From ‘Ant-Man’ to ‘Thunderbolts,’ Here’s What I Expect For Marvel’s Phase 5 and 6

USJ editor Carly Philpott ranks her anticipation for different upcoming MCU titles


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Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige appears beside MCU stars at San Diego Comic Con 2019. SDCC has often served as a platform for Marvel to announce upcoming projects and casting. In 2022, Feige announced phase 5 and part of phase 6 of the MCU.

Carly Philpott, Editor-in-Chief

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige returned to San Diego Comic Con last week for the first time since 2019. While there, he laid out plans for Phases 5 and 6 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, announcing both new titles and how they’d all factor into the franchise as a whole.

Among the upcoming releases are plans to introduce new heroes and new teams. Phases 5 and 6 will be known as the Multiverse Saga, and will end with two united Avengers movies in 2025.

We know all 13 Phase 5 titles and three from Phase 6, but some are more promising than others. I ranked my anticipation for all of them as we close out Phase 5.

14. Ant-Man: Quantumania (Feb. 17, 2023)

The first Ant-Man film was really good. The second went a tad downhill, but was still pretty good. I don’t have high expectations for this one.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Paul Rudd, and he does a really great job portraying Scott Lang, who is lovable and funny. I think Scott’s relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson, Emma Fuhrmann, Kathryn Newton) is a great driving force for his hero arc. But I really, truly, hate the Pyms (Emmeline Vance and Michael Douglas). I dislike Hope’s arrogance and Hank’s rigidity. I don’t think you could make a good Ant-Man franchise without those characters. But they still make my blood boil. Same goes for many of Scott’s crime buddies.

Another thing, for me, is that Endgame felt like some kind of closure for Scott. He got what he wanted, a family with Hope and Cassie. His homecoming scene was adorable. What has been driving his character seems resolved. Like, maybe you could make a TV show out of his post-Endgame life, where it’s not all action and more context could be given about his life post-Endgame. But a whole movie seems like a stretch. I just don’t see what they can add. But I’ll see it in theaters regardless, and I’m hoping it proves me wrong.

13. Fantastic Four (Nov. 8, 2024)

I’ve never seen any Fantastic Four movies. The most I know about them is that they’re not good, and even though Chris Evans appeared in the 2005 and 2007 movies before the MCU was a thing, we don’t talk about that part of his career. I wondered if the MCU would re-open the Fantastic Four, and those suspicions were confirmed when the hero team was (sort of) reintroduced in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

In Doctor Strange, Reed Richards, founding member of the Fantastic Four, appears as part of the Illuminati as Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) travels the multiverse with America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Richards is played by John Krasinski in the film, and now that we know a Fantastic Four movie is coming, it’s likely Krasinski will reprise the role. It’s rare for Marvel to recast major characters between movies. It happened with Bruce Banner between The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, and it happened with James Rhodes between Iron Man and Iron Man 2, but I think we can expect Krasinski to appear, and we can expect the movie to have a multiverse twist.

This movie will begin Phase 6, and will be released after Thunderbolts. But I just don’t feel the anticipation for this one. I have doubts that they can turn the Fantastic Four curse around to make a quality movie. I also worry that they will Avengers-ify it, and we’ll just end up with a parallel team of heroes that doesn’t add much to the franchise as a whole. I hope we get more teasers for these characters and the movie as a whole between now and then, without relying on fans to have seen older movies or read comics.

12. Daredevil: Born Again (Spring 2024)

This is another show I haven’t seen, mostly because I found out about it not long before it left Netflix. But it’s a show I’ve only heard good things about, and the cameo of main character Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) in Spider-Man: No Way Home opened up many avenues of how to officially initiate him into the MCU. Other connections were made between Daredevil’s world and the MCU when drug lord Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) was introduced in Hawkeye. These connections, woven into MCU storylines, are clearly meant to introduce Daredevil in a subtle way.

