This summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home officially brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 3 and Infinity Saga to an unforgettable conclusion. Until now, Marvel Studios successfully kept details of their fourth phase of films under wraps, but at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, they finally clued fans in on what to expect in the coming years.
While projects like the Black Widow solo film and a The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on the Disney+ streaming service have been known to insiders for some time, many of Marvel's announcements came as a complete surprise. We also got some insight on a few actors joining the MCU in Phase 4, and the high caliber of celebrity newcomers made it clear that the studio has no problem paying for the best people possible to bring their characters to life.
The one downside of this wave of new talent coming to Phase 4 is that viewers will have to say goodbye to some popular stars.
20 JOINING THE MCU: DAVID HARBOUR
While his Hellboy film failed to properly satisfy fans of the iconic half-demon superhero, David Harbour is still known and loved by viewers worldwide for his role as Chief Jim Hopper in Netflix's Stranger Things. Marvel is going to be giving him another shot at bringing a comic book character to life, as he's been cast as the Red Guardian in Black Widow.
Stranger Things fans are getting a kick out of his character's name, Alexei, as that was the name of Hopper's enemy-turned-unlikely ally in the show's third season.
19 JOINING THE MCU: MAHERSHALA ALI
One of the biggest surprises of Marvel's Hall H panel came after Mahershala Ali stepped onto the stage. Ali brilliantly brought the supervillain Cottonmouth to life in Netflix's Luke Cage, but while Netflix's Defenders shows were supposedly part of the MCU, his role in that show apparently didn't prevent Ali from portraying another comic character in the films.
The Oscar-winning actor will be portraying Blade in a Phase 4 solo film centered on the cult-classic vampiric superhero.
18 JOINING THE MCU: ANGELINA JOLIE
With several of Marvel's biggest names leaving the MCU, the franchise needed a new star to take charge and draw in viewers. Angelina Jolie might just be that A-lister, and has been cast in a leading role in the Phase 4 cosmic film, The Eternals.
Jolie will portray Thena, a formidable warrior and noted scholar who studied under both Eternal and human teachers across millennia.
17 DITCHING THE MCU: CHRIS EVANS
It's going to be hard for Marvel fans to imagine a future that doesn't include Captain America, but sadly, reports that Avengers: Endgame marked Chris Evans' last appearance in the franchise are now officially confirmed as accurate.
Several past and present Marvel Cinematic Universe stars are lending their voices for the animated What If? series, but the packed cast list for that show doesn't include Evans' name. It seems we really do have to say goodbye to Steve Rogers.
16 JOINING THE MCU: RICHARD MADDEN
Richard Madden is no stranger to massive fandoms and Comic-Con appearances, as he once held a major role in HBO's wildly-popular series Game of Thrones. But that didn't stop the packed crowd at Marvel's Hall H panel from freaking out when the studio revealed he'll play a starring role in The Eternals!
Madden will portray Ikaris, the father of the Icarus of legend who perished after flying too close to the sun.
15 JOINING THE MCU: SIMU LIU
Avengers: Endgame was the final chapter for many of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, so new superheroes have to step up in the next phase of Marvel films to take their place. One of these newcomers is going to be the master martial artist Shang-Chi, who will be portrayed by Simu Liu.
Liu is a Canadian Screen Award nominated actor, writer and producer who is best known for his role as Jung Kim on the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience.
14 JOINING THE MCU: AWKWAFINA
American rapper Awkwafina's reputation as an actress skyrocketed after portraying fan-favorite, bubbly shopaholic best friend Goh Peik Lin in Crazy Rich Asians. Marvel clearly took notice of her newfound popularity and talent, as they cast her for their upcoming Phase 4 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings alongside Simu Liu.
Awkwafina's role in the upcoming film is still unknown.
13 DITCHING THE MCU: ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Ever since he starred in the very first MCU film, it's been clear that Robert Downey Jr. was made for the role of Tony Stark. He's been the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for over a decade, but his character's tragic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame was permanent and Iron Man is truly gone.
Downey Jr. isn't even confirmed to partake in the alternate reality animated series What If?, even though Josh Brolin and Michael Rooker's participation proves that actors with fallen characters can still be a part of the Disney+ show.
12 JOINING THE MCU: TEYONAH PARRIS
Another popular Netflix star joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Phase 4 is Teyonah Parris, best known for her role in Netflix's original series Dear White People.
Parris will be portraying an adult version of Monica Rambeau—the adorable little girl seen in Captain Marvel—in the Disney+ series WandaVision alongside Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany's Vision. In the comics, Rambeau joins and briefly leads the Avengers, and became the second Captain Marvel.
11 JOINING THE MCU: SALMA HAYEK
In the Marvel comics, Ajak is a high-flying male warrior who leads the powerful group of cosmic beings known as the Eternals. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will apparently be slightly altering his character for The Eternals, as Ajak is going to be portrayed by Salma Hayek.
