8:05 pm EDT, July 20, 2019

SDCC liveblog: Marvel Studios reveals Phase 4 of the MCU

It's time to learn about Phase 4

Marvel Studios returned to San Diego Comic-Con 2019’s Hall H to reveal their Phase 4 slate after the world-altering events of Avengers: Endgame brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first ten-year arc to a close. We liveblogged the whole thing.

There was a real air of mystery surrounding what Marvel would bring to Comic-Con ’19, but once the panel started it didn’t take long for fans to realize what this panel would be about: Unveiling the MCU’s Phase 4.

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The panel began with an emotional reel recapping the Infinity Saga, showcasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s achievements from day one to today. President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige then took the stage to greet the audience and thank them for their undying support over the last ten years.

“The Infinity Saga is complete, thanks to all of you who started here in Hall H. Who was here for the first time, when we showed footage from Iron Man? Awesome. 23 interconnected movies, from Iron Man 1 to Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Infinity Saga is complete. I never thought it would happen, and it never would have happened if it were not for all of you, so thank you.”

Feige also extended thanks to the team at Disney who have helped them, and brought all of the Marvel Studios staff present out on stage to introduce them to the audience for a round of applause, putting faces to the team that have helped make every single one of these movies — and to officially announce to them and us live on stage, that per the folks at Disney distribution, Feige had just gotten the news that within a matter of days, Avengers: Endgame will officially take the title from James Cameron and become the biggest film of all time.

“Now, I could spend 90 minutes talking about what we’ve done. Or… I could spend some time talking about what we are about to do.”

The hall was shown on the screens this timeline for Phase four, with UNTITLED slots placed from May 2020 to November 2021. As the panel progressed, each of these slots was populated with a short presentation from some of the folks involved in each project.

Marvel’s Phase Four Slate Unveiled at SDCC

The following movies and TV shows (which’ll be Disney+ exclusives) were announced today and are all a part of Phase Four.

This is the first time Marvel included shows within a Phase X line up, and it’s confirmed that at least one of these series will directly tie into what’s going on in the movies, something that hasn’t always been the case with the canonical MCU tv shows in the past.

In order of their Hall H reveal, this is your Marvel Phase Four:

November 6, 2020: Eternals (Movie) starring Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, and Don Lee. Directed by Chloé Zhao.

“Something entirely new, entirely different from the MCU, a group of immortals who’ve been on Earth for 35,000 years, they’ve been there amongst the MCU, we haven’t met them before. This film is full Jack Kirby,” Feige told the audience. He then introduced director Chloe Zhao alongside the cast and their roles.

“I just really, really wanted to make a Marvel movie for so long, because I’ve been excited by MCU for a decade, and when I watch their movies, I see how much this team loves their fans and loves their characters, and also for this film, for Eternals, 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 in this time on our planet,” Zhao explained, when asked what drew her to the project.

Kevin Feige then introduced the cast: Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari (shifting the comics character from male and able-bodied to female and deaf onscreen), Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Eternals leader Ajak (again, and similarly to Mar-Vell in Captain Marvel, a male comics character shifted to a female film character), Lia McHugh as Sprite, and Don Lee as the Big Bad, Gilgamesh.

“And finally – unbelievably – playing Thena… Angelina Jolie!” Feige announced.

Here are some of the best quotes from the cast when asked about what it means to be a part of Eternals:

“It used to be that movies like Casablanca would have sort of everything. They would have action, drama, thriller, romance, comedy, they’d have everything, and then movies sort of became like it had to be little genres, like ‘What is this? Is this a comedy, is this a drama, is this a thriller? And I feel like Marvel movies are a throwback to those old school Hollywood movies because they have everything. They have action, drama, romance, comedy, so I’m just excited to be able to do all that.” – Kumail Nanjiani

“I take my inspiration from our leader, Chloe, who’s also a strong woman. It takes a strong woman to do a movie like this because it’s so big and amazing and I’m so excited to be a part of it. And then the way she [Ajak] approaches leadership as a woman, as a strong woman, is that she sees them as a family. So there’s a lot of mother instincts in this Eternal who is not supposed to have feelings. This is very exciting, and I feel very honored to be a part of a movie that is going to allow people who never felt represented in superheroes – or in this case Eternals – represented because I am proud to have a diverse family.” – Salma Hayek

“I’m going to work ten times harder because I think what it means to be a part of the MCU, what it means to be an Eternal, to be part of this family, I know what we all need to do. We have all read the script, we all know what the task ahead is, and we know what you deserve so we are all going to be working very, very hard.” – Angelina Jolie

Fall 2020: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ TV Series) starring Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and Daniel Brühl.

