Marvel MCU Phase 4 release dates, cast, plot and theories

Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 is hurtling further into the multiverse, in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Following Spider-Man: No Way Home, the 28th film in the blockbusting behemoth is primed and ready to bring about a chaotic twist to the 4th phase of the MCU.

And after that, there's even more to come with more Marvel superhero films coming your way between now and 2023.

Join us as we preview every Phase 4 Marvel movies in order of their slated release date.

Every Marvel Phase 4 film in cinemas between now and 2023

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Release Date: 6 May 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be the second solo outing for the Sorcerer Supreme, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

It’s also going to be a departure for the studio – a dark blockbuster with horror elements. We can’t wait.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Cast

Joining Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch whose Disney+ series WandaVision left Maximoff more powerful than ever and studying the ancient book of spells variously known as the Darkhold/Book of Sins/Book of the Damned. That’s… worrying. 

However, we’re happy to report that Benedict Wong is back as Wong, Doctor Strange’s most trusted ally, as is Chiwetel Ejiofor as the much, much less trustworthy Mordo.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - WHat We Know

  • Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was due to helm In The Multiverse of Madness but left the project due to creative differences. Happily, his shoes have been amply filled by horror legend Sam Raimi, whose Evil Dead films have an irrepressible, inventive energy that bodes well for the good doctor. 
  • Mordo could definitely be the villain in Doctor Strange 2 but before he left the production, Dericksson told IGN that he likes the character of Nightmare, Ruler of the Dream Dimension. Feasibly, Scarlet Witch could also have unleashed all sorts of Multiverse weirdness that requires unravelling.  
  • The concept of the multiverse – multiple different but related universes co-existing – also opens up the intriguing possibility that we could, in time, see the return of MCU favourites like Black Widow and Iron Man but from other timelines.

Thor: Love and Thunder

Release Date: 8 July 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder is the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will officially make Thor the first Marvel hero to have four solo films.

It reunites Chris Hemsworth with Thor: Ragnorok director Taika Waititi to tell a story inspired by the Marvel Comics series The Mighty Thor, by Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman.

Thor: Love and Thunder Cast

Thor 4 will feature not one but two Thors. Naturally, Chris Hemsworth returns as the hammer-swinging Asgardian but he’ll be joined by Natalie Portman’s Dr Jane Foster who we last saw in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. In the comic-books, Foster took on Thor’s powers and identity when Thor Odinson found himself unable to lift Mjolnir.

Tessa Thompson is returning as Valkyrie – who’s set on rebuilding Asgard and finding a queen to share the throne. Taika Waititi will return as fan favourite Korg, and Christian Bale will star as Gorr the God Butcher, a character who loathes uncaring gods and those who blindly believe in them. Meanwhile, Vin Diesel has revealed at least some of the Guardians of the Galaxy will be making an appearance in Love and Thunder. Intriguingly, it’s been confirmed that Russell Crowe will be making an appearance as the god Zeus.

Thor: Love and Thunder - WHat We Know

  • We last saw Thor heading off into space with the Guardians (Asgardians?) of the Galaxy at the end of Avengers: Endgame. There’s a chance he’s still with them at the start of Love and Thunder. 
  • In the comic books, Zeus and The Eternals have a connection. Could that mean the Greek god will cameo in The Eternals before teaming up with Thor and the crew to take down Gorr the God Butcher?
  • Taika Waititi has confirmed we’ll also be learning more about Korg the Kronan in Love and Thunder. Marvel, please put a Korg solo movie on the planner!

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Release Date: 11 November 2022

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be the second Black Panther film. Directed again by Ryan Coogler, it’s been rumoured that much of the film will take place in the Kingdom of Wakanda itself.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Cast

Letitia Wright (Shuri), Winston Duke (M’Baku), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Angela Bassett (Ramonda) and Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross) are all returning for the Black Panther sequel, while Danai Gurira (Okoye – the General of the Dora Milaje)’s return is yet to be confirmed. 

Of course, with his untimely death in August 2020, T’Challa/Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman leaves an unfillable space. And while we don’t yet know who will take up the title of Black Panther – something T’Challa inherited from his father, T’Chaka – we do know that Marvel and Black Panther (and Wakanda Forever) director Ryan Coogler have ruled out recasting and digitally recreating T’Challa.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - WHat We Know

  • In the comic books, Shuri eventually became Black Panther. Could Wakanda Forever follow her journey from behind-the-scenes genius engineer to Wakandan leader? We’d love to see it.
  • It’s no secret that, ever since its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios has been planning to bring the likes of the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four into the MCU. With regular FF antagonist Doctor Doom also one of Black Panther’s main foes, could Wakanda Forever be a perfect ‘in’ for the metal-faced maniac?

The Marvels

Release Date: 17 February 2023

The Marvels (former working title Captain Marvel 2) is the 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel.

The Marvels Cast

Brie Larson is back as Carol Danvers, former US Air Force fighter pilot turned Kree/Human superbeing and arguably the mightiest superhero in the MCU. Joining her and all grown up is Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau – S.W.O.R.D. agent and Danvers’ unofficial niece.

