While I would’ve preferred to see Marvel Studio’s Phase 4 publicly unveiled to the curious masses like they did with Phase 3 at the El Capitan theater in LA in 2014, we still managed something close to that with the behind closed doors reveal at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Aside from aesthetic beauty, CC is the only thing that San Diego has going for it nowadays. They lost the football team after all to greedy Los Angeles. Or was it the NFL’s fault? I don’t know and don’t really care about that, truthfully.
What I do care about is that while cameras were allowed to show the unveiling panel, apparently uploaders to YouTube have had to cut out the best moments at the point where an entry is shown off and the audience roars in excitement and approval.
This early in the game, details on the full extent of the phase are not entirely here yet and like with Phase 3, the order of release will likely change. The first draft of the prior phase didn’t have Ant-Man 2 and Spider-Man and Inhumans was relegated to Kevin Feige’s closet of shame. As it stands in late July of 2019, here are my not fully informed but informed enough for my tastes stance on what Marvel and Disney are going to do to keep us interested after the presumed summit of hype that the Infinity movies gave us.
How can Marvel top themselves now? Perhaps the answer lies in not doing so, but also somehow avoiding the pain of diminishing returns.
May 2020- Black Widow
(scarjo vs Taskmaster or as I would call him “Captain Skeletor”) Image from SlashFilm
Wait, isn’t Natasha Romanoff, one of the original Avengers, dead? Considering Avengers Endgame has just become the most successful film of all time not adjusted for inflation, it would be laughable to call this a serious spoiler at this point.
Well, yes, she is dead so her only film to happen for the MCU, after long held desire from both the fanbase and Johansson, will be a prequel inbetween the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. What Natasha is up to to justify her own movie is of course, not known yet. All I know is that it involves her fellow junior Black Widow Yelena and fellow Russian superhero Red Guardian played by failed Hellboy David Harbour.
It also involves as the apparent main antagonist long overdue supervillain Taskmaster, who takes a somewhat stupid look and makes it look badass and even a little frightening. His shtick is novel and suits him well as a BW opponent: the ability to instantly memorize and master every last move and ability that his opponent throws at him, makes him a true challenge for the world’s most heroic former assassin.
I’m sure there is something to Natasha’s single solo movie that adds to the continuing narrative of the MCU. It will certainly offer a more thorough farewell to a veteran of the franchise that will be of May 2020, a decade long run.
Fall 2020-The Falcon and Winter Soldier
(The future candidates for the captain’s shield from a bromantic moment in Captain America: Civil War) taken from Gamesradar
Black Widow seems to be looking to the past while Sam and Bucky’s newest adventure looks to the future. Aside from this month’s Spider-Man: Far from Home, The Falcon and Winter Soldier miniseries is a look into the world post-Endgame. Part of an ambitious lineup of Disneyplus canon additions to the MCU, this promises to actually close the gap between big and small screen storytelling that Netflix, ABC and Hulu more or less failed at.
Not counting a touching flashback to Cap beginning his near lifetime lasting retirement from the superhero business, the last sequence in Avengers:Endgame was about Steve Rogers finally acting his insanely high age and giving the shield to Sam Wilson, his best friend not called Bucky or Tony. It seems that Steve had a very long time to ruminate on who should take his place as the Captain and like in the comics, he chooses the Falcon over the Soldier.
Of course, it’s possible the miniseries will explore whether Steve’s decision was actually the right one. What if Bucky is also deserving of the shield? He became the captain too in the comics following Steve’s (temporary, of course) death by assassination. Will the two realize that both are just as deserving of the honor? Who will be the sidekick? How will Daniel Bruhl’s returning-from-Cap-3 Zemo play in to matters?
That’s what Marvel wants you to think about and we’ll have to wait over a year to find out.
(Jack Kirby’s godly heroes from the class of 76′) Image from IGN
Aside from Shang-Chi coming up soon after, I know the least about this property being deemed worthy enough of the big screen MCU treatment.
I know it’s a team of really old yet powerful godlike if not actual Gods who act as heroes in some manner. Or maybe it’s also/either an offshoot of the human race which certainly recalls the Inhumans. I think they may also be in some way, the source of superpowered individuals in the MCU. I know that Richard Madden (poor Robb Stark) is playing the lead Eternal,Ikaris, along with Angelina Jolie as Thena, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos and Salma Hayek as a female version of Ajak, their leader. I couldn’t really tell you what any of these characters can do or are about.
In fact, I really don’t know yet what part the Eternals are supposed to play at this latter stage of the MCU. Their history and power makes it seem really clear in theory, that they are setting up the macguffin or core plot thread that will define the phases after Endgame. Whatever they’re up to, it might make their first appearance an important chapter for the macro picture of the MCU’s future.
By the way, I doubt I’m the only one who thinks they are a replacement of sorts for Inhumans not making the cut.
February 2021-Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
(Shang-Chi is here to do what poor little Iron Fist could not…) Image from Movieweb
Remember the Mandarin from Iron Man 3?
Remember how many fans weren’t happy with the treatment of Iron Man’s archenemy? Well, after Tony’s passing, we are finally getting the real deal. A brand new face to the universe is being brought in to deal with him.
For the longest time, I thought Iron Fist was the martial arts master for Marvel. Around the same time as IF’s debut in the kung fu crazy 70s’, another master was born: Shang-Chi. One of his co-creators is none other than Jim Starlin, the man behind Thanos.
After Guardians of the Galaxy, just about any property Marvel can think up from their library seems suitable for prime-time. Yes, Squirrel-Girl is no longer off the table. Shang-Chi, by comparison seems tame in terms of audacity. He is not really powered up like Iron Fist, but is simply the best at martial arts, a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan who fights for justice instead of ticket sales.
With John Woo-favorite actor Tony Leung playing the real deal Mandarin and Crazy Rich Asians actress Akwafina along for the ride, Shang-Chi is aiming for both.
Spring 2021- WandaVision
(The good Olson sibling and Paul Bettany’s Vision in Captain America Civil War) image from Gamespot
Aside from Thor, no one has suffered in the MCU like Wanda Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch. Dead family, including short term Avenger Pietro “Quiksilver” Maximoff. A world that distrusts her for her powers and an deadly accident from Civil War. Losing Vision in gruesome fashion twice in Infinity War. Not even gaining eternal peace from Thano’s snap. Yeah, she wrecked the purple people beater good in Endgame, but I doubt that’s enough for her.
Where does the loneliest Avenger go? At least Thor has the Guardians and whatever happens in Thor 4. Of course, having Vision in the title of her miniseries strongly implies she won’t be alone for long.
I would hope that if the Vision does come back, he doesn’t come back like before Thanos. Don’t go Jon Snow on our butts. Gamora and Loki are returning differently for different reasons so I am hoping that Wanda has to experience the same dilemma that poor little Star Lord will. I know that WandaVision’s placement in the schedule strongly implies that what happens will play a part in her role for Dr. Strange 2.
I just hope that Wanda gets what she wants without too many easy answers.
(Even when a quasi-good guy, Loki still looks like a smug dick.) Image from CinemaBlend
Yet another character is getting the alive and dead at the same time treatment for Phase 4. Gamora comes back as her 2014 pre-Guardians self, Vision will probably be brought back thanks to Shuri’s Wakandan technology. Loki gets to live accidentally thanks to a humorous snag in the Avengers Endgame time-heist. Stealing the Tessaract just after his defeat in the original Avengers, Loki will, unknowingly, be enjoying a new literal lease-on-life in an alternate reality. A reality where Thanos’ is still alive and undoubtedly disappointed in Loki’s failure.
I doubt that Josh Brolin is reprising the Mad Titan just for this miniseries. I don’t know for certain what Tom Hiddleston’s beloved take on the trickster will take us. I’m sure it will be fun, it might actually explore the nature of alternate universes in a unique way, a way that the prime universe denizens can’t.
May 2021-Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
(Time for Lovecraftian fun! Minus the racism.) Image from Movieweb
After roughly four years, the Doctor is finally getting a titular movie again. And he’s bringing a witch for the ride.
Out of all the new annoucements, the second Doctor Strange is the one that actually has me most interested. With the clear indication of lovecraftian horror, in a film that Marvel is promising to be an actual horror film, it’s certainly going to be one of the more visually intriguing films down the pipeline.
The main antagonist, Nightmare, a consistent Dr. Strange villain through the years, sounds perfect for what the Doctor and company will be encountering. I think of him as being Marvel’s answer to DC’s Scarecrow, playing off your worst fears and fear in general, as a weapon.
