As 2023 rolls around, it’s set to be a busy year for Marvel fans. After Ryan Coogler’s celebrated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever brought Phase Four to a close, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next batch of movies and TV shows is ready to kick off Phase Five.
Starting with the third Ant-Man film in February, these next instalments in the Multiverse Saga will further take us into unseen corners of the MCU. Naturally, the forward-thinking Marvel is plotting its course to Phase Six and, in 2025, the hugely anticipated conclusion to the cycle, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026.
For now, buckle up; it’s going to be quite the ride.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17)
Traditionally, Ant-Man — the MCU’s most diminutive superhero — provides much-needed light relief. Timing-wise, his two previous films have come straight after the cataclysmic events of an Avengers movie. Not this time. Quantumania will kick off Phase Five, as Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and friends are pinged into the Quantum Realm – that microscopic universe briefly visited in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Who will they find there? Only Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), arguably the most dangerous foe in the Marvel universe since the purple-headed Thanos united the Infinity Stones and eliminated half the known universe. The stakes are starting sky-high.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 (May 5)
Last seen helping out Thor in 2022’s Love and Thunder, everyone’s favourite ragtag team of space rangers are back for their third stand-alone adventure. Helmed by James Gunn (reinstated after Disney initially fired him for some inappropriate comments on his Twitter feed), the director told Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast “this is the last time people will see this team of Guardians”, meaning that the gang is likely to be disbanded in some form.
New to the franchise, British actor Will Poulter underwent an extreme diet-and-exercise regime to play Adam Warlock — the all-powerful being created by the gold-skinned Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha who will be, as she says in Vol 2’s post-credits scene, “capable of destroying” the Guardians. Eek.
What If…? (spring 2023)
A show perfectly tailored to the Multiverse Saga, Marvel’s animated anthology returns for a second season, consisting of nine episodes that will once more ponder MCU what ifs? Again narrated by Jeffrey Wright, who plays The Watcher, footage that came out of ComicCon from the first episode has Peggy Carter fighting against her old flame Steve Rogers, piloting the HYDRA Stomper — making her Captain America to his Winter Soldier in an intriguing switcheroo. With Doctor Strange and Hulk also glimpsed in the official teaser, the possibilities are … infinite.
Secret Invasion (spring 2023)
The Skrulls are back. The alien race last seen in Captain Marvel will take centre stage in this take on the 2008 Marvel Comics series in which shape-shifting Skrulls start posing as some of the planet’s most powerful heroes. Leading the fight against this covert infiltration is S.H.I.E.L.D. mainstay Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), while other familiar faces include Cobie Smulders’s Maria Hill and Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes — aka War Machine. Newcomers include Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, who is playing Special Agent Sonya Falsworth. Destined to be the first Marvel television show of Phase Five, this six-parter could well lay the groundwork for events in The Marvels.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2)
Although not strictly part of the MCU, Sony Pictures’ follow-up to 2018’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse feels entirely in keeping with the Multiverse Saga. After all, telling the story of Miles Morales, the New York high-school teen who encounters various iterations of Spider-Man from different realities, it introduced audiences to the idea of alternate realities in the Marvel universe. Continuing Miles’ story, Across The Spider-Verse arrives as the first of two parts (Beyond the Spider-Verse lands in March 2024) and will focus on his relationship with Gwen Stacy — aka Spider-Woman — voiced by Hailee Steinfeld. Together, they’ll face The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a villain who can open portals across dimensions.
The Marvels (July 28)
This year’s Disney+ show Ms Marvel introduced Kamala Khan, the MCU’s first Muslim superhero, played by the young Pakistani-Canadian actress Iman Vellani. Now Vellani gets to step into features, as Khan joins up with her idol Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and WandaVision’s Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris).
Directed by Nia DaCosta, who helmed the excellent Candyman remake, the plot revolves around this trio inadvertently switching powers and trying to find out why. With Indian actors Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur back as Kamala’s parents, exciting cast additions include Zawe Ashton (The Handmaid's Tale) and Parasite’s Park Seo-joon.
Loki (summer 2023)
Marvel’s most mischievous character, Loki, will return for a second run of his solo TV show, likely to be as time-bending as the first season. Of course, Tom Hiddleston is back as Thor’s naughty sibling, alongside the likes of Owen Wilson (Mobius) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ravonna Renslayer).
But perhaps the most interesting revelation is that co-directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have helmed the bulk of the episodes. Fresh off their work on Marvel’s Moon Knight, these two have made some unique sci-fi indies (The Endless, Synchronic) these past few years, and seem perfectly suited for Loki’s loopy trajectory.
Echo (summer 2023)
You might call this a deep cut. Last year, Marvel’s show Hawkeye introduced Alaqua Cox as Echo, aka Maya Lopez, the leader of the Tracksuit Mafia, a gang of criminals working for Kingpin, Vincent D’Onofrio’s fearsome villain and a nemesis of blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) from the earlier Daredevil series. In the comics, she was one of Daredevil’s love interests (as well as Kingpin’s adopted daughter, which morphed into an uncle-niece relationship in Hawkeye). Cox and D’Onofrio are set to reappear, alongside a largely indigenous cast.
Kraven the Hunter (October 6)
Not an MCU title — but part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe series in the same way the Venom and Morbius movies are —, this film has Aaron Taylor-Johnson taking the lead as Kraven. In the comics, he’s a big-game hunter who tries to snare the web spinner. But don’t expect Tom Holland to pop up as Spidey, at least not yet. Christopher Abbott is on board, reportedly playing the trance-inducing villain Foreigner, while West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose is the voodoo priestess Calypso. Could this all be leading to an ultimate team-up with Venom and Morbius against Spider-Man?
Ironheart (autumn 2023)
Introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Dominique Thorne’s MIT bright-spark student Riri Williams was a deliberate seed planted by writer-director Coogler. Now he is behind Ironheart, a six-part series that’ll bring Williams to the fore. Already, she’s invented an armoured suit akin to Iron Man’s. And she’ll probably need it, rubbing shoulders with tattoo-clad super-criminal The Hood – played by In the Heights’ Anthony Ramos. Early footage screened at D23 showed him enticing her to steal equipment from an MIT lab, while he donned a hooded cloak that wielded magical powers.
Agatha: Coven of Chaos (winter 2023)
A brilliant breakout character from WandaVision, Kathryn Hahn’s nosy neighbour Agnes — later revealed as a spell-casting witch Agatha — now gets her own show. Originally titled Agatha: House of Harkness, the plot details for Coven of Chaos are largely under wraps, though Hahn will reunite with Emma Caulfield, who played Dottie/Sarah Proctor in the show. The White Lotus’ Aubrey Plaza is also joining the cast, alongside Heartstopper’s Joe Locke. Expect plenty of witchy mayhem.