Coming Attractions: Marvel Announcements from SDCC

San Diego Comic Con, SDCC as most call it, is a hugely anticipated fan event. It’s the place where, among other things, a lot of big announcments are made. This year is no expection, and the folks at Marvel did a lot of talking about forthcoming projects. We got some character confirmations, specific release dates (and a few vague ones), and a lot of new trailers. I don’t know that anything released in a trailer counts as a spoiler, but I guess this is a spoiler warning if you’re not caught up on the new Marvel announcements and trailers.

The next MCU project is the Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, premiering on August 17th. The new trailer shows us a few new scenes, more interaction with Bruce as the smart Hulk, a nod to her humorous run in the comics when she routinely broke the 4th wall (long before Deadpool started doing that, thank you), and, at the very end, an appearance by a certain fan-favorite Man Without Fear in a new costume. There’s still nothing on the rumored Jessica Jones appearance in the series.

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever has a theatrical release date of November 11th, and the very unenviable task of coping with the tragic and premature death of Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa so wonderfully well. Fans are split on the issue of T’Challa being dead in the MCU or recasting the role. For me, T’Challa is such a huge part of many events in the MCU that I hate to see him gone so soon, and the movies are an escape, not a reminder of grim reality. Regardless, the trailer makes it look like T’Challa is, in fact, dead, although how they’re going to do that, I’m not sure. I hope it’s at least a noble death and anticipate some kind of CGI of the Panther costume in action, if not some kind of movie magic with Boseman (although they have said they won’t do that). Also in the trailer is our first look at Namor the Sub-Mariner, teases for Ironheart (which I admit I have mixed feelings about), and the strong indication that before the movie is done, someone else will become the Black Panther. It is a hereditary title, after all. Wakanda Forever is also supposed to be the end of Phase Four of the MCU, marking the first time we haven’t ended with an Avengers movie.

Secret Invasion still doesn’t have a precise release date, but should notionally be next up after Wakanda Forever, in “spring 2023.” In the comics, this story was about shapeshifting Skrulls having infiltrated Earth, including replacing many superheroes. There were some big surprises about who was who and how long this had been going on. Presumably the six episode Disney+ series will follow at least that vague outline. Confirmed characters include Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Talos the Skrull, Everett Ross (who is also supposed to be in Wakanda Forever), and James Rhodes/War Machine. Various other actors have been announced, but without roles, including Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman. Rumors abound that Chloe Bennett will return as Daisy Johnson/Quake, last seen in the finale of Agents of SHIELD, but this, too, has not been confirmed. I really hope it happens.

On May 5th, 2023, the Guardians of the Galaxy return. Their last few appearances have been more or less guest starring roles in Infinity War, Endgame, and Love and Thunder, but now they’re back for Volume Three of their own franchise. Most of the Marvel sub-series end at three movies, although Thor has now had four and there will be another 4th down below. Dave Bautista has said it will be his last appearance as Drax, although the team could certainly go on without him. James Gunn, the writer/director, has indicated this is the end for the Guardians, so we’ll have to wait and see. The movie will show Rocket’s origin, the High Evolutionary, Adam Warlock, and some more about the “new” Gamora we saw in Endgame. The Guardians will also appear in a Holiday Special on Disney+, sometime in December of 2022.

On February 17th, 2023, there will be Pym Particles for everybody when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania premiers. Both sets of Ant-Men and Wasps are coming back (Paul Rudd/Scott, Evangeline Lilly/Hope, Michael Douglas/Hank, and Michelle Pfeiffer/Janet), as well as Cassie Lang, Scott’s daughter and likely to become Stature of the Young Avengers. MODOK is largely regarded as a joke villain, so who better to play him than Bill Murray (no disrespect to Patton Oswald’s fine turn in the animated show)? Also appearing will be Kang, although a different Variant than the one from Loki Season One. Scott Lang, we are told, has written a book. There’s no mention of the podcast Lang did according to Ms. Marvel season one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it popped up.

Very little is known about Loki: Season Two. Loki is, so far, the only Disney+ series to get a second season, which makes it fairly special right there, as well as the return of Tom Hiddelston as Loki. Loki sat out Thor: Love and Thunder (I don’t know where he would have been able to fit in, anyway), but is up to more mischief with Sylvie and Agent Mobius (who many, somewhat understandably, keep confusing with Morbius the Living Vampire). Kate Herron will not return as director, but I think the MCU in general has earned some trust, and there’s no reason to doubt the new season just on that basis. Loki comes back in “summer of 2023.” A more exact date would be nice, but when can you expect from the Trickster God (two of them, even).

Spinning out of the events of the Hakweye series (which sadly doesn’t seem to be returning, and the future of Clint Barton is unknown), Echo will debut also in the vague “summer of 2023” window. Alaqua Cox is back as the titular character, who went through a lot during the events of Hawkeye. Echo, among other things, will be dealing with the consequences of her past behavior and reconnecting with her Native roots. On that front, Zahn McClarnon will be back as her father, and the talented Graham Greene has a so-far unrevealed role. Set in New York City, the series will also have two very popular characters, as both Daredevil and Kingpin are slated to appear. Little else is known so far, but that’s enough to get me interested.