Newcomer Iman Vellani is playing Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, a massive Captain Marvel fan who acquires polymorph abilities – she can stretch her body and change its shape at will. Last up we have Zawe Ashton (Velvet Buzzsaw and TV’s Fresh Meat) who will be playing an as-yet undisclosed villain.

The Marvels - WHat We Know

  • Why ‘The Marvels’? Well, take a look at the film’s logo and you’ll see not one but three MCU ‘Marvels’ represented. The main red lettering is a nod to Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, while the white torch in the ‘A’ is one half of Spectrum’s suit logo. Spectrum’s alter ego is Monica Rambeau. That’s right – the daughter of Carol’s flying ace bessie, Maria Rambeau.
  • Monica played an important role in the TV series WandaVision, culminating in her manifesting the superpowers that will see her taking on the mantle of first Spectrum, and ultimately (if the comic books are anything to go by) Captain Marvel.
  • Last but by no means least, the stylised ‘S’ of ‘Marvels’ is a nod to the costume of Ms. Marvel – AKA Kamala Khan. Don’t worry if you don’t know about Ms. Marvel yet. Premiering late in 2021, the TV series Ms. Marvel will introduce her and will set up the events of The Marvels.
  • The Marvels’ director is Nia DaCosta. She’s the super-talented director of the upcoming Candyman sequel/reboot, and will be the first Black woman to direct an MCU film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Release Date: 5 May 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the 33rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be helmed by James Gunn, who brought the previous two Guardians films to the big screen.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Cast

Happily, the entire extended Guardians family is back for Vol. 3. That’s Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Karen Gillan (Nebula), and Pom Klementieff (Mantis). Sean Gunn returns, too, as Kraglin Obfonteri (Yondu’s second in command), as does Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, high priestess of the Sovereign people.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 - WHat We Know

  • Golden priestess Ayesha’s post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed two things: 1.) that she really hates the Guardians for double crossing her and 2.) that she was creating a perfect being to exact revenge on the Guardians, called Adam. While his comic book origins are different, Adam Warlock is an immensely powerful figure who has links to the Guardians, Loki and a resurrected Thanos among a bunch of Marvel characters.
  • At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor appeared to be hitching a lift with the Guardians. Will insecure Star Lord and the God of Thunder still be butting heads at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
  • If 2023 feels like too long a wait to get more Guardians in your life, don’t worry. Harking back to the old 70s and 80s TV tradition of the festive, one-off show, Marvel Studios will be releasing The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in late 2022.

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Release Date: 28 July 2023

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is the 32nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and will be the second Ant-Man and Wasp team-up adventure and the third Ant-Man film to be directed by Peyton Reed.

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania Cast

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man) and Evangeline Lily (Hope van Dyne/Wasp) are back, of course, as are Michael Douglas (Hank Pym) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet van Dyne). We’re particularly excited to see Pfeiffer get a bigger role after her return from the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). 

Meanwhile, Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang has been recast and will be played by Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu), and Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country, The Last Black Man in San Francisco) has been cast as – drumroll – major new villain in the MCU, Kang the Conqueror!

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania - WHat We Know

  • MCU Phase 4 is infused with the idea of the Multiverse and other realms/realities that intersect with our own. Ant-Man has already experienced the time-blurring qualities of the Quantum Realm – the five-year-long Blip between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame passed in just five hours for Scott – so he and the van Dynes can skip a chunk of exposition and get stuck into their Quantumania adventure from the get-go.
  • Pay attention to Kathryn Newton’s casting as the teenage Cassie Lang. In the comic books, Cassie was exposed to Pym Particles at an early age, giving her abilities just like her beloved dad’s but without the need of a Hank Pym-designed high-tech suit. Could Cassie be stepping up into the MCU’s ranks as a bona fide superhero herself?

Marvel Phase 4 films in release order so far

Black Widow

Release Date: 9 July 2021

Black Widow is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow’s first solo adventure.

It’s a prequel, set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and sees Black Widow on the run and seeking out loved ones to help her take on a new villain, Taskmaster.


Joining Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow on this explosive adventure is a new team of allies from her past. Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women) as Natasha’s fellow assassin Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, The Constant Gardener) as their mother figure Melina Vostokoff, and David Harbour (Hellboy, TV’s Stranger Things) as their father figure, Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. Ray Winstone is starring as Dreykov, the head of the infamous Red Room, and it’s also rumoured that Robert Downey Jr. will make a brief appearance as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

BLACK WIDOW - What We Know

  • Black Widow director, Cate Shortland has confirmed that Natasha Romanoff will be passing the Black Widow baton onto Yelena Belova, beginning a whole new Black Widow storyline in the future.
  • Although Natasha, Yelena, Melina and Alexei bicker like a regular family, they’re not blood relatives. Melina and Alexei are mentors to the two young women. In fact, in the comics, Melina AKA Iron Maiden was Black Widow’s adversary for some time.
  • Taskmaster has ‘photographic reflexes’ meaning he can mimic any opponent’s fighting style. In the Black Widow trailers alone we see him bust fighting moves belonging to Black Widow, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain America. How did he learn their moves?
  • Need to know more? Here's everything you need to know.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Release Date: 3 September 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and introduces cinemagoers to Shang-Chi, The Master of Kung-Fu – a martial arts superhero as he goes up against über-baddy The Mandarin’s Ten Rings terrorist organisation.

For so many reasons, Shang-Chi will be an incredibly important movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Shang-Chi ANd The Legend Of The Ten Rings Cast

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, while the role of The Mandarin (for real this time - Sir Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 was just an actor pretending to be the terrorist mastermind) has gone to acting legend, Tony Leung. The last member of the cast we know about for now is Awkwafina, but her role has yet to be revealed. 

Shang-Chi ANd The Legend Of The Ten Rings - What We Know

  • Stan Lee wanted Brandon Lee to star as Shang-Chi back in the 1980s. That didn’t happen but decades later, Shang-Chi was one of the original characters in Marvel’s plan for the MCU. 
  • The shadowy Ten Rings terrorist organisation has been popping up in the MCU since the beginning. It was a Ten Rings cell that captured Tony Stark in Afghanistan in 2008’s Iron Man, and the group supported Whiplash in Iron Man 2. They also appear in Iron Man 3 and are behind the scenes in Ant Man. 
  • In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi’s dad is none other than The Mandarin, creating some very awkward family dynamics, not least because – after a decade of care-free pampered living – Shang-Chi doesn’t appear keen to join the family business (international crime/terrorism etc.)


Release Date: 5 November 2021

Eternals is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and introduces us to a god-like race of immortal aliens who have secretly lived on earth for over 7,000 years, and who come together again to battle their malevolent counterparts known as The Deviants.

Like Thor and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 1. before it, expect this super-ensemble introduction to tread new ground for the MCU and open up an unexplored direction for the franchise.

Eternals Cast

Richard Madden is all-powerful Eternal, Ikaris, while Angelina Jolie is stepping up as fierce-warrior, Thena. Gemma Chan plays the humanity-loving Sersi. Kumail Nanjiani is the cosmic energy-flinging Kingo, and Salma Hayek is playing Ajak, the Eternals’ wise, spiritual leader and healer. 

Lauren Ridloff is the super-fast Makkari (and also the MCU’s first deaf superhero), Lia McHugh is Sprite, an ancient Eternal in the form of a child who can project lifelike illusions, and Bryan Tyree Henry is playing the MCU’s first openly gay superhero, Phastos – a super-intelligent Eternal who has secretly helped humanity make technological leaps over the centuries. Don Lee is Gilgamesh, the Eternals’ tank – super strong and capable of projecting an impenetrable exoskeleton on his body. 

Last up, we have Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman/Black Knight, a super-skilled human swordsman, and Barry Keoghan as Druig, an Eternal with mind-control abilities who has distanced himself from the other Eternals and could possibly be the group’s foe in the film…

Eternals - What We Know

  • Spectacular early clips from Eternals seem to show the superbeings’ story unfolding both in the distant past and the present day. They’re not called the Eternals for nothing…
  • While each Eternal has a superpower, they’re able to combine them, Power Rangers-style, to create a powerful entity known as the Uni-Mind. Expect that to make an appearance in Eternals’ climactic scenes.
  • You may not know the Eternals but their creator, Jack Kirby was the comic-book legend behind Black Panther, Thor, Captain America, X-Men, The Avengers and the Fantastic 4, among many other Marvel greats. 
  • Eternals takes place in the wake of Avengers: Endgame when an ‘unexpected tragedy’ forces our immortal super team out of hiding. Why, you ask, didn’t these all-powerful immortals help out against Thanos? Well, one comic-book storyline had the Eternals unaware of their true identities so…

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Release Date: 15 December 2021

Spider-Man: No Way Home is the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is set to conclude the current Spider-Man ‘Home’ trilogy: begun with Spider-Man Homecoming and followed up by Spider-Man Far From Home

Jon Watts is directing the world's favourite web-slinger for a third time. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home Cast

Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds) and Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) are all back, plus Benedict Cumberbatch will feature as Doctor Stephen Strange. 

Even more intriguing than Strange’s appearance is the reappearance of two villains from pre-MCU Spider-Man films – Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon/Electro is zapping in from 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus has reached into 2021 from 2004’s Spider-Man 2 with his mechanical tentacles. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home - WHat We Know

  • The plot of Spider-Man: No Way Home remains a mystery but let’s not forget the cliffhanger Far From Home left us on: thanks to Mysterio and J. Jonah Jameson, the world not only knows Spider-Man’s identity, but thinks he caused all the destruction in London. Resolving that has to feature, right?
  • Doctor Strange’s presence plus the casting of two Spider-Man villains from pre-Tom Holland Spidey films has the internet in a lather, predicting a Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse-style multiverse storyline that may even see cameos from both Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man incarnations. With Garfield squashing that last rumour as recently as 4 May 2021, it seems unlikely No Way Home will have a trio of webslingers, but, the multiverse idea is definitely on-brand for MCU’s Phase Four…

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