Ranking My Excitement For Marvel’s Phase Four

So Saturday Night (early Sunday morning for me in England) commenced the highly-anticipated Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where Kevin Feige stepped up to the legendary Hall H and announced the MCU’s next slate of projects. I woke up to all of this at roughly 8AM where I blindly checked my notifications and saw several messages about something or other. This is what I get when I go to sleep early, I miss the thing I’ve been waiting for since Endgame premiered. 

Speaking of Endgame, Disney and Marvel announced that it has officially passed Avatar’s domestic box-office gross, placing it as the highest grossing movie of all time, or at least it will have done by tomorrow according to reports. Congratulations to everyone involved in this mammoth cinematic event, it’s fully deserved and I can’t even think of what might contend for the title? Star Wars IX? Avatar 2? Who knows? 

Anyway, here’s my ranking of how interested I am in what Marvel have got coming up next in their roster of television and film titles. I’m also going to be touching on the ones that Kevin Feige mentioned at the end of his presentation, without title cards and even briefly. There are 16 projects/titles that Feige confirmed in some roundabout way that all have their ups and downs. Some I’m HUGELY excited for, some I’ll watch because Marvel owns my ass. Either way, there’s a LOT of new content to consume. Let’s just hope getting a Disney + subscription doesn’t wipe out my bank account. 

Onto the ranking! 

16: LOKI (Spring 2021 on Disney +)

So it’s not a big secret that I’ve never really been a fan of Loki as a character. I think Tom Hiddleston plays him well and gives good performances (particularly in The Avengers) but I think the character is just all over the place in terms of characterisation. He’s resentful that Thor was a blood descendant to the throne of Asgard and he wasn’t, so he goes to Earth and tries to steal the Tesseract for Thanos, but also wants to destroy the Earth and maybe also rule it? His motivations are clear and well thought out, but his desires aren’t concrete enough for me to believe him. Plus, all of the fake-dying and trickery gets predictable and boring after a while. 

That being said, I did enjoy the little part in Endgame where (SPOILERS) he slips away with the infinity stone as Tony and Scott try to retrieve it. Apparently, this is what the series is going to explore, which I think is going to be quite interesting. It’ll be 2012 Loki, so he won’t have that bond with Thor that was developed, so it’ll be fun to see where he goes from there and how he deals with the power of the Space Stone. 

However, this is one of those series that I’ll watch because it’s Marvel-related, not because I actually have an invested interest in the character. Probably a hot take, but Loki isn’t my thing and that’s fine. There’s enough room in the sandbox for everyone. Although if they get it right, it could be pretty good! 

15: WandaVision (Spring 2021 on Disney +)

I love Wanda Maximoff with my whole heart. Vision, on the other hand, not so much. 

I didn’t really buy their relationship that began to blossom in Captain America: Civil War. I haven’t read the comics that depict them as a couple, so all I have to go off is their portrayal in the MCU. I think Elizabeth Olsen has some really good room for development with Wanda, but Paul Bettany’s Vision just feels a bit monotonous. He has immense power and was developed from an artificially intelligent android but now has…feelings? I’ve just never really invested in his character. If this were a Wanda solo series, it would easily make the Top 5, but her preoccupation with Vision is going to begin to irritate me after a while. Good thing the series is only six hours then! 

But while every cloud has a silver lining, Teyonnah Parris from Dear White People and If Beale Street Could Talk is going to be playing an adult version of the Monica Rambeau character, whom we saw as a child in Captain Marvel. I’m very excited about this development and where it could lead for the aforementioned superhero’s sequel film and also for the character itself. 

Feige described this series as “exciting” and “unlike anything we’ve ever done before” which does intrigue me because sometimes Marvel’s anomalies turn out to be fantastic (take Black Panther for example). I actually think the logo is really cool and have developed enough trust in the MCU by this point that I’ll have faith that they’re not going to make something unless it’s going to be good. And maybe I’ll get over my aversion to Vision and maybe the direction they take it in will be worth it. But for now, I’m holding onto some reservations about it… 

14: Blade (Unknown Release Date) 

Announced as an eleventh-hour surprise reveal, Kevin Feige decided to mention some things he didn’t have time to cover in his original presentation. At the end of this summary was the arrival of the new face of Blade, Mahershala Ali. That alone is enough to have me excited, and honestly don’t judge it being so low down on the list because everything from here on out has greatly captured my attention and I WILL be seeing all of these films/television shows on opening night/premiere night. 

