The Future of Marvel

The Marvel Logo (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Marvel Studios

The Marvel Logo (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe began its journey with the introduction of Iron Man in 2008. Since then, more than 30 films and TV shows have been created for the development of their world and the enjoyment of their viewers. The road to present day Marvel is a long one, and it’s important to understand where they came from to know where they’re going.

The decision to make Iron Man in 2008 was the greatest risk Marvel has ever taken. Everything the franchise became depended on the success of this one movie, and if it had flopped, Marvel would have lost the rights to most of their characters to various other companies using them in their movies. Thankfully, the film was a success, launching a world-renowned cinematic universe.

From this point, Marvel started what came to be known as Phase 1. The MCU is organized into Phases based on release order and are intended to separate out different eras of the events within the movies. Phase 1, for example, was designated to introduce the core Avengers. Throughout the 6 movies that comprise the first phase, each Avenger is introduced along with their backstory, and by the end are recruited by Nick Fury to join the Avengers Initiative. This formula of introducing characters and then bringing them together was what made this universe so cohesive. Characters that were seemingly independent would be brought together through necessity or circumstance to fight a common enemy. Phase 2 takes a step back and follows the characters back to solo movies as they interact with new characters and develop character arcs. On the other hand, Phase 3 works to bring the extended Avengers together after all their experiences. The first three phases of Marvel came to be known as the Infinity Saga, referencing the Infinity Stones that all of the heroes ended up fighting for and protecting. These phases culminated into the greatest superhero films that I have ever seen: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and its sequel, Avengers: Endgame (2019). These two movies were like the first Avengers film on steroids, bringing together every superhero introduced thus far in the cinematic universe. And because of the work to make a fluid and connected universe, it made perfect sense for a talking raccoon to be fighting alongside a metal-armed super soldier from the 1940s.


However, after the epic finale to this era, many of Marvel’s fans had the same question: where do we go from here? That question was answered with the introduction of the Multiverse Saga, the next large-scale project of Marvel. Containing Phase 4 through 6, most of the initial films show how various characters respond to the events of Avengers: Endgame including several shows, which was a new concept for Disney-owned Marvel. Phase 4 progresses through from Black Widow to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, introducing many new characters and concepts, such as the multiverse and alternate timelines. However, unlike earlier Marvel phases, the new projects seem to be just making the world bigger instead of bringing the characters together. For example, I don’t think the god-like Eternals and Earth-born Ant-Man would realistically work together to stop someone, which emphasizes that these new movies aren’t taking the same approach the earlier films did.

Phase 4 of the MCU ended with Black Panther back in November, and now they’ve started their Phase 5 projects, the first of which is Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantamania. This film explores the quantum realm, a connecting web between timelines and multiverses and is rumored to initiate another team up among the new Avengers against the antagonist Kang the Conqueror, which I’m hopeful for.

The path that Marvel has taken, especially with their shows on Disney+, has sparked much controversy among long-time fans. One of the most popular complaints has to do with the poor VFX in new Marvel projects as well as films geared more towards goofy comedy. This slight setback in movie quality throughout Phase 4 will hopefully be outweighed by the new films coming out in the next several years. The future of Marvel carries lots of promise, both in new and interesting storylines and a whole new universe to explore.