Marvel easily won San Diego Comic-Con 2022, revealing its long-term road map and dropping one bombshell surprise after another. Here's everything we learned about the future of the MCU:
The next two phases
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is divided into "phases," and everything since WandaVision in January 2021 has been part of phase four. But in a massive Comic-Con panel, Marvel stunned fans by laying out release plans all the way through phase six.
First, a broad overview: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever concludes phase four in November 2022, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicks off phase five in February 2023. Phase five then ends with Thunderbolts in July 2024, and Fantastic Four begins phase six in November 2024. Notably, Marvel is speeding through phases quicker than it used to, as phase one lasted four years. Phases four and five will also be the first not to include an Avengers film. But 2025 will more than make up for that.
Two 'Avengers' movies in one year
Here's where it gets really wild: Phase six will include not one, but two Avengers movies in the same year, a release strategy never attempted by Marvel before. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty hits theaters in May 2025, and then just six months later, Avengers: Secret Wars debuts in November 2025.
In Loki, Jonathan Majors played a man referred to as He Who Remains, who warns that sinister alternate versions of himself from other timelines are on the way to wreak havoc. One of those variants is Kang the Conqueror, who has been set up as the overarching villain of Marvel's "Multiverse Saga," e.g. phases four through six, filling the role Thanos did in the previous "Infinity Saga." The Avengers will presumably face many different variants of Kang from throughout the multiverse, including one who will be the villain of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Even more significant is Avengers: Secret Wars. That's the title of a few different Marvel comic book storylines, but the one most likely to be adapted is from 2015. In it, multiple universes are combined and different versions of Marvel's characters meet in a place called Battleworld. Several recent MCU films and shows have dealt with the multiverse, from Spider-Man: No Way Home to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. So it makes sense that this would build to a finale in which every universe is combined — meaning virtually anyone ever associated with Marvel could show up. We're talking Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, and maybe even Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who could play alternate versions of Iron Man and Captain America.
So yes, Secret Wars has the potential to be an even more monumental event than Avengers: Endgame. And given they're releasing six months apart, it's probably safe to assume Secret Wars concludes a two-parter beginning with The Kang Dynasty. The 2015 Secret Wars comic heavily involved Doctor Doom, who may be introduced in 2024's Fantastic Four, but it's also possible Kang will take over Doom's role in the Secret Wars film.
Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, won't helm these next Avengers films, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed to Deadline.
'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' gets a trailer
Stepping back a bit, Marvel debuted a stunning trailer for this November's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, confirming it will deal with the death of Chadwick Boseman's character, King T'Challa. We see a mural dedicated to T'Challa, and the footage ends with a glimpse of another hero heading into battle in the Black Panther suit.
Letitia Wright receives top billing, supporting the theory that she will take over the Black Panther mantle. But T'Challa and Shuri's mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), says that "my entire family is gone," perhaps suggesting there's a point when Shuri is presumed dead. The trailer also offers our first glimpses of Namor, the king of Atlantis, as well as Riri Williams, a young inventor who's sort of like a successor to Tony Stark and is getting her own Disney+ show, Ironheart.
Daredevil fans are eating well
It was a big weekend for fans of Charlie Cox's Daredevil. First of all, Marvel dropped a new trailer for this August's Disney+ show She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and it ends with a tease of Daredevil, who wasn't previously confirmed to appear in the series.
Marvel also revealed Cox will star in an all-new Daredevil show on Disney+ called Daredevil: Born Again, which features Vincent D'Onofrio returning as Kingpin from Netflix's Daredevil. Debuting in spring 2024, it consists of a whopping 18 episodes, making it Marvel's longest Disney+ show by far.
'Captain America: New World Order'
After Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) officially became the new Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he's finally getting his own movie: Captain America: New World Order, which hits theaters in May 2024, near the end of phase five.
A Thunderbolts movie was also confirmed. It will end phase five, hitting theaters in July 2024.
The Thunderbolts are a team of antiheroes who serve as a darker counterpart to the Avengers, and this appears to be the team that Julia Louis-Dreyfus' character, Valentina Allegra, has been assembling since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The full Thunderbolts line-up hasn't been revealed, but expect it to include Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova and Wyatt Russell's U.S. Agent.
A bunch of other release dates
Marvel also gave numerous previously announced projects release windows. In terms of Disney+ shows, Secret Invasion debuts in spring 2023, Loki season two and Echo debut in summer 2023, Ironheart debuts in fall 2023, and Agatha: Coven of Chaos, a WandaVision spinoff focused on Kathryn Hahn's character, debuts in winter 2023.
On the movie front, Blade, starring Mahershala Ali, debuts in November 2023, and the Fantastic Four movie opens in November 2024. Fantastic Four's cast hasn't yet been revealed.
'Ant-Man' and 'Guardians'
But wait, there's more! Footage from several upcoming releases was shown, and though it wasn't released online, we have descriptions via those in attendance.
Some of the biggest surprises include the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 features flashbacks to a baby Rocket, and Gamora — the alternate version from Endgame who doesn't remember Peter Quill — has become a Ravager. Chukwudi Iwuji also plays the High Evolutionary, an ultra-powerful being who wants to create the "perfect species," while Maria Bakalova plays Cosmo the Spacedog.
An Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer confirmed the film will feature MODOK, a villain from the comics, and a mysterious character played by Bill Murray. The footage reportedly ended with a sinister line from Kang to Ant-Man: "You're an Avenger? Have I killed you before?" Finally, a poster revealed Scott Lang's daughter, Cassie, in her costume as the superhero Stature.
All in all, Marvel had recently been facing criticism from those who felt the franchise had no clear sense of direction. But after this presentation, those complaints can surely be put to rest.