Disney announced a ton of new Disney+ series yesterday, and it clearly thinks the best way to beat back Netflix and HBO Max is to continue its strategy of focusing on its blue-chip intellectual property instead of new shows untethered to any previous mythologies. An astonishing ten new Star Wars series are in the pipeline, as are several series inspired by Pixar fare like Moana.
And then there’s Marvel. Unveiled were new trailers for WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and What If? Brand-new series Ironheart and Secret Invasion—both of which Marvel head Kevin Feige said would tie directly into upcoming MCU films—and Armor Wars, Don Cheadle dealing with Stark Industries tech falling into the wrong hands, were also revealed. There’s also a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special coming in two years and I Am Groot, a series of short films starring—you guessed it—Groot. So that should be fun.
On the movie side, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is officially in development with the principal cast and director Peyton Reed set to return and Jonathan Majors joining the series as Kang the Conqueror. Marvel is also developing a new Fantastic Four movie.
So how does this slew of new titles fit into the MCU? It’s impossible to know how all of these stories might intersect until we, you know, see them. But the information we have does point to at least three different connections.
1. Ironheart is poised to succeed Iron Man.
There is the obvious titular similarity, sure, but Dominique Thorne’s Ironheart is an obvious successor to the now-deceased (we think for good) Iron Man. She is a super-smart MIT engineering student who designs “the most advanced suit of armor since Iron Man” and, in the comics, gains Tony Stark’s support after he hears about her using it to help people. Marvel has also been consciously increasing the representation of non-white dudes in its films, and having a young black woman succeed Tony Stark would fall nicely in line with that strategy.
2. Secret Invasion will be a sort of Captain Marvel 1.5.
Secret Invasion sees Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn reprising their roles as Nick Fury and Talos, respectively. It’s based on a 2008 comic book storyline about the infiltration of Earth by an alien race known as the Skrulls, whom you might remember as central to the plot of 2019’s Captain Marvel. Jackson and Mendelsohn were the second- and third-top billed stars in that film, so there are plot and personnel reasons to think that Secret Invasion will be a bridge between the Captain Marvel films.
3. WandaVision will set up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which will set up the coming Spider-Man multiverse).
Marvel previously announced that the sequel to Doctor Strange would directly follow the events of the sitcom-inspired WandaVision, and it now looks like those stories will lead into the next Spider-Man film. Here’s where it gets complicated.
The Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man came out all the way back in 2002. After two sequels that also starred Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, Raimi left the world of superhero movies behind. But now he’s back, directing next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness after the original director dropped out of the project.
Meanwhile, the next Spider-Man film is rumored to be bringing back Maguire and Dunst along with Alfred Molina (who played Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2). Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, and Emma Stone, who starred in the Spider-Man trilogy between Raimi’s and the most recent Tom Holland MCU-connected films, have also been connected to the new project.
That means that the next Spider-Man movie will be a multiverse, and given that the Doctor Strange sequel will also be a multiverse directed by a dude whose work on Spider-Man is beloved, it seems exceedingly likely that the stories of the two are connected.
To be clear, the only thing you have to worry about right now is WandaVision, which hits Disney+ on January 15, 2021.