During her appearance in Marvel's SDCC Hall H panel, Hayek described her version of Ajak as being a "strong woman," and added that there are "a lot of mother instincts in this Eternal, who is not supposed to have kids.”
10 JOINING THE MCU: JEFFREY WRIGHT
One of the most exciting projects Kevin Feige announced at this year's San Diego Comic-Con was the Disney+ television series What If?, which will present viewers with all sorts of alternate Marvel realities and possibilities. Several beloved MCU actors will lend their voices to animated versions of their past and present characters, and the series will be narrated by Angels in America star Jeffrey Wright.
Wright will voice Oatu, the Watcher tasked with observing the Marvel Universe without interfering with it.
9 DITCHING THE MCU: GWYNETH PALTROW
With Tony Stark no longer being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there isn't much reason for his wife Pepper Potts to be in on all the action. She's still behind the scenes, and her signature could be seen on a check given to Aunt May's organization in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but it doesn't seem likely that we'll see Gwyneth Paltrow's character again any time soon.
Unless Marvel can squeeze a surprise all-female A-Force film into Phase 4 and reunite the powerful women who briefly joined forces in Avengers: Endgame, count Paltrow out of the MCU.
8 JOINING THE MCU: KUMAIL NANJIANI
Comedian and Adventure Time voice actor Kumail Nanjiani has been cast as Kingo in The Eternals, likely to provide some major laughs for the film. “[Marvel movies] have action, drama, romance, comedy — they have everything. So I’m just excited to be able to do all of that,” Nanjiani told the Hall H crowd at Comic-Con.
In the comics, Kingo has all of the powers of the near-immortal Eternals, but chooses not to use them in battle because he prefers to fight in the traditional manner of the Samurai.
7 JOINING THE MCU: LAUREN RIDLOFF
In the comics, the Eternal known as Makkari is a white man with superhuman speed and a long history of messing around with human affairs. In The Eternals, he'll actually be portrayed by Lauren Ridloff, making Makkari the franchise's first-ever deaf superhero.
Ridloff is a former Miss Deaf America, best known for her 2018 Tony-nominated Broadway performance in Children of a Lesser God and for portraying Connie in AMC's The Walking Dead.
6 JOINING THE MCU: RACHEL WEISZ
Rachel Weisz has already proven herself capable of leading both action films and superhero films, having starred in 1999's The Mummy and its sequel as well as 2005's Constantine, which was based on DC Comics' Hellblazer.
In Phase 4, she'll be joining Scarlett Johansson as one of the stars of the highly-anticipated Black Widow solo film. Weisz will portray Melina Vostokoff, the spy who becomes the super-villain Iron Maiden.
5 DITCHING THE MCU: MICHELLE PFEIFFER
While the only films announced at SDCC were The Eternals, Black Widow, Thor: Love and Thunder, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Blade and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Kevin Feige stated that Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 were also in the works. Unfortunately, he didn't say anything about a third Ant-Man film.
Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas will at the very least reprise their roles in What If?, but Michelle Pfeiffer was noticeably missing from that cast list.
4 JOINING THE MCU: TONY LEUNG
Marvel fans will likely never forgive Iron Man 3's treatment of iconic comic book super-villain The Mandarin, but Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might finally do the character justice. Instead of having a derelict actor like Trevor Slattery pretend to be him, the real Mandarin will finally appear in the MCU to wreck some major havoc.
The Mandarin will be portrayed by Tony Leung, who is considered one of Asia's most successful and internationally-recognized actors.
3 JOINING THE MCU: DON LEE
Don Lee is one of South Korea's most popular actors, so he'll undoubtedly help bring more viewers to theaters to watch The Eternals. Lee will portray the massive hero Gilgamesh, the strongest of all the Eternals.
When Lee was asked at Comic-Con if his character would be able to beat the Hulk in a fight, he boldly voted in favor of Gilgamesh. That's definitely a lot to live up to.
2 JOINING THE MCU: BRIAN TYREE HENRY
Brian Tyree Henry's face might not be known to most Marvel fans, but anyone who has watched the Oscar award-wining Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will surely recognize his voice. He portrayed Miles Morales' police officer father Jefferson Davis in that film, and will be making his second foray in the superhero genre in the MCU's star-studded The Eternals .
He'll portray Phastos, an Eternal and weapons-smith who, in the comics, is responsible for building most of his team's highly-advanced devices.
1 DITCHING THE MCU: ANTHONY HOPKINS
In the comics, Odin is one of the most powerful characters in the entire Marvel Universe. Fans were surprised when the near-immortal god passed away so anticlimactically at the start of Thor: Ragnarok, and it looks like the almighty Allfather's death is going to stick in Phase 4.
Anthony Hopkins wasn't listed among the cast for Thor: Love and Thunder, and he isn't included in the cast list for What If?, either.