And of course, further delving into the possibilities of the multiverse that the original Doctor Strange film confirmed and Spidey: Far from Home toyed with, is too much to pass up. For a long running endeavor such as the MCU, piquing curiosity even now is a good sign.
Summer 2021-What If…
(The possibilities, canon or not, are endless.) Image from Deseret News
The first animated series coming out of Marvel Studios with over 20 returning voices to reprise roles in completely speculative tales. Based on a long running line of comics which have fun with stories that completely break the established lore and arcs to ponder well, what if… In the same vein as DC’s Elseworlds series.
To better explain the idea, take a character and change its position in life, choices and what they ultimately become. This character is now evil, this character is now good. This person’s death causes this to happen or something doesn’t occur so the world of the MCU changes in this manner. One interesting possibility is a post-snap Earth where the Avengers never perform the time-heist and Thanos’ victory was truly final.
The one confirmed scenario has Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter taking the super soldier serum and becoming Captain America while Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers becomes a 1940s Iron-Man. Weird and wild tales that even for the present day MCU aren’t possible now are. In hopefully decent animation.
(Yes, the title looks like it’s from the comics.) Image from Den of Geek)
The most underutilized and often unfairly mocked Avenger got his due in Avengers:Endgame. But Marvel isn’t done giving more of the spotlight. Now in small-screen!
Hawkeye has family back, but he doesn’t have Natasha. True, knowing she was instrumental in his family’s return must be a definite comfort, but something in Clint Barton’s life must be troubling enough to guarantee a Disneyplus miniseries for the hungry masses.
The best indication of Clint’s motivation is simply two words: Kate Bishop. The popular young female vigilante and the second to take the name, it’s seems evident that Hawkeye will be the classic story of mentor and apprentice, passing knowledge and responsibility to a new, fresh-faced generation. Considering Jeremy Renner’s real life age, and if it aligns with his role’s, then that seems for the best.
Despite myself finding Renner’s time as Hawkeye to be great, hopefully what Barton instills into Bishop’s training will give her a more overall, favorable opinion from the masses when the spotlight is just on her shoulders.
November 2021-Thor: Love and Thunder
(Say what you want, I’m digging the He-man/Thundercats feel. Ragnarok was like a modern day 80s’ fantasy sci-fi B-movie, so there!) Image from Comic Book
Whose ready to be triggered?
I’m actually fine with Jane Foster becoming Lady Thor. There was already back in the day a What-If story about that possibility. Cap wielding Mjolnir in Endgame confirmed that really anyone can have the capacity to be worthy of that power so long as they are, obviously, worthy.
It’s not like Thor himself is skipping out on his fourth installment. Also joining is Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, the Queen of what little remains of Asgard looking for a soulmate to rule with( it ain’t a manhunt if you know what I mean…) as well as the likely return of Korg and Miek, with Taika Waititi being the director once more and the voice of everyone’s favorite rock man that isn’t the Thing or from the Neverending Story.
I wonder who the antagonist could be, a lot of people have been guessing a recent comics creation known as Gorr the God-Butcher. Even for a universe full of deadly denizens, Gorr is notorious for his successful kill-rate involving godlike characters. Considering Thor: Love and Thunder could be the moment of his groove coming back, Thor facing a especially vicious opponent even more than Hela or Thanos sounds just right. He won’t be alone at least.
(From Cottonmouth to Prowler to Blade, not bad for the black guy from Hunger Games not called Cinna.) Image from Screengeek.
For the modern superhero era, it’s either the 1998 Blade with Wesley Snipes or its the 2000 X-men. Both were Marvel and both proved that 1997’s Batman and Robin and Steel had not truly killed the genre. Blade cemented it further by having two sequels, one considered good for what it is( a Guillermo Del Toro production, you know..) and one considered bad(early proof that David S. Goyer is not as good as you think).
It’s come full circle. The first mainstream black superhero is coming soon back to theaters to share the spotlight with Black Panther. Marhersala Ali apparently actually went to Marvel and Kevin Feige personally to sign on for the black vampire slayer, rather than the typical vice versa.
True, this is not really deserving of being mentioned here as this is about Phase 4 and Blade’s MCU debut is actually a Phase 5 project. It was still a big announcement which gave tangential proof that Marvel did have big stuff to show beyond 2021.
Stuff like a confirmed Fantastic Four entry, sequels to Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther. And we lest we forget those numerous merry mutants. Maybe with a short actor for Wolverine.