I like the Blade movies a lot and I really love Mahershala Ali and I think it’s as close to a genius casting as Marvel could have gotten. I’m both cautious and interested to see how the MCU is going to address the subject of vampires in its cinematic universe but, like with WandaVision, I have enough trust in these people now that I’ll happily watch anything they produce because I know that so much love and care and passion is going to go into making them. 

The only reason this is as low as it is is perhaps because I looked at the other scheduled releases and was simply just more excited about them, but I think Blade is going to be amazing and I can’t wait for some casting news and who is going to helm the piece. I don’t know if he’d even be interested, but I’d LOVE to see what Boots Riley would do with the character and the concepts. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Sorry to Bother You, he has a great directorial instinct and I think he could put something really cool into action with the Blade movies. That’s if Marvel continue their streak of acquiring standout indie directors to helm their massive projects, that is. 

I’m very much looking forward to this! 

13: Guardians 3 (Unknown Release Date) 

Throughout the James Gunn firing/hiring rigmarole, I realised that the only thing keeping me excited for the next Guardians movie was the implication that we would be introduced to Adam Warlock, as per the end-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 featuring Elizabeth Debicki announcing the name “Adam” which sparked rumours of his appearance in both Infinity War and Endgame

Don’t get me wrong, I really like both of the Guardians movies and the characters, especially to see what might happen after the events of Endgame, but it all depends on the story they tell. For me, the story in Guardians of the Galaxy was weak and its the cast’s chemistry and direction that really amplified the film. In its sequel, I lovedthe story which made the sequel outdo the first for me, so the third instalment all really depends on how good the story is. The jokes and the banter are obviously going to be there, and I hope Gunn sticks to the same visual style he employed in the second movie which was stellar and up there with the MCU’s best. And if Adam Warlock is still going to be important to the movie, then I’m really sold. 

I’m mostly just confused about Gamora. Is she going to be with them in her new escaped-death 2014 Gamora incarnation? Will they have to build her and Peter’s relationship up all over again if they do, because that might get boring if they decide to do something like that. I’m still not 100% sure about whether Thor is joining them as the events of Endgame left him with them, but the announcement of a new Thor movie puts that in some doubt for me. And because Thor  is coming before this one, they might have to reconsider Thor’s journey a little bit. 

So I know this is going to be good, but I just don’t have that level of excitement for it that I do for all of the other movies and shows above. 

12: What If…? (Summer 2021, Disney +)

There are a lot of question marks surrounding this one, and the irony speaks for itself. I love premises like this, where they’ll explore different scenarios that could have happened and their effects. I feel like Loki’s whole TV show idea could’ve just been one episode of this, but who I am to make those decisions?

Feige announced Jeffrey Wright as the panel as The Watcher, who supposedly watches over the multiverse and intervenes whenever he sees fit. I’m not too sure about the lore behind this one, but the presentation actually showed that a lot of major MCU stars will be returning to their roles in a voice capacity including Michael B Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, Natalie Portman, and a whole host of other popular characters from the saga. This very idea excites me, because with all of the decisions made in the MCU, there are opposite paths the characters could have taken. It’s basically Marvel writing their own fan fiction in an animated capacity and I love that. Just the fact that they’re now playing with dimensions and universes and time and space bears endless possibilities for the MCU, something is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. 

I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye out for this one, and the only reason it’s this far down is only because it’s animated, therefore the episodes will likely be short. Yes, that’s correct, the only bad thing about this series is that there won’t be enoughof it. Plus there’s no sign of Robert Downey Jr or Chris Evans in their initial line-up and that would’ve just been an awesome bonus to to this show. I’ll be watching it avidly nonetheless, but who is even surprised at this point? The Marvel formula just really really works, even eleven years into it. 

