Marvels Phase Four projects will soon begin hitting the theaters, and small screens, near you. So here’s a rundown of what’s going to be happening in the next stage of the MCU…
To the casual observer, Phase Four of Marvels storytelling journey looks… a bit slap-dash. With no clear over-arching story-line, the projects in the works are a bit… odd. I’ll just get into it.
There are five movies, five TV shows, and one untitled project which, I am seriously hoping, should provide some context for the rest of this chaos. The Title movies, with a few exceptions, cover back story and as unintroduced characters which, while potentially incredible movies are not exactly building on the world we’ve known.
Black Widow 2020
The long-awaited Black Widow single, which Marvel said was never going to happen because people don’t want female superheroes (cough* Captain Marvel *cough) will finally see the light of day.
But with Widows incredibly dark back story combined with, uh, let’s say ‘limited future growth’, I’m not sure how much of this movie is going to be PG and how much of it will be better suited to the NC-17 crowd.
The Eternals 2020
Basically the X-Men without being the X-Men?
An off shoot of human evolution but triggered by a bunch of creepy aliens watching over humanity. It’s not a series I’ve ever had much interest in. But introducing a new diverse world of characters and their counterpoint villains to play with might be a good idea considering we’ve seen and played with most of the existing characters at least a few times before. Like giving a toddler a new toy, The Eternals could be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise already established universe. Especially with diverse casting and some well-grounded actors guided by good writing and a well-formed purpose/adversary.
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
When Iron Fist came out on Netflix, the world cringed. The popular 70’s comic couldn’t stand up to 2017’s social awareness. The original premise was a way to capitalize on the rising popularity of Kung Fu movies but in the more palatable package of a little white boy turned ‘Rich Vigilante’. They coated the far east in a white wrapper because it was believed that audiences in the ’70s wouldn’t be interested in an Asian main character.
Anime, Sushi, David Chang, Korean food, the success of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and various Asian comedians have clearly proven otherwise. Asian storytelling has a history of being whitewashed in America and is still woefully underrepresented. While the half Asian Master of Kung Fu isn’t exactly the dramatic statement piece of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, ‘Black Panther’ or ‘Wonder Woman’, it could be (assuming they find a way around the whole Fu Manchu / yellow peril situation) a good place to start. I’m holding out hope that a new demographic in Marvel Comics can shine through with their storytelling without having to compromise on cultural identity. The world is a big place that is getting smaller all the time. Most people are willing to explore and meet new perspectives and new worlds… together *Cue the Aladdin Soundtrack.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness 2021
This title could have come straight off a comic cover over twenty years ago… and as a matter of fact, it probably did.
With Stranges weird multiverse crossing antics in the original comics, perhaps it’s not so surprising that a similar arc might show its head here. But let’s not forget, there is still a villain running about unchecked in Stranges Marvel-verse and, what with Thanos and alien invasions and saving the universe and all that, there was very little time to address The Ancient Ones former protege running amok. But glimpses of another fellow avenger, and one intricately tied to the multiverse at that, may hint at a different angle. Where they intend to take this potentially limitless story arc… we’ll have to wait and see.
Thor Love and Thunder
With a title more befitting a Danielle Steele novel (not that I read those) it’s hard to resist the initial eye roll. When we left Thor he was an emotional wreck and, quite frankly, an absolute mess. An endearing mess, but a mess none the less. But with Asgard off the table and most of Thor’s characters also likewise unavailable, really it shouldn’t be surprising that the previously unfinished romantic story arc of Natalie Portman is the go to. Especially with rumors of a new God of Thunder flying rampant. Still, with limited details available and new friends from outer space, I’ll refrain judgement until I see a trailer because, what the heck, Valkyries anyone?
