In the binary winner/loser parlance that has overtaken the Comic-Con discourse, Marvel “won” Comic-Con, hands down. No one came CLOSE to the level of in-room hype or social media dominance as Marvel did Saturday night. Most of what was announced was just titles and dates, only two actual trailers debuted—I suspect they’re holding onto most of their first looks for D23 in September—but the biggest news is probably that Phase 4, the mish-mash of stuff we’ve gotten from the MCU over the last couple years, is over and Phase 5 will begin next year with Ant-Man: Quantumania in February.
This is a smart decision. People are increasingly dissatisfied with the go-nowhere nature of Phase 4, so ending it prematurely—films like Quantumania and The Marvels were originally planned for Phase 4—and moving onto the next thing is one way of, essentially, wiping the slate clean. Phase 4 will now end on with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and if that movie delivers—we’ll talk about it later—then Phase 4 will end on a high note and no one will remember anything else.
Phase 5, then, will be the soft relaunch of the “Multiverse Saga”.
Marvel Studios welcomes you to the Multiverse Saga. pic.twitter.com/9L9ZnOFbQS— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) July 24, 2022
Everything has to be a saga now. Nothing can just be a story. Films we can expect in Phases 5 and 6 include Fantastic Four—which has no cast or director—Captain America: New World Order, starring Anthony Mackie but probably also Old Steve Rogers, and TWO Avengers movies released six months apart in 2025.
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is slated for May 2, 2025, with Avengers: Secret Wars following on November 7, 2025. If anything can kill the MCU’s total cultural dominance, it’s overloading audiences with two team-up movies in the same year, on top of two other untitled movies due in 2025. This is a terrifying three-year plan, and we haven’t even talked about the TV stuff yet.
I sincerely believe part of the “spaghetti on the wall” mess of Phase 4 is down to folding in the Disney+ series, and an unclear path to preserving the “it’s all connected” magic of the movies (the other factors are COVID and Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death). “It’s all connected” is deeply overrated—it’s mostly retroactively deciding random sh-t in past movies suddenly matters, but fans eat it up—but I do think part of the audience frustration over the last couple years is because how the TV shows and movies connect was not immediately apparent. Maybe that will change with She-Hulk?
This trailer is cute, and the CGI is a little less wonky this time. At the very least, She-Hulk is teasing a connection to another television-based hero, Daredevil. Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio will return for a new series, Daredevil: Born Again, in 2024 with EIGHTEEN episodes. Are they going to be ten minutes each? The chief complaint of the Netflix Daredevil series is that it was too long at 13 episodes per season, so hopefully Marvel Studios has figured something out Marvel Entertainment never did, or…
I am genuinely curious to see if Marvel can sustain audience interest with this trajectory, or if it will lead to burnout, and if they can make “it’s all connected” work across countless movies and TV shows. Though I have a sneaking suspicion by the end of Phase 6, all the randomness of Phase 4 will suddenly be vitally important. Remember how Avengers: Endgame made Thor: The Dark World suddenly critical? That, but with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Anyway, I’ll just leave this here: