photographic reflexes’ meaning he can mimic any opponent’s fighting style. In the Black Widow trailers alone we see him bust fighting moves belonging to Black Widow, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain America. How did he learn their moves?

Shang-Chi ANd The Legend Of The Ten Rings

Release Date: 9 July 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will introduce cinemagoers to Shang-Chi, The Master of Kung-Fu – a martial arts superhero as he goes up against über-baddy The Mandarin’s Ten Rings terrorist organisation.   

Shang-Chi ANd The Legend Of The Ten Rings Cast

Simu Liu is playing Shang-Chi, while the role of The Mandarin (for real this time - Sir Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 was just an actor pretending to be the terrorist mastermind) has gone to acting legend, Tony Leung. The last member of the cast we know about for now is Awkwafina, but her role has yet to be revealed. 

Shang-Chi ANd The Legend Of The Ten Rings - What We Know

  • Stan Lee wanted Brandon Lee to star as Shang-Chi back in the 1980s. That didn’t happen but decades later, Shang-Chi was one of the original characters in Marvel’s plan for the MCU. 
  • The shadowy Ten Rings terrorist organisation has been popping up in the MCU since the beginning. It was a Ten Rings cell that captured Tony Stark in Afghanistan in 2008’s Iron Man, and the group supported Whiplash in Iron Man 2. They also appear in Iron Man 3 and are behind the scenes in Ant Man. 
  • In the original 1970s-80s comics, Shang-Chi’s father was Fu-Manchu (a villain from a racially stereotyped series of pulp novels). In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings it’s rumoured that Shang-Chi’s dad will be none other than The Mandarin, creating some very awkward family dynamics.

The Eternals

Release Date: 5 November 2021

The Eternals is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and introduces us to a god-like race of immortal aliens who have secretly lived on earth for over 7,000 years, and who come together again to battle their malevolent counterparts known as The Deviants.

Like Thor and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 1. before it, expect this super-ensemble introduction to tread new ground for the MCU and open up an unexplored direction for the franchise.  

The Eternals Cast

Richard Madden is all-powerful Eternal, Ikaris, while Angelina Jolie is stepping up as fierce-warrior, Thena. Gemma Chan plays the humanity-loving Sersi. Kumail Nanjiani is Kingo, and Salma Hayek is playing Ajak, the Eternals’ wise, spiritual leader.

Lauren Ridloff and Brian Tyree Henry are also part of the heroic ensemble, and are notably playing the first deaf and the first openly gay superhero in the MCU respectively.

The Eternals - What We Know

  • While each Eternal has a superpower, they’re able to combine them, Power Rangers-style, to create a powerful entity known as the Uni-Mind. Expect that to make an appearance in The Eternals’ climactic scenes.
  • You may not know The Eternals but their creator, Jack Kirby was the comic-book legend behind Black Panther, Thor, Captain America, X-Men, The Avengers and the Fantastic 4, among many other Marvel greats. 
  • The Eternals takes place in the wake of Avengers: Endgame when an ‘unexpected tragedy’ forces our immortal super team out of hiding. Why, you ask, didn’t these all-powerful immortals help out against Thanos? Well, one comic-book storyline had the Eternals unaware of their true identities so…

Untitled Spider-man Sequel

Release Date: 17 December 2021

The 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is set to conclude the current Spider-Man ‘Home’ trilogy: begun with Spider-Man Homecoming and followed up by Spider-Man Far From Home

Jon Watts is directing the world's favourite web-slinger for a third time. 

Untitled Spider-man Sequel Cast

Somewhat out-of-character, Tom Holland has been pretty tight-lipped about the Spidey threquel. We do know, however, that he’s returning as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, of course, as is Zendaya as MJ. Given his memorable mid-credits cameo as J. Jonah Jameson in Far From HomeJK Simmons looks likely to be a headache for Peter, and how could Marvel leave us hanging around the whole Happy Hogan/Aunt May romance?   

Untitled Spider-man Sequel - WHat We Know

  • Spider-Man 3 has no title yet, but it will definitely feature the word ‘home’. Spider-Man: Home Economics? Spider-Man: Home(r) Simpson? What do you think it’ll be?
  • The plot of Spider-Man 3 also remains a mystery but let’s not forget the cliffhanger Far From Home left us on: thanks to Mysterio and J. Jonah Jameson, the world not only knows Spider-Man’s identity, but thinks he caused all the destruction in London. Resolving that has to feature, right?
  • Sony and Marvel’s current deal only includes this solo Spidey film plus one more MCU film appearance. Is this the end for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man?

Thor: Love and Thunder

Release Date: 11 February 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder is the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will officially make Thor the first Marvel hero to have four solo films.

It reunites Chris Hemsworth with Thor: Ragnorok director Taika Waititi to tell a story inspired by the Marvel Comics series The Mighty Thor, by Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman.

Thor: Love and Thunder Cast

Thor 4 will feature not one but two Thors. Naturally, Chris Hemsworth returns as the hammer-swinging Asgardian but he’ll be joined by Natalie Portman’s Dr Jane Foster who we last saw in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. In the comic-books, Foster took on Thor’s powers and identity when Thor Odinson found himself unable to lift Mjolnir.

Tessa Thompson is returning as Valkyrie – who’s set on rebuilding Asgard and finding a queen to share the throne. Taika Waititi will return as fan favourite Korg, and Christian Bale is heavily rumoured to be Thor 4’s villain. Who he’ll play remains a mystery for now. Last up are the Guardians of the Galaxy. Vin Diesel has revealed at least some of the Guardians will be making an appearance in Love and Thunder.

Thor: Love and Thunder - WHat We Know

  • We last saw Thor heading off into space with the Guardians (Asgardians?) of the Galaxy at the end of Avengers: Endgame. There’s a chance he’s still with them at the start of Love and Thunder. 
  • During Dr Jane Foster’s run as Thor one of her main foes was Dario Agger AKA The Minotaur, an energy billionaire who just happens to be a mythological monster, too. Could he be Bale’s character or is that just bull?
  • Taika Waititi has confirmed we’ll also be learning more about Korg the Kronan in Love and Thunder. Marvel, please put a Korg solo movie on the planner!

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Release Date: 25 March 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be the second solo outing for the Sorcerer Supreme, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

It’s also going to be a departure for the studio – a dark blockbuster with horror elements. We can’t wait.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Cast

Joining Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch whose Disney + series WandaVision will apparently intersect with events of Doctor Strange 2 in significant ways. We’re happy to report that Benedict Wong is back as Wong, Doctor Strange’s most trusted ally, as is Chiwetel Ejiofor as the much, much less trustworthy Mordo.  

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - WHat We Know

  • Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was due to helm In The Multiverse of Madness but left the project due to creative differences. Happily, his shoes have been amply filled by horror legend Sam Raimi, whose Evil Dead films have an irrepressible, inventive energy that bodes well for the good doctor. 
  • Mordo could definitely be the villain in Doctor Strange 2 but before he left the production, Dericksson told IGN that he likes the character of Nightmare, Ruler of the Dream Dimension. Feasibly, Scarlet Witch could also have unleashed all sorts of Multiverse weirdness that requires unravelling.  
  • The concept of the multiverse – multiple different but related universes co-existing also opens up the intriguing possibility that we could see the return of MCU favourites like Black Widow and Iron Man but from other timelines.

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