The next property Feige announced was the much-anticipated Falcon and Winter Soldier streaming series for Disney+. “This Disney+, let me tell you something, is giving Marvel Studios an opportunity to tell so many more stories that we haven’t been able to tell before, most specifically, what’s going on with the Falcon and Winter Soldier post-Endgame,” Feige enthused before welcoming the show’s two leads to Hall H.

The show will star Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, the two characters closest to the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, and who both picked up the mantle for him at various moments in comics history. Avengers: Endgame saw Steve officially pass the shield to Sam, with Bucky’s approval, and Anthony Mackie was still clutching it when he and Sebastian Stan joined Feige onstage.

Mackie graciously let Stan take a turn with the shield, before quickly reclaiming it – “Alright, that’s enough. Now give it back.” The pair’s well-known comedic double act on various Marvel press tours is definitely at the heart of this show as well. Stan and Mackie gossiped “among themselves” as the moderator Jessica Chobot took a turn with the shield – “I’m going to need to borrow this.” “Well, alright, you can talk to Kevin.” So take this with a grain of salt, but I would be very surprised if the show does not give us a hint of BuckyCap as well as SamCap, as it looks like the series will tackle the legacy of Captain America for one or both of them in the wake of Steve Rogers’ retirement and the world assuming that he is dead.

That being said, if you have ever seen any interviews with this pair, you’ll know it’s almost impossible to get a real answer out of them when they’re together. When asked what they’re most excited to explore about the dynamic of these two characters, they each took it upon themselves to answer about the other, in quite a tongue in cheek manner.

“I’d like to explore the Falcon as a character. What kind of man is this? We’ll find out. We know he’s got thighs, so… Let’s see if there’s anything else.” – Sebastian Stan

“With the Winter Soldier, I want to see what really makes him tick. What ticks him off. How much ticking can that clock do before that tick go tock and that tock go boom?” – Anthony Mackie

Chobot asked they have as much fun on set when working together as they seem to do off. “Oh, definitely not.” Stan shot back immediately. “You see how it is? It’s going to be a long six months. For some of us.”

Mackie was quick to assure the audience that this was a joke. “We have a lot of fun on set. Look. We are living our dream. Every one of us asked, dreamed and prayed to be in a Marvel movie. We have the job that anyone else would kill to have, so why would anyone mess that up by not respecting and appreciating the opportunity that you’re given? So when we go to work, we have a really good time.”

The panel was then hijacked by a shock video screen presentation, with the same distorted footage and voice reciting the ten Russian code words intended to activate the Winter Soldier that we first saw in Civil War. For a moment, I think everyone in that room thought the series was going to deal with Bucky being reactivated as the Winter Soldier – until the tension broke as their speaker, Daniel Brühl, in character as Civil War villain Helmut Zemo, appeared on the screen. “But that doesn’t work anymore, does it? Can’t blame a man for trying. I can imagine what you all must be thinking: villain seizes control of the panel like you expect me to threaten some unspeakable act of violence, but that’s not what this is. I simply wanted to say hello to some old friends. Gentlemen… I’ll be seeing you very soon.”

And with that, he pulled on the reddish purple mask of Baron Zemo (albeit a more realistic balaclava version with eyeholes) teasing that his origin story in Civil War was just the start of his journey towards becoming one of Marvel’s most iconic super villains and one of Captain America in particular’s greatest adversaries.

