Marvel Goes Big In 2021 With 4 MCU Movies In One Year

Marvel Studios' domination of the movie industry continues with its biggest year yet thanks to the help of a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The announcement of a new deal guaranteeing at least one more Tom Holland Spider-Man movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands the Marvel 2021 releases from three movies to four, the most MCU movies released in one year. 

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel's future seemed a bit uncertain. But with the announcement of the jam-packed Phase 4, which is loaded with titles for both the big and small screen, it's clear the MCU is thriving more than ever. Could that translate to an even more stacked theatrical release slate?

It will at least translate to the Marvel 2021 release slate, which will see the releases of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, the untitled Spider-Man movie on July 16 and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5. Forbes points out that the release slate will feature the most MCU movies in one year yet, as traditionally we've seen three movies a year, upped from the two-film-a-year trend that the cinematic universe began with.

In its eleven-year history, Marvel has mostly released two films annually, but in 2017 expanded the releases to three. 2020 brings things back to basics with two releases to kick off Phase 4, with Black Widow and Eternals, but the four 2021 releases should more than make up for it.

The MCU began with two films in 2008, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. There were no MCU movies in 2009 and only one in 2010 with Iron Man 2Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger brought it back to two releases in 2011 before the MCU went back to one film with Marvel's The Avengers in 2012. By Phase 2, Marvel was a well oiled machine: Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World came out in 2013. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy were released in 2014. Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man came out in 2015. In 2017, Phase 3 upped the ante with three MCU movies a year, beginning aptly with the arrival of Sony's Spider-Man movies. We saw Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange kicked things off in 2016, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. Black PantherAvengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp took over 2018, and finally Captain MarvelAvengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home capped off the phase in 2019.

Could four films become the standard for the MCU? Or will this be an exception because of the third — and possibly final — Spider-Man film with Tom Holland? We'll have to wait and see.