Disney Reveals dates for MCU Phase 4, New Star Wars, and Avatar, Challenging Aquaman 2 and others.

Cuyler Smith’s illustration of Mickey Mouse as Darth Vader: “Come with me. We will rule the galaxy together as father and son!”

Now that Disney has taken full control of Fox, assumed overwhelming control of Hulu, and announced a slew of programming for both that streaming service and its upcoming Disney+ service, it is not really surprising that the studio has followed up by announcing its upcoming cinematic releases on Tuesday, May 7. What is surprising, however, is the sheer depth of the offerings that are, in some cases, eight years in the future.

This release comes, of course, after the blockbusting debut of Avengers: Endgame, which has earned over $2.2 billion dollars in a dozen days with $632 million in domestic box office revenue alone. With the addition of Fox to its stable, alongside Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel, the Mouse is primed to dominate the box office for the foreseeable future.

The 15 titles coming out the remainder of this year is no secret and the release roster is is heavy with scifi and fantasy, including the X-Men film Dark Phoenix and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The rest of the list of releases is a combination of previously announced titles and the mysterious Untitled Marvel with pretty dense schedules penciled out through 2022. After that, certain tent poles have been planted, indicating that Disney intends to OWN the Christmas movie season for most of the upcoming decade.


Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: End Game is officially the last film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase III. Thanks to its new deal with Disney, Sony’s Spider-Man: Far from Home picks up from Endgame and brings it into its Sony’s Marvel Universe, making it sort of an epilogue for Phase III.

Beyond that, it’s a 10-month wait for more from the MCU. Marvel has a pair of Untitled Marvel films scheduled for May 1 and November 6 of 2020 and three more for 2021. There are three Marvel listed for each year thereafter which is a step up from the past ten years where Marvel has released two or three films annually. In all, eight Phase IV movies are scheduled to hit the big screen between 2020 and 2022. Now, it should be noted that these are “Marvel” and not necessarily MCU movies, so a Deadpool 3 could be in the mix and, of course, Sony’s films won’t appear on the list.

The as yet untitled Black Widow movie begins production in May or June with shooting in London, so it is reasonable to believe that Scarlett Johansson’s super spy will have her solo appearance in 2020. Details regarding the plot are still under wraps, but IMDB joins in fan speculation that it will be set prior to Natalia Alianova Romanova’s appearance in Iron Man 2. The remaining slot is possibly The Eternals as shooting is scheduled to start this September.

Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2 and Shang-Chi are said to begin shooting in 2020 with Guardians of the Galaxy 3, beginning filming after reinstated director James Gunn completes his obligations to DC’s Suicide Squad 2 (with its 2021 release date). Guardians 3 is likely one of the 2022 releases noted for February, May or July of that year. Captain Marvel 2 is practically guaranteed and will probably take up one of the other slots.

MCU maestro Kevin Feige is expected to announce more detailed plans some time after Spider-Man: Far from Home comes out on July 2. It is possible that those announcements will be made at San Diego Comic-Con later that month or at the Disney fan festival D-23 in late August.

X-Men marks the spot

X-Men: Apocalypse

Now that they’ve “come home” to Marvel, the X-Men are going to appear on-screen twice more before apparently taking a bit of a hiatus (outside of who shows up in a future Deadpool movie). The last outing of the current incarnation of Professor Xavier’s team will occur on June 7, as scheduled. The highly troubled New Mutants horror film has been pushed back from its already delayed August 2 date to April 3 of 2020 – a full eight months delay. It was reported earlier that New Mutants – which includes Game of ThronesMaisie Williams – was on the bubble of being pulled from the schedule entirely pending a screening for Disney executives. It is unclear whether that has occurred yet. Channing Tatum’s solo Gambit had been scheduled for March 13, 2020 release date, but was pulled from Fox’ schedule earlier this year.

At present Disney’s film list does not show any X-Men projects beyond New Mutants. How, if or when they will be incorporated into the MCU, much less return to the big screen is something even Charles Xavier and Cerebro cannot reveal.


Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in 'Avatar'
Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in ‘Avatar’

James Cameron has been developing the story for the sequels to his blockbuster Avatar since its release in 2010. However, production has been delayed since then. The planned two sequels have since grown into four movies, which are to be filmed all at once and would continue the adventures of Jake and Neytiri with humans being the antagonists once again. Release dates have been repeatedly pushed back from 2015 to 2020 for the first of the follow-ons. Disney has announced that Avatar 2 will open December 17, 2021 instead of December 18, 2020. Avatars 3 through 5 will come out every other December after that through 2027. In its place will be Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Disney’s live-action Cruella a week later.

Star Warriors

Image via Disney

After Solo failed to live up to expectations at the box office, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy announced last year that there would a hold on future standalone Star Wars films putting an end to hope that there would be films centered on Obi-Wan, Boba Fett or Yoda. Earlier this year, she further announced that there would be “a few years” before a new Star Wars trilogy would appear in theaters. The exact date was announced as December 16, 2022. After that, Star Wars will alternate with Avatar as the Disney Christmas tent pole with releases on December 20, 2024 and December 18, 2026. Of course, fans have The Mandalorian and other live action and animated adventures streaming on Disney+ in the meantime.

The Mandalorian is a series being made for the Disney+ streaming service.

Animated to Life

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie in Disney’s ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.

Disney has been successfully bringing its animated classics to life, with 1996’s 101 Dalmatians setting the path, live-action Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Jungle Book have appealed to family audiences. Aladdin bursts forth from the lamp in May, The Lion King roars into theaters in July and Angela Jolie returns as the titular sorceress Maleficent in the sequel to her 2014 riff on Sleeping Beauty in October. Beyond that Mulan gets the live action treatment in March 2020 and the aforementioned Cruella gets her own turn in December with Emma Stone as the villain of 101 Dalmatians fame.

Other Franchises

The Artemis Fowl movie has been pushed to May 2020. It had been scheduled for release this August.

As if having Avatar, Star Wars and a host of other successful franchises wasn’t enough, Disney hopes that its eight-book children’s scifi-fantasy series launches yet another with Artemis Fowl hitting the big screen at the end of May, 2020. This young adult movie was moved from August of this year.

From the Fox side of the house, the animated Bob’s Burgers makes a jump from the small screen to the silver screen and Kingsman: The Great Game goes back to the turn of the 20th century as a prequel in February of 2020.

Almost buried in the list was the announcement that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford are working together on Indiana Jones 5. After first announcing the development of the project in June of 2016, the movie has a release date of July 9, 2021.

And so much more

Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra, a near-future scifi film about an astronaut traveling through the solar system in search of his father who left on a one-way mission to Neptune 20 years prior has been moved back a few months to September 20 of 2019, likely in order to build up publicity which had been extremely lacking.

Frozen 2 is the last named of the five Pixar films that are scheduled through 2022 with two of the animated films appearing three months apart in that year. Onward was announced, but does not appear by name on the schedule nor have any details about the movie itself been released. Disney also sources another movie from one of its them park rides with Jungle Cruise out July 24, 2020. Expect a joke about the “back side of water.”

Additionally the schedule is full of several Untitled Disney Live Action films each year through 2023 with an Untitled Disney Animation each year between 2020 and 2022. As always, movies will get added, named or rescheduled. Stay tuned to SCIFI.radio for the latest and greatest updates as they become available.


Wyatt D. Odd
Wyatt D. Odd