The year of many firsts, another unfortunate news has joined the series of miseries that have befallen the entertainment industry. This year, Marvel Studios won’t be releasing a single movie from the much-awaited Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making 2020 the first year to go without a single MCU movie release in over a decade.
After the Infinity Saga, the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was all set to begin its tale in 2020. Having spent the majority of last year announcing their roadmap for the fourth phase, Marvel Studios had declared its plans for the online streaming platform Disney+ too. Unfortunately, the year 2020 began with CoVID-19 that has currently become a full-blown pandemic.
In 2020, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was set to be the first major entrant from the MCU, followed by Chloé Zhao’s Eternals which was slated to release in November. Set as a kind of a prequel, Black Widow had the original release date of May 5, 2020. However, the pandemic forced Disney to postpone the release date of Black Widow to November 6, 2020, which was actually set for Eternals. As the Coronavirus epidemic is not showing any signs of slowing down, the movie has now been pushed back to May 7, 2021, a full year after the initial release date.
Similarly, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals was slated to be the second release from Marvel Studios in 2020. Starring Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Lauren Ridloff, Kit Harrington, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Barry Keoghan, and Don Lee, Eternals was MCU’s foray into the powerful cosmic beings who must re-unite after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Eternals was originally slated to release on 6th November 2020. However, the catastrophic effect of the pandemic has now pushed back the movie to a full year to November 5, 2021.
According to Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani, Disney did the right thing by postponing the release date of its upcoming releases in the light of recent events. As the world is battling with the Coronavirus epidemic, it’s important to focus on our health and life, the actor has tweeted.
Eternals delayed to Nov 5, 2021. Marvel made the right & responsible decision. There’s a pandemic. Nothing is more important than health & lives. I can’t tell ppl to go to a movie theater until I feel safe going to one.
Take care of yourselves. I promise it’ll be worth the wait!
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) September 23, 2020
Following the suit of Black Widow and Eternals, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has also been postponed. Previously set to be released on February 12, 2021, the movie was first postponed to May 7, 2021. As May is now occupied by Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will now be released on July 9, 2021.
An unfortunate start to the anticipated Phase Four of Marvel, the year 2020 won’t be witnessing a single MCU release. However, as Kevin Feige has confirmed that the upcoming Disney+ shows are also a part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision might be the only release from Phase Four in 2020. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, WandaVision recently dropped its exciting yet wildly confusing first trailer. The show is set to premiere in December, 2020.
As the first three movies from the Phase Four of MCU have been delayed, no news has yet arrived regarding the status of future Phase Four movies. In case you have forgotten, the remaining three movies from Phase Four ar Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and an untitled sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The untitled sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home is slated to release on December 17, 2021, just six weeks after Eternals. Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder is set to release on 11 February, 2022. Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has the release date of 24th March, 2022. As Marvel Studios has not released any news on the status of these three movies, massive scheduling conflicts might be on their way.
Between Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange 2, there’s only a gap of six weeks, which is hardly enough time to register a box-office success including global markets. Apart from Phase Four, upcoming movies like Captain Marvel 2, Ant-Man 3, and Black Panther 2 are also set to be released somewhere in 2022, making the year intensely crowded. Though it might be great for hardcore fans, it’s safe to expect over-saturation and lukewarm box-office collections, unless the entire roster is re-shuffled with adequate buffer periods between movies.
With eight upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+, and Samuel L. Jackson returning for a Nick Fury show now, conflicting schedules will affect Marvel more than any known supervillain from the flashy pages. As Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has made progress with hiring Academy Award nominee John Mathieson as its cinematographer, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder will soon begin its filming in Australia using LucasFilms’ ‘The Volume’ technology, which has been previously used in The Mandalorian.
HBO’s Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors has also been confirmed to play Kang the Conqueror in the upcoming Ant-Man 3, directed by Peyton Reed. Black Panther 2, directed by Ryan Coogler has yet to decide on its future as actor Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death has been a bolt from the blue. Though numerous theories have mushroomed regarding the future of Black Panther 2, the best way forward is to provide enough time to everyone attached to the movie to grieve and recuperate.
As the CoVID-19 pandemic keeps raging on without a cure, it’s hard to set a release date for the upcoming movies from Phase Four and Five. With major markets like India and China closed for business, it’s a delicate time for Marvel Studios to prudently set release dates for the future movies. But, it’s imperative for Disney to ensure that the upcoming movies don’t overcrowd once things normalize, lest a burnout from too many consecutive releases proves disastrous for the studio.