What to Expect from Marvel’s Phase Four

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What to Expect from Marvel’s Phase Four

What to Expect from Marvel’s Phase Four

The juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe rumbles ever onward, with dozens of movies scheduled to join the plethora of others that the MCU is already comprised of. All of this now with the addition of dozens of TV series that can be found exclusively on the Disney+ subscription service. But when the underlying saga of the Infinity Stones that was woven throughout the previous phases of the media darling came to an end, the question on everyone’s mind was: What now? Well, several movies and several series into the new era of live action Marvel entertainment sees fans still asking the same question.

There have been vague hints that the overarching story will revolve around the idea of a multiverse, but nothing that has been seen so far has established any kind of significance to that. Characters hop between dimensions seemingly at ease, with only vague suggestions that there is anything dangerous about that.

Another suggestion is that the shape-changing Skrulls are to be the focus of the story, but at half a dozen movies into phase four the Skrulls remain a complete absence. The only reason they are even in consideration is because Marvel themselves have said they will have a story focused on them. What that story will be is anyone’s guess, since the Captain Marvel movie did not stick to their villainous comic book portrayal but instead had them as misunderstood refugees for some reason.

Other than those suggestions, neither of which is being remotely realized, the MCU is seeming increasingly directionless. It meanders on, with the already established fans following along like children expecting a fun field trip that keeps on failing to materialize.

Marvel are going to have to rediscover their mastery of storytelling if they are to reverse this trend, as more and more fans are grow disgruntled with the lack of direction.

One other thing that is hindering them is their reliance on the Disney+ TV series’ to set up their movies, as not everyone is willing or able to pay for their streaming service. Anyone who has seen only the movies would rightly be confused by the depiction of once-heroic Wanda Maximoff in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, for example. Obliging people to watch the TV series to understand the movies is a bold, and arrogant, move by Disney. They may hope that everyone subscribes to keep up, but the possibility that people will simply stop watching a franchise that is making itself increasingly opaque and overly expensive is just as likely.

With an overarching storyline stubbornly refusing to appear, perhaps the most promising hope Marvel has is the return of the rights to use the X-Men. Though they were the most critically acclaimed and best-selling American comics around for over two decades, the X-Men fell out of favor at Marvel after Fox bought the rights from them back at the turn of the century. The comics themselves shifted away from the no longer merry mutants after that, often propping up less popular books at their expense. But Disney’s purchase of both Marvel and Fox has reunited the X-Men with the company for whom their creators worked.

A faithful depiction of what were once their most beloved heroes could be just what is needed to revitalize the MCU. A faithless one is unlikely to do it, since Fox have been pumping out X-Men movies for decades, all of which played fast and loose with established lore. More of that is not in particular demand. But seeing the “real” X-Men on screen? That would bring a lot of people back to the cinema.

Will it happen, though? That the X-Men will appear in some form seems inevitable, but early signs are troubling. The first hint of them is found in, again, a Disney+ series. Said hint claims that Ms Marvel–the Kamala Khan version–is in fact a mutant, rather than an Inhuman. Aside from being a departure from her comic book portrayal, and not the only one that series made, it provokes some troubling suspicions.

Marvel’s cinematic properties have always flowed one into another, with each instalment serving to set up the next. That Ms Marvel is said to be a mutant would seem to hint that she will be used as an audience point of view character to introduce the X-Men when they appear. That is a storytelling technique that Marvel has used with them before, to great effect. The problem is that they have used it before, to great effect … and with other characters.

Shadowcat, aka Kitty Pryde was the first. A young Jewish girl, every bit as diverse as Kamala but actually connected to the X-Men and beloved of its fans. The second was Jubilee, a Chinese American girl of which the same can be said. The possibility that Marvel might have a character like Kamala, who has no connection to the X-Men at all, essentially usurp the role that by rights should belong to one of these fan favorites is not likely to endear them to an already burnt out audience.

Hope remains, but the likelihood of a faithful X-Men adaption serving to prop up the stumbling MCU is starting to feel about as likely as the actual Juggernaut being stopped. Absent that, the question remains: What can?Ms Marvel

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