MCU Phase 4 Timeline: Fans Worry Production Delays Will Upset Marvel Releases

The world well knows by now that the coronavirus has brought Hollywood to a standstill, with one movie release date after another delayed anywhere from two months (Wonder Woman 1984) to a whole year (F9). The movie studios, whom we turn to for an escape from the real world, can’t provide because the virus is impacting them just like it’s impacting everybody else.

Now, Hollywood’s biggest powerhouse, Marvel, is in a unique position to be hurt by the virus. Not only are their movies and TV shows shutting down, but the shuttering of one may lead to delays for the others since Marvel makes a big deal of the movies being connected., 

What’s the status of Marvel’s movies and TV shows?

Scarlett Johansson attends the Premiere of Fox Searchlights' "Jojo Rabbit" at Post 43.
Scarlett Johansson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

The schedule for this year was supposed to go like this: Black Widow would get the show on the road May 1, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the first MCU/Disney+ show, would debut sometime in August. Following that would be The Eternals in November, WandaVision in late 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in February 2021, Loki in early 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May, Spider-Man 3 in July, What If ..? in the summer and Thor: Love and Thunder in November.

Right now, the only movie that has been delayed for sure is Black Widow, which has been pulled off the schedule, presumably to be released later. However, with that first domino falling, it’s possible Marvel’s entire slate might have to shift.

Although a report in Variety says that the delay of Black Widow, in particular, does not impact Marvel’s timeline. After all, Kevin Feige himself has said that Loki and WandaVision would both feed into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Now, per Inverse, the TV side is pulling up stakes too, with production halted on Falcon, WandaVision and LokiShang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had halted when it was feared that director Daniel Destin Cretton had coronavirus. Fortunately, he did not, but production has been halted all the same.

What do fans think of the delays?

On Reddit, one fan greeted the news with: “Well this sucks. Hope it doesn’t severely injure their release date. However by the looks of things, black widow is definitely being relocated and falcon and the winter soldier are likely not going to make their august release date.” Another responded, “The way I see it, Marvel has until January to get all 4 of their 2019 releases onto streaming/in theaters. If I had to guess, they can move Widow to August and FaTWS to late Sept/early Oct.”

There was some confusion over WandaVision, with conflicting reports that production was shut down, and that they had already finished shooting. That could be true, but WandaVision may still have a post to work on, given its elaborate effects. It’s also worth noting that WandaVision was originally going to come out in early 2021 anyway before Marvel decided to move it up to late this year. 

The other problem is, the latter half of the year is going to get crowded as movies that were supposed to release in April, May and June start coming out in July or later. Warner Bros. just announced that its big event movie of the year, Wonder Woman 1984, would move to August. 

Is early home video a possibility for Marvel?

Some fans might suggest the solution is simple- just put the Marvel movies on Disney+, as Pixar did with Onward. That situation is different, however.

Even before the pandemic hit the US, Onward had been considered a box office disappointment. With its theatrical window cut short, Disney bit the bullet and moved directly to streaming as movies like The Invisible Man and Birds of Prey had done.

However, Black Widow has not had a chance to get into theaters yet. If Marvel were to pull the trigger on that, theater owners would be furious. They were already angry at Universal for taking Trolls: World Tour to digital video and bypassing theaters altogether.

And if the theaters are angry about the comparatively less anticipated Trolls: World Tour, they’re sure to kick and scream if Marvel were to try that with Black Widow

However, Disney+ needs content with the Marvel delays. It’s possible that The Mandalorian, which had already wrapped photography earlier this year before the virus began spreading, could be released earlier than the fall. Perhaps Disney could exchange one big franchise for another In a world already full of unwelcome surprises, what’s a good one or two?