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Turner's Take: Marvel Studio's Phase 4 thoughts and predictions

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Marvel's Phase 4

The current line up for Marvel Studio's Phase 4 announced at San Diego Comic-con 2019.

After the official completion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga,” Marvel Studios has its eyes set on the future as Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios president, unveiled the Phase 4 slate of movies and shows planned for the next two years at San Diego Comic-Con. 

Announced for Phase 4 are five movies and five Disney+ exclusive shows, two of which introducing brand-new heroes to the MCU.

Some might think Phase 4 looks a little weak compared to the recent Phases Marvel Studios has undergone, but I think this might be one of their strongest yet. Some serious dark-horses are slated for the next two years, making this almost the underdog of the MCU Phases so far. 

I’m cheering for it all the way.

Below are the upcoming movies and shows in Phase 4 and my thoughts on each. 

“Black Widow” - May 1, 2020

The first movie of Phase 4 is one of the most anticipated movies in the MCU right now. Fans have been calling for a solo Black Widow film since the characters debut in “Iron Man 2.” 

The movie is reportedly going to take place after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” making it almost like a prequel to the more recent Avengers films. 

The movie is set to star Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle and Rachel Weisz, and is being directed by Cate Shortland. Characters like The Red Guardian and Taskmaster have been rumored to be in the film.

I am very excited about this. I always thought Black Widow should have had a solo movie long before even the second Avengers film. Johansson always delivers in her performances of Natasha Romanoff and, since this will probably be her last time playing the character, is sure to be a great send off for the character.

“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” - Fall 2020

The first of the Disney+ exclusive Marvel shows is sure to be a great one with Anthony Mackie and Sabastian Stan reprising their roles as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, respectively. Little is known about the general story line, but it is known Daniel Bruhl is reprising his role from “Captain America: Civil War” as the villain Zemo. Emily VanCamp is also reprising her role as Sharon Carter.

I think the dynamic between Falcon and Winter Soldier has always been an interesting and entertaining one, compounded by the fact Falcon is the next Captain America, gaining possession of Cap’s shield at the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” It will also be interesting to see how the writers bring Zemo back for this adventure, and where it will take place in the timeline of the MCU.

“The Eternals” - Nov. 6, 2020 

Marvel is taking another chance on a relatively unknown group of heroes with 2020’s “The Eternals.” Starring Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Salma Hayek as Ajax, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Dong-seok Ma as Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh as Sprite and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, these characters make up the team known as The Eternals. Created by Jack Kirby in the ‘70s, The Eternals are a group sent to Earth by the Celestials to protect Earth from cosmic villains. 

I’m very excited for this movie. I’m not entirely familiar with the group, but from what I’ve been able to find they seem like a dynamic group of heroes that have very interesting stories to tell. The Eternals will also feature the MCU’s first LGBTQ hero, a great stepping stone for the MCU that has received backlash in the past for not having a very diverse group of heroes. 

Some might be weary of this movie choice, considering they are relatively unknown to a casual Marvel audience, but I’m excited for the chance they are taking on this movie. Remember: The Guardians of the Galaxy were relatively unknown to the casual Marvel audience, and now they are one of Marvel’s most beloved teams.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” - Feb. 12, 2021

Marvel continues to diversify its hero roster with this new Shang-Chi movie at the beginning of 2021. Shang-Chi with be played by actor Simu Liu, bearing a striking resemblance to the comic character he will be portraying. Awkwafina is also going to be in the movie, but her role has not yet been revealed.

Tony Chui-Wai Leung, will be portraying one of Marvel’s most recognizable villains in The Mandarian (no, not the fake Mandarian from “Iron Man 3”). 

It will be interesting to see the real Mandarian on the big screen, and not the goofy actor that was portrayed in “Iron Man 3.” More interesting is how Feige said Marvel Studios has been building up to the Shang-Chi movie, having easter eggs and other hints in different past Marvel movies. What they are, though, has yet to be revealed.

“WandaVision” - Spring 2021

Both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will be reprising their roles as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively, in the second Disney+ exclusive show in Phase 4.

Scarlet Witch is set to have a great deal of influence in Phase 4, as this is just her first appearance in the two-year block of movies/television. Olsen commented during the announcement that “it’s going to get weird.”

If you are familiar with Scarlet Witch from the comics, you’ll know she has reality-altering powers and is susceptible to losing control of these powers when tragedy strikes. Considering everything her character has been through in the last few installments of the MCU, I would not be surprised if these powers are the root of, and the solutions, to the problems her and Vision will face in this series.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” - May 7, 2021

This is by far the one I am most excited for.

