(Quick note: I don’t own the featured image, just needed a relatively clear outline of all the stuff I needed to comment on)
Where to begin. This weekend Marvel gave fans their first look at what the MCU’s future had in store, naturally focusing on phase 4 with a sprinkle of phase 5 in the form of Blade at the end. Whilst rumours had been circulating for a couple of weeks, I can confirm the concrete statement blew my socks off. Let’s get to it!
I’m going to start off by being honest. My discussion of each upcoming project isn’t going to be equally balanced on the grounds that, whilst I have become a rather avid fan of the Marvel Universe, my focus doesn’t extend quite far enough to offer in depth analysis’ of each feature. In addition, to try and maintain a degree of coherency I’m going to break my analysis into two posts, one focusing on movies and the other the Disney+ shows.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was rather nervous about what the future of MCU actually entailed. The past 11 years of story-telling had all been building to Endgame and I was struggling to envision how they could possibly have another threat quite as complex and powerful as Thanos and the Infinity Stones. More information began to trickle out of the House of Ideas which did, in a small way, began to alleviate these concerns, the future seeing a shift in focus away from such a huge arc to smaller, but still closely connected, storylines over shorter spans of films (And now TV series). SDCC offered up our first taste of what is to come and, truthfully, I’m positively taken aback with their initial focus.
I want to start with The Eternals simply because they aren’t really a team I know a great deal about. One of my major concerns was that the MCU was going to become a far more cosmic affair which, whilst not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, is an aspect of the comics I haven’t and have no overwhelming drive to explore. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy both on and then in the comics so I am optimistic that The Eternals will be great. From my admittedly poorly informed stand point, I get the feeling it is going to be rather more serious affair that could introduce some of the more omnipotent beings of the Marvel Universe, the likes of the Queen of Nevers and Eternity (Both of whom I’m fully onboard with, having enjoyed their involvement in the Silver Surfer comic by Michael and Laura Allred which is definitely in my top 10, if not 5, comic book series). I was also a huge fan of Richard Madden’s performance as Robb Stark so I’m excited to see him join the Marvel Universe (That was a longer paragraph than I expected it to be…).
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a mouthful of a title but is film I’m really excited for. Whilst I enjoyed Iron Man 3, it’s handling of the Mandarin was really disappointing (Though the one-shot “All Hail the King” did redeem it to an extent). Therefore, the announcement of Shang-Chi brought with it an intense excitement that we would finally get to see an accurate representation of the character. Furthermore, Shang-Chi is a more grounded character which will make for an excellent change of pace. I can also see it being a spring broad to introducing the likes of Fin Fang Foom, Iron Fist (Because I’m fairly certain the Netflix shows have now been abandoned), Amadeus Cho (Though I can see his appearance aligning more with a Bruce Banner appearance) and maybe even the return of Baron Mordo considering the Mandarin’s connections with magic. Those appearances are incredibly speculative. Regardless, it’s announcement left my mind racing with all the possible name-drops and introductions we could be getting.
I’ll put my hands up and say I wasn’t the biggest fan of Thor: Ragnarok. I found the far more comedic approach a little jarring from previous interactions with Thor though I can appreciate why they took the direction they did. However, seeing this interpretation of Thor develop over the past 2 Avengers films has helped me reconcile my differences with Ragnarok (Though I have yet to give it another go in light of this shift in opinion). With that mind, Waititi’s directorship of Thor: Love and Thunder is one I’m looking forward to, an opinion that has been further helped by my viewing of other stuff that he’s done (What we do in the Shadows (The film version, I have yet to take a gander at the televised version) was brilliant).
I wish I could offer a succinct discussion on just how exciting the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and her adoption of the mantle of Thor is but my good friend Michael J. Miller has already produced an excellent piece from an incredibly well-informed position which you can check out here. Whilst you’re over there checking his post out, you will likely find the whole host of excellent posts he has produced and I would highly recommend following him. Personally, I honestly had sullenly closed the door on Jane Foster ever becoming Thor after Portman’s apparent departure from the MCU. There is a wellspring of potential surrounding Portman’s of Thor which I’m ecstatic to see unfold in the future. I’m also really excited to see her interactions with the wider MCU, particularly in a team dynamic when the opportunity inevitably arises. It was an unexpected, delightful announcement that promises to bring some really awesome stories.
