It’s a brand new year and the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to kick-off. Phase 4 drew to a close with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and a couple TV specials including the Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special (which was a pleasant surprise).
Phase 5 begins next month and includes a bunch of new movies and Disney Plus streaming shows beginning with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and ending with Thunderbolts in 2024. (I spoke with David Harbour recently who says filming in that movie begins soon). Edit: With Blade pushed back to September, 2024 it’s looking like that will be the actual final Phase 5 MCU film.
The MCU’s Phase 4 was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics. It seemed less focused than previous Phases, and included many lesser-known heroes in the post-Avengers era—an inevitability given the absence of Captain America and Iron Man. At the same time, it had some of the most creative entries in the entire MCU. WandaVision remains one of my favorite Marvel projects of all-time, and Spider-Man: No Way Home was terrific.
What does Phase 5 have in store in 2023 and beyond? Let’s take a look.
Marvel Phase 5 2023 Release Schedule
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (February 17th, 2023)
The last time we had an Ant-Man movie was back in 2018—that’s five years ago! We did see Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man in a few other MCU films since then, including Avengers: Endgame, but this will be our first return to the story of Ant-Man and the Wasp. I’m not looking forward to typing out the word quantumania over and over again, but I am looking forward to a return to one of the MCU’s most endearing sort-of-heroes.
What If…? Season 2 (Early 2023)
The animated What If…? show takes an alternate-reality approach to the characters and stories in the MCU. This allows us to see storylines with characters who have passed away in the main timeline, including Gamora and Tony Stark. In Season 2 we’ll get more of the same, including characters from Shang-Chi battling Odin and Tony Stark racing on the planet Sakaar (which you may remember from Thor: Ragnarök).
Secret Invasion (Spring 2023)
Samuel L. Jackson returns to the MCU as Nick Fury alongside a pretty star-studded cast that includes Martin Freeman, Ben Mendelson, Cobie Smulders, Don Cheadle and Emilia Clarke. The Secret Invasion storyline is all about a Skrull invasion, where it appears the shape-shifting aliens have replaced a number of superheroes. This is a pretty major cross-over event—perhaps the biggest since the Avengers films.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5th, 2023)
I have a special fondness for Guardians Of The Galaxy, and I’m extremely excited for the third and final entry in James Gunn’s trilogy (not counting the Holiday Special). Granted, the first film was much better than the second, but I still enjoyed both and I have high hopes for Volume 3. I just love the characters. It’s also kind of funny to watch a Marvel movie directed by the new chief of DC films.
Loki Season 2 (Summer 2023)
Okay, this reminds me: I need to finish Loki. I know, I know. I’m wicked late on this one, but that’s because around the time Loki aired I was experiencing major MCU burnout. As much as I loved WandaVision, I was pretty disappointed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which was just not a very good show. So when Loki dropped I just wasn’t feeling it, and now I need to go back to it before I even read about Season 2!
Echo (Summer 2023)
I did enjoy Hawkeye a great deal. It was a fun Christmas-themed team up between Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner who is currently recovering after a major snow-plow accident) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). One of the bad guys / anti-heroes introduced in that show was Echo, played by Alaqua Cox. Both the character and the actress are deaf. Expect to see both Kingpin and Daredevil in the upcoming Disney Plus series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Echo makes her way to the next Daredevil series as well.
Spider-Man Across The Spider-Verse (June 2nd, 2023)
Okay, I know this isn’t an MCU movie and I just don’t care. I had to put it in this list because I loved the first one so much. Into The Spider-Verse remains one of my all-time favorite Spider-Man movies and I’m absolutely thrilled to see where they go with the second movie. It’s Marvel—just not Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m sneaking it in here because everyone needs to see it!
The Marvels (July 28th, 2023)
Bound to be a controversial film—because internet fandom and entertainment media remain in an endless, fruitless pop culture war—The Marvels brings together Captain Marvel (Bree Larson) along with the adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) who gained superpowers during WandaVision, and Captain Marvel’s biggest fan, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) as Ms. Marvel. WandaVision writer Megan McDonnell penned the script, which gives me hope for this one.
