For passive moviegoers who don’t read comic books, the most exciting projects on Marvel’s upcoming slate are films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – in other words, sequels to movies they already enjoyed featuring characters they already know and love.
But Marvel is introducing some fascinating new characters in its next few movies. Primarily, in Phase Four, the studio is rolling out Shang-Chi and the Eternals. They might be obscure properties now, but so were the Guardians and Doctor Strange back in the day. Marvel could easily turn them into icons of the big screen.
10 Shang-Chi: The REAL Mandarin
After Marvel fans got all geared up to see Tony Stark face his nefarious arch-nemesis the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, they were bitterly disappointed by the revelation that the Mandarin is just a face for the Ten Rings played by a beer-swilling soccer hooligan named Trevor Slattery.
Fortunately, Marvel has recognized its mistake and is fixing it with the Shang-Chi movie, which will introduce the real Mandarin, played by the legendary Tony Leung.
9 Eternals: It’ll Blow The Cosmic Side Of The MCU Wide Open
Although we’ve been taken to Asgard, Xandar, Titan, Hala, Sakaar, and countless other worlds throughout the first three phases of the MCU, the franchise’s cosmic side still remains mostly untapped, because fans have only seen it through human eyes.
The Eternals were initially created as a delectable foodstuff for Celestials to enjoy before becoming godlike superheroes. Their upcoming movie, said to span eons of time, will blow the MCU’s cosmic side wide open.
8 Shang-Chi: Simu Liu Is An Exciting Young Star
Since getting his break as an extra in Pacific Rim, Simu Liu has deftly demonstrated his acting range with award-nominated TV roles in the crime drama Blood and Water and the sitcom Kim’s Convenience.
Marvel Studios has yet to release any official footage of Liu in the role of Shang-Chi since filming wrapped on the movie, but there’s no doubt he’ll nail it.
7 Eternals: It Has A Star-Studded Cast
The MCU’s casting team led by Sarah Finn usually goes for lesser-known actors who are perfectly suited to a certain role and allow the role to make them a star instead of relying on a star to make a character popular. It worked wonders with Tom Holland as Spidey, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord – the list goes on.
However, they’ve filled the cast of Eternals with huge A-list stars like Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden and Salma Hayek. Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and Madden’s Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington are also in the cast.
6 Shang-Chi: Destin Daniel Cretton Is A Promising Filmmaker
Marvel has found most of its success with directors who are more well-versed in low-budget filmmaking than directors with big-budget experience. Small-scale filmmakers like Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, and James Gunn focus more on story and character than effects-driven blockbuster directors like Michael Bay.
The studio is continuing this trajectory with the Shang-Chi movie, which is being helmed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the promising young filmmaker behind Short Term 12 and Just Mercy.
5 Eternals: The Aftermath Of Endgame Is A Big Factor In The Plot
It’s no coincidence that Eternals is arriving near the beginning of Phase Four, right on the heels of the large-scale destruction of Avengers: Endgame. The plot of Eternals will rely heavily on the aftermath of the events of Endgame.
The finale of Endgame will force the Eternals to come out of hiding to protect humanity from the Deviants, who are basically their evil twins.
4 Shang-Chi: Bill Pope Is Doing The Cinematography
Bill Pope has been recruited as the cinematographer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This will be his first MCU gig, but he has plenty of experience working with action sequences and comic book visuals.
Pope is the director of photography behind such beautifully shot action movies as The Matrix trilogy, Baby Driver, and Sam Raimi’s groundbreaking Spider-Man trilogy.
3 Eternals: It Has Several Landmarks For Representation In The MCU
So far, diversity and representation in the MCU have been pretty weak. Most of the Avengers are white men and it took the franchise 10 years to give a solo movie to a non-white superhero and 11 years to give one to a female superhero. Then, of course, Endgame had that dreadful bare-minimum representation of a gay man.
The MCU’s representation is getting a few landmarks in one with the Eternals movie. Lauren Ridloff’s character Makkari will be the MCU’s first deaf superhero and Brian Tyree Henry’s character Phastos will be the MCU’s first openly gay superhero, while Chloé Zhao is the franchise’s first Asian female director.
2 Shang-Chi: There Are Some Big Names In The Supporting Roles
While the focus of the Shang-Chi movie will be squarely on the titular hero and his rivalry with the Mandarin, there are some big names playing undisclosed supporting roles in the film.
Namely, Awkwafina and Michelle Yeoh, both of whom appeared in Crazy Rich Asians, have been cast in the movie. Awkwafina is perhaps best known for her hilarious sitcom Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Yeoh has been a prolific actor for decades, starring in movies in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
1 Eternals: It’ll Introduce The Black Knight
One of the most tantalizing casting announcements in MCU history is that Kit Harington has been cast to play Dane Whitman, a.k.a. the Black Knight, in the upcoming Eternals movie. The medieval-themed superhero is a contemporary human warrior armed with a magical sword passed on through generations.
Marvel fans have been waiting for the Black Knight to appear in the MCU for a long time – he’s one of the last remaining high-profile Avengers not yet featured in the movies – and in Eternals, it’s finally going to happen.
NEXT: MCU: 10 Most Exciting Things Coming In Phase Four
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