ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 24: President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Marvel and Disney Plus shifted their gears into overdrive for 2021 with a slew of new announcements. After a year on hold due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Marvel is hitting the ground running next year. They have several movie titles in the pipeline and more in production. But they also have just as many Disney Plus Marvel shows in the works as well. A few we already know about and are hype for. Projects like the Magnificent Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight. Some of the new announcements may have slipped under your radar, or maybe at first glance don’t generate the same kind of hype you have for others.

Here are five out of the myriad of announcements to be hype for…

#5 Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special

James Gunn has made it clear in the past that once Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premiers, he’s done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s not uncommon, as the Russo Brothers made a similar exit once they had finished telling their own story with the Infinity Saga. It would have been with a bittersweet farewell that Gunn departed the MCU whenever Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 drops. But now we get a fourth helping of Gunn and lovely Guardians! So, what makes this so special?

This isn’t just Disney coming to Gunn and asking for a fourth project. From what we’ve heard, it was actually Gunn’s idea that he pitched to Disney. Gunn is a huge fan of the (in)famous Star Wars Holiday Special. If anyone in the MCU was going to use any characters to try and pay homage to the 1978 disaster of a film, it’s Gunn and the Guardians. There is likely never going to be another entry into the Marvel world like this Holiday special. It’ll be magical, it’ll be terrible, it’ll be a Guardian’s Holiday. Expected release date is the 2022 Holiday season.

#4 Hawkeye

I can already hear all the haters, “Really? The Arrow guy is on your list?” And yes, yes he is. But Clint Barton isn’t the reason, though there’s nothing wrong with shooting arrows when you’re freakishly good at it. The real reason you need to be hype for Hawkeye is for the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. Kate is a strong, fierce, and utterly determined hero in her own right. She’s fought side by side with the best and got her start with the Young Avengers. She’s one of the brightest names in recent Marvel canon and Kelly Thompson’s portrayal of her earned two Eisner Award Nominations.

Clint Barton’s Hawkeye was an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only time they lost in Avengers Infinity War, was because Barton wasn’t there (or so some argue). But Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye is next level and will continue the growing trend of badass women taking over the small and silver screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jeremy Renner will be continuing his role as Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld will take up the mantle of Kate Bishop. Florence Pugh will also reprise her role as Yelena Belova from the Black Widow movie and is likely the new Black Widow of the MCU. Hawkeye is will release in 2021.

#3 What If…?

This is the only entry on this list and in recent Marvel announcements that likely won’t be considered canon to the MCU in any way. For those unfamiliar with the concept, What If…? was a series that Marvel released way back in 1977. The idea was simple, what if Peggy Carter got the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers?. Or what if Justin Hammer became Iron Man instead of Tony Stark? It’s a premise with unlimited potential.

The What If…? series will be animated instead of live-action, but all voices will reprise their respective MCU actors. What’s great about the What If…? series is that anything is possible here. Just from the trailer, we know of at least three episodes we’ll be getting. The first is Peggy Carter being infused with the super-soldier serum. Another is what if T’Challa had been taken by the Ravagers instead of Peter Quill. This will be an especially meaningful episode as it will mark the final performance of Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa as he lent his voice to the project before his passing. Finally, we also see in the trailer the Winter Soldier battling a Zombie Captain America. That’s right, Marvel Zombies is coming via the What If…? series.

The What If…? series is set to debut sometime in 2021.

#2 Ironheart

This is one of the titles and characters I’ve been waiting to hear about for years. Fans have been theorizing that with the death of Tony Stark in Avengers Endgame, it would make way for Riri Williams aka Ironheart. Not only has Ironheart been announced, but she’s also already been cast and will be played by Dominique Thorne. In the comics, Riri Williams has the intellect to rival all of the top dogs of Marvel, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Hank Pym. She builds her own Iron Man suit and goes by the moniker Ironheart.

The addition of Riri Williams to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the best way to continue the legacy of Iron Man and pass the torch to a younger generation. It’s also another strong female character added to a growing line-up of diverse and powerful women to lead us into and through phase four of the MCU. Very little else is known about the series at this point, but it’s estimated release date is 2022. It’s also possible that the Ironheart series could play into the next item on this list.

#1 Armor Wars

War Machine is finally getting his time in the spotlight. Don Cheadle took the reins of James “Rhodey” Rhodes in Iron Man 2 after Terrance Howard departed the franchise. Rhodey was Tony Stark’s best friend and that makes him the perfect character to adapt to the Armor Wars storyline.

Armor Wars is a seven-issue Iron Man story arc from 1987. It was written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. The crux of the story is that someone has stolen his designs and developed their tech with them. The story revolves around Tony attempting to get back his designs and stop them from being used to hurt people. I cannot stress enough the potential of this series. Don Cheadle is an amazing actor and giving Rhodey his own series to explore how the death of his best friend has affected him will be nothing short of amazing. Watching War Machine explore the meaning of this loss while also attempting to protect and safeguard his best friend’s legacy is going to be a powerful experience.

Currently very little else is known about the series, but it’s estimated to be releasing sometime in 2022.

More Marvel News on The Other Identity Podcast

If you enjoyed this article and want to know more about all the announcements made on Disney’s Investor Day check out the Other Identity. Robbie Landis and former Marvel Alumni, Ben Morse, talk in-depth about all the new series and Marvel movies. From WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier to Samuel L Jackson’s Secret Invasion and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Each week on the Other Identity, Robbie and Ben dive into a wealth of DC and Marvel Comics lore discussing how they’ve affected pop culture as a whole.

They discuss topics like how Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner could fit into Jennifer Walter’s story as She-Hulk. Should Nick Fury have his own series, or is he better off as a supporting character? How will Oscar Isaac far as Marc Spector the Moon Knight? Or should Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier take up the shield instead of Anthony Mackie’s The Falcon? All that and more on The Identity.

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Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney