Warning: This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
It already takes quite a bit of effort to keep abreast of the events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Marvel Studios has released 23 superhero movies since 2008. But now die-hard Marvel fans will have extra homework. They’ll have to (or get to, depending on one’s perspective) turn to Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ to fully understand the lives of their favorite heroes and villains.
Marvel has produced some shows loosely related to their movies before, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Defenders. But those series always kept their distance from their big screen counterparts: It was easy to understand the films without having ever tuned into Agent Colson’s missions in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the likes of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage never joined Captain America or Iron Man in the movies.
That will change with the new Disney+ shows, which will feature some of the biggest heroes and villains from the Marvel movies. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige announced five new superhero and supervillain shows at San Diego Comic-Con in July and another three at Disney’s annual D23 conference in August. Here’s are the Disney+ Marvel shows fans can look forward to:
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)
Marvel hasn’t shared much about the plot of its first television series, but we can infer some details from the title. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), retires and hands over his shield to Falcon, a.k.a. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).
Based on the show’s title, it sounds like Sam doesn’t immediately take up the mantle of Captain America, but rather remains Falcon for awhile. We do know that he’ll be teaming up with the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes) to fight the antagonist from Captain America: Civil War, Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo. Brühl appeared in a brief video at Comic-Con to taunt Mackie and Stan. He is clearly intent on revenge.
Feige revealed at D23 that Emily VanCamp will reprise her role as Sharon Carter, Steve Rogers’ onetime love interest and niece to Steve’s true love, Peggy Carter. (Don’t think about it too much.) Sharon Carter worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: Civil War and likely will join The Falcon and Winter Solider in their fight against evil.
Wandavision (Spring 2021)
Wanda Maximoff and Vision made up one of the stranger romantic pairings in the Marvel Cinematic universe, both because of actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s age difference (not that that’s stopped Hollywood before) and because, well, Vision was an android. Still, their love was one of the central tensions of Avengers: Infinity War: Wanda and the other Avengers risked the fate of the entire universe by keeping Vision alive rather than destroying the Mind Stone inside Vision’s head to keep it from Thanos.
Thanos managed to kill Vision and steal the Mind Stone anyway, and Wanda’s dreams of a happily-ever-after in superhero retirement were dashed. But shippers can rejoice: Vision is returning…somehow.
The little that Feige revealed about the show at D23 mostly confused fans. He showed footage of Wanda and Vision from the Avengers movies intercut with scenes from the Dick Van Dyke show. Olsen and Bettany said the show is half MCU action flick, half classic sitcom — and we have no idea what to make of that.
We also have no idea what to make of the other seemingly random MCU characters joining the cast, including Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis from Thor, Randall Park as Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and Empire actor Teyonah Parris as the grown-up version of Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) from Captain Marvel. Kathryn Hahn will also join the cast as a new character.
It looks like the MCU’s strangest relationship is getting a properly strange shows, which is good news. Marvel’s TV shows would be rather dull if they all just mimicked the movies in tone. Whatever happens in the series, it will likely tie into the films: Olsen is also set to appear in the Doctor Strange sequel, Multiverse of Madness, due in 2021.
Loki (Spring 2021)
Tom Hiddleston’s trickster god Loki became a fan-favorite villain early in the Marvel saga. He was both a formidable threat to his brother, the God of Thunder, and welcome comedic relief in those early, overly self-serious Thor movies.
The writers couldn’t resist bringing him back again and again. Loki seemingly died at the end of Thor only to try to return with a vengeance on a mission to take over earth in Avengers. He then seemingly sacrificed himself in Thor: The Dark World but appeared alive and well in Thor: Ragnarok. Thanos definitively killed Loki during Avengers: Infinity War, quipping “No resurrections this time.” And yet Loki is back again! But how?
Remember during Avengers: Endgame when Captain America and Iron Man traveled to a parallel timeline to recover the Tesseract (a.k.a. the Space Stone)? They arrived at the Battle of New York in 2012 and confronted 2012 versions of themselves, and a 2012 version of Loki. That 2012 Loki managed to snag the Space Stone and evade both the Avengers and police. The new TV show will follow that Loki (still played by Hiddleston) in that new timeline.
What If…? (Summer 2021)
What If…? will be Marvel Studios’ first animated show on Disney+. Just like the comic book series of the same name, What If…? will revisit stories from the Marvel Cinematic Universe but change just one aspect of the tale and watch that version play out. Almost the entire cast of the MCU will lend their voices to the show.
Jeffrey Wright will play Uatu the Watcher, the guide to these alternate universes. “Time. It’s more than a linear path. It’s a prison of endless possibility…Follow me and dare to face the unknown. And ponder the question, What If?” Uatu said in the first trailer for the series, which aired at D23 and gave off Twilight Zone vibes.
The footage featured several different scenarios. These are all the teasers we saw at D23:
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) receives the supersoldier serum instead of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), becoming Captain Carter who wields a shield with the British Union Jack at the center.
Guardians of the Galaxy frontman Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) lands on the planet Morag to pursue the Power Stone, but when he takes off his mask we see it’s not Chris Pratt. It’s possible that the man under the mask is actually T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a.k.a. Black Panther.
Bucky Barnes’ Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) fights a shadowy figure that looks to be Captain America but turns out to be a zombie Captain America.
And here is a full list of the cast members set to appear in the first season and where they appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. Let your imagination run wild!
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Taika Waititi as Korg
Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger
Paul Rudd as Ant-Man
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Toby Jones as Arnim Zola
Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan
Guardians of the Galaxy
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Michael Rooker as Yondu
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
Hawkeye (Fall 2021)
Last we saw Hawkeye in Avengers: Endgame, he was finally reunited with his family, all of whom disappeared after Thanos’ snap. Hawkeye had plans to retire from the superhero game, but that doesn’t mean that another can’t take his place.
The series will focus on Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton training a new hero, Kate Bishop, to replace him as the arrow-slinging agent. The show will presumably pull storylines from the much-beloved Hawkeye comics series by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido that depicts the travails of Barton and Bishop. Here’s hoping that Hawkeye’s one-eyed mutt from that comic, Pizza Dog, makes an appearance on the show too.
Marvel Studios will introduce its first Muslim superhero to its cinematic universe, first on the small screen, and then on the big screen. Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, is a polymorph. She can stretch her arms and legs and body into any shape. She’s also a New Jersey teen who, in the comics, is completely obsessed with her idol, Captain Marvel, and aspires to be her sidekick.
Feige teased that after Ms. Marvel makes her debut on Disney+ she will be headed for the MCU movies. Our guess is she will pop up in Captain Marvel 2.
Marc Spector, a boxer-turned-U.S. Marine-turned-mercenary, is betrayed during a mission in Egypt and left to die at an archeological dig site. There, he believes he receives the powers of the ancient Egyptian moon god Khonshu, including enhanced strength and durability. Spector begins fighting crime as a vigilante, and to the audience it’s unclear whether Spector actually has advanced powers or whether he’s just gone insane.
There were rumors that Moon Knight might appear in the Marvel TV shows on Netflix, but with Disney+ launching this year, all those Netflix series have been put to bed. Luckily for Moon Night fans, he’s now getting his own show on the new streaming service.
Bruce Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters gains her relative’s gamma-radiated superpowers after she is shot and needs an immediate blood transfusion from Banner. Walters is a lawyers for superheroes by day and a superhero herself by night.
In the comics, Walters is much more in control of her She-Hulk alter ego than Banner often is of the Hulk: She has can speak in full sentences and retain her personality in She-Hulk form, kind of like Banner by does by the time he reaches Avengers: Endgame.