The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far from certain.
The entire series had been building up to Avengers: Endgame with Spider-Man: Far From Home acting as an epilogue. But with that milestone past, can Marvel continue to reign as a box office powerhouse and a pop culture touchstone?
One of the biggest challenges is that without Tony Stark or Steve Rogers, the franchise is going forward without its two pillars. I don't think anyone in the MCU is as loved as those two characters.
In addition, it seems that Marvel is drawing from some of its more recent comic creations, which have nowhere near the popularity and likability as its more iconic heroes.
So the video announcement of Phase 4 is very important.
Here are my assorted thoughts:
That unique voice conjures the wonder of the comic book universe he created. As someone who grew up hearing that voice before his Saturday morning cartoons, I cannot help but feel a waive of childlike nostalgia. In fact, the look back at the entire MCU up until this point makes me appreciate how far the series has come.
It is kind of serendipitous that this movie is the first to come out as theaters are reopening. This is a movie that looks backwards rather than forwards. Black Widow was an incredibly popular part of the first three phases and this movie will hopefully have the same feel as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I think Florence Pugh is a great young actress and I am curious as to how well the mantle will be transferred to her.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Not a fan of Akwafina, but she didn't bother me much in what I've seen. I grew up a huge fan Kung Fu movies so I like the feel, but I'm not sure if this feels like a Marvel film.
This is the first time we've seen anything from this movie. I've said before that this was probably the first movie in the MCU that I was going to skip and nothing in this tease has changed my mind.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
I have been enjoying the MCU Spider-Man series a great deal so I'm excited to see this. I hope that they sign on this cast for more films. I know that the original plan for Phase 4 was to have Captain Marvel step into the role of Tony Stark, but honestly, it should be Spider-Man. He is the most popular remaining character and he is the flagship character of the entire Marvel brand.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
I am incredibly curious to see what Sam Raimi is going to do with this character and what, if any, threads are continued from WandaVision. The confluence of movies and TV leads to an interesting conundrum that I will write about in another post: they need to keep continuity for people who don't watch the TV shows. So this will be interesting how they thread that needle.
Thor: Love and Thunder
While it was not my least favorite Thor movie, I was not a big fan of Taika Waititi's previous film, so I'm not very excited about his return (though I have to give him credit that his Thor made the most money at the box office). I am looking forward to Natalie Portman's Jane Foster returning. I hope they are able to address some of the more somber elements of the comic run.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
With tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, this new title reveal feels like the focus is going to be diffused on the supporting characters from the previous film. Honestly, I think Boseman's Black Panther would have been the best person step up into Steve Rogers role for the MCU as its moral conscience, but this movie is making me sad over his loss.
This is interesting. Instead of Captain Marvel 2, the movie is being refocused on other heroes with "Marvel" in their name. We have Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel (who will be introduced on Disney+ soon). But I'm more excited to the Monica Rambeau's Captain Marvel making her debut.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
With this title, I think this movie is going to be crazy. This series hasn't been the best of the franchise, but I get the feeling that they are going to go for broke on this one.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
I know that Vol.2 was a let-down, but I dind't expect it to be as good as the original, which is one of the best movies in the entire MCU. But I have to say, this is the movie I'm looking forward to the most out of the entire Phase 4. I've developed a deep affection for all of these characters and even a mediocre film with them is enjoyable.
Does anyone else notice that the Phase 4 logo at the end looks suspiciously like the insignia for Marvel's First Family? With the rights from Fox returning to the Disney MCU, will we see the set up not only for the Fantastic Four but the X-Men?