Hello interweb, Nate here! So all of you probably know by now that Kevin Feige made a splash at Comic Con with his Marvel Phase 4 announcements and I, for one, was thrilled at everything they revealed. I’m just gonna go into my general thoughts first before I tackle each individual property in more depth, but before I do that I wanted to discuss some future plans I have for this blog. Soon after this post is published, I will be working on my ranking of every individual Marvel superhero in the MCU from Phases 1-3, so if you’re interested in seeing my thoughts on all of these characters stay tuned for that. After that, I’m going to start reviewing the MCU movies I’ve missed due to my long absence from this blog only back words from when they were released. This means my very next review will be on Avengers: Endgame, then Captain Marvel, Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse (yes, I realize that’s not an MCU property, but I absolutely loved it and wanted to review it anyways), and wrapping up with Ant-Man and the Wasp. So, keep an eye out for those reviews coming soon!
In addition, last year I announced that I was going to do a “Ben 10 Week” where I review each series of the franchise and the movies that comes with it. However, this came soon before I had some personal struggles that killed this blog for a while. I do intend on completing “Ben 10 Week” but the specific details will be revealed as I finalize those reviews. The Ben 10 franchise is a franchise that means a lot to me so I really want to do this justice and do a good job on explaining why the series is so great and deserve more love. With that said, let’s get into what this post is actually about! Marvel: Phase 4!
My General Thoughts
So overall, this phase of the MCU is getting me really excited for what is to come. Phase 4 is pushing for a bigger focus on representation and diversity, something I feel is very important and should be improved and I’m happy Marvel is finally doing this! This blog has existed since I was a Freshmen in high school (damn, this place is old!) and I’ve changed a lot since my high school days. I think high school me was very much on the “anti-SJW” bandwagon without even fully understanding the nuance and details that was going on with the politics surrounding these topics at the time. Do I disregard everything high school me have said? Well, no! One of my more popular posts criticizing BuzzFeed for how they drew women I still mostly agree with and I do think that era of YouTube had valid points mixed in with people going over-the-top with their politics that I really don’t wanna get into. However, one change I’ve made in terms of opinions is that of the importance of representation and diversity. I feel like high school me probably would’ve been upset that Jane Foster is now Thor or that Sam Wilson is now Cap because high school me was upset when that happened in the comics. Present me sees it as just a continuation of the stories being told here and a natural and fluid one too. Also, I should say my high school self probably would’ve been confused by the backlash of Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Like, sure I had this weird thing against “forced diversity” because that’s what my favorite YouTubers at the time complained about, but how are those movies forcing anything? It’s just the natural progression of the MCU. People are just being racist and sexist at this point honestly.
I do think that this is probably the most unique phase we’ve had thus far and it kinda leaves me curious for how they’re gonna handle this. Phase 1 was all about forming the Avengers and so that was the big build up of the first Marvel Phase. They introduced Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk in all their solo films, introduced Black Widow in Iron Man 2, and introduced Hawkeye in Thor. Once all these characters were introduced, bring them together to form the Avengers and boom! That was essentially all there was to it, and at the time that was a genuinely amazing conclusion to the first Phase. But then the second and third Marvel Phases were building up to Thanos as we learned more and more about the Infinity Stones and Thanos was teased in both Avengers films and even featured in Guardians of the Galaxy. So now that The Avengers happened and now that Thanos happened, what exactly is Phase 4 building up to? How is the MCU going to continue this story beyond what they have now? As if right now, we really don’t have anything to look forward to that is making us want to watch these movies other then slapping the “Marvel Studios” logo on them. Hardcore Marvel fans, such as myself, will probably be happy to see these regardless, but what about your casual movie goer that is getting tired of all these Marvel movies? I am actually pretty nervous for the future of the MCU. Maybe now that Fantastic Four is a thing, they could build up to Galactus instead? Who knows?
