The Flickering Myth writers share their thoughts on Marvel Studios’ Phase Four slate…
The Infinity Saga is over, and this past Saturday Marvel Studios unveiled its plans for the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at San Diego Comic-Con, revealing that Phase Four will consist of Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder, not to mention the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If…? and Hawkeye.
It’s a packed two-year slate that will take us through to Phase Five in 2022 (which will itself include Blade, Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), but is is strong enough to keep the studio’s incredible success story going, or is the Marvel bubble in danger of bursting? Here’s what our writing team make of the latest announcements…
Calum Petrie: Interesting indeed. Feels very obscure but Blade is going to get fantastic. The TV side of stuff will be interesting, still has Daredevil as a benchmark to beat though; which is going to be very difficult.
EJ Moreno: My reaction to this is overall mixed. Half the things announced I have no interest in, the other half are things I really want to see. A horror-inspired Doctor Strange movie? Sure! A Hawkeye show? Not so much. Overall though, it feels like the most creative and bold choices from the MCU ever. Almost like they are willing to take risks again.
Harrison Abbott: I love that Thor (previously the least popular Avenger) is going to be the first character to reach a fourth movie. As someone who considers Thor: Ragnarok to be the MCU’s finest achievement, I’m very excited to see what Taika Waititi has up his sleeve.
Everything else looks good too, although I’m still not fond of how half of the “deaths” in Endgame are being undermined by all the existence of these TV shows. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if we never saw Loki again, just so his sacrifice had more permanence and weight? I understand that it’ll be other timelines and alternate universes, rather than outward resurrections, but I don’t really think it makes a difference.
Alec Frazier: I am absolutely thrilled with the eclectic mix of properties Marvel has greenlit. They are genuinely making the best of both cinema and television as mediums to convey their content. I am a little concerned about the obscurity of some of the content, but then again, who among the general population cared about Iron Man before his first film? I like how they are anchoring the lesser known properties with tried and true ones such as Thor and Doctor Strange.
It will be interesting to see if they can pull off a revitalization of Blade and a successful reboot of Fantastic Four. I am also absolutely ecstatic about the inclusion of LGBTQ representation in phase four of the MCU, and am looking forward to other forms of diversity. My only complaint is that they still haven’t found a way to save the Netflix shows, which may very well be impossible.
Matt Spencer-Skeen: I love that they’re tapping into some of the more obscure source material again. I wonder if these will be able to jump into lead the MCU going forward or if we’ll be waiting for the returns of Black Panther, Captain Marvel etc. and the Fantastic Four joining in to really take the MCU into its next phase. I’m probably most excited for the What If? series though, I think there’s some really great stories on there and with the originals doing the voice work it could be the most fun.
Eric Bay-Andersen: On the whole I think this is an excellent line-up. Having the Loki series take place in an alternate time-line is a genius movie that allows for limitless creativity and fun. I’m looking forward to seeing Falcon and Winter Soldier display some mismatched-buddy chemistry, and I’m intrigued to see WandaVision to find out if Vision is re-created from Shuri’s download of his personality in Infinity War. Hawkeye I could give or take, depending on what the story is, but What If…? sounds really interesting – an animated Marvel show featuring the MCU voice-cast? I’m sold!
Even if Black Widow doesn’t give us the Budapest backstory we’re all hoping for, I’m confident it will still be a good thriller/character drama – it’s about time she got her own film. Like most people, I don’t know much about the Eternals, but the cast sounds interesting and as long as they make if different from the godawful Inhumans show (which it sounds slightly similar to) I’m sure it will be good. I’m so hyped for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – I adored his first solo film and cannot wait to re-visit that world(s)! And all Shang-Chi has to do to get my approval is be a better martial arts hero than Iron Fist … so he basically already has! Bring on the (real) Mandarin!
The only one I’m not thrilled about is Taika Watiti’s Thor: Love And Thunder – I’m not fond of the walking joke that Thor has devolved into, and I’m one of the (apparently) few people who thought Ragnarok was a soulless, painfully unfunny mess that cheapened his character and ignored the idea that emotional consequences matter. I’m all for having a version of Lady Thor in the MCU, but I’m not convinced about Natalie Portman taking on the mantle – she’s so petite I’m sure she would struggle trying to lift the prop Mjolnir! Also, her previous forays into comedy (No Strings Attached and the abysmal Your Highness) were very unsuccessful. Given her previous problems with Marvel, I wonder how they’ve enticed her back.
Kate Harrold: Mahershala Ali as Cornell Stokes in Luke Cage was one of the strongest acting performances in the Marvel Netflix line-up so can only expect great things from Blade. Taika Waititi can do no wrong so I trust he’ll finally give Jane the good writing she’s thus far been deprived of. Very excited about Marvel using some of its lesser known characters like Shang-Chi and The Eternals. The first time that happened was with Guardians of the Galaxy and it completely changed the vibe of the MCU for the better. What If…? is basically canon fan fiction so should be fun to watch.
Tom Beasley: This is utterly mad and I love it. Marvel knows it can basically do what it likes at this point and so they are just going all-out with their most unhinged ideas, scrawled in the corner of a whiteboard somewhere. The pulpy titles are great, the choice of diverse new properties is really intriguing and there’s plenty to look forward to. I am all in.
So, our writing team seem optimistic about Phase Four, but what do you make of Marvel’s future plans? Which of the Phase Four films are you most looking forward to? Will you be subscribing to Disney+? Or is your enthusiasm waning post-Avengers: Endgame? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @FlickeringMyth…