Here’s What To Expect From Marvel Phase 4
On Monday, Marvel dropped a bomb on the collective MCU fan base with a trailer that harkened back to the Infinity Saga, complete with a narration by the late Stan Lee. But the trailer quickly transitions to the future, specifically, the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It gives us footage of Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and the first footage of the Eternals. Along with it, we get official release dates for all the movies coming out in the next three years.
This trailer, which ends with “See you at the movies” is packed with a lot of information and a lot of clues as to what we can expect from Marvel Phase 4 overall. So, to that end, let’s take a look at what we know and where Phase 4 will likely end up.
Back to the Beginning
Despite being over 10 years deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase 4 is more of a beginning than any other phase besides the first. From Iron Man to Avengers Endgame, Phases 1 through 3 are now known as the Infinity Saga which means that Phase 4 is starting us on a new adventure.
We have plenty of old faces that will be along for the ride, but with the addition of Disney Plus to the MCU, we’re also seeing a whole new generation of heroes be born. From Kate Bishop in Hawkeye to Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel, the next year or two will introduce the next wave of superheroes and set them up for success…or failure.
2021: Black Widow, Shang-Chi, The Eternals and Spider-Man
We already know quite a bit about what to expect this year, Black Widow was originally supposed to release over a year ago but was delayed due to the pandemic. Black Widow will follow one of Natasha Romanoff’s final adventurers as she reconnects with her surrogate family from her days as a Russian spy. Chances are high that Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) will become the new Black Widow, launching us into the new era of young heroes.
Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings will introduce the legendary martial arts master into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not likely that Shang-Chi will cause many waves outside of his own circle, but whatever happens in the movie will at least be enough to put him on the radar of the current MCU heroes.
The Eternals is where things will start to get interesting, much like the original Guardians of the Galaxy, they’re a group that most fans of the MCU probably aren’t familiar with. Born of the Celestials, the Eternals have been around for over 7,000 years and after the events of Avengers Endgame, have resurfaced to fight their arch-rivals the Deviants. This is like where will we start to get the first hints of what the next Thanos-level threat is to the future of the MCU.
Spider-Man: No Way Home ends the first year of Phase 4 and if the rumors circulating recently are to be believed, it’s going to end the year with a bang. We’ve heard that both Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch will be present, that along with the rumors that multiple pre-MCU Spider-Man villains (such as Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock) will be appearing means we’re likely going into a reality-altering storyline. That matches up perfectly with the first movie of 2022, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
2022: Doctor Strange, Thor, Black Panther and Captain Marvel
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is said to be a horror show of a movie and will likely center around Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff trying to piece back together with a shattered multiverse. From the ending scenes in WandaVision, we can assume the Darkhold will be involved in this, and Wanda likely at fault. The results of this movie, whatever happens, will have reality-altering effects and probably be the first straw that draws the attention of the next cosmic-level threat.
Thor: Love and Thunder, by all indications, is set to be a massive event on the scale of Captain America: Civil War. With Thor, Valkyrie, Jane Foster becoming Thor, Star-Lord, and a villain like Gorr the God Butcher, it’s impossible to know exactly where or how this story will fit into the overall narrative. However, there are enough superpowered beings on the table to further draw the ire of cosmic-level threat.
Since the passing of the late Chadwick Boseman, fans have wondered how the franchise will carry on with Black Panther 2. Lupita Nyong’o who played Nakia in the first Black Panther, recently stated that Director Ryan Coogler’s reshape for the sequel, “…is so respectful of the loss we’ve all experienced as a cast and as a world. Looking at the subtitle for the sequel, “Wakanda Forever” we may be looking at a story that focuses more on Wakanda as a whole instead of just the journey of a single character.
The final title of 2022 is one of the most intriguing ones yet, Captain Marvel 2’s official title is The Marvels. In the MCU as it stands, we have three potential Captain Marvels. Carol Danvers on her own is already a force to be reckoned with, adding in the other two Marvel Women (Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan) and you can bet this movie is going to be on a very grand scale and likely set in a cosmic backdrop.
2023: Ant-Man and the Wasp and Guardians of the Galaxy
Finally, at the end of the phase, we have Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantomania which has confirmed the casting of Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror a time-traveling villain from the comics. It’s not very likely that a major villain like Kang will be used as the primary focus in this film but rather teased in the same way Thanos was during the first Avengers film. All of the films prior will have been teasing or leading up to the reveal of Kang the Conqueror as the first major threat of the new wave of Marvel movies.
Much like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is likely going to be a very isolated and stand-alone film. It’s the third entry into the James Gunn trilogy and he’s been telling a very specific story throughout his tenure. There may be allusions or references to whatever is coming next, the final pieces being put into place for the Phase 4 finale, but expect this movie to be squarely centered on the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Fantastic Four
There is very little known about the Fantastic Four movie at this stage, even in the way of rumors, there is slim to none except that Marvel wants the first family to already exist in the world. It’s very likely that Marvel still hasn’t even developed a script yet. However, with the inclusion of a Fantastic Four logo at the end of the trailer showcasing all of the Phase 4 titles and with some clues from other movies we have a good idea of which direction we may be going.
The biggest clue comes from Ant-Man and the Wasp having cast Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. In the comics, Kang is the future version of Nathanial Richards, also known as Iron Lad. It’s likely that all of the major events throughout Phase 4 such as the shattering of realities, time travel in Loki’s Disney Plus series, whatever Ant-Man and the Wasp get up to in the Quantum Realm, will draw the attention of Kang and set up for the first Avengers level crossover film of the phase.
This is the perfect time to bring the Fantastic Four into the picture, not as new heroes, but as a group that like Captain Marvel, has always been here. What’s always been cool about the Fantastic Four is despite being a very public and well-known group in the Marvel world, they don’t always solve problems like the Avengers by battling out in the open against a known threat. The Fantastic Four could have been here the whole time, operating beyond the curtains in ways that don’t make them public.
The introduction of the Fantastic Four could give us a whole new perspective of heroes in the MCU as Phase 4 ends and Phase 5 kicks off.
Feature Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney