The Multiverse Saga is upon us, and Marvel’s Phase 5 slate is solid. What Disney Plus series can we expect from the MCU?
The fallout from San Diego Comic-Con continues to make headlines nearly a week after the slew of announcements. Last Saturday, Marvel Studios revealed its full slate of movies and streaming series for the remainder of Phase 5 and all of next year’s Phase 6 plans. It is all part of the studio’s next massive, multi-franchise event, The Multiverse Saga.
To keep the ominous mystique, Marvel chief Kevin Feige offered few details on the saga, except to say that Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror and his variants will play the role of Thanos. What is at stake and how it will lead to the grand finale in 2025’s Avengers: Secret Wars is the subject of theories and rumors galore. One thing we know is that the upcoming slate of Disney Plus shows will be required viewing for the hardcore Marvel fans.
While not as concrete as the MCU movies on the 2023 schedule, fans will have plenty of Marvel content to keep them going next year. There will be the returns of Loki, What If…?, and the long-awaited X-Men ’97. By and large, the details for the Disney Plus lineup are sparse, and none have firm dates, either. Still, it adds to the mystery of what surprises Marvel Studios has in store for its fandom.
What If…? Season Two
Release date: Spring 2023
The trendsetting cartoon will be back for a second season next year, and there’s already at least one episode lined up. At the conclusion of Season 1, head writer and producer A.C. Bradley confirmed that a full entry didn’t make it into the first season’s nine episodes. That stood out in the What If…? finale when the Watcher recruited Gamora. With no context, we see Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor with painted tribal symbols. Behind the scenes, Bradley explained that the cut episode detailed how Tony Stark, not Hulk, found his way to Sakaar, where he and Gamora defeated Thanos.
Besides finally getting the Gamora/Iron Man episode, there are bigger implications with What If…?. In this year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it was clear that what happens in the MCU’s animated realm is fair game for the live-action world. After debuting in What If…?’s first episode, Captain Carter made her short-lived movie debut in MOM.
The ties to the greater MCU will make What If…? Season 2 must-watch streaming when it arrives on Disney Plus. Who knows what characters could find their ways into live action during Phases 5 and 6?
Release date: Spring
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke, Cobie Smulders, Christopher McDonald, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Carmen Ejogo, Killian Scott
Remember those happy, peace-loving Skrulls from Captain Marvel? Judging by the Secret Invasion teaser trailer, that was all an act. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury and stars in the intergalactic thriller that should have us all questioning if anyone at all is who they say they are.
The title comes from the 2008 comic crossover event of the same name. Written by superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis, Secret Invasion told the tale of a worldwide Skrull conspiracy. The shapeshifting aliens had been infiltrating the superpowered ranks for decades, carefully replacing different characters with Skrulls. Then the day came when the full invasion was revealed, and an all-out superheroes-versus-Skrulls war broke out.
The show appears to be taking more inspiration from Bendis’ work than initially thought, and that should make for an intriguing mystery adventure. How this will tie into The Multiverse Saga should be interesting, and it could have implications for much of Phase 5.
Release date: Summer
Starring: Alaqua Cox, Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio
After Echo made her debut with a full origin story in Hawkeye, she will star in her own Disney Plus series sometime next summer. Although the Hawkeye finale implied Maya Lopez had killed the Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio from Netflix’s beloved Daredevil, the villain will return for both Echo and Daredevil: Born Again.
What can we expect from Echo? Marvel has said that Maya will leave New York City and return to her small hometown, where she will reconnect with her Native American roots. However, her violent criminal past will follow her home, likely in the form of a vengeful Wilson Fisk.
Loki Season Two
Release date: Summer
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Owen Wilson
The last time we saw Loki, he and Sylvie had altered the course of the entire MCU. Not much of the effects were apparent thus far in Phase 4, but that is about to change. As He Who Remains warned before his murder, there are many of his variants coming. The entire Time Variance Authority was immediately altered after Sylvie stabbed HWR. As Season 2 rolls around, it would seem the God of Mischief is trapped in an alternate dimension where Kang the Conqueror rules the timestream.
Release date: Fall
Starring: Dominique Thorne, Anthony Ramos, Lyric Ross
We finally got our first look at Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams in the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer. How large a role she will play in that movie remains to be seen, but it is clearly meant to set the stage for her starring role in Ironheart.
In the comics, Riri is a gifted teenager who builds her own Iron Man armor in the footsteps of her idol, Tony Stark. There have been rumors about the show’s plot with some going so far to suggest Robert Downey, Jr. will voice her advanced artificial intelligence, basically playing the role of J.A.R.V.I.S. in Ironheart.
Another rumor is that she will square off with crime boss The Hood, a lesser known Marvel villain with a magic cloak and boots. It would effectively put technology against magic, which was a theme of the early Iron Man comics when his archnemesis was the Mandarin.
Release date: Fall
Starring: Cal Dodd, Lenore Zann, George Buza, Adrian Hough, Christopher Britton, Catherine Disher, Chris Potter, Alison Sealy-Smith, Alyson Court, Jennifer Hale, Anniwaa Buachie, Ray Chase, Matthew Waterson, JP Karliak, Holly Chou, Jeff Bennett, AJ LoCascio
Out of everything coming to Disney Plus in 2023, X-Men ’97 is perhaps the most anticipated. When Marvel debuted images from the show, fans rejoiced. Staying true to their word, Marvel has kept the art style consistent with the original X-Men: the Animated Series from 1992. The show was a huge success for Fox, and it introduced a new generation of kids to the world of mutants, making X-Men the undisputed face of Marvel Comics in the ’90s. Sadly, the show was canceled with the final episode ending on a cliffhanger in 1997, and fans were left without a suitable conclusion.
The showrunners have said X-Men ’97 will, in essence, be the next installment of XTAS. There has been so much buzz surrounding the show, Marvel/Disney has already greenlit a second season despite the first episode not airing until sometime next fall.