MCU Phase 4 Discussion

Marvel just rolled out the next two years of the MCU roadmap, and boy is Phase 4 off to a great start. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

  • May 1, 2020: Black Widow
  • Nov. 6, 2020: The Eternals
  • Feb. 12, 2021: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spring, 2021: WandaVision (streaming)
  • May 7, 2021: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Spring, 2021: Loki (streaming)
  • Fall, 2021: The Falcon and Winter Soldier (streaming)
  • Nov. 5, 2021: Thor 4: Love and Thunder

In addition, we got confirmation that Captain Marvel 2, Black Panther 2, Fantastic Four, and X-Men are in development. And then the cherry on the sundae, Mahershala Ali cast as Blade!

It’s a heck of a lineup, with the details revealed making it all the better. The Eternals have a stacked lineup, including one of my favorite actors right now, Brian Tyree Henry, and who can hate Kumail Nanjiani in anything?

Then we got Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, and he is a gem of an actor on Kim’s Convenience. I also appreciate the increased Canadian representation on the MCU roster (including Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool), so maybe we will get that Alpha Flight movie at some point.

And goddamn, they got me again for Thor. Just look at that fucking logo. Not enough? How about Valkyrie officially being bi? And Natalie Portman returning to BE motherfucking Thor? Holy shit, Thor just might be my favorite MCU series at this point.

The new Doctor Strange looks precisely built for Patrick Klepek’s brain, so I’m as excited to hear his reactions as I am to see the actual movie. Plus, the first movie has what I would consider one of the vanishingly few good end “fights” in the MCU, so I’m hopeful that this will turn out to be special. As much as I advocated for Canadians in the MCU earlier, can we tone down Rachel McAdams’s role? She’s fine, but her character felt unnecessary to the last movie.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but this lineup is looking great. I am at least mildly interested in all of these projects, and while it is far too long in coming, the increased diversity it absolutely welcome. What do y’all think?

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Can I put an opinion into this discussion that might not fit but I feel like Waypoint will at least hear it and maybe be a little sympathetic? If it goes over poorly happy to delete and remove myself from the conversation.

Having said that, some of the announcements yesterday caught me by surprise and have me genuinely excited given what comic arcs they are going to be riffing on (Thor and Dr. Strange). However, on a whole, I an so tired of these movies, of the MCU and just the relentlessness of it. Seeing the proposed schedule of releases drove home to me that this will never stop (as long as there is money to be made). None of the individual works seem to matter because they are just part of an endless wave of stuff. I feel like there isn’t enough variety in these movies to really distinguish them in terms of cinematography, plot pacing, acting. Everything feels the same and none of it, to me, actually has the sort of vibrancy and appeal of an actual comic book (ironically, in all of this, Marvel and DC’s actual sales still struggle).

Yeah, it’s cool that Dr. Strange, a character I adored high school has gotten two blockbuster movies but I find myself wishing more than anything else that sort of money was spent on new projects, new ideas, anything other than more superheroes.

Okay, that’s off my chest. I’ll see everyone at the respective premieres for each of these projects, hemming and hawing but still consuming.

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100% feel you. It’s becoming more and more difficult to be excited about something that a while back I was extremely excited about. BUT I have a feeling Marvel is also catching up on this fatigue? I find it pretty interesting that they announced that the Dr. Strange movie is going to be a horror movie. It’s going to be difficult to top what they did with Thanos in terms of scale (a problem comics also have struggled with in the past) and I hope they’ll manage to bring a fresh and modern vibe to these characters by playing with new genres and, hopefully, giving directors and writers more freedom. The fact that the logo for Hawkeye is the same used for the Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run, gives me a tiny tiny tiny bit of hope.

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This is exactly what led to my Marvel burnout like a decade ago. Each summer they would do an event that was going to totally redefine comics and have long lasting effects on the characters, but each event would reset or undermine the last. Civil War and the “death” of Captain America is overshadowed by Secret Invasion which in turn undoes a majority of the deaths since House of M etc. At some point, when there is an “unthinkable” or “epic” event like clockwork it becomes just that, clockwork, rote, predictable. There is typically good stuff in these events or immediately following or preceding them but the sense that nothing will actually last made it very hard for me to care after a certain point.

