Jolie in 'Eternals', Ali as 'Blade' highlight Marvel's new slate

Lisa Richwine, Reuters

Posted at Jul 21 2019 11:21 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2019 04:21 PM

Brian Tyree Henry, Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Taika Waititi, Angelina Jolie, Lia McHugh and Natalie Portman speak at the Marvel Studios Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Kevin Winter, Getty Images/AFP

SAN DIEGO -- (UPDATE) Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel Studios on Saturday unveiled a star-packed slate of superhero films for the next two years that includes Angelina Jolie in "The Eternals," Mahershala Ali in a remake of "Blade" and Natalie Portman as a female "Thor."

The announcements at San Diego Comic-Con charts Marvel's course following mega-blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame," which Disney said was set to top 2009 film "Avatar" by Sunday as the highest-grossing movie of all time.

Jolie appeared on stage in front of 6,500 cheering fans, along with other "Eternals" cast members including Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani and Salma Hayek. The story about a group of immortal aliens will debut in November 2020.

"I’m going to work 10 times harder," Jolie said when asked how she would approach her role of Thena. "We all know what the task is ahead, and we know what you deserve, and so we are all going to be working very hard."

"So I am in training and thrilled," she added.

Disney also revealed it will release "Thor: Love and Thunder," the fourth "Thor" movie, in November 2021. Portman, who starred in earlier films as the girlfriend to Chris Hemsworth's Thor, will take up the superhero's hammer as a female goddess of thunder.

"It feels pretty good," Portman said on stage. "I’ve always had a little hammer envy."

Ali, who recently won Oscars for "Moonlight" and "Green Book," surprised the audience by walking on stage and putting on a baseball hat with the logo for "Blade," a character played on film in 1998 by Wesley Snipes. No details were given but the crowed erupted in applause.

The films will be part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that started with 2008's "Iron Man" and has generated more than $22 billion at box offices worldwide.

Other coming movies include "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which director Scott Derrickson described as "the first scary MCU movie," and "Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings" starring Chinese actor Tony Leung, Awkwafina and newcomer Simu Liu, who said he was just cast in the lead role on Tuesday.

Scarlett Johansson introduced an action-heavy trailer for "Black Widow." In an interview, the actress said having a stand-alone film for the "Avengers" character was "mind-blowing."

"I hope it adds a gritty kind of groundedness, that's like a good punch in the gut, and a literal punch in the gut too," she said. "We all get the crap beaten out of us!"

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed a forthcoming "Fantastic Four" film and sequels to "Black Panther" and "Captain America."

Feige also previewed Marvel series being made for the Disney+ streaming TV service that will debut in November. They include "Loki," "Hawkeye" and animated "What If."

The stories told on Disney+ will weave into Marvel's movie, Feige said. For example, Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda will star in the "WandaVision" series and in the new "Doctor Strange" film.

"The same teams that work on the movies are going to be working on these mega-event limited series," Feige said in an interview. "They are completely intertwined."

'Avengers: Endgame' to set all-time box office record

Marvel Studios superhero movie "Avengers: Endgame" will claim the top of the global box office charts by Sunday, distributor Walt Disney Co. said.

"Endgame" ticket sales will overtake the $2.789 billion collected worldwide by James Cameron's 2009 science-fiction epic "Avatar," Disney said in a statement released on Saturday as it presented a new slate of films to fans at San Diego Comic-Con.

"Endgame," released in theaters in April, is the culmination of a story told in 22 Marvel films that have drawn crowds to cinemas for a decade.

The movie stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and others as a group of superheroes battling the villain Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told fans at Comic-Con that "Endgame" was poised to reach the box office milestone. He also said "Endgame" probably would eventually lose the title to Cameron's next film.

Cameron is scheduled to release four "Avatar" sequels starting in December 2021. Disney this year acquired the "Avatar" franchise with its purchase of film and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.