Also, I wanted to comment on the Disney+ streaming service that the MCU will be using and how it ties into the MCU. With the exception of Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu (which is a great show, definitely watch it if you haven’t), most of Marvel’s TV shows have been on Netflix! Daredevil, Jessica Jones (my favorite), Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders and Punisher were all fairly popular shows that were said to take place in the MCU but weren’t allowed to interact with characters in the movies due to…I don’t even know? Budget? Could they not afford to pay Tom Holland to swing into an episode of Daredevil or something? Either way, all of these TV shows have been cancelled and that seems to be due to the Disney+ streaming service that Marvel will start dumping shows on instead. But, unlike Netflix, I feel like these streaming services will have a tighter connection to the MCU and have a stronger influence on the stories. After all, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki all take these movie characters and create a TV show out of them. And hell, Wanda is said to be part of both the Disney+ WandaVision and the Doctor Strange sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. So with all this said, I have one major question to ask: are the Marvel Netflix shows going to be retconned as their own universe separate from the MCU and will these Disney+ shows actually effect the MCU more then other shows have previously? After all, the Marvel Netflix shows are so aborted from the MCU that they might as well exist in their own universe! Personally, I wouldn’t be against this. I actually kinda like that the Disney+ shows are working more closely with the MCU since it created a better sense of a shared universe. However, this makes me a tad nervous because if you need to sit through an entire season of a show to understand something in the movies, are audiences willing to participate? Hardcore fans, sure, but casual viewers?
One last thing I want to talk about here very quickly before I dive in, I’m really excited about the fact that I feel like the MCU is actually starting to take risks with their movies. I feel like a lot of people have been getting tired of the typical Marvel formula where every movie feels like the same movie so I am glad that they seem to be tackling new ideas in this Phase. Plus, this Phase is honestly even more unique then the previous phases since this is the first MCU phase without an Avengers movie. Phase one had The Avengers, Phase Two had Avengers Age of Ultron, and obviously Phase 3 had Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Phase four? Nope! Squat! Nothing! Hell, I was expecting sequels for movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Captain Marvel 2, Black Panther 2, and hilariously enough I was wondering if we’d get a Deadpool 3. I mean, it could happen! Literally, announce Deadpool 3 and just make the third movie set in the MCU and pretend this is completely normal. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? Hell, Deadpool could even comment on how something’s off and none of the characters around him even notices. “Hey, Colossus, does this place seems a bit more…Disney’d to you?” But yeah, the only sequel we seem to be getting is Doctor Strange and Thor, and I wasn’t even expecting Thor! I thought Thor was done! He got his third movie afterall! Haha!
Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
So Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has been a staple of the MCU since Phase 1 and ever since people have been asking for a Black Widow movie. If I remember correctly, I think they planned on a Black Widow movie a few years ago but Marvel got cold feet with a female led superhero movie and they canned it. Maybe I’m pulling that out of my ass, but that’s how I remember the details going down. So the fact that ScarJo is actually getting her solo movie, 10 years after the MCU began, I think she well earned it and I’m so happy for her that her patients has been rewarded. I’ve heard rumors that it might even be R-rated, but I personally hope it isn’t since so many little girls who love Black Widow in the Avengers movies won’t be able to see her solo film with the adult rating. I’d feel so bad if that happened! Plus, I think part of Marvel’s success is the family friendly nature of these movies, so giving the middle finger to all the little girls out there would be a d*** move. II’m not necessarily against an R-rated MCU movie, but Black Widow is not the character to do it with. Deadpool? Sure! Wolverine? Yup! Hell, even the Blade movie that was announced? Fine! (I will be talking about Blade in a bit, don’t worry). But while in a vacuum I’d be fine with an R-rated Black Widow movie, in a the context of the MCU where this character has become the most badass woman in the MCU (besides Jessica Jones imo) and has been for the last decade, it would be a disservice for young girls.