MCU Big Screen vs. Small Stream
Beyond the Big Screen flicks, what is left of the Avengers (minus Thor and Black Widow) seams to have been scattered to the small screens. This is a surprise move on Marvels part but, really, it shouldn’t be. With the rampant success of Marvel’s previous Netflix series, the world of On Demand opens up a much broader realm to play in. Glimpses of characters and situations and growth that used to take place in the seconds between main action sequences, can be fully explored in a rich and, frankly, more addictive format. Factoring in Disney’s ownership of Marvel and the launch of the new Disney + streaming service, and really this is probably the strongest business decision Disney has made with the Marvel Universe thus far. Given how interconnected its shows and movies are, a huge chunk of the 20-30 ‘s demographic (ie – those without kids) that would otherwise have ignored Disney’s new platform will be signing up (or, more realistically, siphoning off from their friends) in order to stay in Marvel’s loop.
The five shows being set to launch on the Disney+ platform definitely make for a compelling reason to sign up.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Given the awkward camaraderie displayed between the two warring best friends of Captain America, I have high hopes for this series.
You have two seriously underrated characters, both with incredibly complex and unexplored backstories being portrayed by amazing (and amazingly hot) down to earth actors capable of balancing high action super hero-ing with wry humor in a way that makes the difference between an OK show and a decades-long hit (Stargate SG1, ER, M.A.S.H., Fresh Prince). If the writing for this show is even halfway decent (which, with Marvel, it should be) I have no doubts that these two will be able to make an incredible and irreverent masterpiece.
What If …?
Ok, I’ll be honest, I have no idea what’s going on with this one. My best guess is something to do with the multiverse which, between events in End Game, Spiderman II, and titles of upcoming series, seems plausible. If that is the case, prepare for weirdness abounds. It does open up opportunities for playing with characters outside of their home universe, which is basically the premise of every Fan-Fiction ever. It could be interesting, a Black Mirror type thing, with possible appearances from characters who are otherwise *ahem* unavailable.
From what we already know about this series, this WILL be taking place somewhere in the multiverse other than in our home dimension (Earth 616).
Loki is by far one of my favorite characters, but I’m not entirely sure of his ability to standalone. The notorious God of Mischief has always been at his best when playing off someone else. Of course, given the mythology, there is no shortage of characters to join the fray. Loki does, after all, have a wife (yes, you read that right) and half a dozen children (although Hela is apparently his sister now so… ). Although I will be seriously disappointed if we don’t at least get occasional glimpses of Sigyn, I would still be interested in continued drooling over Tom Hiddleston. Plus, you know, Valkyries.
I’m conflicted here. The Hawkeye we grew to know and, eventually, care for took a VERY dark turn in End Game. Like, major self-destruction and oodles of vengeful blood kind of situation. But with the snap sorted out (we think?), there are… other characters that could make this an interesting premise. Even though Jeremy Renner is already confirmed to be in the Hawkeye series, Clint Barton was not the only person to ever bear that superhero moniker. With a new generation of heroes rising from the mist (i.e. Spiderman) I will be very interested to see how this show unfolds.
This is the One. The is the show that could CHANGE. EVERYTHING.
DANGER: SPOILERS AHEAD
In case you are not as much of a massive nerd as I am, have not read the corresponding comics, or are just otherwise unaware, Wanda Maximoff is single-handedly the most powerful person to ever wear the Avengers Emblem.
Her powers, while not fully understood, are capable of RE-SHAPING REALITY. That’s why it was her, and only her, who was capable of taking out an infinity stone. In the comic books, however, that ability was pushed to remarkable and world-shattering boundaries. Wanda’s world collapsed with a tragic event and, in the middle of a mental and emotional breakdown, she actually re-wrote reality to give her back what she’d lost. Vision, a title character of the show and Wanda’s romantic interest, should be out of the picture after End Game. But given his girlfriends’ abilities, that may not be the case anymore. If this show takes the turn I think it will, then all of this various assorted flirting with the multiverse goes from being Off-Base to being a Home Run.
With a Multiverse traveling, timeline manipulating, reality shifting component to most of the upcoming shows and movies, I think it is fair to say that Phase 4 of the MCU ‘Marvels Cinematic Universe’ could more accurately be described as ‘Marvel’s Cinematic Multiverse’.
MCM MCM MCM MCM MCM MCM
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