A+E: MCU Phase 4 Preview
by Jalen Manson
(WARNING: SPOILERS FROM “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” AHEAD)
A snap, a reversal, and the death of a beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe legend brought the end of Marvel’s phase three.
Since the first “Iron Man” film debuted in 2008, Marvel has taken a group of characters and created a 22 movie-long MCU (cinematic universe) over the last 11 years of real time.
Within this time, the 22 movies released were divided into three phases, with approximately seven movies in each phase.
The first phase of the MCU set the tone for tremendous success down the line, introducing Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye as the original six Avengers. Phase one included the movies of “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “The Avengers,” where all heroes came together to defend the Earth.
From here, the universe continued to develop and jumped into phase two, which continued the saga, introducing new characters and continuing the stories of others. Phase two included “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man.” This phase set phase three up perfectly.
Phase three is arguably the franchise’s best selling period, jam-packed full of blockbuster movies. “Captain America: Civil War,” “Doctor Strange,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Black Panther,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Captain Marvel,” and headlined by the famous “Avengers: Infinity War” and recent “Avengers: Endgame.” Spider-Man’s sequel movie “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will cap off phase three this summer officially.
The end of all these remarkable and memorable phases leads Marvel to it’s new and futuristic phase four. No official information has been leaked or let go about this new and future phase, but fans are speculating about what is to come.
At the end of Endgame, Iron Man had a sad but heroic death, Captain America went back in time and retired in the future, and Thor seemingly joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. The “big three” of the MCU is seemingly broken apart now, and the franchise will look to head in a new direction.
The question that remains is: what direction will this be? Fans already speculate that Captain Marvel may take the helm as the new “Cap” of the group. At the end of Endgame, Steve Rogers (Captain America) passed on his shield to his good friend and sidekick Sam Wilson (Falcon) which leads us to believe that Wilson will become the new Captain America.
Black widow died in Endgame as well, and Hawkeye wants to live life with his family as he previously did. That leaves “Professor Hulk” now as the only remaining of the original Avengers, and a new six may emerge.
At the end of the day, Marvel’s first three phases will be extremely hard to top for the future. You can guess that Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Sam Wilson, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and others will be major parts of the MCU for the foreseeable future.
New characters could be rumored to debut as well, especially with Fox reaching a new deal with Marvel Studios that may allow iconic characters such as “The Fantastic Four” and the “X-Men” assimilate into the MCU. With Thanos dead, comic book villains such as “Galactus” and “Dormamu” or any of the Celestials can emerge as universe-threatening villains.
Whoever emerges, it will be hard to top the villainy of Thanos, an intergalactic psychopath who literally wanted to wipe out the entire universe as we know it. Thanos could arguably be one of the greatest villains in movie history. At the end of Infinity War, people were stunned and shocked walking out of the theatre, because for the first time in movie history it felt like, the super-villain one. Thanos was strong, smart and determined in his conquest to acquire all six infinity stones and take over the world.
Of course, through various intense heroics, the Avengers defeat the evil Thanos in Endgame, killing him off properly and restoring life in the universe, five years in the future.
It will be a tall order to fulfill to get the kind of dynamic action and character connection MCU fans have experienced for a little over a decade. However, the integration of new characters and the furthering of little-known ones could rekindle and start new relationships that fans can connect to and can experience for the future.
Time will tell where the franchise goes from here. Marvel would be foolish to just discontinue the MCU now, especially after the last two movies have absolutely obliterated the box offices. Endgame forced some theaters to stay open for 24 hours for multiple days of the week, with extremely early morning showings never seen before.
After one weekend, the movie already made about $1.2 billion, making more than last year’s Super Bowl. Bigger movies can be foreseen in the future as well, with people of all generations having a connection with the characters in these films.
The way these characters in the MCU were built up is truly remarkable to look back at. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor each had three individual movies, in which audiences and Marvel fans all over the world built connections with the various and core characters of the Avengers.
Due to this, it only leads us to believe that Marvel Studios – led by the Russo brothers – can have similar success for the future in continuing to craft this multi-verse. We look forward to the new and mourn the old, as the MCU will live on.
Whatever direction the franchise takes, it’s been an amazing 11 years, and Marvel Studios, ‘[We] love you 3000.’