Now, as for the movie itself, I think it’s pretty obvious what the general idea of the film is going to be. A James Bond-esque spy thriller! The specific plot and story details may not be as obvious beyond that point. It will be a prequel, obviously since Natasha died in Endgame, but beyond the prequel status and the fact that Taskmaster is apparently going to be the villain I don’t know where this movie is going. I just hope it’s not an origin story because the point to an origin story is to introduce a character to us. Similar to how the MCU skipped Spider-man’s origin story outside a few throw away lines, I think we should just get a really fun solo-film set long before the Avengers formed. We already know who Black Widow is, we know her shtick, we know her general backstory, we don’t need to pretend this is a new character.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2020-)
The first show on the Disney+ streaming. Now, if I’m being honest, Bucky Barnes is one of my favorite characters in the entire MCU continuity. Sam Wilson, on the other hand, is pretty bland. Bucky was Steve Rodger’s best friend in World War II, believed to have died on a mission, cam back brainwashed by Hydra, and have since struggled with his past as a brainwashed Hydra assassin wanting to move on. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War are some of the best movies in the MCU because of his relationship with Captain America and this internal conflict he experiences in those movies. In more recent movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, he showed up for several of the major fight and even died from the Snap in front of Steve’s eyes! (Yes, I’m still calling it “the Snap” not “ThE bLiP”). So, I have a strong love for Bucky as a character, especially with his relationship to Steve Rodgers. Sam, on the other hand, is usually just kinda there. I’ve never cared for Sam Wilson in the movies OR the comics.
Now, I realize that both Sam and Bucky are Steve’s closest allies and either one of them could’ve taken over the roll as Captain America. Sam got the roll, I believe, because he’s black and Marvel is pushing for diversity. I’m fine with this and I think this decision will mean a lot for Black people, but I don’t quite remember the in-universe reason for Sam taking the roll over Bucky. Maybe because Bucky can be seen as unstable due to his Hydra brainwashing? I’m not sure, maybe this will be explored in this series. I’m not sure how much Marvel wants to discuss the racial politics with this series, if at all. I think Black Panther showed us that Marvel is willing to tackle these topics, but Black Panther is a different story then this series. I do want to point out that Sam isn’t the only Black character to take up a similar role as Captain America. In the Young Avengers comic, there’s a character named Elijah Bradley who went by the title “Patriot”, and I remember one scene from those comics that always struck a chord with me where Elijah talks about how he’s not completely comfortable with the title of “Patriot” due to him being Black and knowing about America’s history of racism. After all, would you be a strong supporter for a country that dehumanizes you and treats you as “less then”? It was a great moment in those comics and I almost wonder if Sam might have a similar thing to discuss in the series as him taking of Cap’s title would not only mean a lot to Black people in America but that idea of having this internal conflict may resonate with them as well.
Eternals (November 6, 2020)
Remember back in 2014 when Marvel created this movie called “Guardians of the Galaxy” and it took a relatively unknown group of Marvel characters and made them a household name? Yeah, I have a feeling that this will be a similar outcome with 2020’s Eternals. Because honestly even today I know very little about the comic book versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy (even though I’ve been meaning to read them) and the same thing is going on here! I know the Eternals by name, I know they’re a creation of Jack Kirby before he went over to make “The New Gods” for DC (or something like that). But quite frankly, I don’t really know who they are. The characters? I don’t know! The villains? Not sure! The setting? Other then space, I have no idea. So, yeah, I don’t really have much to say about these guys cause I know very little about them. I would’ve expected a Nova Corps movie before an Eternals movie. In fact, I’m surprised they haven’t made a Nova Corps movie. The Nova Corps appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy barring their helmets and cool superpowers. So, yeah, Eternals. They’re a thing!
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
And the reward for longest movie title in the MCU goes to… Yeah, this is yet another property I know very little about. And, unlike Eternals, I’m not sure if I’ve ever even heard of this title. If I have, it just kinda slipped my mind. Now, Kung-Fu movies are typically my cup of tea so I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to this movie. Maybe I’ll like it, I’ll definitely watch it (obvi), but like…I don’t know. I guess this movie was likely made to give Asian people more representation, which is good since I’m not even sure if there’s an Asian character anywhere in the MCU now that I think of it (no, Mantis doesn’t count. She’s an alien.), but other then more diversity there’s nothing here that’s particularly grabbing me. Hell, is the ten rings the next Infinity Stone? Will Shang-Chi collect these rings and make a wish to that dragon dude from Dragon Ball Z to…do something? Lol, I’m just rambling at this point.
