Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the 25th Marvel Cinematic Universe film, sets the stage for the MCU’s future on the big screen, but there will be a slew of Marvel TV projects following it. Shang-Chi marks another significant milestone for Marvel Studios, as it is the studio’s first film featuring a predominantly Asian cast and crew. While primarily a standalone film about the titular hero, it does have certain connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s past, present, and future.
Because of the Ten Rings organization and the return of the fake Mandarin, Trevor Slattery, Shang-Chi is closely linked to Iron Man and Iron Man 3. In the meantime, Shang-mid-credits Chi’s scenes tie the film to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels, among other things. But, while Shang-Chi is primarily concerned with the MCU’s theatrical future, appropriately kicking off Phase 4’s movie branch, there are major things to coming on the small screen.
Marvel Studios debuted on television in 2021, after previously releasing shows under the Marvel Entertainment banner, with the goal of making series that were properly tied to the films. So far, WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki have all provided Marvel movie-level entertainment while also building up future events. There’s no sign of things slowing down with What If…? airing in the middle of season 1. After Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, every Marvel TV program will be released.
Hawkeye will likely complete Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) MCU tale while setting up the future for his replacement, Kate Bishop. Hawkeye is the last – but surely not least – of the MCU’s original Avengers to earn their own standalone project (Hailee Steinfeld). Hawkeye, created by Jonathan Igla (Mad Men, Bridgerton), will follow the titular figure as he teaches Kate, a young woman who idolizes him and wishes to follow in his footsteps. There will be at least one other recognizable figure, with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova pursuing Hawkeye after the post-credits scene in Black Widow.
Tony Dalton will play Clint’s mentor, Jack Duquesne, called Swordmaster; Vera Farmiga will play Kate’s mother, Eleanor Bishop; and Alaqua Cox will play Maya Lopez, aka Echo, a deaf Native American hero who can imitate others’ movements. Hawkeye is set to premiere on November 24, 2021, and will consist of six episodes.
Shang-Chi prepares the audience for The Marvels, but first, they must meet Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Kamala is Marvel Comics’ first prominent Muslim character. She is a Captain Marvel superfan who gains powers from the Terrigen Mists, a backstory that may be altered in the MCU due to the failure of the Inhumans TV program. Ms. Marvel will star Iman Vellani as Kamala, and the film will ostensibly serve as her origin tale before she returns in The Marvels. Aramis Knight will play the vigilante Red Dagger, Matt Lintz will play Kamala’s buddy Bruno, and Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur will play her parents.
Ms. Marvel will be a six-episode series that was originally set to premiere in late-2021 but is now likely to premiere in early-2022.
Aside from Doctor Strange 2 and The Marvels, Shang-credits Chi’s scenes may set up the next MCU movie She-Hulk, thanks to Bruce Banner’s appearance (Mark Ruffalo). Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), Bruce’s cousin, is a lawyer who gains Hulk powers after receiving a blood transfusion from Banner following an accident. Given that Bruce is no longer the Smart Hulk in Shang-Chi, it’s probable that this will be explained in She-Hulk, with the transfusion being the catalyst for the transformation.
Abomination (Tim Roth), who was last seen fighting Wong and may now be in the Raft, is also returning from Shang-Chi; as Jennifer deals with superhuman clients, she may be involved in a legal matter involving Emil Blonsky. Season 1 of the show will consist of ten episodes and will be a mix of superhero comedy and courtroom drama. She-Hulk concluded production in August 2021, keeping the film on track for a 2022 release.
Although the MCU will never have Batman, it will soon have Moon Knight, who is often seen as the MCU’s equivalent to the Caped Crusader. There are certain similarities between Moon Knight and Batman, as a violent crimefighter who is also a wealthy businessman with a taste for technology, but that misses what makes Moon Knight a unique character. Marc Spector’s real name is Marc Spector, and he has dissociative identity disorder, which causes him to serve in several roles based on his various identities while gaining his powers from the Egyptian god Khonshu.
With Oscar Isaac starring as Moon Knight, it’s hardly a surprise that the film will be different and darker than the rest of the MCU. Alongside Isaac are Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy, who are rumored to be playing Moon Knight’s antagonists. The series will consist of six episodes and will premiere in 2022.