February 12, 2021: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Movie) starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

The Ten Rings is a top secret terrorist organization dedicated to destroying world peace by any means necessary, and its super-duper-secret leader is a warlord known as the Mandarin. The Iron Man trilogy involved the Ten Rings since the very beginning – they’re the group that holds Tony Stark hostage – and we see a character called Trevor Slattery posing as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, but as Kevin Feige introduced this new MCU property, he showed clips of hidden Ten Rings symbols in various scenes during the Infinity Saga, including Ant-Man. The one-shot All Hail The King revealed that the real Mandarin wasn’t happy about the goings on of Iron Man 3, and in Shang-Chi, we’ll finally meet the mysterious villain and find out the true breadth of his power.

Feige announced that the Mandarin will be played by Chinese actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, and that Awkwafina will star in an as yet unknown role, before introducing the movie’s director, Destin Cretton. This is what he had to say:

“I grew up on an island in the middle of the Pacific called Maui, in a small town called Haiku that had about the population of this room, so standing on this stage is really terrifying for me. But what’s really cool is I grew up with friends who were Japanese, Chinese, Caucasian, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean – that’s the norm in Hawaii and it’s so exciting to see Kevin and this amazing team begin to create an MCU that reflects all the beautiful colors that I see in this room.”

Cretton also shared how amazing it has been to discover how deeply seeded the Ten Rings story is in the MCU already, and how much has been planned out in advance by Feige, and finally, introduced his Shang-Chi – Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu. Liu greeted the audience first in Chinese and then in English, and immediately won about 6000 hearts with his humorous energy when the moderator asked him how he found out he got the role.

“So here’s where I have a bone to pick with Kevin. Because I feel like I was kind of this social experiment of like ‘Let’s just take this guy, an ordinary guy living in Toronto, let’s tell him that he’s going to be in the next Marvel movie and give him like, four days to prep for it. Literally guys, I was cast on Tuesday, I screen tested on Sunday in New York, and this is just the craziest, craziest thing. I can’t describe how I feel right now. [Moderator: Have you ever been to San Diego Comic Con before?] This is my first time. Why, is this a difficult hall to get into or something?”

I predict that as soon as press tours start for Shang-Chi, Simu Liu is going to become a new Internet Boyfriend. He’s fantastic – funny, grounded, self-deprecating while also confident. Seriously, follow him on Twitter right now, you will not regret it.

“I can’t help but think about my parents. My parents immigrated from China to Canada 25 years ago with nothing except the hopes and dreams to build a family and to build a life for their kids and all I’ve ever wanted to do growing up was to make them proud, and so basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m really happy that I’m not a doctor.”

Spring 2021: WandaVision (Disney+ TV Series) starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and Teyonah Parris.

Spring 2021: Loki (Disney+ TV Series) starring Tom Hiddleston.

May 2022: Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (Movie) starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Summer 2021: What if…? (Disney+ TV Series) with Jeffrey Wright as the voice of The Watcher, and many actors from across the MCU reprising their roles as voice talent. Animated Series.

Fall 2021: Hawkeye (Disney+ TV Series) with Jeremy Renner, and introducing Kate Bishop

November 5, 2021: Thor: Love and Thunder (Movie) starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman, who will play Female Thor. Taika Waititi returns as director.

And last to present – but actually first to be released, and the only property to show us some actual filmed footage of the work in progress, having been shooting in London already for the past 30 days…

May 1, 2020: Black Widow (Movie) starring Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz. Directed by Cate Shortland.

At the very end of the presentation, Feige teased Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Captain Marvel 2, Black Panther 2, Fantastic Four and “mutants” by saying he has “no time left to talk about those things,” but he did announce Blade starring Mahershala Ali. Unlike the rest of Phase 4’s line up, no release date was given for the movie.

In order of release (which does not match the panel presentation)

May 1, 2020 – Black Widow
Fall 2020 – The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
November 6, 2020 – Eternals
February 12, 2021 – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Spring 2021 – WandaVision
May 7, 2021 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Spring 2021 – Loki
Summer 2021 – What If…?
Fall 2021 – Hawkeye
November 5, 2021 – Thor: Love and Thunder

Check out our liveblog as it happened – posts are in reverse chronological order.

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