Black Widow is finally out and signals one of the big events of Marvel’s Phase Four! I’m personally disappointed that I can’t watch it here in the Philippines via any legal means because Disney hasn’t made Disney+ available over here yet and movie theaters have yet to open in the country as well, something I really miss. After seeing all of the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films on the big screen, not being able to do the same for Black Widow makes me feel like I’m ending a streak but not by my on prerogative.
Then again, from the reviews I’ve seen of the film, it doesn’t seem like I’m missing all that much. Not that reviewers are saying Black Widow is bad. But rather Black Widow doesn’t really do anything spectacular and it’s just okay. Based on what I’ve read, I kind of predicting it’ll be a lot like Iron Man 2, which coincidentally would be the first film the character appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I’m not in a huge rush to watch it. Maybe I can even wait for move theaters to finally open up here and watch it there to get the full experience.
Black Widow isn’t the first entry of Marvel’s Phase Four. It’s actually the fourth piece of of Phase Four as it succeeds WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the first season of Loki. I managed to watch those by hook and by crook and, well, besides WandaVision, I wasn’t particularly impressed by these Disney+ exclusives. Frankly speaking, I have to say Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t looking too hot.
Oh, and since I will be talking about my thoughts on WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and, most especially, Loki, I will be putting up a SPOILER WARNING before you read any further. Just wanted to let you know there will be SPOILERS incoming.
Phase Four did start out with a ton of promise with WandaVision. This was one of the entries I was looking forward to when the entire slate of movies and television shows was revealed but I was concerned as it was supposed to be released sometime in the middle of the entire thing but was moved to being the first entry to Phase Four. Looking back at it, I’m glad Marvel and Disney put it at the very start as it was one of the most riveting pieces of television I’ve seen in a long while.
Sadly, things only went downhill from the high that was WandaVision.
The next thing for Phase Four after WandaVision was the Disney+ show, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. This was just okay. Putting both of Captain America’s best buddies in one show makes a whole lot of sense and, as they did have to work together in previous entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was sure they were going to work together and the chemistry between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, the actors who played Falcon and Winter Soldier, respectively, would be on point.
I was right on that point but I wasn’t expecting to be disappointed by the overall story. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier took some bold steps by shining a spotlight on racism, something that’s generally a no-no for properties that are supposed to have a wide fanbase like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think the show handled it well without it being too heavy handed with the lesson. I also liked the introduction of US Agent and the idea of how The Blip affected a huge portion of the Earth’s population for their betterment. It’s more of the execution that didn’t work. I didn’t feel anything for the Flag Smashers and, if the story was more focused on US Agent’s fall from grace, the entire series would’ve been more compelling.
We now have to talk about Loki and I was into it for the first few episodes. I generally loved the idea of Loki’s purpose in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far was to be the villain to unify the Avengers and give Thor a story arc. That must have hit hard for the God of Mischief as he truly believed he was meant to rule only to be smacked down by the realization of what his role is in the grand scheme of things. Also seeing other versions of Loki was a hoot but some of them (like alligator Loki) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
However, the biggest problem of Loki is that you already know what’s going to happen. Supposedly, as told in the series, there is a peacekeeping force known as the Time Variance Authority who keeps the timeline in check. They’re supposed ton ensure that there is one supreme timeline only and every other variable timeline is wiped out of existence. Having the Loki that escaped using the Tesseract help the Time Variance Authority keep things in check when he’s a variant himself is a fun idea. Also, having Tom Hiddleston buddy up with Owen Wilson’s Mobius made me exclaim a very breathy “wow from my mouth.
But you know by the end that the Time Variance Authority will be disbanded by the end of the season because Marvel themselves spoiled it with future Phase Four projects. You already have What If…? which is a series that will focus on “what if” scenarios, like what if Peggy Carter took the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. These stories are supposed to happen in different timelines but I guess it can be excused because of the “What If…?” title. You also have the announcement of the cast of Spider-Man: No Way Home that Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina will be reprising their roles as Electro and Doctor Octopus from the previous Spider-Man films, further hinting the multiverse will become part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, it becomes blatantly obvious when you see Marvel is producing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s right there in the title! This made the big reveal of the sixth episode of Loki that the multiverse will be made real kind of a no-brainer. Not that the lack of surprise made Loki a terrible series but, even if the twist was a shock to the system, the series lacked a certain something that made the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the memorable and smash hits they’ve become. There was just something lacking and maybe it was the entire spectacle of it all. Loki was good but not as great as I expected something from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And I think that’s kind of the problem. Marvel raised the bar incredibly high and it’s made it difficult to get those same highs as the previous Phases. It also doesn’t help that, from my point of view anyway, there’s no indication that Phase Four will get a big payoff for watching all of them. Phase One had us on the edge of our seat with the idea we were going to get an Avengers movie. Phase Two and Three had comic book fans drooling over the implication we were going to see one of Marvel’s biggest crossover events, The Infinity Gauntlet, translated into live-action. There was something to look forward to during those Phases.
For the life of me, I can’t see the direction of Phase Four. I guess the prevailing idea is that Phase Four is going to be all about the Marvel Multiverse and how it intertwines with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if that’s the case, then what’s (sorry for the upcoming pun) the endgame here of it all? It’s not going to something as big as the Secret Invasion storyline from the comics, even though there’s an upcoming Disney+ series focused on it. I actually thought Phase Four was going to lead to Galactus since the Fantastic Four is the final film of Phase Four. But if that’s the case, why bring up the Multiverse in the first place?
Maybe all of it will make sense once we finally see more of the puzzle pieces fall throughout Phase Four and we’ll get a clearer picture of where Marvel and Disney is going with all this. But for right now, Phase Four is good but I simply expected more greatness.
What are your thoughts on Marvel’s initial Phase Four outings? Let me know in the comments section below!