Our second Disney+ series, and probably my personal most anticipated series from the Disney+ streaming service. Wanda is probably one of my favorite characters in all of comics so the fact that she has not one but two major appearances in Phase 4 (we’ll be talking a bit more about her with Doctor Strange) warms my nerdy little heart. Vision, on the other hand? I love comic book Vision, but I feel like the MCU robbed Vision of what made him so special in Age of Ultron and he have never bounced back. His mistreatment in the MCU has lead him to be one of my least favorite characters in the movies. Meaning that this how is about one of my favorite MCU characters and one of my least favorite MCU characters teaming up. Yippee! Now, unfortunately for me, Vision and Wanda has been so closely tied together in the MCU that at this point it is difficult to do one without the other. This isn’t necessarily original to the movies, I’d argue Wanda is more closely tied to Quicksilver in the comics (and most other forms of media the appear in), but in the comics she did have that classic relationship with Vision. So while this isn’t totally out of left field, I think the MCU have been trying to push Wanda and Vision as a couple to the point where Wanda has pretty much forgotten about her twin brother, OR HAS SHE!
I have a few theories about where this show may go and one option I can see is Wanda using her powers to bring Quicksilver back to life. She has done this in the comics! During the House of M storyline (which I freaking love that story, it’s one of my faves in X-Men history), Quicksilver died at one point and she brings him back to life. Granted! His death was a lot shorter in that series, but it still happened! The greedy part of my nerd heart really wants that to happen!
Speaking of House of M, I will talk a but more about that story when we discuss Doctor Strange, but I do want to bring something to ya’ll attention. Cassie Lang from the Ant-Man series is a young teenager by the time Endgame rolls around. The Hawkeye series on Disney+ has been confirmed to introduce Kate Bishop into the MCU. Both the Kree and the Skrulls are in the MCU now since Captain Marvel. Finally, WandaVision has the opportunity to introduce Billie and Tommy, who are spiritual children of Wanda’s with Wanda’s and Pietro’s powers (speed and magic). AND!!!!! Thor: Love and Thunder has confirmed that Valkyrie will be EXPLICITLY LGBT. So, Young Avengers anyone??? I would literally die if that happens, I swear to god! Marvel, please don’t tease me with this and actually follow through with this set up! All the pieces are there! Please! Please! Please! Please!!!!!!!!
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
Speaking of Wanda, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has got to be my second most anticipated movie from this phase! (I will rank them later, don’t worry). Now one of my criticisms of the first Doctor Strange was that it wasn’t “strange” enough. In my last post, I even jokingly called it “Doctor A-Tad-Bit-Unusual”, since even the first Guardians of the Galaxy film was stranger then the self-reported Doctor “Strange”. So with the title of “Multiverse of Madness”, this brings so many images to my head that I swear I’m about to explode! First off, this movie will be exploring the Marvel Multiverse!? Whaaaa? I almost wonder if this movie will be somewhat similar to that Phineas and Ferb movie Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension (which, holy shit, came out in 2011? Damn, I feel old…) If you’re unfamiliar, the plot of the movie was essentially that Phineas and Ferb helped Dr. Doofenshmirtz into making this inator that allowed them to travel through dimensions and wacky hijinx ensues. The reason this title reminds me of that movie was that all the different dimensions Phineas and Ferb explored had all these strange designs and rules and crap. Imagine if they actually did that in this movie? That would be madness! And beautiful! Ugh, the possibilities are endless! Maybe Doctor A-Tad-Bit-Unusual will finally earn the title of Doctor Strange!