I feel like the comic arcs that stuck with me are those that were smaller in scale and used the established nature of the universe they were working in to tell new and off kilter sorts of stories (Fraction’s Hawkeye or his original Iron Fist run for that matter).

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I’m really excited for Kate Bishop and Jane Thor. Theyre finally getting to the parts I’m familiar with and with Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel I have more confidence in the movies being enjoyable than ever. I’m not a fan of crossovers so infinity war/endgame didnt do as much for me.

i feel bad though that these movies will be dominating theaters for years. I just wish we could have gotten some of this stuff earlier rather than a lot of the bland but solid movies they had early on.

I expect Young Avengers within 4 years and I’m excited for it. We already have Kate and Cassie and there will be plenty of setup for Wiccan, Speed, and Hulkling (though i have my doubts about there being a gay couple in movies :/). I could see them decide to replace the second half of the team with Champions like Miles, Kamala, or Amadaeus Cho. Hopefully not though. Either way we absolutely need to get America Chavez eventually.
(And to be clear I really do want Kamala, just not in the young avengers)

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let’s not forget having to buy a completely different series in order to get the full story.

this is something i’ve been thinking about for a while now; this kind of capital-e Event Crossover Hype is something the MCU seems happy to emulate, while ignoring that it’s one of the reasons that very few people read Marvel comics anymore.

but hey, at least they can’t copy the pre-order structure!

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Im just upset about the fact that they are still spinning their wheels wrt to kamala khan, I think they mentioned they had plans for her like a year ago in an interview? None of this sounds interesting or fun, I’ll be there for blade in 202X though.

My feeling from watching Spider-Man: Far From Home was one of “this is entertaining, but it doesn’t have a strong emotional resonance”.

There are obvious standouts which do manage to achieve that (Ragnarok, GOTG 2), so we’ll have to see where these new ones fall into, and if Disney will let them stand out from the established format.

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Yeah I’m with a lot of people in that every new piece of info was met with a muted “ huh, cool” and then I went back to whatever else was in my brain space. I’m part of the problem, because I’m probably gonna see most of them, but like Ian’s tweet thread says, what else are our group of friends gonna all see together on a hang out night.

Yeah I’ve honestly felt this way for awhile now about the MCU. I think after civil war I stopped caring pretty much at all and they became the “I’m playing XCOM so I need to watch something, guess I haven’t seen this movie yet” fillers. I watched Captain Marvel finally last month and I could not tell you anything about it that stuck with me outside of thinking it was an okay movie that falls into the weird category of media where I could not come up with an argument to see or not see it. It’s not a bad movie but it’s also not a great movie. It’s just a movie ™️.

Looking at that list just makes me feel tired.

I think we finally reached the too much of a good thing point of saturation. This isn’t like comics where quality varies wildly, everything is way too controlled for any real experimentation to allow for hits or misses. The DC movieverse had a horrific start, but at least they’re letting their talent do whatever and seeing what sticks. Even their bad stuff has become more interesting to me than the majority of good MCU films because at least it elicits an emotional response and remains somewhere in my brain space alongside my Alpha Protocol decision outcomes chart and random thoughts on weird vacuum bed fetish novels I keep finding on pixiv.

This just looks like…eh.

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People are losing interest in Marvel, so Natalie Portman will play the first female Thor and Valkyrie will be the first LGBT+ superhero and The Eternals will feature the first deaf superhero. The same cynicism in casting that Marvel has always practiced.

I’ve been out of a loop for a while but I don’t think they’ll stop being popular. They will keep studying trends, being careful and fitting it all in their formula to match consumers expectations. The slightest change will feel like an improvement and the faint feeling of novelty will feel like a breeze to fans that are already in and will give anything for more of their beloved characters on screen. There won’t be truly bad stuff, or at least not more than passable stuff, so it will keep going.

Disney understood very well the addictive capacity of the serial form (that the form is alive and keeps on going) and they made it happen on screen. Quality doesn’t really matter next to those factors.

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I’m not saying some cautious cynicism isn’t warranted, but I guarantee there has never been an executive in Hollywood history who said, “People are getting tired of our movies. You know what would fix that? A deaf actress.”

Of the eight leads announced for Eternals, there’s one white man and one 40+ white woman. There’s Mexican, Korean, and Pakistani-born actors. They could’ve easily gone the Gods of Egypt route, but they didn’t.

