Marvel Phase 4 Review: Extended Cut

The good, the bad, and the ok

After the infinity stones, what is left in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The goal of Phase 4 has been witnessing the aftermath of the world in shambles after “The Blip” where half the world’s population disappeared. It is also to build up this world that we have been following for the past 14 years to start the next big adventure. That adventure is a Multiverse with the big bad of Kang the Conqueror. My goal is to cover the entirety of what Phase 4 has been and see what we have received from this new era of the MCU.

“Black Widow”: So to start off with, this movie is not great. Bad CGI (which is going to be a recurring theme), weak plot and the interest wasn’t there. One of the movie’s purposes was to give a final send-off to Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, who died in “Avengers Endgame” while sacrificing herself for the soul stone. Additionally, the purpose was to introduce a bunch of characters such as Red Guardian, Taskmaster and Yelena Belova, who becomes the new Black Widow. We should be seeing all these characters in the upcoming “Thunderbolts” movie.

“Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings”: I actually really liked this movie with the chastmatic Simu Liu as the lead of Shang-Chi, a new hero to the MCU. The film has a fun use of martial arts with creative action such as the iconic and wonderfully choreographed bus scene used in the trailer. With interesting world-building in a world that is already so vast, a unique opportunity for the main screen to have a large, diverse cast was created to introduce Shang-Chi to the wider MCU.

“Eternals”: This movie was ok, with a three hour run-time that you feel every minute. This movie introduces a large all-star cast of the Eternals who are aliens from another world. This movie as a whole is forgettable, but basically shows who these characters are as well why they have returned after “The Blip”. Deviants, who are creatures from another world, have also returned as the enemies of the Eternals. The movie ends with these end of the world stakes that the audience can’t really buy into and kills off a portion of the Eternals. This movie introduces the Eternals, Black Knight and Eros. Eros, interestingly, is the brother of Thanos.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”: The movie picks up right where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” left off. Everyone knows who Spider-Man is, and how will Peter change that? With the use of magic, he goes to Dr. Strange to find out how to make everyone forget who he is. The problem with that spell is that everyone will forget who he is, including his friends and family. Peter, in an attempt to change that, makes the spell unstable and has everyone who knows who Peter Parker is come to the MCU including former villains from past movies. Yet this also includes Peter Parker, so we get this amazing on-screen trio with Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as Spider-Man. It was literally magic, and this movie holds a special place in my heart as I bet it does for anyone who are fans of the other movies. The nostalgia hits like a wave and makes the movie everything we wanted it to be. Now is it a little bit of crutch for the movie? Sure, but it makes this a must-watch for any Spider-Man fan. The movie introduces Daredevil to the MCU, Multiverse concepts and a new status quo for our hero.

“Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness”: I wanted to love this movie so badly, but it fails in the typical Marvel cycle of bad CGI. With the brilliant Sam Rami returning to directing. Sami Rami being the director of the original “Spider-Man” franchise and the classic horror trilogy of “Evil Dead”. We have a promise of exploration of the Multiverse in the MCU with Wanda after “WandaVision”, who is projected to be this great villain. Now, this movie has a lot of ups and downs with some amazing ideas, including the classic Sam Rami shoots to build a horror atmosphere with Wanda to create fear. She is unstoppable, and it is so enticing to watch this hero be an absolute villain. This movie introduces the Illuminati in another universe which is a group that includes the likes of Mr. Fantastic and Charles Xavier, who have both never been seen before in the MCU. Mr. Fantastic, with the fan cast of John Kranzenski and Charles Xavier, has Patrick Stewart reprising his classic role as the mutant leader which proceeds with a vicious kill streak from Wanda who kills all of them. Then, with all of this going on, the movie introduces America Chavez who can travel through the Multiverse. The importance of this movie is introducing Chavez to “Young Avengers” as well as growing Dr. Strange’s character and creating a new status for Wanda with her supposed death at the end of the movie.

