The Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly had a super weekend.
“Avengers: Endgame” finally surpassed “Avatar” at the box office, making it the top-grossing movie of all time. As of Sunday, the comic-book movie grossed $2.79 billion to “Avatar’s” $2.789 billion.
“A huge congratulations to the Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios teams, and thank you to the fans around the world who lifted ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to these historic heights,” Disney Studios Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Alan Horn said in a statement.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced the news Saturday from a stage at Comic-Con in San Diego, before detailing the movies comprising Phase 4 of the MCU, which includes a female Thor played by Natalie Portman and a “Blade” reboot helmed by two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. (Phase 3 ended with “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”)
Here’s everything we learned about Phase 4 of the Marvel franchise, broken down by movie.
“Black Widow” (May 1, 2020)
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Window, a longtime staple of the Avengers films, will finally get a solo movie. You’d be forgiven for being confused, given that the character (spoiler alert!) hurled herself off a cliff and to certain death in “Endgame.”
The plot of “Black Widow” actually takes place between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Endgame.” It will follow Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) traveling to Budapest, where she meets fellow Red Room trainee Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and battles with the Red Guardian (David Harbour).
In the comics, Belova eventually inherits the role of Black Widow following Romanoff’s death, so it’s a fair guess that Pugh, hot off her starring role in “Midsommar,” will become a familiar face in the MCU.
“The Eternals” (Nov. 6, 2020)
Casual MCU fans might not be familiar with the Eternals, a group of Greek mythology-esque, godlike, humanoid beings created by Jack Kirby in the 1970s. But they’re definitely familiar with the actors set to portray them: Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee and Richard Madden are just a few of the cast members.
Though it might seem strange for Marvel to load up a fairly unknown property with such big names, the strategy has proved successful before. It wasn’t long ago that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters were primarily known to comic-book readers. Now, they’re a household name. Can Marvel capture lightning in a bottle twice? We’ll find out next November.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Feb. 12, 2021)
This movie will be Marvel’s first Asian-led film. Simu Liu, a Canadian actor best known for “Kim’s Convenience,” will play Shang-Chi, the “master of kung fu” — another lesser-known character. The movie will also feature Tony Leung and Awkwafina.
Some critics have decried Marvel for having a lack of on-screen diversity, an issue “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings” seems to address.
“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” (May 7, 2021)
One of the few sequels announced so far for Phase 4, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” might be the first horror-leaning film in Marvel’s oeuvre. “We’re gonna make the first scary MCU film,” director Scott Derrickson said at this weekend’s Comic-Con.
Joining Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange is Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch.
(Though Feige also mentioned sequels to “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” along with a “Fantastic Four” movie, he said he couldn’t offer further details, and it was unclear if they would be a part of Phase 4.)
“Thor: Love and Thunder” (Nov. 5, 2021)
Perhaps the most surprising — and certainly the buzziest — news out of Comic-Con is that Natalie Portman will portray Thor in the fourth entry of the series.
In the comic books, Jane Foster becomes Thor after the original Thor is deemed unworthy of wielding the hammer. It’s unclear if that will happen here; Chris Hemsworth will return as Thor for at least part of the film. All we know for sure is that Portman’s Foster, with the assistance of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, will somehow earn the title (and Mjolnir).
Taika Waititi will return to direct.