Marvel Studios is set to roll its curtain down on Phase 4, and has revealed future plans for its cinematic universe at the recently concluded San Diego Comic-Con 2022. The studio announced an exciting line-up of live-action and animated projects in its next phases from 2023-2025.
Phases 5 and 6 feature new titles with familiar faces, starting with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and leading up to not just one but two back-to-back Avengers movies with much to explore in between in the Multiverse.
If you’ve missed those announcements and want more information, here is everything you need to know about Marvel’s latest slate of projects set to release on the big screen:
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Release date: February 17, 2023
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be the beginning of Phase 5. That film is expected to reveal more mysteries of the pivotal Quantum Realm universe; it will be the first official introduction of Jonathan Majors as Kang (the big bad of this Multiverse Saga) and will debut a new young hero when Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) suits up as well.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release date: May 5, 2023
James Gunn will be ending his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy with this film – and he and the cast and crew are letting fans know in no uncertain terms that it is going to be an ending. The movie will be introducing some key cosmic figures – Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) and the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) – and it’s here that we begin to see a possible pattern forming in Phase 5: powerful villains rising in ways our heroes may not be ready for.
Release date: July 28, 2023
The Captain Marvel movie franchise will meet the Ms. Marvel TV series (with help from WandaVision’s Monica Rambeau) to form a new trifecta of cosmic-powered superheroines in the MCU. Plot details are unknown, but Ms. Marvel left us with a place-switching connection between Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), so that’s something. Based on other projects like Secret Invasion, The Marvels could have some serious Kree/Skrull drama to resolve – and again, we could be looking at a major shakeup in the cosmic order, as a result.
Release date: November 3, 2023
The Marvel Knights supernatural side of things has been teased through Moon Knight and Eternals’ post-credits scene, but Blade is the film that will really open the door to it all. Blade could be a pivotal dark horse story whose significance we can’t yet fully understand.
Captain America: New World Order
Release date: May 3, 2024
Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) has taken up the shield and mantle, but it sounds like the timing could be rather unfortunate. In the comics, the New World Order organization was founded by Red Skull in a clandestine plot to take over the world. There have been many similar stories in Marvel lore since then (Leviathan) that could be streamlined into the premise of Captain America 4. Either way, it sounds like Sam will find out there are some truly seedy (world threatening) things happening in the world of politics and espionage.
Release date: May 3, 2024
The end of MCU Phase 5 will be Thunderbolts – a series that started as a team of villains posing as heroes. Given everything we’ve seen in Phase 5 leading up to it, Thunderbolts makes us wonder if Phase 5 will end with a new world order of villains holding the reigns, and heroes left on the run.
While those Marvel Phase 5 plans took their rightful place in the spotlight at Comic-Con 2022, Marvel also announced the first three projects in its Phase 6 slate
Release date: November 8, 2024
MCU reboot of the Fantastic Four will be released in November of 2024, marking the first movie in Phase 6 and kickstarting the road to Secret Wars. This movie will be necessary to get to the final film of The Multiverse Saga as Marvels’ first family play a major role in that storyline.
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Release date: May 2, 2025
The summer of 2025 will kick off with Avengers 5, subtitled The Kang Dynasty and set to be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. What’s unclear about the film is…who will be part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in this movie? One guess is that Captain Marvel and Hulk have continued the team, as seen at the end of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Avengers: Secret Wars
Release date: November 7, 2025
The Multiverse Saga will officially conclude with this title, as the Avengers: Secret Wars will seemingly draw from the Jonathan Hickman-penned reboot of the title from 2015, one that combined multiple different Earths/timelines/universes into one planet, the all-new Battle World.
Sources: Techradar, Comicbook.com and Boxoffice Pro
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gradually introduced the multiverse through various installments of its four phases, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will finally dive headfirst into the weirdness.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home doctor strange cast a spell that went wrong, cracking open the multiverse, allowing parallel universes to collide. The first trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was shown to audiences after the movie, replacing the typical post-credits scene in a Marvel Studios picture. “Things just got out of hand,” Dark Strange adds ominously in the trailer, implying that there might be more problems with the multiverse at large.
