Marvel Phase 4: recap, release dates, news, and more

Marvel Phase 4: Angela Bassett in Black Panther 2
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Marvel Phase 4 is almost over now that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is out in theaters. At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Kevin Feige confirmed this is the final project in this collection of MCU projects. Although, it seems that we'll also be getting a special epilogue as well with the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney Plus.

It's been a long, long road to get to the end of Marvel Phase 4. It began way back WandaVision in 2021 but there have been seven movies, one television film, and eight TV series since then. So if your memory of how the latest run of MCU movies and shows has played out is rusty, we've got your back with a mega recap below. 

We've also got everything you need to know about the Guardians special, too, so you can get up to speed on the remaining Marvel Phase 4 project before a new era of the MCU begins. It goes without saying, but spoiler warning for everything released in the MCU so far. So, for all you need to know about the closing chapters of Phase 4, look no further. 

Marvel Phase 4 recap: the story so far

Marvel Phase 4 is rumbling along at a pretty extraordinary speed. We've had a whole bunch of movies and Disney Plus shows – here's our brief recap of the story so far.

WandaVision kickstarted Marvel Phase 4 in a particularly strange style, with each episode taking inspiration from a different era of sitcom. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned as Scarlet Witch and Vision, while Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel 2), Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and Darcy (Kat Dennings) also featured. The series finished with Wanda in solitude and a White Vision somewhere in the world.

Falcon and Winter Soldier saw Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes team up to deal with a new set of villains: the Flag-Smashers. Baron Zemo tagged along for the ride, though was later captured by Wakanda's Dora Milaje, and Isaiah Bradley was introduced as a Super Soldier with a past marked by tragedy and torment. Oh, and there was a new Captain America, played by Wyatt Russell, who had the shield taken from him by the rightful new Cap, Sam Wilson. 

Loki opened up the multiverse with some time travel shenanigans involving Kang the Conqueror. The God of Mischief was captured by the Time Variance Authority after scampering off with the Tesseract (as seen in Avengers: Endgame). He was then tasked with bringing in a Loki 'Variant' – another version of Loki from a branching timeline – who turned out to be a female Loki named Sylvie. The pair soon teamed up to take down the TVA and eventually managed to find the man at the end of time – an ancient Variant of villain Kang the Conqueror, who has been keeping all of time in order. Sylvie kills him, breaking the 'Sacred Timeline' and causing a temporal earthquake through the multiverse. A second season is on the way...

still from Loki episode 6

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Taking place between Civil War and Infinity War, Black Widow dived into Natasha's past and set up Yelena as a major force in the MCU moving forward. Kevin Feige has revealed that the only major Phase 4 tweak due to COVID delays was an Easter egg that was originally due to appear in Black Widow before Falcon and The Winter Soldier – that would be the appearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who appeared in the Black Widow post-credits scene.

Shang-Chi introduced Simu Liu's hero into the MCU. He managed to control the Ten Rings, a mystical set of weapons held by his father, Wenwu, and in the process managed to take down Wunwu's crime organization.

What If...? marked the MCU's first animated series and was dedicated to exploring "different versions" of iconic MCU moments. The cast reads like a 'who's who' of Marvel icons, including Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, and more, and Jeffrey Wright joined the MCU as the Watcher. While the stories began as anthological, they eventually come together for a very, very cool episode.

Eternals introduced a bunch of immortal beings who live among us on Earth. The cast is astonishing and includes Richard Madden as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Don Lee as the hulking Gilgamesh, with Lia McHugh and The Walking Dead's Lauren Ridloff rounding out the cast, playing Sprite and Makkari respectively. Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington will also appear as the Black Knight. We'll say no more for now...

Hawkeye sees the titular hero reluctantly take mega-fan Kate Bishop under his wing after she becomes mixed up in New York's underground after wearing the Ronin outfit. There are plenty of fun cameos in this fun, festive Disney Plus series.

Spider-Man: No Way Home dived right into the multiverse, with returning villains Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) making reappearances (along with certain other familiar faces...), and ended with the entire world forgetting Tom Holland's Peter Parker. 

Moon Knight introduced a new character to the MCU as Oscar Isaac was cast as Steven Grant. Or is it Marc Spector? The lead's spotty memory and multiple personalities formed the crux of the show's mystery which saw him as the avatar for the Egyptian God Khonshu. As well as battling the show's villain, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), Marc worked through his own trauma as his origins as Moon Knight were slowly revealed over six episodes.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness picks up in the wake of Steven Strange's forbidden multiverse spell in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The movie begins as he encounters a young girl called America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who has the ability to transport across the multiverse. Steven calls on Wanda Maximoff to help him ward off the mysterious creature on her tail. However, she has her own motives which cause havoc across the universe.