Secondly this title also reminds me a lot of Wanda and how she’s usually depicted in the comics. Wanda, for lack of a better term, has some mental issues. Hell, the entirety of House of M was a story about how Wanda’s mental health got so bad that it interfered with he reality warping abilities. Within the story, she created this ideal world where mutants were the dominant species on Earth, not humans, and all the Marvel heroes were given their ideal lives. Wolverine was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Spider-man was married to MJ and had a child, even Captain America was allowed to grow old and live his life with Peggy Carter (that scene was almost as heartbreaking as the scene in Endgame. Now, the House of M story ended with this fantasy world being erased and Wanda erased 90% of the mutant population, but I think this story does a lot to show the mental insanity that Wanda has experienced over the years and pairing up with her powerful abilities can be disastrous. So, my guess is this movie will do to Wanda what Thor: Ragnarok did to Thor and reveal to us just how powerful Wanda truly is. The plot will possibly be something along the lines of Wanda losing control of her expanding powers, creating riffs in the Multiverse, and Doctor A-Tad-Bit-Unusual will help her recollect herself.
One last note! I’ve been hearing theories online that this film may be a semi-adaptation of House of M but in reverse where Wanda brings the mutants into the MCU rather then the other way around. Kinda like how Thor: Ragnarok was a semi-adaptation of Planet Hulk. Here’s my issue with this. The House of M storyline is one of my favorite X-Men stories and the “No more mutants” scene was powerful for several reasons and I don’t believe it will be as powerful of a scene if they do it too soon. My rule for this adaptation would be that there has to be at LEAST two X-Men movies in the MCU, Wanda has to be revealed as a mutant, and the mutant prejudice must be well established in the MCU. Because the whole point to the “No more mutants” line uttered by Wanda in the comics is because she was so fed up of all the hate that she wanted it to end. That’s essentially how the scene went down. “I’m tired of all this hate. I’m tired of all this fighting. I gave you a fantasy and you rejected it. I give up! I’m done! No more mutants!” And just like that, the mutant population in the comics went down to about 200. Because of the importance of this scene and how powerful it was, I really urge Kevin Feige to hold onto this story for until you’ve established the mutants and the X-Men into the MCU. If you use it in this movie to introduce the mutants, I feel as if that would be a great disservice to the character of the Scarlet Witch and it would rob her of that moment. Although, they did rob Vision of his moment, so why not f*** over two characters when they’re so madly in love with each other.
For the 2021 Loki series, I’m intrigued but I’m not exactly super hyped for. I just don’t know enough about this show to be really invested right now. I mean, a TV show revolving around Loki taking place right after 2012’s The Avengers where he takes the tesseract? That SOUNDS fun! But, what are they doing with it? Loki has had his own comic book series in the past, but I’ve never read one of them. I have been curious about the Al Ewing book called Loki: Agent of Asgard and I believe a Loki series is currently being worked on as we speak (I’m too lazy to look it up so maybe I’m thinking of an older book, but on the cover there’s a rainbow bridge behind him and he’s tossing Mjolnir around like one may casually toss a ball up and down). However, because I haven’t read them I’m not sure what influences they will have on the TV show for Disney+…but if they get Al Ewing to write or at least co-write the series, I’ll definitely be excited for it!!!
What if…? (2021-)
The MCU’s first animated series! Wait, if this is a bunch of “What if” scenarios, does it count as an MCU series? It’s more like a bunch of alternate universes set around the MCU, right? Regardless, this is an animated series set to explore some “What if” scenarios of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sounds interesting enough! The comics have had a lot of goofy variations of the “What if…?” comics. Like, “What if Hulk’s pants didn’t grow when he grew?” No, seriously, that’s actually a thing.
Due to the logo and the fact that this series will introduce Kate Bishop into the MCU, I suspect that this will be influenced by the Matt Fraction run that was so popular back a few years ago and if Fraction gets a piece of the writing pie for this series I will be golden! I loved Fraction’s work with that series and I recommend it to anyone whose not a fan of Hawkeye. Clint and Kate were great foils for each other and Clint was such a relatable character in that series. It also explored the difficulties Clint has as a non-super superhero. I’m not even sure if they plan on using Fraction’s Hawkeye for this series but if they are I’d recommend just checking that comic out so you know what to expect.
Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)
Oh my god, I am hyped!!!!! This may be the most important film in Phase 4, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that! Not important in terms of MCU, but important in terms of representation and in terms of actors. There’s a lot to talk about with this one! But before I get into the nitty gritty! Let’s just appreciate how f***ing 80’s this logo is! It just feels like one of those classic action movies and I love it! But that’s a minor point…
Where do I even begin with this? First, I wanted to give some highlight to Natalie Portman returning to this role. Back when Thor 2 was in production, director Patty Jenkins (now famous for directing Wonder Woman) was assigned to direct the first Thor sequel and because of this Natalie Portman was willing to reprise her role as Jane Foster. After all, maybe under Patty Jenkins, Portman would be more then JUST the damsel in distress love interest. Unfortunately for her, soon after she signed her contract, Patty Jenkins left the project out of creative differences. Learning about this story in retrospect, I honestly do feel bad for Natalie Portman, especially since Thor: The Dark World was such a terrible film. It was because of this mistreatment that she refused to sign onto the third installment of the Thor series, which is why Jane Foster wasn’t featured in Thor: Ragnarok. Thankfully, between Ragnarok and now, Taika Waititi has since attempted to make up for past wrongs by not only insisting Marvel makes a fourth Thor film (which wasn’t exactly hard, Ragnarok was the s***!) but also turn Natalie Portman into Thor. Giving us female Mighty Thor! Now, I don’t know about you, but taking a mistreated actress and turning her into the Goddess of Thunder sounds amazing to me.
Furthermore, I’ve recently been reading a bit of Aaron’s Thor run where Jane takes the mantle and I really love it. Seeing powerful women in comics and movies is something I think we need a lot more of and between this and Captain Marvel, I think the MCU is delivering! And Jane Foster isn’t JUST a 2-dimensional character, in the comics Jane Foster is suffering from breast cancer and every time she uses Mjolnir to turn herself into Thor it erases the progress that the chemo therapy has done. Meaning that using Mjolnir is literally killing her. Am I the only one who wants to see a scene where she has a moment with Deadpool? Anyways, if they can do this in the movies I think that would mean a lot to people. This hits somewhat close to home as I’ve had relatives that have won battles with cancer in the past, so I hope they can give this story line justice.
Third, this movie is f***ing GAAAAAYYYY!!!! The plot of the movie revolves around Valkyrie, now king of Asgard since Avengers: Endgame, looking for her queen! Ah!!! The first explicitly LGBT superhero in the Marvel universe, everybody! I am so hyped!!!! Basically, if this movie can give me a beautiful lesbian romance while Thor deals with his godly impotence and Jane Foster taking over as Thor while struggling with her cancer, I will be happy and this might just become my favorite Marvel movie. And as someone who is LGBT myself (I’m bi, hi!) actual LGBT representation would mean so much to me as a queer Marvel fan whose been honestly somewhat desperate for more LGBT content as of late. Like, it’s really hard to find good lesbian love stories in movies and TV shows! Like sure, we have Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe, and they’re adorable! But one lesbian couple? C’mon! And Bubblegum and Marceline from Adventure Time wasn’t canon until the last episode, so we didn’t watch their relationship grow beyond a kiss. Same for Korra and Assami from Avatar: Legend of Korra! So I really am looking forward to this movie and it might be one of the most culturally important films the MCU makes.
So now that I’ve discussed all the Phase 4 announcements, I wanted to rank them in terms of which I’m most excited for! Leave yours in the comments below, I’m curious on what you guys are looking forward to! From most anticipated to least anticipated:
- Thor: Love and Thunder
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Black Widow
- The Falcon and Winter Soldier
- Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings
- What if…?
And since Kevin Feige also announced some major Phase 5 movies, I’ll be working on posting my thoughts on those announcements soon as this goes up. So if you’re interested in seeing my thoughts on those films (and I have some strong thoughts, especially on my FAVORITE MARVEL PROPERTY EVER!!!) then check that out in an hour or two. Cya then!