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Marvel Won’t Recast Black Panther; Plots ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot; Casts Christian Bale in ‘Thor 4’

Marvel Won't Recast Black Panther; Plots
courtesy everett collection

Marvel Studios announced slew of confirmations for their upcoming slate of comic book adaptations — including news that they are in very early development on a “Fantastic Four” movie and that Christian Bale has joined the MCU — but the biggest among them were the decisions made for the Wakanda universe. Addressing the tragic loss of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige confirmed there will be no recasting of this icon for “Black Panther 2.”

Boseman’s work as Black Panther “transcends any iteration of the character,” says Feige. Out of respect, Marvel will not recast the role of T’Challa, but to “honor the legacy, we want to continue to explore the world of Wakanda” in writer-director Ryan Coogler’s sequel. “Black Panther 2” is scheduled for July 8, 2022.

Next up on the Marvel news dump was the solidifying the future of the Richard family. At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Feige announced that Marvel was reclaiming The Fantastic Four comic book family (and friends) for a feature film. This world has already seen three iterations of “Fantastic Four” (in 1994, 2005 and 2015) but we’ve yet to see Feige’s vision for this super hero squad. So who will lead this new reboot? Feige announced that Jon Watts, the director who steered Tom Holland’s “Spider-Man” reboot with “Homecoming” and “Far From Home,” is slated to lead this production.

The Fantastic Four is a superhero team consisting of Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), who can contort and stretch his body in extraordinary ways; the Invisible Woman (Sue Storm), who can, unsurprisingly, make herself invisible; the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), who can generate flames from his body and fly; and the Thing (Ben Grimm), who possesses stone-like flesh and has superhero-level strength and durability. (Fun fact: Johnny Storm was previously played by Chris Evans.)

In other news, Christian Bale will finally make a Marvel movie, as the actor’s role as villain Gorr the God Butcher in “Thor: Love and Thunder” was confirmed. In January, Variety reported that the Oscar-winner (and Batman actor) was circling the part in the latest “Thor” installment, set to debut Feb. 11, 2022, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman and directed by Taika Waititi.

Feige also gave fans an update on the long-awaited “Ant-Man 3,” announcing the film’s official title “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer will return for the Peyton Reed-directed film, while Kathryn Newton joins the cast as Cassie Lang. Variety confirmed in September that Jonathan Majors would join the Marvel Studios film, but Feige officially announced the actor will play the time-traveling super-villain Kang the Conquerer.

Production on the latest Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has just competed. With this announcement came the reveal of the full cast which now includes: Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Katy, Meng’er Zhang as Xialing, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Chan, Ronny Chieng as Jon Jon, Fala Chen as Jiang Li and Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist. UPDATED: Feige had this to say about the film’s star Simu Liu who plays the the titular character Shang-Chi, “We’re so impressed by the way Simu Liu has brought the character Shang-Chi to life.” The release date is July 9, 2021.

Production is currently underway on “Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness” under the direction of Sam Raimi. The full cast of the Doctor Strange sequel, set to debut in theaters March 25, 2022, was also announced — with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff and newcomer Xochitl Gomez (portraying America Chavez) joining returning stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Ahead of 2023’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” James Gunn will also write and direct the “Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” set to debut in 2022 on Disney plus.”Even seeing this here makes me laugh. One of my favorite stories ever, which I have bugged [Kevin Feige] endlessly about over the years,” Gunn tweeted after the announcement. “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this. And, yes, I unironically loved the Star Wars Holiday Special as a kid.”

The Marvel Studios presentation also prominently featured featured the studios’ plans for its characters to move seamlessly between theatrical releases and their slate of Disney plus original series. One example, the newly announced “Ms. Marvel” star Iman Vellani and “WandaVision’s” Teyonah Parris (the adult version of Monica Rambeau, who appeared as a child in 2019’s “Captain Marvel”), will both join Brie Larson in “Captain Marvel 2.” The film, directed by Nia DaCosta, is currently set for Nov. 11, 2022.