Star Wars has no movie releases lined up for the entire Phase 4 period of the MCU. Following the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel Studios had a relatively clear slate for the first time in years, but that all changed following the company's surprise-filled panel at San Diego Comic Con 2019. Aside from a surprise Blade casting and plenty of Disney Plus news, Kevin Feige also revealed the line-up for Phase 4 of the MCU, beginning with Black Widow in May 2020 and culminating with Thor: Love And Thunder in November 2021. At under two years, Phase 4 is the shortest MCU series to date.
Since Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, the Mouse House has sought to fully utilize the profitability of the Star Wars franchise, increasing output on both the big and small screen. Beginning with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, movies set within that famous galaxy far, far away have released at a steady rate of one-per-year, with anthology installments plugging the gaps between the main episodes.
After the release of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker later this year, however, the franchise is set to take a cinematic break. Star Wars 9 will bring the J. J. Abrams sequel trilogy to a close and no further anthology movies have been announced to tide fans over until the start of the next trilogy from Game of Thrones showrunners, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, which will begin in December 2022.
Aside from the Skywalker saga coming to an end, there are several factors behind this gap in Star Wars releases, perhaps the most vital being the arrival of the Disney Plus streaming service. While no Star Wars adventures will hit the big screen for three years, the franchise will have a significant presence on television, with both The Mandalorian and a spinoff starring Rogue One's Cassian Andor in development. This offers Star Wars fans a break from the franchise without actually taking a break, maintaining momentum and continuing to capitalize on the Lucasfilm investment. It's interesting to question whether Disney's big screen plans for Star Wars over the next few years would be different if Disney Plus wasn't around to pick up the slack.
A second significant factor in the Star Wars hiatus is the troubled experiences of both Rogue One and Solo deterring Disney from pursuing further anthology releases. While Rogue One was met with critical and commercial acclaim, the production was fraught with difficulties, reshoots and rewrites. Solo experienced an even more tumultuous creation, with Ron Howard replacing original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller midway through production. The Han Solo spinoff went on to receive a far less enthusiastic reception compared to Rogue One, putting the brakes on plans for a further anthology movie based around Boba Fett.
In the grand scheme of cinema, the Star Wars break during MCU's Phase 4 is unlikely to have a measurable effect on either franchise. Despite Disney owning both properties and a considerable crossover in audience existing between Star Wars and Marvel, there never seemed to be a detrimental impact to the two franchises releasing movies within the same years. Disney is a large enough company to market both simultaneously and Marvel Studios have never released a movie in December, even before Star Wars returned to the big screen. From a fan perspective, however, the MCU's Phase 4 will serve as a palette cleanser, not only to the Infinity Saga, but also to Star Wars' Skywalker Saga.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021