Ironheart (Fall 2023)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Dominique Thorne is getting her very own show based on Riri Williams, the engineering prodigy who builds her very own super-suit, similar to Tony Stark’s Iron Man. (I haven’t seen Wakanda Forever yet, either—MCU burnout is real!) Anthony Ramos also stars as The Hood, an ally-turned-antagonist in the Disney Plus series.
Kraven The Hunter (October, 2023)
Again, not an MCU movie, but since Sony’s Spider-Man universe routinely crosses over with the MCU, this seemed like it should be included. This is the fourth of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe films following the two Venom movies and the ill-fated Morbius. Kraven the Hunter is yet another Spider-Man villain, this time played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who you may have seen recently in Bullet Train. He is no stranger to superhero films, starring in the two Kick-Ass movies. He’s also apparently being eyed as the next James Bond.
X-Men ‘97 (Winter 2023)
What a lovely dose of nostalgia X-Men 97 looks like. The animated show picks up quite literally where the 90s’ X-Men animated series ended, in 1997. I’m curious to see what the updated version looks like and how true to the 90s’ series this rebooted version will be. I’m also curious how it will help introduce the X-Men to the MCU, something that we’ve had glimpses of already (Professor X showing up in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness) but won’t really kick off until Phase 6 with Deadpool 3 and The Fantastic Four among others.
Agatha: Coven Of Chaos (Winter 2023/2024)
Just writing about Agatha: Coven Of Chaos makes me want to rewatch WandaVision all over again. That show was truly something special in all the MCU. I’m not sure what to expect from Coven but I’m happy to return to Agatha Harkness’s character and hopefully learn more about her witchy magic. WandaVision head writer Jac Schaeffer is writing and executive producing. The show is described as a dark comedy and I’m curious if they’ll be able to catch lightning in a bottle twice. This show is set tentatively in winter of 2023 but could be pushed back into 2024.
Phase 5 MCU 2024 Release Schedule
Daredevil: Born Again (Spring 2024)
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) hasn’t had his own show since the Netflix Daredevil ended in 2018, as Disney prepared to launch its own streaming service, Disney+. But Daredevil has popped up a few times since, with Cox still in the role. First in Spider-Man: No Way Home, as Peter Parker’s lawyer. Then we saw Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) arrive as the Big Bad in Hawkeye. And finally, the blind superhero appeared in She-Hulk, and was probably the one good thing about that show! The new Daredevil series bucks all trends Disney has established for its streaming shows, and will air a whopping 18 episodes in 2024.
Captain America: New World Order (May 3rd, 2024)
I really didn’t like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier and I guess part of that was the writing and part of that is just a sense that Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is just not a great character. Or maybe I’m just not a huge fan of Mackie, who is fine but not exactly lead material. With FAWS head writer Malcolm Spellman returning to write the script for this one, I guess I’m just not feeling particularly enthusiastic. I admit, I’m curious about the story of Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), the first black super-soldier who we met in FAWS, so who knows. Maybe it’ll be great.
Thunderbolts (July 26th, 2024)
Think Suicide Squad but Marvel instead of DC. This is yet another major cross-over movie with anti-heroes and losers from across the MCU, including Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), the Red Guardian (David Harbour), John Walker / US Agent (Wyatt Russell), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Whatever happens with this bunch of knaves and assassins, bet on it playing a big role in the transition to Phase 6, especially given its proximity to New World Order.
Blade (September 6th, 2024)
Originally slated as a 2023 release, Blade is now the final film in the MCU’s Phase 5, though it’s unclear if that’s only true of its release date rather than in terms of in-fiction chronology and importance (similar to how Black Widow released after Endgame despite taking place earlier—obviously). Mahershala Ali takes on the role that was made famous by Wesley Snipes—and one that he specifically requested when he was filming Luke Cage for Netflix. I couldn’t think of a better actor to play the Daywalker and I’m sad we have to wait so long to see this one. Ali made a voice-only cameo in a post-credits scene of The Eternals that I’m still dying to learn more about.
And that, dear readers, is the entirety of Marvel’s Phase 5 unless Kevin Feige ends up dropping some surprises in the coming months. What are you looking forward to most? Or are you experiencing MCU burnout? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.