The only reason this show isn’t farther up my list is because I really don’t know much about the character or the original show. I’m not sure I’ll watch the original Daredevil between now and the release of this one, but I’ll definitely end up following the new one, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the character. And some of the ways they’ve started to introduce Matt Murdock have certainly piqued my interest in the character and his story.

11. Agatha: Coven of Chaos (Winter 2023)

If you have ever discussed Marvel with me, you know I love WandaVision. In my opinion, it’s one of the best products to come out of the MCU. But Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) was my least favorite bit of it.

They reveal Agatha midway through the series to be a villainous witch rather than another Westview resident under the control of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). I enjoyed the reveal. I, like every Marvel fan, loved the “Agatha All Along” theme song. But despite that, I still viewed her as unnecessary. WandaVision, for me, was all about Wanda’s antihero nature. She lost something in almost every movie, and she broke. She was the villain of her own story. I loved that, and it felt unnecessary to me to have this extra negative force. It weakened the plot but didn’t destroy the show, because it added some conflict.

Regardless, Kathryn Hahn brings a wit to her character that is unmatched. I’m excited to see what she does with her own story.

1o. Echo (Summer 2023)

Echo will be centered around Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), the antihero character from Hawkeye. In Hawkeye, Maya begins as a villainous character, chasing Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in an attempt to avenge her dead father, who was killed by Clint when he was known as the vigilante Ronin. Later, she discovers Kingpin orchestrated her father’s death, and assists Clint and Kate in the end, albeit unintentionally. I found Maya Lopez’s storyline and semi-redemption in Hawkeye to be interesting, although predictable, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the character.

Supposedly, Maya’s next chapter will explore her Native American roots, tying it in with her Tracksuit Mafia past in New York. If they do it right, this show will tell a story unique to most of what we’ve seen in the MCU. It’s clear that Marvel has been trying to introduce more diversity (although they have a ways to go), and I’m eager to see how this one turns out. Still, Maya is by far not the most intriguing character to me. Marvel is great at creating villains, so maybe I just need to give Maya a little more time.

9. Secret Invasion (Spring 2023)

Secret Invasion will follow the alien Skrulls’ invasion of Earth, which we have sort of begun to understand in recent Marvel installments. It will star actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders in their previous S.H.I.E.L.D. agents roles.

At the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, we discover that Nick Fury (Jackson) has been off the planet for an indeterminate amount of time, and that skrulls have taken his place. If we know more about why that is or how long he’s been away from Earth, I missed it. So I’m looking forward to seeing more that fills in the blanks in that plotline.

Jackson’s performances as Fury, in MCU movies ranging from Captain America to Captain Marvel, has consistently been one of the best pieces of the MCU, for two main reasons: one, Jackson always brings his signature flair, and two, it ties storylines together even when they’re not actually united onscreen.

Shows intended to explore more into the behind-the-scenes heroes are not new; previously, we had Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for one. I liked it, but it wasn’t something I was super into. So I’m curious to see how this show is.

8. Blade (Nov. 3, 2023)

Blade is the hero name for Eric Cross Brooks, a Marvel hero that has previously appeared in comics and the animated Spider-Man series. He is a dhampir (vampire/human), and as such, he is immune to vampire bites and acts as a vampire fighter. Teased in a post credit scene from Eternals (2021), this series will focus on Eric, but with the intent to unite him with the MCU as a whole. I’m guessing it will accomplish this by melding his story with New York heroes like Spider-Man or Kate Bishop, but that remains to be seen.

A lot of people are looking forward to this series a lot, especially after it was confirmed by Kevin Feige in the 2019 San Diego Comic Con. Feige also confirmed that Mahershala Ali, known for his Oscar-winning roles in Moonlight (2016) and Green Book (2018). He also previously appeared in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). Ali will be a genius in this role, and because the character is Black, it will add much-needed diversity to the MCU.

