The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Marvel’s upcoming phase four movies

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For more than a decade, Marvel Studios has been producing the most memorable and successful blockbusters to date. Starting with the release of Iron Man in 2008, Marvel opened an interconnected series of franchises collectively known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), featuring some of the most beloved characters from comic book history including Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, among many others. To keep all 23 movies organized as they are not released by the plot’s chronological order, Marvel assembled their projects into what are described as phases, with each phase containing six to eleven movies each. 

As a result of the conclusion of the third phase in 2019 with Spider-Man: Far From Home, and overall plot line resolution of the first three phases in Avengers Endgame, Marvel now has the opportunity to start afresh with its fourth phase.

Even with the difficulties surrounding filming and production created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel has announced its upcoming plans for Phase Four. Of its 16 projects, Marvel recently released the popular WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and most recently Loki—all as television shows available to stream on Disney Plus. They have yet to release other shows such as What If…? and Hawkeye on the streaming platform.

Along with these six shows, Marvel officially announced 10 films that they plan to release over the next two years. This year will feature Black Widow (opening on July 9, 2021), Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (September 3, 2021), the first Asian American lead MCU installment, Eternals (November 5, 2021), and Spider-Man No Way Home (December 17, 2021), which is an anticipated blockbuster that fans speculate could have previous actors who played Spider-Man reprise their roles as Spider-Man in a single movie. A full list of Phase Four’s movies is included at the end of this article.

The first three phases, also known as the “Infinity Saga,” had one unifying theme where each movie had the heroes and villains in pursuit of infinity stones—six powerful gems that make up the main antagonist Thanos’s infinity gauntlet. This consistent motif effectively helped screenwriters bring all of these different characters together to fight the same villain in the final movie Avengers: Endgame

Many fans are wondering whether and how Marvel will be able to exceed fans’ expectations because of the wildly successful first three phases. Junior and Co-Vice President of THHS’s Film Club Amit Sewnauth said, “I don’t think that Phase Four will be able to match Phase Three. Marvel has a way of always surprising its fans, but it’s pretty hard to follow up Infinity War and Endgame. Defeating a villain that wiped out half the universe is about as intense as it can get, and I think the MCU may have reached its peak. That being said, I hope I’m proven wrong and that we’re all wowed by another grand finale in the future.”

What Marvel has exactly in store for fans in Phase Four remains unclear. Fans are discussing whether there would even be a single villain the heroes have to defeat, or different (and arguably) forgettable antagonists in each movie without any unifying themes. One thing that Marvel fans do well is finding ‘Easter eggs,’ or hints in every movie to predict and analyze what the unifying theme will be. In the first three phases, they noticed the constant appearance of powerful universe controlling gems known as the infinity stones and in doing so, were able to determine the unraveling unifying theme. This hunt has already commenced in the fourth phase as viewers continue to see how each project in Phase Four is somehow interconnected under one underlying narrative. 

Although Marvel does balance its content so that both fans and casual viewers can follow the storyline, some worry that releasing too many interconnected films will confuse people. “It seems that Marvel is going to add a lot of shows and other content on Disney Plus in coming years, and these stories will likely be referenced in the films,” said Amit. “I only hope that the movies don’t become too complicated for the average movie goer, but they seem to have a solid enough fan base where this shouldn’t be a problem.” 

While some fans do like the fact that these different movies have the same storyline, others say that it seems too predictable. “An interconnected cinematic universe is really cool and I think Marvel/Disney did a great job. However, I feel that some of their movies feel a bit too ‘packaged and prepared’ and follow a similar formula,” said Amit. “Martin Scorsese views them more like ‘amusement parks’ than ‘true cinema,’ and while I do not agree with this perspective, he certainly has a point. Interconnected movies are great, but at a certain point (hopefully never) they can be overdone.”

With all of these different characters, villains, and plots, how will Marvel screenwriters bring them all together as they have in phases one through three? Both Harrisites and fans will have to wait and see what other surprises await them. 

Senior Ian Patino said, “I have heard about Phase Four, and I have mixed feelings about it. I’m satisfied with the Infinity Saga so I guess I’ll have to decide if I’d like to continue with the MCU. I don’t want Marvel Studios to ruin what it’s established, but I’m curious to see what its potential can become.”

Here is the full list of movies in Phase Four:

  1. Black Widow (July 9, 2021)
  2. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (September 3, 2021)
  3. Eternals (November 5, 2021)
  4. Spider-Man No Way Home (December 17, 2021)
  5. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (March 25, 2022)
  6. Thor Love And Thunder (May 6, 2022)
  7. Black Panther Wakanda Forever (July 8, 2022)
  8. The Marvels (November 11, 2022)
  9. Ant-Man And The Wasp Quantumania (February 17, 2023)
  10. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023)
  11. Fantastic Four (rumored)

Side Projects (part of Phase Four):

  1. WandaVision (January 15, 2021)
  2. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (March 19, 2021)
  3. Loki (June 9, 2021)
  4. What If…? (August 2021)
  5. Hawkeye (2021)

Episodes one through three of Loki are now streaming on Disney+, with the remaining episodes set to be released every Wednesday.

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