The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four has included box office blockbusters like the billion-dollar-grossing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($942 million worldwide and counting), plus the MCU’s first foray into television with hits like “WandaVision” and “Loki.” But what Phase Four has lacked for a majority of MCU fans is a sense of narrative drive and cohesion. Ace Variety‘s Adam B. Vary wrote last month, “Instead of the incremental escalation of the Infinity Saga, there is no sense yet of where Phase Four is heading — if, indeed, it is heading in any single direction.”
As of now, the MCU has a handful of dangling cliffhangers that don’t appear to have any connection to one another and that don’t appear to be building toward a franchise-uniting endgame: There’s Doctor Strange teaming up with Clea to fix an incursion in the multiverse, there’s Arishem from “Eternals” placing the planet on trial, there’s a drop of Venom’s alien symbiote goo left in the same universe as Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, and so on.
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According to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, clarity about the MCU’s direction will start in the “coming months.” The MCU boss told Total Film magazine that while clues about the MCU’s future have been baked into the existing Phase Four titles, the larger game plan for the franchise will start taking shape more directly with the remaining Phase Four titles.
“As we’re nearing the end of Phase Four, I think people will start to see where this next saga is going,” Feige promised. “I think there have been many clues already, that are at least apparent to me, of where this whole saga is going. But we’ll be a little more direct about that in the coming months, to set a plan, so audiences who want to see the bigger picture can see a tiny, tiny, tiny bit more of the roadmap.”
The upcoming Phase Four movies include “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and “The Marvels.” On the television side, the MCU is currently airing “Ms. Marvel,” and has “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” and “Secret Invasion” on the way, among other titles. With “Ms. Marvel” lead Iman Vellani starring in the second “Captain Marvel” film (“The Marvels”) and Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror debuting in the next “Ant-Man” (the character being a variant of “Loki” villain He Who Remains ), MCU fans have already been bracing for more connective tissue among the installations.
There’s also the “Fantastic Four” reboot that’s in development. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” helmer Jon Watts was originally announced as the film’s director, but recently dropped out of the project. John Krasinski debuted in the MCU as Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” although Marvel has not yet confirmed if he’ll continue with the role. Bringing in the Fantastic Four has some MCU fans wondering if the next saga will be an adaptation of the “Secret Wars” comic book storyline.
Variety‘s Adam B. Vary offered up another connective thread that could bring together Phase Four: “MCU observers have noticed that several youthful superheroes — or characters who become superheroes in the Marvel comics — have been introduced over the last year and a half, including America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) in ‘Multiverse of Madness,’ Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in ‘Hawkeye,’ Kid Loki (Jack Veal) in ‘Loki,’ Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson) in ‘Falcon and Winter Soldier,’ Billy Maximoff (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy Maximoff (Jett Klyne) in ‘WandaVision,’ and, next year, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) in ‘Quantumania.’ Together, these characters make up the Young Avengers in the comics. One of their enemies — and, oddly enough, members — is Kang the Conqueror.”
Should Feige want to pull back the curtain more on his plans for the MCU’s future, it will most likely happen during San Diego Comic-Con in July or D23 Expo in September.
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