There are a couple of reasons this isn’t higher on my list. For one, I’m always skeptical of new heroes introduced via movies. Because the first MCU movie I ever watched (and actually paid attention to) was Avengers: Infinity War (2018), I had an immediate introduction to most of the main characters and didn’t care much to branch out. But the MCU has done a wonderful job at introducing new, likable heroes in Phase 4, and I’m hoping that trend will continue.

The other reason I’m not as into this show as others is just because I detest vampires. I have yet to watch anything with a vampire trope that I genuinely like. Now, that’s often because vampire movies are poorly done, with a mushy romance involved and awkwardly designed teeth. With Marvel’s budget and writers, this movie could survive the overcooked vampire stereotypes and turn into something really interesting. So I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

7. Ironheart (Fall 2023)

Now this? This is a new hero I can get behind.

Riri Williams, who will be played by Dominique Thorne, stars in Ironheart as a young, genius inventor. Riri creates a suit of armor to rival Tony Stark’s, becoming an unexpected hero. In the comics, Riri is helped by Tony himself after stealing parts from MIT to build her armor, but that will be different in the movies, as Tony died in Avengers: Endgame.

We will be introduced to Riri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, releasing this November, where it appears from the trailer that she will be working alongside Shuri (Letitia Wright). Later, she’ll get to star in Ironheart. Other than that, we don’t know much about what we’ll see in this show.

This show is promising for a couple reasons. Number one, we are getting another female superhero of color, which we have far too few of. Riri is an intriguing character who will bring a lot to the diversity of the franchise, especially because she’s likely to emerge as a leader of the new generation of Avengers. Number two, it’s likely to act as a sequel to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It could allow the saga to continue even apart from the films, and based on how amazing Black Panther was, I only have high expectations for the series’ future.

I’m very much anticipating Ironheart, but I’m looking forward to first learning more about the character of Riri and her potential plotline from November’s Black Panther.

6. Loki Season 2 (Summer 2023)

I have a confession to make. I have not seen Loki.

I know that’s unforgivable. The short reason why is that I kept meaning to, but never actually have the time. However, I really like Loki as a character. And the release date of this show gives me time to watch the first season before there are new episodes.

The reason I’m looking forward to this season, despite not seeing the first one yet, is that Loki is one of the most dynamic and interesting characters in the MCU. Appearing as a villain in both the Thor and Avengers franchises, Loki still managed to make audiences everywhere love him. From what I’ve heard about the first season, Loki’s show explores a lot of his character that we haven’t had the chance to see yet.

Loki also explores the multiverse in a really unique way, as the actual Loki died in 2018 at the very beginning of Infinity War and the series centers around an alternate timeline, featuring variants of Loki in different universes. So I expect that this show’s second season will further the Multiverse Saga in a unique way, potentially setting up characters for Phase 6’s final Avengers films.

5. The Marvels (July 28, 2023)

You can say what you want, but I will always be a Captain Marvel fan. I love Brie Larson and I love Carol Danvers. I’m also fond of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). And while I haven’t gotten around to watching Ms. Marvel yet, I have heard literally only good things about it and its main character, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani). Bringing together these three characters will do no wrong.

Previously, Parris has said that The Marvels will further explore her character, past what we learned in WandaVision. Larson told interviewers that she was looking forward to introducing Kamala Khan after Captain Marvel. We also saw far too little of Carol in both Infinity War and Endgame, so I’m looking forward to another movie that will actually establish more of her character, and her relationship with Monica and the new hero, Kamala.

4. Captain America: New World Order (May 3, 2024)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier put the new Captain America franchise off to a shaky start for me. There was too much crammed into it and not enough time to fully explain or develop all the necessary plot points. However, that doesn’t change my anticipation in the slightest. Since the end of Endgame, I’ve been looking forward to the MCU exploring more of Captain America’s purpose as a figure. I also love the characters of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and some of the other Steve Rogers-adjacent people we may see. Steve himself is gone, but I think Marvel still has the ability to carry this character on.

