Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home have just concluded Marvel’s Infinity Saga, and Marvel announced all the upcoming movies and TV shows that will be part of the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But going into Phase 4, which starts on May 1st, 2020 with Black Widow and ends on November 5th, 2021 with Thor 4, we know there won’t be any new Avengers films (of note, we also won’t have any new Guardians or Spider-Man movies in Phase 4). Needless to say, this isn’t the end of the Avengers and it’s also not the end of epic movies that include all of our favorite heroes from the MCU.
Avengers is Marvel’s most valuable franchise, the glue that holds the entire MCU together. Of course, Avengers wouldn’t be possible without all the individual stories that introduce new heroes and advance their arcs. But you’d be a lot less interested in watching a Thor sequel, or a film that introduces a brand new hero (or group of heroes) in cinemas on launch day without knowing in the back of your mind that it’ll all come together down the road. The same goes for Shang-Chi or The Eternals, movies I want to see primarily because they’re part of a much bigger tapestry of adventures.
Marvel’s ambitious plan all became evident with the first Avengers film, although it was many years later that it truly delivered on its promise. Infinity War and Endgame are the two most important events of the MCU so far, and they’re even more enjoyable if you’ve seen all the other standalone movies that preceded them.
Endgame sadly also marks the end of an era, with several heroes having been retired. The list includes Iron Man and Black Widow, who both died, but also Captain America, who retired to a different timeline. It’s time to rebuild the Avengers and get new team members to deal with the upcoming threats. At the same time, Marvel might not try to replicate Endgame exactly, when it comes to building up the story.
Infinity War and Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely sat down with The Los Angeles Times at Comic-Con (via ComicBook) and tried to explain what might happen in the MCU’s future.
“I know nothing. I literally know nothing,” McFeely said during the interview at the end of this post, a conversation which took place before Marvel’s Kevin Feige unveiled all the upcoming Phase 4 titles. “I read things in Los Angeles Times and all these other sites, and I go, ‘Well, I don’t think Marvel announced that.’ There’s all these little rumory things, but I don’t know them.”
“All I know is Phase 4 can go in a lot more directions than any of the preceding three phases,” Markus said. “Because of, one, just because of the doors that three successful phases have opened. Now they have cosmic Marvel available; they have Doctor Strange cosmic Marvel available. There are so many directions you can go in now.”
He added, “Plus if you throw in the Disney+ streaming thing… I think it will be a phase that is shaped differently than the preceding ones. Something that can spread out in more directions at once. It’s almost inevitable when you keep making these things, and they’re all connected, it cannot be on one straight line, or you’re gonna get incredibly repetitive after a while. So it has to spread.”
The two writers have been involved with the MCU for a few years now, working on the last two Captain America and Avengers films, but they don’t have any clear insight as to what will happen next. But reading between the lines here, it becomes absolutely clear that Marvel will continue to sprinkle the same magic in the upcoming MCU films. They’ll all be connected in various ways to a point where an Avengers 5 film — whether it’s Young Avengers or Dark Avengers — will be inevitable.
At the same time, given how things were left off after Endgame, “you can’t raise the stakes,” at the moment, as Markus explained while speaking about the hero departures from the MCU after Endgame. What the writer was essentially saying is that it’s time for a breath of fresh air in the MCU, before moving on to other intertwined stories. That includes both new heroes, and new crews to bring them to life.
In the next couple of years alone, Marvel will introduce The Eternals and Shang-Chi, as well as replacements for Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Thor. At the same time, some of the old heroes will return to tell more stories of their own, with the list including Doctor Strange, Wanda, Falcon, and The Winter Soldier. Not to mention that Captain Marvel 2, Black Panther 2, and Guardians 3 were all teased for Phase 5, a phase that will also include a remake of Blade. In other words, we’re about to get a brand new mix of super-powered individuals who are more than likely to cross paths with each other several years down the line. We just have to wait.