I felt like rumours of a new Blade project had been circulating for a few years but it was great to finally get some concrete information. The casting of Mahershala Ali struck another nail in the Netflix-verse coffin but I’m excited to see his take on the character. I’ve only the watched the first Blade film but I loved Wesley Snipes in the role. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns in some form or another though I suspect it will lean more into a cameo appearance (Though I’m fully down for him having a more major role). The announcement of Blade brought with it a lot of enthralling prospects, primary surrounding Spider-man. If Morbius is introduced, I’d be interested to see how Blade and Spider-man both interact with him. Furthermore, this does at least open the door a little bit on the possibility of the appearances of Morlun and the energy vampires. Whilst I’m not entirely sure how likely the Spider-verse appearing in the MCU is following the well-deserved success of Miles’ animated film, I could see them building up to it over a few years, laying the foundations with a name-drop or two in Blade.
Over the past couple of years, Black Widow has seen some fantastic character development, stepping into more prominent leadership roles with a fantastic combination of relatable vulnerability (Endgame was a double-edged sword in my opinion. Black Widow’s love for her friends was portrayed beautifully and gave meaning to her death. However, I do feel that her death was somewhat brushed under the carpet. Please drop a comment if you have anything to say on Black Widow’s arc in Endgame as I’m really interested to hear other perspectives) and not quite as relatable prowess as a no-nonsense fighter. Age of Ultron gave us a brief glimpse of her past and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of it unfold on the big screen. However, part of me is hoping there is a degree of reservedness concerning her back story as the degree of mysticism surrounding it, I find, adds a rather fascinating element to her character. I’m really curious to see how big of a role the Winter Guard plays in the film, with David Harbour cast as Red Guardian. With it being a prequel, it will also be interesting to see how they leave things. I’m personally hoping for a post-credit with the Winter Guard moving in to fill the power vacuum left by the apparent disappearance of the Avengers as we know it. Again, highly speculative but it’s exciting to think about.
In addition, Black Widow offers up the opportunity to tell a more unique kind of story, what with her more checkered past and troubled childhood. Finally, I’m entirely ready to finally find out what happened in Budapest (An image of a classic-looking Hawkeye outfit just popped into my head. That is likely just wishful thinking, but a boy can dream).
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness feels like the best place to conclude the movie discussion just because it could very well blow the doors off the MCU as we know it. First off, I’m thrilled to see Scarlet Witch starring in it as we will finally get to see her outside of a larger team set-up. I’m really excited to see how involved in the magic side of things she gets under Doctor Strange’s tutelage. I’m also intrigued by the prospect of WandaVision tying into it, much like comic book events and their tie-in issues.
The entire notion of the Multiverse being the focal point of a film is both fantastic and a little concerning. It feels like an awfully big concept for just one film and whilst I appreciate that it can then be developed I am mildly concerned that it could just result in a crazy amount of location jumping at the expense of more intriguing character development. I’m not going to get too hung up on it as it is still fairly early days but I just wanted to express the minor concern. Naturally, the formal introduction of an actual multiverse brings with it an infinite number of possibilities. The Ultimate Universe, a succinct introduction of the X-men and the Fantastic Four (I would love to see the F4 being written as multiverse explorers who Doctor Strange comes across in a post-credit scene. I feel like it would offer a good explanation as to why they haven’t been around for the past 11 years but I don’t know), alternative versions of characters and so. Much. More! Honestly, I’m not sure I can handle just how huge it could all get.
My only other trepidation is the discussion of it being more horror-based. This is primarily due to me not being a huge fan of horror however I’m curious to see how they approach it. Dr Strange does make the most sense for taking a horror route, his comics introducing a plethora of rather nasty looking creatures. It also opens the door for Blade to be more horror based which naturally makes sense but it will help having Doctor Strange set the horror stage a little bit. There is also the possibility that some of the horrors encountered to have rather damaging effects on characters’ minds, leading to rather interesting developments *cough cough* House of M *cough cough*.
Marvel have also confirmed the likes of Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 but I’m going to hold off commenting on those projects until more is revealed (That and this post already feels a little bloated…).
Overall, my previous anxieties regarding the MCU’s cinematic future have been, for the most part, quelled. There is a healthy balance of old and new as well as between the more grounded heroes and cosmic entities which I really appreciate. The approach taken seems to be offering a rather seamless transition from old to new, particularly in the case of Thor. This is also evident in the Disney+ stuff but more on that soon.
I would say the wait is going to be painful but honestly, I think I appreciate having a little time to breath and reflect on just how far the universe has come. It also helpfully gives me the chance to get the hype-train going for Rise of the Skywalker (Though that implies all engines weren’t go as soon as the trailer dropped, an outright lie). What a time to be alive…
I’d love to hear what you all have to say on the movie slate Marvel has revealed. Which feature are you most excited for? Have any of the announcements given you a cause for concern? Let me know in the comments!