Plus, nothing compares to the thrill of the original Marvel movies. While I love when new characters are introduced, movies that serve as callbacks to older stories are a great way to bring the franchise full-circle. I hope this movie feels like an old Captain America movie, while also telling a new story.

3. Thunderbolts (July 26, 2024)

I’m not a comic book fan, so I was neutral on this one until I read more about it. The Thunderbolts, which have previously only existed in comics, are a team of antiheroes who showed up in “The Incredible Hulk” before finally getting their own series in 1997. What makes this show so exciting to me is not so much the concept, although I do like stories centered around antiheroes. Rather, the speculation of who could appear in this movie is what has drawn me in.

According to a Variety article by Wilson Chapman, Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is one of the Thunderbolts’ most important members. Zemo made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, as a grief-stricken dad attempting to avenge the death of his son in Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But other antihero characters in recent Marvel movies and shows, like Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and John Walker (Wyatt Russell), are also likely to make appearances. Chapman also says that Clint Barton and Bucky Barnes are additional potential characters in the movie. And there’s a rumor that Sadie Sink, best known for her stellar role as  Max Mayfield in Stranger Things, will be joining the cast of Thunderbolts as Songbird, a villainous character. It’s unclear how true this is, but if Sink is indeed joining the MCU via this movie, that would make it all the better for me.

This movie will end Phase 5, and is therefore likely to bring many storylines together. These characters are all likely to appear in the films and shows being released before then, so Thunderbolts has the potential to meld storylines together in an Infinity War fashion – but with an antihero twist.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023)

We knew this movie was coming, and I’ve been looking forward to it since it was announced. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) was the Marvel movie that really endeared me to the franchise. Though it wasn’t the first movie I saw, its wit and developed characters drew me in from the start. And I cannot wait to see what they do with these characters next.

Some things are up in the air for the Guardians going into this movie, though other questions are answered in Thor: Love and Thunder (which I have yet to see). After Avengers: Endgame, the gang was without one of its core members, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who was killed in Avengers: Infinity War, resurrected via time travel in Endgame, and left with an uncertain future at the end of Phase 4. We know Gamora returns in Vol. 3, and we also know the movie will explore the tragic pasts of characters like Rocket (Bradley Cooper). We also know this will be the final Guardians film.

Honestly, regardless of what happens, the incredible chemistry of this team of heroes and the comedic aspects of the writing will make this a good movie. And it’s at the top of my list already.

1. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (May 2, 2025) & Avengers: Secret Wars (Nov. 7, 2025)

We don’t know anything about these movies, really. But we do know they’re going to be released only a few months apart, and will, together, conclude Phase 6 of the MCU. I’m guessing we’re headed for another Endgame/Infinity War situation, with unresolved conflict at the end of Kang Dynasty that will come to a cleaner ending in Secret Wars.

And, because Marvel is calling this “The Multiverse Saga,” we can take a guess at characters that are likely to appear: Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Loki (Tom Hiddleston). These characters may appear in their Universe 616 selves (that’s the “main” universe we usually see in Marvel movies), or as variants of themselves (especially characters like Wanda, who may actually be dead in this universe, and Spider-Man, who has established variants in other universes). Additionally, we can assume these movies will bring together many of the characters we see in other movies, including new ones, so all our favorites will join together.

Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars both share names with existing comic books, but it’s hard to know right now how those stories will be adapted to fit the movie versions of the characters. Like previous movies, these two are likely to take some creative liberties with the original stories, but we can still infer some things from the comics.

Infinity War and Endgame proved that uniting characters from all corners of the franchise can work flawlessly. These movies will have astronomical budgets and they have the potential to be the next legendary films in the MCU. But it’s hard to know exactly what to expect, because we really don’t have much information yet. So I look forward to Phase 5 and 6 movies that will establish a running plotline, villain, and conflict for the heroes to converge and solve in these final two installments.