Ever since their first panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2006, Marvel Studios has routinely been the hot ticket in town whenever they make a presence there. MCU speculation is practically a cottage industry unto itself within the larger world of “geek” journalism; SDCC is often where many of these hypothetical titles are either confirmed to the public or explained in further detail. After an extended hiatus due to the pandemic, the convention makes its triumphant return this weekend, and it just so happens that Marvel Studios will be there too. A fitting development that further delineates the symbiotic relationship they have with one another.
(Symbiotes? HARDY VS.HOLLAND CONFIRMED?? Probably not…. unless…)
The company’s last SDCC presentation took place during the most recent 2019 edition, right after the release of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and just before the start of Phase Four… that is, until COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans. They took the opportunity to announce the initial Phase Four slate, with the biggest new development being the addition of various streaming series for the then-nascent Disney Plus. Fast-forward to July 2022, and all but one of those titles have since been released, albeit with slightly different timing than originally planned thanks to the pandemic. (Blade, which had its existence and central casting in Mahershala Ali also announced that day, never received a release date.) You know what that means: time for Kevin Feige & Co. to announce what’s next on the docket!
Unlike their 2019 presentation, though, this time around we actually know quite a bit of what’s coming up in the MCU, at least in broader strokes. Here’s a glimpse of what’s already been confirmed by them elsewhere:
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (streaming; August 17, 2022 — October 13, 2022)
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (theatrical; November 11, 2022)
- The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (streaming; Fall 2022)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (theatrical; February 17, 2023)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (theatrical; May 5, 2023)
- The Marvels (theatrical; July 28, 2023)
- Untitled theatrical release (November 3, 2023)
- Untitled theatrical release (February 16, 2024)
- Untitled theatrical release (May 3, 2024)
That’s nearly as much as they announced in 2019, leading me to believe that the bulk of the presentation will be dedicated further elaborating on most of these items, along with a few new titles they haven’t outright confirmed yet. My biggest guess going into the panel is they’ll officially announce that Phase Four will end in 2024, since every era up to this point has averaged a length of ~three years. For all the talk I’ve seen about Phase Four feeling pointless and meandering, I think it’s important to remember that it only started in January 2021, a year and a half ago! (Just because we don’t know where it’s going right now doesn’t mean they don’t, folks.) Feige recently stated that fans will learn more about what the next “saga” of the MCU entails very soon, and SDCC may be where the picture starts to become clearer. But first, let’s go down the line and speculate:
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law — Honestly I’m not expecting much in the way of news here, since it’s very close to premiering and there’s only so much they can say about it now. If anything, we’ll probably get the final trailer, since it’s been a few months since the divisive teaser was released.
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — This one is still very mysterious and lacks a trailer. Tenoch Huerta’s casting as Namor the Sub-Mariner was apparently spoiled through leaked merch a few weeks ago, but what else? How will they handle Chadwick Boseman’s passing? Is T’Challa also dead or just “missing”? Will Shuri take up the mantle? How does Riri Williams feature into the plot? I’d expect a trailer release at the very least, possibly addressing some of these queries.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — We already know much of the main cast is returning, with Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang (replacing Emma Fuhrmann from Endgame) and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror (who debuted as a variant in Loki) also aboard, but what about Bill Murray? Ghost and/or Bill Foster? Will Cassie finally become a hero in her own right as she does in the comics?
- The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special / Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — I don’t know how much we’ll learn about this franchise beyond what we already know (like Will Poulter playing Adam Warlock) but I’d love to find out Maria Bakalova’s “key” role (Moondragon?) or how they’re going to handle the reintroduction of Gamora after Infinity War/Endgame. What about Nova? (Ryan Gosling says it’s DEFINITELY not him..) They also might gloss over the holiday special entirely or save that for D23.
- The Marvels — Following Brie Larson’s “surprise” (leaked by merch) appearance in the recent Ms. Marvel finale, expect to hear how that post-credits scene ties into this movie. Is Zawe Ashton really playing the main villain? Will the movie address the dubious nature of Kamala’s “mutation”? Will the MCU go where the comics dare not and finally give Monica Rambeau a concrete alias? And most pressingly of all, will Carol Danvers change her hair again? So many questions!!!
