At San Diego Comic Con 2019, Marvel Studios dropped a surplus of announcements on MCU fans, revealing the entire slate for Phase 4 of their incredibly successful franchise. Unlike previous "phases" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase 4 will actually only consist of 5 movies, and will only stretch for two years, from 2020 through 2021. However, Phase 4 will be complemented by the addition of 5 different Disney+ series, who, unlike the Netflix, Hulu and ABC shows, will all be directly connected to the rest of the MCU.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, the chronology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may seem a bit confusing, considering that the movie ended in 2023. Spider-Man: Far From Home, the final movie of Phase 3, appeared to take place one year later in 2024. While we don't know all of the exact years of the future MCU movies and Disney+ series just yet, the announcements from this past weekend did at least give us an estimate of when each movie will be taking place.
Black Widow (Movie)
Though she first appeared in the MCU 9 years ago in Iron Man 2, Marvel has waited until now to finally give her her own solo adventure, despite already having killed the character off in Avengers: Endgame. Rather than resurrecting this character to give her a part to play in the future of the MCU, the Marvel panel at Comic Con revealed that her solo movie will follow her adventures between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
There was about a two year gap between Civil War and Infinity War for Black Widow that we don't know much about, and her solo movie will finally be filling us in. At the end of Civil War, Black Widow went rogue, abandoning the split-up Avengers and going on the run, with Tony warning her that the government was coming for her after allowing Captain America to escape. We saw her next in Infinity War, where she had evidently become reacquainted with Captain America and the rest of the Secret Avengers.
Her solo movie will presumably explain some of the choices Black Widow made in the two most recent Avengers movies, like why she decided to team back up with Captain America and why she decided to dye her hair. David Harbour, who will be play Red Guardian in Black Widow, stated this week that the movie will even explain why she sacrificed herself in Avengers: Endgame.
The Eternals (Movie)
The Eternals is actually one movie that we do not know the estimated timeline for, though we can assume that it will take place after Avengers: Endgame. After the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017, Kevin Feige expressed a lot of interest in exploring the cosmic side of the MCU, and The Eternals appears to be the next step for that. Because much of the MCU's future is "cosmic," it's safe to bet that The Eternals will not be a prequel and will instead take place after the previous events of the franchise.
In the comics, the Eternals are actually millions of years old, after receiving their abilities from the Celestials, who have been confirmed to appear in the movie. Because of this, there's actually no telling when exactly this movie will take place. Realistically, all we know is that it takes place anytime from millions of years ago through the time after Endgame. Hopefully we will get more clarity before this movie releases next year.
Much like The Eternals, there's no official confirmation of when exactly Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will take place. Presumably, since Marvel discussed that Shang-Chi will be an important hero in the future of the MCU, it's safe to assume that this movie will also take place after Avengers: Endgame, but there's no official confirmation of that just yet.
What we do know is that the movie will presumably take place after 2013's Iron Man 3. The villain of Shang-Chi will be the real Mandarin, who was set up in the Marvel short film All Hail the King, which came out shortly after Iron Man 3. Having the movie take place any time before that wouldn't really make much sense.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the Doctor Strange sequel that is also set to feature Scarlet Witch, has been confirmed to take place some time after Avengers: Endgame. Based on the title, it appears as though the movie will also explore other timelines and possibly other periods of time in the MCU, but it will at least start some time after the events of the latest Avengers movie. The movie will directly tie into the Disney+ series WandaVision and Loki, so it's safe to assume that it may take place a number of years after Endgame.
Thor: Love and Thunder (Movie)
Taika Waititi is back to direct yet another Thor movie, with Thor: Love and Thunder set to release in late 2021. Much like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder is confirmed to take place after Avengers: Endgame. Since Endgame saw Thor abandoning Asgard, leaving Valkyrie as its King, Love and Thunder presumably won't take place until a few years later, in order give these characters enough time to develop after having just departed.
Earlier this week, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn confirmed that the movie will take place before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which won't release until Phase 5 at the earliest. Because of this, it's expected that Thor will have departed from the Guardians of the Galaxy some time before the events of Thor: Love and Thunder.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TV series)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the first Marvel Disney+ series slated for release. As the title suggests, the series will star Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier), with Captain America: Civil War villain Baron Zemo returning as the new antagonist.
The series is confirmed to take place after Avengers: Endgame, which would make sense considering that Bucky has either been brainwashed or asleep in Wakanda for most of the MCU up until this point. This duo-series will more than likely pave the way for more Avengers team-ups going forward in the MCU, considering that Falcon is the new Captain America. This series should essentially set the precedent for both Phases 4 and 5, essentially being a leaping-off-point for everything taking place after Endgame.
WandaVision (TV series)
Much like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision will also take place after Avengers: Endgame. While it was previously predicted that it would take place before Avengers: Infinity War, considering that one of the show's main characters, Vision, died in Infinity War, that does not appear to be the case.
It has also been confirmed that the series will take place before the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which releases the same year. It was heavily hinted that the events of WandaVision will directly lead into the plot of the second Doctor Strange, so the series may actually take place immediately before the movie.
What If...? (TV series)
What If...? is the most peculiar addition to the Phase 4 slate, as each episode will explore the alternate ways events in the MCU could have gone, similar to the "What If" comics. Since each episode will stand alone, there is no specific time period where each episode will take place. We know that the first episode will start during the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, but outside of that, it's unclear when the other episodes will happen chronologically.
Loki (TV series)
Loki's time period is also a bit confusing, as it won't actually take place during the mainstream universe in the MCU. Instead, it will follow the Loki from the alternate universe explored in Avengers: Endgame when some of the Avengers went back to 2012, leading to Loki escaping with the Tesseract inside that timeline.
The Loki series will take place any time after 2012 in this alternate timeline. Like WandaVision, it was stated that Loki will somehow tie into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, this doesn't really help clear up the exact time the series will take place, since the Doctor Strange movie will begin in a different timeline and presumably pass through the timeline of Loki at some point.
Hawkeye (TV series)
Hawkeye, the final Disney+ show slated for Phase 4, will explore Clint Barton's time as Ronin, the criminal vigilante he became between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. However, it was never stated that this is the exact time that the series will take place.
It was revealed that the character Kate Bishop will have a major part to play in the series, with Clint becoming her mentor as she becomes Hawkeye herself. While the series could in fact be taking place between the two Avengers movies with Clint taking Kate under his wing after losing his family, it seems more likely that it will take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, with his time as Ronin only being explored through flashbacks. This is backed up further by the theory that the character Kate Bishop will actually be Clint's daughter, featured in the beginning of Avengers: Endgame, and that she will now have a different name than her comic-book counterpart.
All of the other movies mentioned at San Diego Comic Con, including Blade, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Black Panther 2 and Captain Marvel 2, will be released in Phase 5 at the earliest, as Kevin Feige confirmed that the 10 movies and shows listed above are the only ones currently slated for Phase 4. While this is subject to change, it's safe to assume that Blade and the rest of these movies will take place after the events of the Phase 4 movies and shows. It will likely be another couple of years before we get any confirmation from Marvel Studios of the MCU's future after 2021.