The MCU Is Back With a Vengeance
When Spider-Man: Homecoming landed in theaters back in July 2019, no one could have predicted it would be nearly two years before Marvel would follow up with Black Widow and the start of Phase 4. But 2020 proved to be the first year since 2009 without a new MCU movie. And unless you count ABC’s Agents of SHIELD and Hulu’s Helstrom – neither of which were produced by Marvel Studios – there was no new MCU content of any sort in 2020.
But that promises to change very quickly in 2021. Marvel’s WandaVision is debuting on Disney+ on January 15, the first in an ambitious lineup of TV series designed to be more closely integrated with Marvel’s movies. That debut will be followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in March and Loki in May, and we may also see Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye before the end of the year.
We’ll even see the debut of the very first animated series set in the MCU. Marvel’s What If… is slated for a Summer 2021 debut, giving fans a glimpse of alternate branches of the MCU timeline and what will likely be Chadwick Boseman’s final performance as T’Challa.
Not to be outdone, the movie side of the MCU will be just as busy in 2021. Barring any further coronavirus delays, Black Widow will finally arrive in theaters on May 7. After that, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings drops on July 9 and The Eternals follows on November 9. And closing out the year just in time for the holidays, Marvel and Sony will release the third, currently untitled entry in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every Upcoming Movie and TV Show
The End of Marvel TV
The only downside to the new lineup of MCU series on Disney+ is that they mark the end of an era for Marvel Television. With the recent (if hardly surprising) news that Hulu has canceled Helstrom after one season, there will be only two Marvel shows not produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige – Hulu’s two animated series MODOK and Hit-Monkey. And given Marvel’s track record of late, we’re not holding our breath either show will be renewed for a second season. These shows look to be the last two relics of the old Marvel Television.
There is one silver lining here, however. Before the end of 2021, the rights to all of Netflix’s Marvel shows will have reverted back to Marvel. Hopefully, that means we’ll find out what Marvel has planned for characters like Daredevil and Luke Cage. Will the Netflix shows be revived on Hulu? Will Daredevil pop up in Spider-Man 3 or She-Hulk as current rumors suggest? We don’t know, but any news is better than no news at this point.
The Future of Sony’s Spider-Man Movies
The tone of Marvel and Sony’s relationship has changed quite a bit over the past 18 months. For a while, it appeared as though Spider-Man: Far From Home would be Tom Holland’s final appearance in the MCU, but the two studios have now worked out a deal to keep Spider-Man at the forefront of this universe. And in 2021, Sony will be releasing two new Marvel movies in addition to their collaboration with Marvel Studios on Spider-Man 3.
Morbius is first in line on March 9, followed by Venom: Let There Be Carnage on June 25. Like Black Widow and The Eternals, both movies were supposed to come out in 2020 before the pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood. The question is whether these two movies can build on the financial success of 2018’s Venom and make a lasting case for the so-called “Sony Universe of Marvel Characters.” Fans showed up for a Venom movie, but will they do the same for Morbius? Do Marvel fans even want two different cinematic universes these days?
Every Spider-Man Movie Spin-Off in Development
For that matter, these two movies should settle the question once and for all of whether Sony’s Marvel movies are connected to the MCU. Michael Keaton’s cameo appearance in the Morbius trailer suggests they are, but does that mean we’ll see Tom Holland’s Spidey in a future Venom movie?
And finally, with all the rumors of classic Spider-Man actors reprising their role in Spider-Man 3, we should learn how exactly the larger Spider-Verse plays into Sony and Marvel’s future plans. Are Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire coming back just for cameo roles, or is there still a lasting place for these older Spider-Men?
The Reign of the X-Men Begins
While we don’t know a great deal about what Marvel has planned for its comic book universe in 2021, we can safely say there’s going to be a lot of new X-Men content. Marvel’s X-Men franchise will continue to be guided by writer Jonathan Hickman next year, as Hickman and his collaborators build on the fallout of the recent X of Swords crossover and build an even bolder future for mutantkind.
In 2021, all of Marvel’s X-books will be united under the banner “Reign of X.” As the name suggests, the X-Men on the rise. They just added thousands of new members to the nation of Krakoa and become one of the most powerful teams in the Marvel Universe. But that just means there are new challenges and new enemies to confront. Building a new nation was easy. Maintaining it may prove to be the real challenge.
And with the X-Men becoming such a critical piece of the Marvel Comics puzzle lately, we’ll probably start to see that trickle out into other Marvel media. It may be a few years still before we see an X-Men movie reboot set in the MCU, but we’re hoping Marvel Studios will at least clarify its plans for these characters in 2021. At the very least, that probably means confirmation of a third Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds, but we’re hoping for some teases about a true X-Men movie or Disney+ series. Maybe Disney will even confirm those rumors about a revival of the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series. The more X-Men, the better.
The Future of Marvel Games
2020 may have been a ghost town on the MCU front, but it gave us two massive video game releases in the form of Insomniac’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the Square-Enix release Marvel’s Avengers. Don’t expect 2021 to be anywhere near that big in terms of new releases, but it is safe to expect a steady stream of new characters and content for Avengers and new costumes in Miles Morales.
But for the most part, 2021 may be more about what’s coming next in the Marvel gaming world. Will Insomniac officially reveal its true sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man at E3? And if so, will gamers be back in Peter Parker’s spandex-covered shoes, or will Peter and Miles share the spotlight this time?
What about games not focused on Spider-Man or the Avengers? We’re hopeful 2021 will bring a few welcome surprises on the Marvel game front, whether it’s new follow-ups to fan-favorite franchises like Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel vs. Capcom or brand new games featuring these iconic heroes. Surely the world is ready for an Arkham Asylum-style Daredevil game or an epic Fantastic Four RPG. Gaming is an area where Marvel has never fully tapped into its potential, but here’s hoping that trend continues to shift in 2021.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.