By Gina Duncan

“I used to have nothing. And then I got this. This job. This family. And I was better because of it. And even though they’re gone… I’m still trying to be better.” ―Natasha Romanoff in Avengers Endgame

The words of Natasha Romanoff reflect how I feel about living through the Infinity Saga, Phases I-III of Marvel’s  film and television universe. As a child I lived in my comic books.

Only in my wildest dreams did I imagine seeing my favourite Marvel characters jump off the page and onto the screen. Now that they have, that “family” Romanoff speaks of has become so familiar to us that we champion their causes, celebrate their wins, identify with their pain, and were a complete wreck after Infinity War and then its sequel Endgame.

Image courtesy Marvel.com

For this avid comic book reader now turned film aficionado, I can’t get enough. I have been  anticipating Phase IV of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Marvel has had me hooked from the very beginning with what is still my personal favourite Iron Man.

Before Robert Downey Jr. turned Tony Stark into the witty, acid-tongued, narcissistic, and –  dare I say – sexy version of Iron Man, his alter-ego lived in my imagination as an alcoholic struggling to overcome his many flaws. 

The introduction of each Marvel character to the screen delivers an adapted version of these beloved superhero personalities that further delight and frustrate me. I studied each character’s comic book development over the years. I had conversations with friends and family over our expectations of these characters that we had grown to love.These conversations would escalate into debates as we disagreed with on-screen versions of our superhero friends. The last two Avengers movies had us on a roller coaster of emotions leading into Spider-Man: Far From Home, the final film in Phase III. We all agree that we are not done being invested in our MCU “family.”

Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, MCU has catapulted to the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Its interconnected universe has set the tone for film and television storytelling. If you were wondering how the movies could possibly continue without a few of our favourite characters, Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow (tragic!) well, the news is out, and it’s everything and more than what we hoped for.

The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige took the stage at Comic-Con on July 20 to surprise the audience with announcements about the future of MCU, Phase IV. Here’s what you need to know:

When Does It Start? 

Phase IV kicks off with the film Black Widow on May 1, 2020. If you’ve seen Endgame, your head is probably reeling from this announcement. But mostly you’re excited to get a long-awaited MCU version of her backstory and see a side of Natasha Romanoff that we haven’t seen before.

For the first time the Marvel television shows will play a pivotal role in the storyline’s development with the film plots. Phase IV of the TV side starts off with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in Fall 2020.

What Are The Films of Phase IV?

Following Black Widow, in the fall of 2020 will come The Eternals. The Eternals were a relatively obscure 1970s Marvel comic written by legendary innovator, Jack Kirby (co-creator of Captain America, Black Panther, Fantastic Four, Thor, Hulk and so much more). The Eternals is a story about the history of the human race spanning 35,000 years. Its characters, a group of immortals,  possess incredible strength and super powers including the ability to merge into a powerful being called the Unimind. They battle the deviants to protect the planet. They’ve been referenced in Marvel Universe many times but most notably, in a discussion about the empty gap in the human DNA, in Ironman 3.

The Eternals has some pretty heavy headliners including Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanijani and Bryan Tyree Henry. 

The full list of Phase IV films is below. Worth noting are the highly anticipated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Natalie Portman’s character, Jane Foster, returning as a female version of Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder.

What Are the TV Shows of Phase IV?

The TV shows in this phase weave through the fabric of the movies telling a cohesive story and having an impact on the movies. WandaVision will tie into Doctor Strange 2, Loki is a prequel to Endgame, Hawkeye will look at the character’s time as the ninja Ronin as he trains the female Hawkeye, and What If….? will give us a unique storyline of alternate takes on the existing MCU characters. I can’t wait. 

Even if you aren’t a die-hard Marvel fan, you can look forward to the continuation of proven storylines in Phase IV. This adaptation of comic book to screen has been full of surprises and a rollercoaster of emotions. You should expect a few more announcements at Disney’s D23 Expo August 23-25, 2019 in Anaheim. I am looking forward to seeing what this Marvel “family” has in store for me in Phase IV. So far it looks like it’s going to be a great ride.

Phase IV Films

Black Widow (May 1st, 2020)

The Eternals (November 6th, 2020)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)

Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5th, 2021)

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (May 7th, 2021)

Phase IV Television Shows

Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)

WandaVision (Spring 2021)

Loki (Spring 2021)

What If…?(Summer 2021)

Hawkeye (Fall 2021)

*Featured image courtesy screenrant.com