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There Is Nothing Wrong with the MCU! (Phase 4) (2022)

Caila has been a fan of Marvel and the MCU ever since its cinematic conception, having followed every movie and show released so far!

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 Poll

The MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe logo

The Marvel Cinematic Universe logo

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

Marvel is in the fourth phase of its grand storytelling over the course of years. The main story of Thanos, the Snap, and the Infinity Stones Saga has been told in Phases 1 through 3. This left Phase Four to pick up the pieces of what was left, with missing teammates, the fallout of the Snap, and the traumas that unfolded within years of narrative throughout the movies. Taking the lead in Phase Four has been the smaller scale TV shows streaming solely on Disney+ with shows like WandaVision, Loki, Moon Knight, and the newest entry, She-Hulk to name a few. The movies have been released slowly, but surely, and yet, everyone still seems to be at their wit's end with Marvel for different vague reasons. However, I think I know why.

Kevin Feige

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige

Conditioned by Marvel and Kevin Feige

President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, to me, seems to have always had a vision that has been steadfast in the first three phases of the MCU. Marvel fans through the years have been very customed to receiving small bits of the bigger story within a smaller story that was already being told. It pushes the narrative ahead in a way that gets a fan of the MCU excited for the next film. Putting Thanos, a villain who wouldn't be fought for years to come, in a movie as an Easter Egg at the end of the first Avengers to let us know that he was coming, was something that had fans holding on to their seats for the next 10 years!

Even on a smaller scale, Marvel does this with introductions of new characters, new storylines within a movie, or even cameos. We are very conditioned to know what comes next as fans of the MCU. This is by Marvel's own doing. So I can understand a bit of the outrage when casual fans of the MCU, but not comics in general, want to know what's coming up next in Phase Four and Five and they don't have the wherewithal to find the information they seek. A casual fan could not tell you where this Phase was heading and what was about to happen and that is what is frustrating them. Marvel hasn't been just planting obvious seeds anymore in this Phase of the MCU, which brings me to my next point.

Phase 4 Timeline

The timeline for Phase 4 and suspected movies and TV shows to be released.

The timeline for Phase 4 and suspected movies and TV shows to be released.

Filler Phase Four

As I stated before, this Phase of the MCU is really the Fallout of Phases 1-3 beforehand. Every TV show, movie, and short that has come out is simply just a reason to explain something or dive deeper into something that came from the OG Infinity Saga. WandaVision was a TV show to handle Wanda's grief of losing the love of her life multiple times, Falcon and the Winter Soldier was to tell us what was to become of Bucky and the moniker of Captain America after Steve aged himself into retirement. It also deep-dived into how the heroes go about in their day-to-day lives, which was interesting. Loki season one was to explain what became of the Loki variant that stole the Infinity Stone in the time heist in Endgame. The Black Widow film was to tell a half story of what Natasha was doing after The Avengers broke up. I could go on, but I won't, as the point has been made.

Phase 4 has also played host as a phase of introductions and reintroductions. Within this phase alone, we've been introduced to Natasha's family, the "new" Captain America, Wanda's kids, the "new" Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, Thor's new daughter: Love, She-Hulk, DareDevil, Shang-Chi, the entire team of the Eternals, the Abomination is back, and the other 2 Spider-Men have been welcomed into the MCU. Along with a host of new sidekicks, friends, villains, and new titles such as the new Sorcerer Supreme, Wong!

If nothing else, I look at Phase 4 as not boring, lacking vision or direction, as others complain, but I see it as a filler phase. It's an explanation phase. It's almost like Phase 1 of the MCU. We're being introduced to new people because, after the events of the Snap and Thanos coming back to Earth, let's be serious, we need them! We're down on heroes. We're being filled in on a lot of things that were left out of the first three phases. We are coming out of the Infinity Saga and entering a brand-new chapter in the MCU. It's really exciting as a big fan myself. While I can agree with other big fans or even casuals that this phase is not as exciting or as intent in direction as the other phases were, however, I don't think that it makes the phase bad. I do see another small problem with the MCU though that I think if Disney or the MCU let up on a bit, these phases can go gentler and without as much backlash as well.

The M She U

Tons of video essays and articles have been drawn up about the MCU going heavy on the girl power lately.

Tons of video essays and articles have been drawn up about the MCU going heavy on the girl power lately.

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Valid Arguments

A very valid argument that even I see as a black woman fan of the MCU is that it is becoming very inclusive. There is NOTHING wrong with this at all. Again, there is NOTHING wrong with including all races, genders, and orientations in the MCU whatsoever. However, I do think that when you stockpile it on heavy, and if it makes no sense then it gets very obvious and clunky. Like the scene in Endgame with all of the women in the end battle randomly being in the same spot at the same time to protect Peter and the Gauntlet from Thanos's team felt forced. It wasn't like the first one in Infinity War, where that battle scene with Natasha and Okoye protecting Wanda made sense because they were right there next to her anyway when she was being attacked.

