MCU: Even If ‘Black Widow’ Doesn’t Hit Theaters, Fans Can Still Count on Phase 4 to Start in 2020

Avengers: Endgame brought a significant chunk of the story to a conclusion. But of course, that 2019 release and its immediate follow-up, Spider-Man: Far From Home were never intended to conclude Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios had Black Widow ready to kick off Phase 4 in May 2020. Yet, even with its delay, the MCU will be up and running in 2020.

The cast of 'Black Widow' at the San Diego Comic-Con
The cast of ‘Black Widow’ at the San Diego Comic-Con | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

‘Black Widow’ will still be the first MCU movie of Phase 4

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Black Widow missed its May 2020 release date. But the movie — the long-awaited solo adventure for Scarlett Johansson’s Avenger — will still be the first MCU movie of Phase 4. After all, subsequent releases like The Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are much further from completing production.

Given the interconnectivity of the MCU, Marvel Studios opted to simply push its entire schedule back. With as many as four movies set for a given year, the company had no shortage of available dates to play with. And at the moment, Black Widow is set to hit theaters on Nov. 6, 2020. That date, naturally, is subject to change based on the current public health crisis.

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2 MCU shows are still coming to Disney+ by the end of the year

Black Widow’s theatrical release date might wind up moving again into 2021. But even under the circumstances, Marvel Studios seems confident Phase 4 will launch in some form in 2020. After all, thanks to Disney+, the MCU has a whole new venue from which to explore its stories.

The first MCU show on Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was set to debut in August 2020. However, the pandemic caused a late-in-production delay. Nevertheless, filming is nearly done on the show now, and according to reports, it is still due to hit Disney+ on an unspecified date in fall 2020.

Likewise, WandaVision apparently remains on track for its announced December 2020 release. Disney+ updated the release for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. So the fact that Disney+ left the WandaVision date unchanged bodes well for its current status.

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Will the schedule changes lead to any story confusion in Phase 4?

Ironically, the MCU’s biggest strength may wind up to be its greatest weakness as it enters Phase 4. The movies have always built the big-picture story piece by piece, culminating in a team-up or event film. But the addition of the Disney+ shows might complicate things.

Pushing Black Widow — and, by extension, the whole of Phase 4’s big-screen line-up — retains the series’ natural ebb and flow. But if the shows don’t release on schedule, this could throw off the connection between the MCU’s Disney+ and theatrical sides. 

Do the stories of Black Widow and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feed off of each other in some way, for example? For now, fans will just have to wait to see how it all pans out. And with any luck, the pandemic will subside, and the MCU — and the world at large — can find a new normal.