Yes, they’re in a no-win situation of their own making after dragging their feet on a solo Black Widow movie, but the executive responsible for that garbage is long gone. If they want to follow the Fast & Furious casting model, I think that’s a good thing.

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They won’t word it like that, but at least one guy will suggest dangling a shred of representation for the starving audience so they can snake some extra eyes, dollars, or attention for doing the bare minimum, or in some cases, nothing at all (RUSSO WALKS ONTO CAMERA SAYS I AM A GAY, WILD APPLAUSE, OH WOW, MUCH REPRESENTATION, MANY GAY).

With media this big, being subtle is how you keep drawing in the numbers while making sure you offend as few people as possible. Exclusion isn’t as bad as gross stereotype because mainstream audiences in press don’t yet realize how to criticize something they don’t even realize is a problem. However, they can point and clap when the smallest amount of rep is shown.

This is the MCU. It doesn’t feel like an artistic decisions, it feels like a business decisions, probably because the business side of things gets the final say on everything, for better and worse (though at least this did lead to the cutting of a planned subplot in Iron Man 3 where the bad guy steals Pepper Pots from Tony Stark and sends him a tape of them doing it and no that is not a joke).

While I’m not tired of superhero movies, I’m definitely getting tired of the MCU’s overall tone. It weirdly feels like the movies often don’t really believe in their own world. Far From Home especially, which felt like it tried to be lighthearted by not taking its own world sincerely to the point where I got frustrated by it. Like it has to give every comic book-like thing that happens a bad jokey name, seemingly cause it’s afraid to say something like “spidey sense” with a straight face. Contrast that with Shazam, which I feel is a great lighthearted superhero movie that manages to feel sincere while having a scenery-chewing wizard in it.

I hope they’ll actually try to make these movies different from their usual tone. I don’t expect them to, but still. I’m excited for Thor: Love and Thunder at least.

Also, I don’t think that generally people are getting sick of the MCU. I mean, Avengers Endgame just became the highest grossing movie ever. That being said: I imagine that Black Panther and Captain Marvel doing better than their usual non-Avengers movies does impact what kinds of movies they’re making. Which does probably often include doing the bare minimum. Like, it wouldn’t surprise me if Valkyrie being gay will just mean her mentioning she has a girlfriend or something at one point.

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I mean, it’s both, obviously. Claiming these are just business decisions is a massive disservice to Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, Chloe Zhao, Destin Cretton and all the other creators who have clearly made a concerted effort to diversify the MCU. Can you seriously look at Taika Waititi and say that bringing back Natalie Portman as Thor is not an artistic decision?

For years, people said that Marvel needed to diversify both in front of and behind the camera, and they didn’t, mostly because Isaac Perlmutter is a sexist asshole (fun facts - in addition to shadow running Trump’s VA, he fraudulently bought Coleco, sold it out of existence, and pocketed $64 million in less than half a year). Kevin Feige managed to drive Perlmutter out and start doing exactly what everyone said they should be doing, and it’s dismissed as cynical pandering.

Yes, it would be better if one division of one massive corporation didn’t control half the box office. But considering their two movies this summer made over $3 billion, I don’t think that’s going to end any time soon, so I support them spreading some of that pie to people who traditionally would not have had access to it.

Edit: “spreading some of that pie” was a godawful turn of phrase on my part and I apologize.

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I have to LOL at the twist with the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 being basically the only interesting thing across all three of Iron Man’s movies but fans were so angry that he wasn’t a definitive yellow peril villain like in the comics that they’re changing that.

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Interestingly enough, this actually isn’t actually a retcon. In the short All Hail the King, it’s revealed that the Mandarin is an actual person in the MCU. I recommend checking it out if only to get more of Ben Kingsley hamming it up.

Neat, it’s on Youtube:

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Genuinely curious, what would you rather they do? I’ll take this over not having any of those types of charcters.

They probably should have introduced these types of characters earlier. They didn’t. I understand being upset with them for that, but those decisions are sunk cost at this point. Leadership has changed, too. I dunno. Feels harsh.

Edit: I also don’t feel like “losing interest” is accurate outside the local scale of this board. The movies make as much money as ever. They just dropped the #1 movie of all time (inflation aside) two movies ago. Don’t understand that argument.

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