SAN DIEGO (AP) — “Avengers: Endgame” may have closed a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the blockbuster factory is not slowing down and only expanding in scope and diversity.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige led a marathon presentation at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday night, announcing plans for the first two years of “Phase Four,” which will include Natalie Portman taking up the hammer as Thor, making Angelina Jolie an immortal for “The Eternals” and rebooting “Blade” with Mahershala Ali .
The stars assembled in the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H as Feige ticked through the release calendar for 2020 and 2021 movie by movie, giving official cast lists, release dates, titles and logos for everything from “Black Widow,” the “Doctor Strange” sequel, “Thor 4” to “Shang-Chi” to “The Eternals.”
“I’m so excited to be here,” Jolie told the crowd.
She said she’s going to work “10 times harder” than she has on any of her other action roles because she knows what it means to “be part of the MCU” and “part of this family.”
Jolie, who is playing the character Thena, was joined by her “The Eternals” cast mates including Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek and Brian Tyree Henry, as well as director Chloé Zhao.
“I just really, really wanted to make a Marvel movie for so long,” Zhao said.
It’s set for release on Nov. 6, 2020, after “Black Widow” kicks things off on May 1 with Scarlett Johansson, as well as “Stranger Things” breakout David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh. Audiences got a look at some early footage from the Cate Shortland-directed film showing Johansson and Pugh in some Bourne Identity-style hand-to-hand combat.
Marvel also revealed that newcomer Simu Liu will be playing the lead role in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and coming to theaters on Feb. 12, 2021. He’ll star alongside Awkwafina and Chinese actor Tony Leung, who is playing The Mandarin.
“This is the craziest, craziest dream,” said Liu, who was literally cast on Tuesday.
The third film of 2021, after “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which director Scott Derrickson said will be Marvel’s “first horror movie,” is perhaps the most anticipated, however: “Thor 4.”
Portman, who played Jane in the first two Thor films, will be remerging as the female Thor. She ran out on stage to thunderous applause and accepted the hammer from a kneeling Taika Waititi.
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who alluded to her character identifying as LGBTQ, will also be returning for the Waititi-directed “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which is set for release on Nov. 2, 2021.