As we anxiously wait to see how everything will unfold, here is everything we know so far about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:
Appearances in the MCU
The Prequel: Doctor Strange 2016
Doctor Stephen Strange was given a thorough origin story when we first met him: a skilled surgeon who crippled his hands in a car accident. Under the guaidance of the ‘Ancient One’ played by Tilda Swinton, he soon became the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’, guarding all things enchanted, including the time stone, which Thanos later used to wipe out half of the universe. The film grossed a staggering US$ 677.8 million worldwide.
Though the Multiverse of Madness is only the second solo outing of Doctor Strange, this is Cumberbatch’s sixth time playing the hero on the big screen: He showed up briefly in Thor: Ragnarok, played a pivotal role in Avengers: Infinity War, was instrumental in Avengers: Endgame and will also be appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Behind The Scenes
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is directed by Sam Raimi. Scott Derrickson, who directed the prequel, was tapped to direct this sequel, but he dropped out owing to artistic differences. The story was written by Michael Waldron, who also created the Disney+ series Loki, while the music is by Danny Elfman. Michael Giacchino has been replaced by the renowned composer, who has worked on multiple Sam Raimi films, including the first two Spider-Man flicks.
The movie sees the return of the main cast; Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Doctor Christine Palmer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo. Both Doctor Strange and Wong appeared in the Infinity Saga’s final two Avengers films and Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Wong additionally making an appearance in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Doctor Strange almost made an appearance in WandaVision before being cut from the series finale. While McAdams plays Palmer in the Disney+ animated series, What If…?, Palmer and Mordo have been absent from Marvel films since 2016. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness properly reunites the cast for the first time in years.
The only thing we knew about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is that it’ll continue to follow Dr. Stephen Strange’s research on the time stone. The film is set after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and will explore the multiverse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kevin Feige, according to Bloomberg, has stated that the film will also tie in with the Disney+ series Loki.
New Characters and Cameos
The only confirmed newbie is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), also called Miss America in the comics.
The teen superhero is one of the Young Avengers in the comics. While it’s unlikely that the Young Avengers will form in this movie, it’s worth noting that she isn’t the first member of the Young Avengers to join the MCU recently. Other Young Avengers include Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld, Hawkeye), Elijah Bradley (Elijah Richardson, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Billy Maximoff (Julian Hilliard, WandaVision) and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton, Ant-Man: Quantumania). Their introductions being so close together probably isn’t a coincidence.
Patrick Stewart Despite previously denying his involvement in the upcoming MCU film, has now entertained the possibility of a meeting between Cumberbatch’s sorcerer and his professor Xavier – and seemingly confirmed he will indeed appear in the film directed by Sam Raimi.
Villain in the Multiverse
The ‘old friend turned enemy’ line almost certainly points to Ejiofor’s Mordo, who began to fulfil his comics destiny during the end credits of Doctor Strange by starting his shift toward supervillainy. He certainly fits the bill of a frenemy to Strange, making him the obvious choice.
But Marvel’s never been shy about zigzagging away from the obvious choice. Many fans suspect that the actual villain could be Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, who was last seen in WandaVision honing her magic skills in isolation and in possession of the Darkhold, a book of black magic she took after besting rival witch Agatha Harkness in battle.
There’s also the possibility that Doctor Strange will be fighting… Doctor Strange. That is an evil variation of Doctor Strange from another timeline.
The first look at Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuted during the post-credits for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was released in theaters on Dec. 17.
On Dec. 22, Marvel shared the teaser trailer online alongside a quote from Doctor Strange that read, “The Multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little.”
On Feb. 13, Marvel shared the official trailer online after it aired during the 2022 Super Bowl.
Recommended Catch ups
The good news is that you won’t need to rewatch every Marvel movie to comprehend this one, though a rewatch of Doctor Strange (2016) will likely be worthwhile, if only to refresh your memory on the movie series’ delightfully surreal aesthetics.
On the streaming side, Disney+’s WandaVision and Loki are also recommended catch ups in order to fully understand what ‘In the Multiverse of Madness’ has in store.
The film was originally set to open before Spider-Man: No Way Home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film experienced multiple delays. For now, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is slated for release on 05 May, 2022 (a push-back from a previously intended March 2022 release).
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