I can’t wait to see the animation style they use as well, there are so many different things that they could use to bring out the best that animation has to offer. 

11: Eternals (November 2020)

Look, as a precursor, I don’t know too much about the Eternals as characters or concepts, but the cast is enough to have me intrigued. Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lauren Ridloff just to name a few. And the exciting thing about the latter is that Marvel are introducing their first major deaf character into the universe, which is just one of the things that Marvel have planned to increase representation, so that a larger pool of people can begin to see themselves on screen within these characters. I don’t know if any of these characters are superheroes in the way that we already know them, but I’m looking forward to finding out. 

I’m also excited to see what Chloé Zhao can bring to the table. Her film The Rider is one that I really love and was expertly crafted, so it’ll be interesting to see what she can bring to this story. She knows how to make the most out of every moment and create emotion and empathy, so hopefully her film will be one with heart and emotional connection in addition to a great story. Also Marvel hiring female directors!! I love to see it! 

I don’t have a lot to say about this, mostly because I don’t know a lot. But the cast + crew is enough to capture my interest! Roll on next November! 

10: Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020, Disney +)

I’m very conflicted about this one, folks. 

Because Sebastian Stan’s portrayal of Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier is one of my favourite things about the MCU, but I really just don’t care for Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon. Even putting aside some of the controversy surrounding some of the things Anthony Mackie has said/done in the past, his character never quite clicked with me. Maybe it’s because he was introduced during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where everything was perfect for me with the Steve/Nat dynamic, the reintroduction of Bucky into the MCU and the spy/political thriller elements that made it work so well. Whatever the issue is, I just never really warmed to him as a part of the Avengers or as Steve’s new right-hand man. 

So a TV show surrounding one of my favourite characters and one of my least favourite characters has to balance itself out somewhere around the middle. I can never really get enough of Sebastian Stan and the work he does for this character, so I’ll happily be watching it anyway, and I’ll just have to see whether the series can change my mind about Falcon. I didn’t really want him to be the new Captain America figure anyway, nor did I want it to be Bucky, so I guess I was never really going to come around to this idea. 

That said, it’ll be interesting to see how the Winter Soldier aspect of Bucky’s personality interacts with the world around him now that he’s not controlled by Hydra or being sequestered in Wakanda. And I am interested to see how Sam takes on the Captain America moniker, a symbol of his best friend and one of the greatest forces in the MCU. Once I know the circumstances surrounding the reintroduction of Baron Zemo (who I loved in Civil War played by Daniel Bruhl), I’ll be able to gauge whether I’m going to like it or not. I’ll probably enjoy it nonetheless, and hopefully I’ll warm up to Falcon a little bit. 

9: Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 2021)

I remember hearing the rumour about this one just after Endgame was released and realised I’d never heard of the Shang-Chi character and looked up the backstory. What I read was highly interesting and now I can’t wait for Marvel to take on a martial arts movie that also connects Phase 4 back to the Infinity Saga with the mention of the Ten Rings, as well as the news that Tony Leung will be playing the actual version of The Mandarin who showed up as decoy Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3. I’m very excited for this unique entry into the MCU, as well as what role Awkwafina will be playing in this new direction. 

This, like the Eternals, seems like another step in the right direction for the representation that has been so eagerly sought in this universe. This will obviously be a heavily Asian-led cast and it’s really great to hear that things are finally beginning to change in the world of superhero movies. 

Destin Daniel Cretton is likely going to bring something wonderful to this movie, if his masterpiece Short Term 12 is any indication of his talent. Given his history, I would love for Brie Larson to make a cameo in this movie, even if it’s in an end-credits sequence or something, just so they can continue to collaborate as they have done in all of his other movies. And if Larson’s Carol Danvers is going to be the new centrepiece of this movie franchise, it might make sense that she shows up here and there, maybe like this Phase’s Nick Fury who showed up in most of the solo films and collaborations in Phases 1&2 to set up this new universe. 

