With Avengers: End Game marking the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of films (Spider-Man: Far From Home was more of an epilogue than a final chapter), my interest in what Marvel had to announce for Phase 4 was at an all time high.
And frankly, I wasn’t disappointed at all, even if I thought their announced Phase 3 lineup was much better (it’s hard to top Civil War and Infinity War Parts 1 and 2). But I do have several questions about the direction of the franchise – let’s get straight to them!
1. Are we really not going to get an Avengers/team-up movie in Phase 4?
All the previous Phases of the MCU culminated with an Avengers movie, so I was quite surprised to see that Phase 4 is going to end with Thor: Love and Thunder. While Avengers: End Game marked the end of the MCU as we knew it, and this was a new MCU going forward, it didn’t explicitly mean that the Avengers brand would be killed off.
One of the themes of Spider-Man: Far From Home revolved around who was going to take over for Iron Man, so we know there was still a public need for superheroes. While it looks like the Phase 4 Disney+ shows are going to conclude the stories of their titular characters, both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: End Game served as a “passing of the torch” between the old and new generation of MCU heroes.
We know that a New Avengers movie is more inevitable than Thanos’ victory. It’s just surprising that we’re not going to get one (or any team-up/crossover movie) in Phase 4.
2. Are the Marvel Netflix properties no longer canon? Were they ever?
I’m very happy to hear that the talented Mahershala Ali will be the MCU version of Blade – his character of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes was the highlight of Luke Cage Season 1 for me. His casting did make me question whether the Marvel Netflix was still canon though, because we’ve never had the same actor cast in two different, major roles in the MCU.
While the “Cottonmouth” character is already dead, it still feels weird to see Mahershala Ali portray another character. I mean, just imagine Mike Colter’s Luke Cage talking to Ali’s Blade in a scene – it would be hard not to think about Ali’s previous character.
Unless, Marvel Studios never intended the Netflix stories to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, despite the latter having multiple references to the big screen franchise. Which is a little sad because the representations of the characters in the Marvel Netflix series were actually pretty good, and fit quite well with the MCU.
3. Does Marvel Studios plan on using the characters from the Marvel Netflix series in their films?
This somewhat related to the previous question, but also independent from it. Whether or not the Marvel Netflix series are canon, I am curious as to what Marvel’s plan is regarding characters like Daredevil, Punisher, the Kingpin, and Iron Fist.
This might be a little subjective, but I’d argue that the Daredevil and/or Punisher character is more popular than Shang-Chi, and would be a better lead character for a feature film. I understand the appeal of having an Asian lead character has, but I’d still say that a character like Daredevil is being wasted on the sidelines when Marvel could be making a Daredevil movie right now.
4. Where is Nova?
I’m probably one of very few Marvel fans who are wondering about this. When Xandar and the Nova Corps were introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought Nova would be a lock for his own MCU film. I felt even more strongly about his inclusion to the franchise when Avengers: Infinity War referenced Xandar getting decimated by Thanos – that was essentially Nova’s rebooted origin during Marvel Comics’ Annihilation crossover event
It would have been really easy for Marvel Studios to depict how Thanos destroyed Xandar and use that as the opening scene for a Nova movie, then have the entire movie show how Nova is struggling to control having to own the power of the entire Xandarian Worldmind.
Nova was quite popular during the mid-2000s, headlining some of Marvel’s Cosmic crossover events (the aforementioned Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest, the War of Kings, and the Thanos Imperative) so I have no doubt that the character can function as the lead of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.
5. Is Phase 4 going to lead up to something?
A little similar to my first question, but still different enough to warrant it’s own entry. Each of Marvel Studios’ first three Phases built up to something – individual heroes uniting against a common threat, the same team of heroes showing cracks and fissures that would eventually lead to them splitting up, more heroes uniting against the biggest villain we’ve seen in a superhero film to date.
But let’s look at the Phase 4 slate of movies: Black Widow. The Eternals. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Thor: Love and Thunder. Just by going through the titles, I can’t really tell if they will be connected in some way that will lead to a culmination of something.
To be fair, it’s the same case with the previous Phases, with one exception – each Phase had an Avengers title, so you know that all the movies would be leading up to Avengers later on. We don’t have that in Phase 4, at least not at first glance.
Does it matter? I think it kind of does. One of the strengths of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its connected continuity. While I don’t doubt the quality of Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 films, if we look at the entirety of Phase 4 and compare it to the previous phases, it might look a little more lackluster because of this.
And there you have it, the five biggest questions that I had after seeing what Marvel Studios has to offer for Phase 4 of the MCU. What do you think about Marvel’s Phase 4 offerings? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment or two below!