Skrulls were introduced to the MCU with a twist, with Captain Marvel transforming them into heroic and sympathetic characters rather than the villains of Marvel Comics. That seemed to put a stop to the possibility of a Secret Invasion, but Marvel has found a way to make it happen: the film will deal with a rogue gang of Skrulls infiltrating Earth, with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) leading the charge to help battle them. The Secret Invasion comic was a massive crossover that revealed not only that Skrulls had infiltrated every significant position of power in the planet, but also that they had taken on the identities of various superheroes.
It’s unknown how the MCU will handle this, but there’s a good chance there will be at least a few surprises. Secret Invasion is set to premiere in 2022 and will consist of six episodes.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – 2022
The Guardians will return in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which will be written and directed by James Gunn and will follow in the not-so-time-honored space opera tradition of Star Wars. Due to James Gunn’s firing and subsequent rehiring at Disney, as well as his work on The Suicide Squad in the interim, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is scheduled to bridge the gap between Vol. 2 and the team’s appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder.
The special’s exact format is unknown, but the main cast is set to return, and there will undoubtedly be plenty of weirdness, heart, and humour, all of which are great for Gunn’s Guardians and the holiday season. While nothing has been announced, it seems likely that this will be released around November/December 2022.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special isn’t the only Guardians of the Galaxy-related Disney+ endeavour in the pipeline. I Am Groot, a series of shorts focusing on the (kind of) talking tree, will also be released, and it is expected to be quite humorous and kid-friendly. It’s unclear whether these shorts are considered canon or feature any other Guardians, but given the success of both Baby Groot and Grogu in The Mandalorian, they’ll almost certainly be popular.
Loki, the third Marvel Disney+ series, was the first to be renewed for a second season. Season 1 of Loki introduced fans to a number of new themes and characters, like the Time Variance Authority, the Time-Keepers, and He Who Remains, but the show’s conclusion changed everything, not just for the show, but maybe for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the multiverse thrown into chaos, it’s likely that some of the ramifications will be addressed in Doctor Strange 2, but with Loki season 2 confirmed, there may be strands left to tie up, particularly those involving Loki, Sylvie, and Mobius. There’s also the possibility of taking the performance in a variety of ways, because to its use of time and space, which allows it to successfully explore any topic. Loki season 2 isn’t expected to premiere until 2023, so fans will have to wait a long time for the God of Mischief to return to Disney+.
What If…? Season 2
Marvel’s What If…?, the other MCU Disney+ show to be renewed for a second season, introduces viewers to alternate timelines and universes through a series of “what if” situations in which a single fundamental adjustment might have a major impact on known history. The program has already explored stories like Peggy Carter receiving the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, T’Challa becoming Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill, and Doctor Strange becoming evil. Season 2 of What If…? will include nine episodes and will feature the return of Captain Carter, as well as an episode centered on Black Widow and other aspects of Phase 4 as well.
Iron Man may be dead, but his legacy lives on, and Armor Wars will demonstrate that this isn’t always a good thing. The comic Armor Wars is about Stark technology falling into the wrong hands, with Tony still there to clean up the wreckage. That isn’t the case in Disney+’s Armor Wars, where James “Rhodey” Rhodes, aka War Machine, bears a greater share of the blame (Don Cheadle). The show is likely to deal with companies and people misusing Stark technology, as depicted in the comic. That may include Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, or Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter/Power Broker, with many speculating that her ending in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a set-up for this, though neither is confirmed. Armor Wars isn’t set to begin filming until 2022, thus it’ll most likely premiere on Disney+ in 2023.
Armor Wars isn’t the only Disney+ show dealing with Tony Stark’s legacy; Ironheart will also feature him as a central character in its plot – and establish his MCU replacement. In the comics, Riri Williams is a teenage genius who, while at MIT, constructs an Iron Man armor out of stolen materials and is rewarded with Tony Stark’s support.
That won’t happen in the Ironheart TV program, but components of it will most certainly be included, such as her MIT scholarship and the creation of an Iron Man suit. Ironheart, played by Dominque Thorne, will make his first appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, implying that there may be a connection between the character and Shuri (who was seen visiting MIT inset images), with Shuri possibly taking up some of Tony’s responsibilities. Ironheart is expected to contain six episodes and will begin filming in 2022 for a 2023 premiere.
Ironheart will also feature Tony Stark in a prominent role in its story, establishing his MCU replacement. Armor Wars isn’t the only Disney+ show dealing with Tony Stark’s legacy; Ironheart will also feature him as a central player in its plot – and establish his MCU replacement. Riri Williams is a youthful genius who, while attending MIT, builds an Iron Man armor out of stolen materials and receives Tony Stark’s support.