Benedict Cumberbatch is returning to his role as the egotistical surgeon turned superhero after his stellar performances in both “Infinity War” and “EndGame.” Original “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson is returning for this film, and promises it will be Marvel’s first scary movie in the MCU.

Starring alongside Cumberbatch is Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, who will have a vital role to play in this film. Feige said the events of “WandaVision” will directly tie into this film. I believe this is going to be another instance where Wanda’s powers are going to cause more harm than good. I am also very excited at the prospect of a scary Marvel movie and think Doctor Strange is the perfect way to establish this genre in the MCU.

No villain has been announced yet, although I would assume Dormammu and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo will have something to do with the “madness” that is sure to ensue.

“Loki” - Spring 2021

Everyone’s favorite MCU villain/reluctant hero will be back as Tom Hiddleston reprises his role in the Disney+ series “Loki.” Although Loki died tragically at the beginning of “Infinity War,” there is a chance we will see him in present-day films and shows since a past-version of himself acquired the Space Stone during the events of EndGame.

I’m very interested to see what they do with this. Loki has the ability to change all previous events of the MCU with the space stone, as well as travel through different dimensions and multiverses. I’m assuming there will be some sort of tie-in with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” at some point either in this series or in the previously mentioned movie.

“What If…?” - Summer 2021

Another Disney+ original, “What if…?” will be the MCU’s first animated feature and explore pivotal moments in the MCU and how what could have happened had they changed. The narrator of the show will be Uatu the Watcher, voiced by Jeffery Wright. Many MCU original actors are said to be reprising their roles as voice actors in this series.

The rumored first episode is said to explore a reality where Peggy Carter was imbued with the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers.

A show like this makes me excited to see what will be explored. I don’t really see this tying into the MCU very much, but the stories that could be told and events that could be looked at make me excited for this series as a whole.

“Hawkeye” - Fall 2021 

The final Disney+ original of Phase 4 comes in the form of a solo showing for Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye character. Rumored to be based off one of the most popular comics of the 2010s, created Matt Fraction and David Aja. The story follows Clint Barton as he trains a new Hawkeye named Kate Bishop.

I think this is great. I have not been able to get my hands on this comic but from all accounts it is one of the best comic book stories told in recent years. I cannot wait to see how the portray this story after the events of “Endgame” and the dark turn Hawkeye took as a character. I would also assume that, after this movie, Kate Bishop would portray Hawkeye in all future MCU showings.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” - Nov. 5, 2021

Admittedly, this is the one Phase 4 project that I am most confused about, and is filled with a lot of mixed emotions for me. 

Good things so far: “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi is back to direct, Tessa Thompson returns at Valkyrie is back and will be “looking for a queen” since she is the king of Asgard, a new wielder of Mjolnir might be introduced and a female Thor might appear in this movie.

Things I’m unsure about: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is supposed to be back in this fourth “Thor” movie. I was never a fan of her character in “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World,” and I just wonder if the right move is bringing her back after she has not been in the MCU for several years. I am also unsure of the story, as Thor was last seen at the end of “Endgame” riding off with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but if Jane Foster is back you would have to assume the story mainly takes place on Earth?

This movie is a long way out, so I am sure a lot of unanswered questions will be answered as the premier date gets closer.

“Blade” - ???

I’m not entirely sure if this is a part of Phase 4 or not, but since it was announced alongside the rest of Phase 4 I would hate to not include it. During the announcement, Kevin Feige brought Mahershala Ali on stage. Once on stage, Ali dramatically put on a “Blade” hat, signalling a reboot of the movie franchise set in the MCU.

I am excited Blade is being brought into the MCU, but I wonder if it’s too late. Blade is a vampire hunter, so how do you go this long in the MCU without vampires being exposed in some way? Blade could just be good at what he does, but if this is an origin story it seems like it is coming at a weird point in the MCU timeline. I’m definitely not arguing, though. Blade has some fantastic stories to tell and would be a great member of any team he becomes a part of.

Other Announcements 

At the end of the presentation for Marvel’s Phase 4, Feige announced there was so much more he wanted to discuss, very quickly confirming “Guardians of the Galaxy 3,” “Black Panther 2” and “Captain Marvel 2.” Although they will not be in Phase 4, this is a huge development for the MCU, especially Guardians 3, considering Thor is supposed to be along for the ride.

But the biggest announcement for the MCU coming out of this presentation is Feige announcing the Fantastic Four and the X-Men into the MCU. With Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, it was only a matter of time before these characters made it into the MCU, and I am insanely excited to see how they bring these characters in.

I am so excited for Phase 4 of the MCU, what about you? Let me know your thoughts on the Phase 4 slate for Marvel Studios. What are you excited for? Hesitant about? I think Phase 4 could be one of the MCU’s best Phases yet.