Avengers: Endgame, now available for streaming on Disney+ and HBO, is still one of the most talked-about films of the year despite having hit theaters some eight months ago. The most epic MCU film ever made, thanks to a decade of story building, has fans extremely excited about what’s to come in Phase 4, which kicks off on May 1st, 2020 with Black Widow.
Unlike previous phases, the next installment of the MCU will include TV shows on Disney+ that will tie into the six standalone films set for the period. We’ll get to see the same characters appear both in TV series and standalone films, with Marvel setting up all the new pieces of the puzzle that might grow into another Endgame-like epic in a few years. With Thanos dead, we have no idea what will happen next in the MCU, but there is a key detail in Endgame that might help to steer us in the right direction.
MCU Phase 4 Schedule
Before we get started, let’s recap all the MCU Phase 4 titles that Marvel has announced, in chronological order:
- Black Widow – May 1st, 2020
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Fall 2020
- WandaVision – Fall 2020
- The Eternals – November 6th, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – February 12th, 2021
- Loki – Spring 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 7th, 2021
- Spider-Man 3 – July 16th, 2021
- What If… – Summer 2021
- Hawkeye – Fall 2021
- Ms. Marvel – Fall 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder – November 5th, 2021
- Moon Knight – TBD
- She-Hulk – TBD
The Key Detail from Endgame
Endgame features a heartbreaking moment that pays off almost immediately. It’s the unexpected five-year time jump (at the beginning of the clip above) that makes it clear to the audience that what Thanos did had long-lasting effects on the universe and Earth, specifically. Everyone is still figuring out how to cope with that loss. And then, all of a sudden, we’re in 2023, in a version of Earth that’s a lot darker than we may have expected.
Best of all, the five years that just passed aren’t erased at the end, forcing everyone to come to terms with both the unexpected loss of their loved ones and the shock of getting them back. That time jump is also a great trick that will help Marvel move the story along, as it’ll be able to pause 2023 continuity and introduce other heroes with the help of prequels. That means we can make educated guesses about the MCU Phase 4 timeline.
MCU Phase 4 Timeline
Until we get closer to 2023, it’s likely that many of the films and TV series meant to introduce brand new heroes will be prequels, taking place well before Endgame. However, some of them will slowly advance the story as we get closer to 2023 in real life. And at least a couple of them will take place in 2023.
Here’s the same list of Phase 4 films with guesses as to when the action might happen relative to Endgame:
- Black Widow – May 1st, 2020 – Confirmed prequel
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Fall 2020 – After Endgame
- WandaVision – Fall 2020 – After Endgame
- The Eternals – November 6th, 2020 – Confirmed prequel
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – February 12th, 2021 – Prequel
- WandaVision – Spring 2021 – After Endgame
- Loki – Spring 2021 – After Endgame (this is the 2012 Loki who stole the Tesseract)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 7th, 2021 – Before and after Endgame
- Spider-Man 3 – July 16th, 2021 – After Endgame and Far From Home
- What If… – Summer 2021 – Alternate stories that will have no impact on the MCU
- Hawkeye – Fall 2021 – After Endgame
- Ms. Marvel – Fall 2021 – Prequel
- Thor: Love and Thunder – November 5th, 2021 – After Endgame
- Moon Knight – TBD – Prequel
- She-Hulk – TBD – Prequel
Keep in mind that these are just guesses (other than the few shows and movies that have been discussed by their creators previously), but it gives a bit more context for the future of the MCU… or the past, as it were.
UPDATE: Updated release schedule with new WandaVision launch window. That’s fall 2020 instead of spring 2021, according to a new Disney+ promo.