This brings us to the three unannounced titles releasing on November 3, 2023, February 16, 2024, and May 3, 2024, all of which could very well be unveiled here. Based on what the rumor mill has really been cranking up on lately, these are my big guesses:
- Blade (November 2023) — We already know it’s happening, production reportedly just began this month, and it’s conspicuously close to Halloween. I don’t expect much in the way of a plot breakdown, but we could get some casting confirmation regarding reported names Delroy Lindo, Aaron Pierre, and Milan Ray. (Ray as Blade’s daughter, a long-planned idea finally coming to fruition in the comics now, is very possible.) We could also learn if Mahershala Ali’s vocal cameo in Eternals will bring Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman into the fold. Maybe a full costume reveal too.
- Captain America 4 (February 2024) — We’ve known about this one since last April, right after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended, but it seems to be on the fast track with the breaking news of Julius Onah being hired to direct. (February is also Black History Month, a canny branding opportunity.) Expect an official title at the very least. Will Sebastian Stan return as Bucky Barnes? Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres, the new Falcon? What about Sharon Carter (AKA the Power Broker), who currently appears on official SDCC promotional material in an still-unseen comics-accurate costume?
- Fantastic Four (May 2024) — Come on, it’s right there! Phase Four’s Fantastic Four in the year 2024. We haven’t gotten much news about this one until recently, when Spider-Man’s Jon Watts announced his departure as director from the project. Will John Krasinski reprise his fan-manifested (fanifested?) role as Reed Richards from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and also serve double-duty as director? Will Howard Stern actually play Doctor Doom as he maybe leaked himself? If we don’t get an official cast/crew reveal, then at the very least we’ll have a release date likely confirming it as the end of Phase Four.
And then there’s everything else I haven’t mentioned yet. The D23 of it all makes it hard to say what they’ll spotlight here and what else they’ll save for then —if at all— so here’s a speed round of other projects we vaguely know about:
- Secret Invasion & Armor Wars — If any Disney Plus series get talked about this weekend, I suspect it’ll be one (or both) of these, since they’re adapting famous event storylines from Marvel Comics past and each boast major returning MCU talent in Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Don Cheadle as War Machine, respectively. Would put my money on Secret Invasion since it’s already in production.
- Echo & Ironheart — Smaller-scale Disney Plus solo vehicles that are both spinoffs (from Hawkeye and Wakanda Forever, respectively) and already decently along in production. I suspect they’re saving these for D23.
- Untitled Halloween special — Reportedly starring Gael García Bernal as the Werewolf by Night. I also expect them to save this for D23, since it’s apparently dropping in October.
- Agatha: House of Harkness — Probably still too far off for them to discuss right now.
- Wakanda series and/or Okoye series — Might get a cursory mention during the Wakanda Forever part of the presentation, but I’m not expecting it.
- Daredevil reboot/revival — Not really expecting to hear anything about this until closer to when Echo airs, since Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio will reportedly both reappear in it.
- Loki season two — Production just began, but they’re probably prioritizing new stuff so I don’t expect to hear anything about it.
- Wonder Man — Again, probably still too far off for them to discuss.
- Nova — Might get mentioned during the Guardians segment as stated, but probably not.
- Thunderbolts — This might actually get announced during the panel, as it now has both a director and a writer attached, but I suspect they’re holding this for Phase Five.
- Spider-Man 4 / Venom 3 / Madame Web / Across the Spider-Verse / Kraven the Hunter / etc — This is Sony’s domain, not Disney’s. Expect nothing.
- Marvel Animation — They’re having their own separate panel at SDCC, so expect to hear news about I Am Groot, What If…? season two, X-Men ‘97, and Spider-Man: Freshman Year there instead.
- X-Men — Don’t get your hopes up! They may have just alluded to the presence of mutants in the Ms. Marvel finale, but it’s still too soon! Probably! Maybe? (Also, please put on your thinking cap and understand that rumor about something called The Mutants is most likely bogus. They’re not going to call their big X-Men reboot something that sounds so close to the megabomb that was The New Mutants)
- Deadpool 3 — Gonna say this is unlikely, but the Deadpool movies (and Logan) just dropped on Disney Plus in the US right on time for a SDCC tie-in, so who knows.
- Secret Wars / Avengers 5? — If Feige really wants to end their presentation with a mic drop and address the criticisms of Phase Four feeling aimless, then he’ll confirm this to be the culmination of what we’ve seen and what’s coming next. This is purely just educated speculation on my end, though… and a little bit of wishful thinking. (Imagine if this weren’t just one movie but a whole phase set on Battleworld? I would gag.)
And those are my predictions! Let’s find out how right (or wrong) I am on Saturday, shall we?