8: New X-Men Reboot (Date Unknown)

How could I not be excited for this? With the Fox merger, it was obvious to everybody that the MCU would endeavour to reboot X-Men yet again, for the third time this century. But I think they can actually get it right. We don’t know much about this other than Feige’s plan to kickstart the mutants in the MCU, but that alone has me hopeful. Maybe they can shy away from the already used X-Men and start focusing on some of the ones who never really got any screen time or one that weren’t used correctly. I would absolutely love a Storm movie starring Aja Naomi King. She has a talent and the capability to lead a movie like this and Storm never really got the content she deserved in either iteration of her character in the Fox movies. 

Whether they rope in Deadpool or not is another concern. The MCU seems hesitant to go into more adult territories, which Deadpool would certainly do. But the Ryan Reynolds-starring property is too critically and commercially popular to ignore, right? With the MCU’s new reboot of the mutants, it might seem like an avenue worth exploring. 

7: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 2021)

I’ve definitely warmed up to the idea of Doctor Strange following his role in Infinity War and the evidence that he’s capable of unlocking something much deeper in the MCU, with time warped dimensions and alternative universes, also tying into the idea of the What If… series which could be interesting. And now with Scott Derrickson’s announcement that the movie is going to be a twisted horror movie which also brings along Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch along the ride, it sounds like it’s going to be AMAZING to watch and there’s so much more potential for the visual effects and trickery. Especially given THOSE sequences in Spider-Man: Far From Home, there’s a visual marker for how those sequences could look. 

Either way, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has the potential to push the MCU literally into new dimensions of time and space. They seemed to set something up in terms of Dr Strange’s storyline in Endgame, so I am excited to see how that will progress in the sequel. I thought that Scott Derrickson did a great job with the first movie and was impressed with his direction, and with his pedigree in directing horror movies it’s almost a surefire thing that this movie will be good for the MCU and how it explores a range of genres.

6: Black Panther 2 (Date Unknown)

Given the enormous success of the first movie and the fact that it scored itself three Academy Awards, it’s no surprise that Ryan Coogler’s ambitious and exciting franchise is getting a sequel. With Coogler coming back to direct the second movie, my hopes are high for its success. Not much has been mentioned about the plot or the avenue it could take, but I would hope to see the cast from the first movie back again, now with the consequences of what they decided to do in the first movie, opening the country to the rest of the world. 

Also, what did they do for five years without their king? Was there another elected? Who ruled Wakanda in T’Challa’s absence? That’ll be exciting to learn, as well as what happens now that they’re all back because of the Blip. 

Whatever happens, I know that it’s going to be interesting and I can’t wait for more details soon!

5: Captain Marvel 2 (Date Unknown)

Higher, further, faster, baby! With the high-grossing power of the first, like Black Panther, there’s no surprise that Captain Marvel 2 is happening. Feige has mentioned that it could explore what happened between the events of the first movie and the events of Endgame, where Carol endeavoured to find a new home for the Skulls, as well as sorting out business on other planets and galaxies. Maybe it’ll all coincide (SPOILER, with the events of the post-credits scene in Spider-Man: Far from Home). If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean by that. 

With Carol as the MCU’s new poster child (I’d like to say a big “suck it” to everyone who complained about Brie Larson, you’re all idiots), this is likely going to tie into the events of the end of Phase 4, if Marvel decide to do another crossover movie, maybe Cap Marvel and Spider-Man lead some new Avengers or something? Whatever happens, this movie could be pretty integral to the direction of the next slate of movies, even though it’s coming over most of these origin movies and setups, which could be what the MCU needs to build on this new phase. I’m here for Carol Danvers in whatever capacity they’ll give her to me. 

4: Fantastic Four Reboot (Date Unknown)

Oh hell yeah! We’re finally going to get a competent Fantastic Four movie from the MCU. It’s what we deserve after the nonsense that what Fan4Stic or however you spell/design the dumbass logo. The Fantastic Four are some of my favourite comic characters and I’m excited to hear the casting. I know there’s the whole John Kransinski/Emily Blunt fan-casting dream which would be cool, but I’d like to see them go a little bit outside the box for this one, maybe rope in some talented indie actors or even some unknowns? Though if we’re going conventional, Billy Magnussen has to be Human Torch and Ana de Armas would be a great Sue. 

