Disney recently shuffled around its theatrical release schedule for 2020/2021 and the biggest franchise impacted, by far, was the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Widow, which had been scheduled to arrive in May as the first Phase 4 entry in the MCU, had previously been delayed. Given the uncertainty with when theaters will reopen around the world, Natasha Romanoff’s solo debut has been pushed to November. And with that, the MCU will be breaking a long-running tradition for the first time in nearly a decade.
The MCU officially kicked off in 2008 when both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were released. Since the gears were just getting moving on the whole shared cinematic universe at that point, 2009 turned into a gap year. Iron Man 2 arrived in 2010 as the only MCU movie that year. Ever since then, we’ve been treated to at least two titles per year in the franchise with 2011 bringing us both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. That led to the conclusion of what we now know as Phase 1 in 2012’s The Avengers.
2012 was the last year that only one Marvel Studios movie was released. With Black Widow moved to November 6, the date originally held by Eternals, which shifted to February 12, 2021, the date originally held by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. That means, for the first time since 2012, we are only going to have one MCU movie arrive in 2020. This was not the intent, as Disney was looking to keep the ball rolling following the success of Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home last year. Unfortunately, the situation at hand forced these delays.
Following The Avengers, Marvel Studios settled into a pattern of two movies per year up until 2017, when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok all hit theaters. Since then, it has been three movies each year, with 2021 and 2022 both set to ramp things up even further with four MCU entries each. 2021 will see Eternals, the currently untitled Spider-Man 3, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. 2022, meanwhile, has Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2 and a currently unnamed movie, which may belong to the previously announced Blade reboot. The question is, will this four movie a year pattern stick? And will people still show up for four MCU movies each year?
The Black Widow movie is a prequel set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. It gives Scarlett Johansson’s fan-favorite character a long-overdue solo entry, directed by Cate Shortland. Unfortunately, fans will need to wait a little bit longer to see Natasha’s big screen adventure unfold. But 2020 belongs entirely to Black Widow now. The updated release dates come to us directly from Marvel.com.