On July 28th, 2023, The Marvels, which is Captain Marvel 2 and friends, will debut. A collection of powerful women, the movie will feature Captain Marvel Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, and the so far un-codenamed Monica Rambeau. Muneeba Khan, Kamala’s mother, will also return for the film, as will Nick Fury, former Director of SHIELD. It will be interesting to see how they all meet up, since there is no direct link that covers all three lead characters. I would expect Talos the Skrull to be back, or at least some Skrulls, but that isn’t official as yet. They haven’t made any announcements about the plot, but I’d expect something very high-powered and probably intergalactic. If that happens, we’ll hopefully get the wonderful fangirl moment of Kamala leaving Earth for the first time. I’m also imagining that, if it happens, a meeting between Nick Fury and Muneeba Khan would be very entertaining.

On November 3rd, 2023, the MCU will be getting dark and spooky (shame they didn’t do a Halloween release) as Blade gets rebooted. Blade was arguably the first really successful Marvel movie, although long before Iron Man kicked off the MCU. Mahershala Ali will be starring as the vampire slayer. There’s no word on whether or not Wesley Snipes, who starred in the original movies, will have a cameo, but if Lou Ferrigno can turn up in the Hulk, we can at least hope it happens. Kit Harrington, who played Dane Whitman in The Eternals, will be in the movie, which makes sense. Dane’s post-credit scene featured Blade’s off-screen voice, linking the two. While vampires have been mentioned in passing, this would be the first time they show up on screen in the MCU. The first Blade movie was fantastic, giving them a high bar, but I have faith in the MCU. No plot details have been released so far, but with Blade not being the best-known Marvel character, I’d expect at least something of an origin story.

Originally proposed as a movie project, Ironheart will be another six episode Disney+ series sometime in “fall 2023.” The character will debut in Wakanda Forever. I mentioned I had a few doubts about that; I will explain them here. Riri Williams, a teen genius, designs her own version of the Iron Man armor and goes on to eventually become a hero in her own right, at least in her comic book version. I get that the source of high-tech in the MCU seems to have shifted from Stark Enterprises to Wakanda with the passing of Tony Stark (as seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), but Stark really should be playing a big part in this character’s origin. The MCU have made a few changes from the comics, and it’s always worked out, but I’m not sure about this one. Since Robert Downey, Jr has said several times he’s not going to return as Iron Man or Tony Stark, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Aside from an obvious Wakanda tie and Dominique Thorne being cast at the title character, they haven’t told us anything about the series.

The further out we are from the date, the more variables there are in what might happen, which might explain why Agatha: Coven of Chaos has been connected to both the fall of 2023 and the winter of 2024. Very little is known so far, aside from Kathryn Hahn reprising her role as the very popular villain from WandaVision. Considering what happened the last time we saw her with a coven, this could be a bumpy ride for whoever shows up in the series. There’s no word on if the Scarlet Witch will show up (no one believes she’s really dead) or it we’ll get a sequel to the wonderfully catchy “It Was Agatha All Along.” He turns up a lot; maybe we’ll get another Wong guest shot.

The Netflix/Defenders shows were wildly popular, and it would be hard to imagine recasting or rebooting most of them. Rumors have flown about any or all of them (except poor Iron Fist) coming back somehow or other, and now we’ve actually seen both Daredevil and Kingpin in official MCU projects. Charlie Cox’s Daredevil led the Netflix shows, and now, after a few cameos, he’ll be back in his own series. Daredevil: Born Again will start an impressive 18 episode run in the fall of 2024. Vincent D’Onofrio will also return as the Kingpin. There’s no word on Karen Page or Foggy Nelson coming back, but they were so stellar together, it would be foolish to not include them in some way. With so many episodes, maybe we’ll get at least nods to some of the other Defenders, or Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, another fan favorite that started off on Daredevil.

Thor recently became the first MCU character to get a fourth solo movie. Granted the man behind the shield has changed, but they have officially announced Captain America 4: New World Order. Anthony Mackie will return as the new Cap on May 3rd, 2024. We don’t know much more than that, but with Malcolm Spellman co-writing, who was also a writer on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we can hope for Bucky Barnes to return and possibly also Joaquin Torres, Sam’s army contact in the series who was well on the way to becoming the new Falcon. Given the events of Falcon and Winter Soldier, the New World Order title is a bit ominous.

The Thunderbolts started off as one of Marvel’s more brilliant plot twists: a group of villains posing as heroes when most of the major heroes were missing. Later, they became something more like DC Comics’ Suicide Squad: villains being used as a black ops group. Speculation has been running high for some time now that Marvel was building up to a version of this. Now, they’ve officially announced it as a movie coming July 26, 2024. The T-bolts, as they are known by some, will end Phase 5 of the MCU. In the comics, they were founded by Baron Zemo, and he’s alive and at loose ends in the MCU. Another good guess for a member or possible leader is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who has been running around behind the scenes connecting with morally gray characters, including US Agent and Yelena Belova, sometimes called the White Widow. There are a lot of other guesses about who might make the team (Abomination? Justin Hammer? Ghost?), but it’s going to be a hell of a ride to get there, and I bet we’ll see a lot of hints and ominous end scenes between now and then.

Phase Six, really far away, is supposed to lead off with the long-awaited arrival in the MCU of the Fantastic Four on November 8th, 2024. Also announced were two new Avengers movies: The Kang Dynasty on May 2nd, 2025 and Secret Wars November 7th, 2025. You have to hand it to Marvel Studios: they are very good at long-range planning. This is a lot of exciting news, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.