Again, there isn’t too much news about this development, but I love these characters and I’m excited to see what happens with its progression. Just don’t mess it up, Feige!

3: Hawkeye (Fall 2021, Disney +)

Maybe now Clint Barton can get the good storyline he deserves. Clint is one of my favourite characters and I’m so excited for the potential this series has. With him being a teacher to Kate Bishop, it could pave the way for some really great stuff and some really great character dynamics between the two. They just need to nail the casting of Kate Bishop, for which I’m all out of ideas for once, and the series will be something really great, I think. Maybe with some cool cameos from other Avengers or just Marvel characters in general. Maybe Maria Hill can make an appearance, or even some of the Agents of SHIELD or something now that their series is coming to an end? 

There are a lot of possibilities for how this story could go, including incorporating some of Clint’s backstories from the comics including his brother who is a prominent figure in a lot of his characterisation in his comic storylines. However they do it, it’s sure to be a success in my eyes, as long as they’re not sidelining Clint or making his storyline too boring/ridiculous. If they finally get Clint right, I think the naysayers will finally say just how great the character can be. 

2: Thor: Love and Thunder (November 2021)

Oh, now we’re talking. First of all, Tessa Thompson saying that Valkyrie needs to “find her queen” is the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life, maybe only second to the fact that NATALIE PORTMAN IS BACK! Not in some weird Endgame footage this time, she’s actually reprising her role and becoming Thor! No, not female Thor as many has been labelling her, but she’s actual Thor from the Mighty Thor comic storyline. And I am so here for this! Taika Waititi comes back to direct and I think this could be for me what Ragnarok was for everyone else. I didn’t quite connect to it, but I think with Portman back and where Thor’s character arc will be at this point, I think this could be something truly special. 

Of course, maybe this could be wishful thinking and it could be Ragnarok part 2…but I doubt it. I don’t think Natalie Portman would return to the series and Marvel itself unless there was something really great happening for her character. And the chance to be Thor? Who wouldn’t snap that up? 

The title intrigues me, because it begs the question whether Thor and Jane will rekindle their romance (or if Jane and Valkyrie will start one which might be the greatest thing ever to happen to cinema) and who’s going to be the villain? There are so many questions and frankly I can’t wait to find out the answers! 

1: Black Widow (May 2020)

And yes, you came all this way (hopefully) for maybe the most obvious answer of them all. I am completely beside myself thinking about the Black Widow solo movie prequel we’re getting in ten months time. As if the fact that one of my favourite MCU characters is getting a solo movie, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz have been confirmed to star! I haven’t read anything about the footage they showed at Comic-Con and I don’t want to know, but this combination of actors is enough to rocket this up to first place. 

I’m also excited to see whether Scarlett Johansson finally gets to play a tree, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m hoping the movie explores Budapest, and maybe we’ll get a little cameo from Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton somewhere along the way to tie up the reference we’ve been hearing about since 2012. They’ve been bringing it up for a reason, surely, and it’ll all build towards this prequel. I’m hoping it’s more of a prequel than an origin story, although I would have loved to see a Black Widow origin story in Phase 1 somewhere along the way. Either way, I’ll take anything I can get and I’m going to treasure the final cinema appearance (well probably) of Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff. Ooh maybe the Winter Soldier will show up somewhere? Oh I don’t know anymore, I’ll just wait until the trailer drops and spend my time dreaming of everything I wished that I could see in this movie. 

So there you go, there’s my rough order of how interested I am in these new titles. Though as I’ve stated, I’m excited about everything Marvel will release in the next four years or so, and I’ll happily watch everything hopefully without many complaints. After the gift that was Avengers Endgame, I’m fully in their debt and will watch literally anything they want to produce. Kevin Feige’s mind never stops working and I’ll go along with whatever he decides to plan. 

Thank you for reading this ranking, and please be sure to let me know if you agree/disagree with anything I’ve said, either in the comments below, or on Twitter @Jamie_Carrick_

Thanks again for reading, and Happy Comic-Con!

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