When Black Widow hits theaters later this year -- now slated for a release in November -- the year-and-a-half gap between the release of Avengers: Endgame and that of Black Widow will be the longest fans have gone without a new Marvel movie in a decade. After the one-two punch of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, it was almost two years before Iron Man 2 hit theaters. Since then, Marvel movies have been an annual (or more) tradition, with a new one hitting at least once every spring. Even in the year between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame -- a life-and-death cliffhanger -- Marvel managed to release another movie by slotting in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which had pretty minimal connections to the larger universe, as well as Captain Marvel, which was set in the '90s.
For a franchise that went from having one movie a year to somewhere between two and four -- sometimes with only 3 months or so between releases -- the wait is going to seem even longer than what it actually is. Endgame came out in April 2019 and, even if you want to count the Sony-distributed Spider-Man: Far From Home, it came out in July 2019 -- 16 months before Black Widow will be released.
The almost-a-year wait between Endgame and Widow was already one of the longer pauses in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's recent history, but it made some kind of sense: following Endgame and the conclusion of Phase 3, Marvel is in a bit of a "rebuilding period," as sports teams would call it. Giving everyone a chance to take a breath and get prepared for what's next made sense. A pandemic sweeping the globe and bringing the industry to an abrupt halt is not something that they could have predicted, and the idea that the long-ish wait already designed in would be essentially doubled by circumstances beyond their control is the definition of extraordinary circumstances.
With Disney removing Black Widow from its release date on May 1st, the studio has officially announced each movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pushed back. The Scarlett Johansson vehicle is now taking the date that used to belong to Chloe Zhao's The Eternals and from there on out, each movie is pushed back a date. That means Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will now be hitting theaters on May 7, 2021, the date previously taken by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Sam Raimi's first MCU film will now instead hit theaters on November 5, 2021, the date previously occupied by Thor: Love and Thunder. Then finally, the Taika Waititi film with now release February 18, 2022 in place of an untitled movie for which Marvel had the date reserved, which has now been removed from the schedule entirely. In a bit of a silver lining to this very dark cloud, Captain Marvel 2 will now hit theaters July 8, 2022, making the film official (even if everyone knew it was coming anyway), three weeks earlier than the July 29 date Marvel had previously set for an untitled film. Black Panther 2 will retain its previously-announced May 6, 2022 date, meaning Marvel Studios will have four features in the calendar year if nothing else changes -- Thor: Love and Thunder on February 18, 2022, Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022, Captain Marvel 2 on July 8, 2022, and an untitled Marvel movie on October 7, 2022.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.