This new Phase has been very out there and obvious that they are pushing everything from girl power to all inclusions, and every other thing that is in pop culture right now. Nothing wrong with that either, however, I'd like it to be sprinkled into everything rather than just piled up in every movie or TV show. I like Meg the Stallion too, but seeing her twerking in an already very girl-power-themed TV show is a bit on the nose for me, as funny as it was. The Eternals is a movie based entirely on inclusivity in every way right before She-Hulk, as well. I like the ideas that Marvel is putting out there because although some are made up, a lot is actually rooted in comic storylines and comic book characterizations, however, I do wish that it was a bit sprinkled throughout the MCU already so that people would not be so overwhelmed by what they're seeing all the time in this phase.

I don't think Marvel is pushing any agendas, however, it does pain me to see unnecessary uproar and backlash where it is undeserved though. I think that the process of entering delicate things like race, culture, sexual orientation, and girl power into media such as movies and TV shows is daunting, but I don't think the answer is putting it into everything afterward either though. You have to slip things in slowly, but surely. Also, these are ideas that should have ALREADY been in Marvel SOMEWHERE from the time they started introducing new characters and phases so that people can get used to it, so when they see more of it, they're not taken aback like they are now.

Kang the Conquerer

Kang the Conquerer upcoming villain for Ant-Man and the Wasp: QuantuMania and Secret Wars.

Kang the Conquerer upcoming villain for Ant-Man and the Wasp: QuantuMania and Secret Wars.

What This is Leading To...

Another argument that I continue to hear is that the MCU is directionless now. To an untrained eye, that may be true. The MCU is clearly heading toward the Secret Wars storyline and Kang the Conqueror, which they have been setting up for a while now slowly. They would know that if they didn't think watching a TV show, that is at most an hour long, for only about 8 episodes on average, was so hard. After the pandemic hit, the way in which the MCU was being told was changed from major motion pictures to small-screen TV that still gave the vibe of a movie. So that is the deal. No change backs. I honestly think that even if the pandemic hadn't hit, the MCU would've made use of Disney+ and released smaller stories, still connected to the MCU, on there anyway. So there would be gaps regardless if you do not choose to keep up with what's going on in the MCU in all its mediums.

Secret Wars is going to be huge and will involve the Multiverse, and every hero we have in the MCU, and will probably bring out some heroes that we haven't even been introduced to yet. Essentially it is the story of an incursion (we've heard about from the newest Doctor Strange movie: Multiverse of Madness) between 2 Earths, their destruction, and the wars between the two and the villains of each Earth for control over them. Some things will have to be changed or tweaked a bit in the storyline with characters and what they'll be doing in those storylines, but for the most part, things will be similar to the overall storyline from the comics. As Kevin Feige and others close to the heart of the conception of the MCU have stated, I also think, it will be bigger and better than even Endgame and on a grander scale! But that's only if ya'll would let them tell the dang story!!!

Fazed by the Phase

To wrap this all up, I think there are SOME legitimate concerns with the MCU, however, I don't think that the ones that people are mostly talking about are real issues at all. I think that they're just problems of impatient fans, who have been spoiled by the MCU with 4-5 really decent to great movies a year, and they refuse to do the research or watch the shows that show clearly where some of these storylines are heading and how they are shaping the MCU as a whole. I'm not saying all of the things they put into the stories are easy to find. Like the Wolverine Easter Egg hidden in She-Hulk, there are small seeds that have been planted to let us know that certain things are coming, even without the announcements at conventions plainly telling us.

Even if the seeds weren't there, this is still all fallout from the Snap and the fight with Thanos. Every story finds a way to either connect back to that event. The fact that we even need a superhero lawyer division now is WILD! We've come a long way since they were running from the government for being a known superhero. If the story does not connect back to Phases 1-3, then it introduces someone new that will be vital to another story coming in the future. If neither of those, then it is simply a standalone story that will eventually become extremely important to the MCU, something like Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy was in the first few phases. Those were essentially standalone stories, save for having Infinity Stones in them, there were almost no other connections to the direct MCU storyline that was happening with the Avengers, on whom the MCU was built upon. Those were filler movies, now this is a filler phase.

I think that this phase has been interesting so far and has dived into some deep themes and been an emotionally arousing ride from the start with the pain of Peter truly realizing Tony was gone and what it meant to be Spider-Man, to the heart-aching story that was WandaVision, down to the psychological events from Marc's split personality disorder to the everyday confidence issues of Jen in She-Hulk. Phase 4 is not as bad as they say, I don't think. There are so many new characters, stories, and interactions to come to dive into! There are so many more big fights to be had!

I think this phase will shock people by the end by how 'not bad' it was when it's all said and done. People didn't think Infinity War and Endgame would wrap up so nicely because of how many stories and characters there were to finish off, but they did. That was due to their own hopes and expectations of what the MCU should do rather than trusting the process and what they were being given. Just see how things work out at the end of it all. Have some faith in your MCU and in Kevin Feige, people! No offense, but this isn't the DCEU.

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