It’s been three years since the last in-person San Diego Comic Con and Marvel Studios pulled out all the stops for its panel in Hall H, giving us a jam-packed overview of Phases Four, Five, and Six in the MCU. We got a new trailer for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and those in attendance were able to view exclusive sneak peek teasers for Ant-Man: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and a new crossover series event called Secret Invasion. The panel ended with the first teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Wakanda Forever was already in development when Chadwick Boseman—who played T’Challa in 2018’s Black Panther—died of colon cancer in August 2020. Director Ryan Coogler, Marvel’s Kevin Feige, and many others had been unaware that Boseman was even ill. They decided not to recast T’Challa, nor would they try to insert the character using visual effects, although most of the other main cast members are returning. “His portrayal… is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel’s past,” Feige said in a December 2020 statement.
The finished film is in many ways a tribute to Boseman, and the trailer evokes that sense of loss, set to an almost elegiac cover of “No Woman No Cry.” There’s even a shot of a street mural honoring a deceased T’Challa. T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) are grieving the loss of their brother, with Ramonda currently sitting on the throne. “I am queen of the most powerful nation in the world and my entire family is gone,” she says in the only lines of dialogue. “Have I not given everything?”
“I promise you, I feel his hand on me right now,” Coogler said of Boseman during the discussion. “Chad’s passion and genius and his culture and the impact he made on this industry will be felt forever. We put our love for Chadwick into this film. We also put our passion.”
There are plenty of familiar faces. Among the new ones is Namor (Tenoch Huerta), king of a tribe that lives underwater, purportedly related to the Mayans. The trailer also introduces Riri Williams, aka Ironheart (Dominique Thorne), a teen tech genius who is a protege of Tony Stark in the comics. We see her bond with the equally brilliant Shuri, with another shot showing her making her Ironheart suit. (Thorne will also portray Riri in the forthcoming Ironheart series on Disney+.) The final shot in the trailer is a new Black Panther, shown only from the back, advancing onto a battlefield. Shuri becomes Black Panther in the comics, and it’s possible she’ll do the same in Wakanda Forever, unless another dark horse candidate is lurking in the background.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11, 2022.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Marvel also unveiled a new trailer for its She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series. Per the official premise: “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law follows Jennifer Walters as she navigates the complicated life of a single, 30-something attorney who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk.” Mark Ruffalo will appear as “Smart Hulk,” Tim Roth will reprise his role as Emil Blonsky/the Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and Benedict Wong will be back as Wong. Jameela Jamil plays Titania, a super-strong rival of She-Hulk; Ginger Gonzaga plays Walters’ best friend; and Renee Elise Goldsberry plays Amelia.
The first trailer dropped in May and introduced us to Jennifer, who had just been asked to lead the superhuman law division of her firm. But then her cousin, Bruce Banner, gave her a blood transfusion, and she gained some of his Hulk abilities. Banner becomes her mentor, training her to channel her powers by focusing on her anger and fear (aka “the baseline of any woman just existing”).
During the panel, series creator Jessica Gao described the show as “Marvel’s first true half-hour comedy.” It does seem to have that sitcom vibe, with some superhero action thrown in for good measure—although Jessica is that rare superhero who really isn’t all that keen to be one. The new trailer opens with Jessica sleeping peacefully in human form as a giant green hand enters the frame. It’s Smart Hulk, who awakens her with a loud horn, causing her to change into She-Hulk. Who says scientific experimentation can’t have an element of comedy?
Cue the Hulk/She-Hulk training montage. “‘This is a multi-year journey you’re about to embark on,” Smart-Hulk tells her. Lesson one: “Spandex is your best friend.” She-Hulk nails every task. Smart Hulk reluctantly says she can go back to being a lawyer if she wants, which leads She-Hulk to break the fourth wall (a risky tactic) and address the camera: “He doesn’t really mean that.” She chooses the law.
