Before Black Widow was released on July 9, 2021, it seemed like forever between Marvel movie releases. In fact, it had been almost exactly two years since Spider-Man: Far From Home hit theaters on July 2, 2019 – less than three months after the release of Avengers: Endgame.
There were two key contributing factors that played a role in the Marvel movie hiatus. First, the studio had to regroup after finishing another phase and losing key characters like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson). That is Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow, respectively.
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Of course, despite her character dying in Avengers: Endgame, Johansson got her swan song as the title character in Black Widow. Furthermore, there were a slew of emerging characters that needed to find their place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), such as Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson and Loki.
The transition into television wasn’t new for Marvel, as they had already done a ton of TV projects like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil. With that being said, it was the first time they would create shows that were directly linked to the MCU. Disney+ shows like WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki helped bridge the movie gap, while creating new storylines for the next phase.
The second and most obvious factor that contributed to the Marvel movie hiatus was the global pandemic that changed life as we know it. COVID-19 not only prevented people from going to theaters for entertainment, but it kept actors, directors and crew members from being able to actually film the movies.
Nevertheless, Marvel is coming back with a vengeance in 2021 and beyond. The first step was the long-awaited release of Black Widow. Now, three more MCU movies and a Marvel-based Sony project are set to be released this year.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Release Date: September 3, 2021
Simu Liu plays the title character, Shang-Chi, in this upcoming MCU film. Shang-Chi is a Kung Fu master that is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the dangerous Ten Rings organization.
The cast also includes Awkwafina, as well as a couple recurring MCU characters from other core franchises. First, Tim Roth will reprise his role as Abomination – the primary villain from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Second, Benedict Wong will reprise his role as Wong from the Dr. Strange franchise.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Release Date: September 24, 2021
This is the lone project on this list that is not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that being said, the title character Venom is a longtime Marvel Comics villain that originated as part of the Spider-Man franchise. You might remember the Topher Grace version from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 3.
Following the success of the 2018 film Venom, Sony immediately signed on to do a sequel. Tom Hardy will return as Venom, along with fellow lead characters Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams) and Cletus Kasady (played by Woody Harrelson). Harrelson’s character will double as the lead villain Carnage in the sequel.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is directed by Andy Serkis, who played Ulysses Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther.
Release Date: November 5, 2021
The Eternals will spark an entirely new age within the MCU, as they are expected to be among the most powerful beings in the universe. The film is directed by Chloé Zhao, who recently won the Academy Award for Best Director for her film, Nomadland. The movie also won Best Picture.
The title characters are a race of immortal beings that lived on Earth and helped shape its history and civilizations. After the catastrophic events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, we are beginning to witness the unveiling of more and more powerful forces. As Thor alluded to in 2012’s The Avengers, “it is a signal to all the realms that the Earth is ready for a higher form of war.”
The cast is littered with Hollywood superstars, such as Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani and more.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release Date: December 17, 2021
The MCU’s Peter Parker was introduced in Captain America: Civil War back in 2016 before leading his own MCU franchise, starting with Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017. Tom Holland plays the title character and has become one of the most beloved MCU actors of all-time.
He will once again be joined by his Spider-Man co-stars Zendaya, Marisa Tomei and Jacob Batalon in the third installment. In addition, Spider-Man: No Way Home will feature an appearance by Dr. Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).