It has been well over a year but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally gearing up for its return next week. Phase 4 of the MCU will officially kick off with the release of WandaVision on Disney+, with the live-action series set to debut on January 15. That wasn't always the plan but 2020 forced Disney and Marvel Studios to shift things around quite a bit. Be that as it may, fans who have been eagerly awaiting more MCU content will have plenty coming down the pipeline over the next couple of years that should more than make up for lost time.
When last we left the heroes of the MCU, it was in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, which hit theaters in 2019. The movie was the culmination of more than a decade of interconnected storytelling. It became the highest-grossing movie of all time and met the lofty expectations that were placed upon it. Spider-Man: Far From Home, the final MCU Phase 3 movie, followed. In some ways, it played like an epilogue for Endgame. Again, the movie was a huge success and put pieces in place for the future.
That future was originally supposed to arrive in the form of Black Widow in May 2020. The long-awaited solo movie for Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff was supposed to kick off Phase 4. But, with theaters closed for much of the year and the box office on life support, Black Widow, along with the rest of Marvel Studios' upcoming slate, was delayed multiple times. Titles were shifted around and things were uncertain for a time. Luckily, the dust has finally settled and it is off to the races here in a matter of days.
One of the biggest changes heading into MCU Phase 4 will be the addition of live-action TV shows. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and other shows existed before but they always felt distantly removed from the movies. No longer. WandaVision will start a trend of these shows being heavily connected to the rest of the MCU, with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returning as Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively. Other live-action shows announced for Phase 4 include The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the animated What If?. Other Disney+ shows such as She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Armor Wars and Secret Invasion have been announced but some of those may end up being part of Phase 5.
On the movie side Phase 4 will consist of Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the currently untitled Spider-Man 3 in 2021. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2 and a mystery MCU title will follow in 2022, which could be the Blade reboot with Mahershala Ali. Other projects such as Fantastic Four, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and an X-Men reboot will be part of Phase 5. It all starts when WandaVision arrives January 15 on the Disney+ streaming service.