TV's WandaVision launches Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now that Black Widow, once planned for a May 1 bow in theaters, has been delayed by one year — leaving Marvel Studios without a theatrical release for the first time since 2009. The Kevin Feige-led studio, which launched the MCU with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk just five weeks apart in the summer of 2008, has released at least one film per year starting with Iron Man 2 in 2010. Should Black Widow keep its newly minted May 7, 2021 release date, it will open 675 days after Marvel-Sony's Spider-Man: Far From Home swung into theaters in July 2019.
That is the lengthiest wait for a Marvel Studios movie since the 693-day gap separating The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, which introduced Scarlett Johansson as lethal super-spy Natasha Romanoff. Her first solo feature now releases into theaters 11 years after she made her debut in Iron Man 2, the blockbuster sequel that hit theaters on May 7, 2010.
Black Widow's date change also shifted dates for expected franchise starters Eternals, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Chloé Zhao, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, from Destin Daniel Cretton. Both films now open later in 2021 — a summer slot for Shang-Chi and an awards-ready fall release for Eternals in November — and will be followed by the untitled Spider-Man 3 on December 17.
Phase 4 also marks the first time Marvel Studios will release four feature films in a single year. The Disney-owned studio has released three films per year since 2017, which saw the release of Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor sequels as well as the first solo feature for Tom Holland's Spider-Man.
As it stands now, Disney and Marvel move forward with the Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder, reuniting Chris Hemsworth with Natalie Portman, on February 11, 2022, and Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to end Phase 4 later that year.
Also slated for 2022: Ryan Coogler's Black Panther II, currently dated for May 6, 2022, and Nia DaCosta's Captain Marvel sequel, set to open on July 8, 2022. Other features still on the way but without dates include Peyton Reed's Ant-Man 3, the Mahershala Ali-starring Blade reboot, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and a rebooted Fantastic Four.
WandaVision, set after the events of Avengers: Endgame and reuniting stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, is the first television series from Marvel Studios and will release exclusively on Disney+ before the end of 2020.
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha/Black Widow in Marvel Studios' action-packed spy thriller "Black Widow"— the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei aka The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz as Melina.
Directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige, Black Widow opens in theaters on May 7, 2021.