The coronavirus infection COVID-19 has brought the world to near standstill, including the entertainment industry. The 2020 slate of movie releases is quickly getting knocked down, and the latest movie to be pulled from theaters is Marvel's Black Widow. Now that Black Widow is on hold indefinitely, there are some much bigger questions that need to be answered: namely, will Marvel released Black Widow on streaming, and will its changed release date for Marvel to re-organize the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 schedule? Because now it's just about the movies; MCU Phase 4's story is playing out over an entire TV slate, as well.
In any other year, it would seem like this would be an easy answer: Marvel Studios would simply shift its slate of movie releases back, since presumably they'd all be in the can (finished) or in post-production. However, as stated, Phase 4 of the MCU is very different. The main difference is that along with the films slated for release in 2020 (Black Widow, Eternals) there are the first wave of Marvel Disney+ series also coming (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision) with a third (Loki) set to drop early in 2021. The big question is just how interwoven were the MCU Phase 4 films and movies?
With Marvel Studios, everything is thought out and plotted well in advanced - so it's hard not to surmise that the 2020 slate was scheduled the way it was for specific reason:
- Black Widow - May 5th
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - August
- Eternals - November 6th
- Wandavision - December
There's some pretty clear and easy overlap between Black Widow's deep-dive into the Marvel espionage world, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier taking a look at the modern version of that same corner of the MCU. The same goes for whatever cosmic ideas Eternals introduces possibly relating to WandaVision, which is itself part of larger Phase 4 arc that also includes Loki and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, both of which are big Marvel events for the 2021 slate.
As you can see, the Phase 4 lineup really does look like a series of dominoes that Kevin Feige had lined up in specific order. So, if Black Widow is pulled from release, and Marvel has no plans to put it out on Disney+, then it does suddenly seem like the entire Phase 4 slate would have to be re-ordered, just to keep the storyline flowing properly.
There are also the behind-the-scenes considerations to consider: Black Widow, Eternals and WandaVision have all wrapped their respective productions - The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki have not. It's now a reality that it could be months before both those series even start rolling cameras again. So maybe the real question now is: will the MCU Phase 4 storyline even stay the same as originally planned? Or will there have to be a new plan - one that accounts for the rapid changes that COVID-19 is making to the world.
We could give a list of Marvel Studios release dates - but what would be the point?