Ms. Marvel

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Ms. Marvel tells the story of Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Pakistani-American from Jersey City who is imbued with superpowers thanks to a bangle passed down in her family. Kamala's journey sees her become a superhero-in-training (christened 'Night Light) by onlookers, before heading to Karachi in Pakistan to find out more about the origins behind her powers. In pursuit: a group who hail from another dimension called The Clandestines who want to use Ms. Marvel's energy to get home, potentially destroying our planet in the process. They eventually destroyed themselves, with Ms. Marvel returning to Jersey to fight off Damage Control who were in pursuit of The Clandestines' youngest member, Kamran. With the day saved, Kamala relaxed in her room before her bangle started glowing. Suddenly, she seemingly swapped places with her idol, Captain Marvel. What happens next? We'll find out in 2023's The Marvels.

Thor: Love and Thunder sees Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) take up the Mighty Thor mantle and wield Mjolnir. She, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, and Taika Waititi's Korg go up against Christian Bale's terrifying Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to slaughter the MCU's gods with his sinister Necrosword. 

I Am Groot also dropped on Disney Plus with a series of five shorts all about the Guardians of the Galaxy character. Aside from being very cute, these didn't add too much context to the MCU, but check out our episode order guide to catch up on these.

She-Hulk has also smashed its way into the MCU, with Tatiana Maslany's Jennifer Walters coming to terms with her new mean, green alter ego – all while getting help from her cousin Bruce Banner. The show featured legal battles involving Abomination, Wong, and... Megan Thee Stallion. Jen also faced off with Titania and She-Hulk-hating group Intelligencia. Charlie Cox's Daredevil even showed up as Jen broke the fourth wall, entered the 'real' world and rewrote her own ending by defeating Intelligencia's leader HulkKing in court. She clearly wasn't a fan of Marvel's typical three-act structure and CGI finales.

Then, Werewolf by Night, a vintage-style, self-contained sojourn into classic horror, introduced Jack Russell (yes, that's his name) and Man-thing to the MCU. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was the final feature film in Marvel Phase 4, bringing most of the story so far to a close. The Black Panther (opens in new tab) sequel picked up after the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, who played T'Challa. The actor's death was reflected in the story as the movie shows Wakanda in mourning for their fallen king.

However, new threats soon arise as Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M'Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers. Things got even worse when new villain Namor (Tenoch Huerta) emerged from the sea, leaving the kingdom to call on friends like Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) to forge a new path for Wakanda. We also found out who has taken on the Black Panther mantle and were introduced to Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams (AKA Ironheart) in the thrilling sequel. 

Marvel Phase 4: release dates still to come

Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Marvel Phase 4 release dates for both the MCU movies and Disney Plus TV shows were initially announced at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) 2019. However, due to the pandemic and other factors, these dates have shifted about quite a bit. Here is the latest update on the remaining Marvel Phase 4 release date. Everything else, as you'll see below, has shifted to Phase 5 and 6.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (November 25, 2022)

At SDCC, Kevin Feige announced that Phases 4, 5, and 6 would form part of The Multiverse Saga. Phase 5 begins with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania next February, while Fantastic 4 kicks off Phase 6 in November 2024.

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

(Image credit: Disney)

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special release date: November 25, 2022

There's room for one more. Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, a Christmas-themed adventure featuring some (but not all) of the Guardians will be an "epilogue" to Marvel Phase 4. 

The trailer sees Kraglin, Rocket, Mantis, Drax, Nebula, and Groot discuss the upcoming Christmas holiday – and Mantis decides that it's the perfect occasion to try and cheer up Peter, aka Star-Lord, who is depressed over Gamora's absence. Hijinx ensue, and Drax and Mantis end up breaking into Kevin Bacon's house in order to secure him as a present. Michael Rooker's Yondu is also set to make a special appearance.

Beyond Phase 4

There's a lot to come from the MCU beyond Marvel Phase 4. We know that Phase 5 will kickstart with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and conclude with Thunderbolts, while Phase 6 will start with Fantastic Four and end with Avengers: Secret Wars. For more on all those, read our guide to all the upcoming Marvel movies and shows heading your way soon, as well as a larger look at Marvel Phase 5 and Marvel Phase 6.

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.

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