Her Hulkiness makes her the perfect choice to head the superhuman law division, since “more and more eccentric superhumans are coming out of the woodwork,” per her boss Holden Holloway. Her first client: Blonsky/Abomination, who greets her with a cheeky “Namaste.” It’s a clear conflict of interest, given that Blonsky tried to kill her cousin Bruce, but Holloway doesn’t care. And it does give Jennifer a higher public profile. When Titania crashes into the office looking for trouble, She-Hulk goes to battle, and her superhero life begins in earnest.
Wong appears through a portal, warning as he usually does about a grave existential threat to the universe. We see Blonsky transform into Abomination in his cell. And at the very end, a mysterious figure somersaults into the frame and takes a fighting stance. Fan speculation is that this is Daredevil, but we don’t get a very good look.
She-Hulk premieres on Disney+ on August 17, 2022.
Phase 5 and beyond
She-Hulk and Wakanda Forever will mark the end of Phase Four of what’s officially being called The Multiverse Saga (encompassing Phases Four, Five, and Six). Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will kick off Phase Five with its release on February 2017, 2023.
The Marvel panel included an exclusive first-look teaser at the film (not yet released online). The footage opens with Scott Lang reading from his memoir (appropriately titled Look Out for the Little Guy) when he learns his daughter Cassie has been arrested. She’s been working with the Van Dynes, and things seem good with the family. But then something goes wrong with a mysterious device and they are all transported to what appears to be the quantum realm. MODOK makes a cameo appearance, but the big reveal is the villainous version of Kang, a character first introduced in the finale of Loki.
Also coming to the big screen in 2023 is James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, slated for May 5, 2023. Per the logline: “Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians we know them.” The Comic-Con sneak peek footage revealed that this version of Gamora is now with the Ravagers and doesn’t remember Peter.
It looks like we’ll learn more about Rocket’s origins on a planet known as Halfworld, and fans finally got a good look at Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock, whose power stems from the Soul Gem. The film will also feature the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) as a villain, aka Herbert Wyndham, an Earth scientist who messed with chaos magic. In the MCU, he’s responsible for giving Wanda and Quicksilver their super powers.
Marvel also showed a trailer for Secret Invasion, a six-episode crossover event series featuring Samual L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, featuring a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls who have been infiltrating Earth. The footage showed Fury stepping out of a spaceship to meet Maria Hill (Cobie Smulder) at a bar on Earth, looking rather the worse for the wear. Fury will team up with his former Skrull ally, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) to thwart the invading Skrulls.
Conspicuously absent from the panel was any new footage relating to The Marvels, slated for a July 28, 2023 release; apparently footage wasn’t ready in time, but chances are we’ll see something at D23 later this year. Ditto for Echo and Loki S2, both scheduled for release next summer as well. The aforementioned Ironheart drops that fall, Blade—with Mahershala Ali stepping into Wesley Snipes’ vampire-hunting shoes—and WandaVision spinoff Agatha—centered on Wanda’s witchy neighbor—will close out 2023 on November 3, 2023, and December, respectively.
As for 2024, Anthony Mackie will star in the feature film Captain America: New World Order, slated for a May 3 release, having made his peace with taking up Steve Rogers’ shield at the conclusion of The Falcon and the Winter Solder. Also that spring, Charlie Cox is coming back as Matt Murdock in Daredevil: Born Again. This was not unexpected, since the character briefly appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home, while Vincent D’Onofio’s Kingpin briefly appeared in Hawkeye. (The comics story line depicts Daredevil’s defeat at the hands of Kingpin.) But it’s still great to see it officially confirmed.
Phase Five will wrap up on July 26, 2024, with the release of Thunderbolts., centering on a team of villains, possibly led by Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), introduced in Captain America: Civil War. As for Phase Six, it’s mostly still a twinkle in Feige’s eye, but it will kick off with a reboot of Fantastic Four (tentatively slated for November 8, 2024), and will wrap up with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty on May 2, 2025, and Avengers: Secret Wars on November 7, 2025.
Listing image by YouTube/Marvel Studios