“Thor: Love and Thunder”: This movie was bad with the constant cycle of bad CGI and a lot of attempts for comedy that didn’t land, making it a hard movie to watch. Especially after the last Thor movie directed by Takai Waititi that was so amazing, my expectations were set high. With a decent introduction to Ghor the God Butcher who is actually an interesting character, we receive an incredible performance by Christian Bale, who was easily the best part of the movie. Jane Foster is also reintroduced with a similar storyline to the comics where she has cancer, but being Thor is slowly killing her. However, Natlie Portman’s performance falls flat; she just doesn’t belong in the current MCU and just feels out of place. As well as an increased focus on Korg, a funny side character from “Thor: Rangnork” who is voiced by Takai, it’s exhausting and overstays its welcome. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as Thor, and it sucks that this movie just keeps regressing the progress this character has made. The film ends with Thor understanding Ghor’s distaste for the gods and he becomes willing to take care of his daughter. “Thor: Love and Thunder” introduces Love who we may see in “Young Avengers”, shows us what’s left of Asgard, Zeus, Hercules and Thor as a father figure.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: This movie was made with a passion and respect to former Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, and his passing. It was beautiful with heart-warming dedication to make this film the best it could be. I am under the impression that this was one of the best movies of Phase 4 with a share of its own problems. With a different atmosphere compared to the former movies in this phase and I hope this is a step in the right direction. This movie helps establish Naymor and Shuri as the new Black Panther and also introduces T’Challa’s secret son who we will most likely see inherit the role of Black Panther in a future movie. There is also a good element of world building in this movie with the underwater kingdom and the national interest in getting their hands on Vibranium, a metal believed to be exclusive to Wakanda that can be used for weapons.

Tv Shows and Specials

“WandaVision”: This show was a great start to the TV format and an interesting portrayal of Wanda in the way they shot it in a sitcom fashion. Living in the suburbs with her lovely robot husband and her two kids, Wanda takes control of an entire town and makes them bend to her ideal world. The show is about Wanda after “Avengers: Endgame” and the mental state she is in following the death of her husband, Vision. It ends with her leaning toward evil spells and becoming the Scarlet Witch. The show introduces Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo (who I adore), Agatha (the big villain of the show), a reincarnation of Vision as White Vision and finally Billy and Tommy who are Wanda’s sons for “Young Avengers”.

“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”: We are seeing how these characters continue without Steve and how their relationship grows, easily becoming the best part of this show. It has the atmosphere of a buddy cop movie between the duo and the character development of both characters is great. The show also introduces U.S. Agent as a government-approved replacement for Captain America. The rest of this show is a hot mess where the plot surrounding these Freedom Fighters who are correlated with “The Blip” is kind of interesting, but not for long with the additionally boring villain that tries to humanize her. The problem is that her motives are weak and the character depth is shallow, making it difficult to relate to her. We are reintroduced to Zemo, which was a pleasant surprise, as well as Sharone Carter as a new leader in the criminal world. Some key purposes of this show is introducing Sam Wilison as Captain America, Buckey Barnes as White Wolf and U.S Agent for the Thunder Bolt.

“Loki”: This show is so engaging and its pacing can be a little slow, but it firmly establishes the Time Variance Authority (TVA). It feels very “Doctor Who” inspired with how they travel through time and to other worlds as well as with the idea of variants and all these different forms of Loki. Owen Wilson’s addition in the show is such a welcome to the MCU as an agent in the TVA. The finale also introduces Kang the Conqueror and the breaking of the multiverse.

“What If…?”: This show is the first of its kind in the MCU, an animated anthology series that explores more of the multiverse and different worlds. It is interesting and definitely worth checking out, but it doesn’t really play a major role in the surrounding MCU.

“Hawkeye”: This could’ve easily been a movie, but I am interested in the character of Clint Barton and the establishment of Kate Bishop, who will be appearing in “Young Avengers”. Yelena Belova comes back in this show with a vengeance after she believes that Clint killed her sister, the original Black Widow. The show also begins bringing in the establishment of Echo and reintroducing Kingpin in the context of the MCU. Also, it’s all a holiday special. The comics this show is based on are great, and the exploration of Clint being deaf is also great. I enjoyed this show, but it has a lot of flaws falling into the typical Marvel format of writing.

“Moon Knight”: This show is next level with Oscar Isaac as its lead. The character of Moon Knight is just so interesting with a great opening episode, and there is an increase of violence shown, which is new to the MCU. Ethan Hawke as the main villain is just so good, as he is a cult leader of this Egyptian god of balance. Moon Knight has multiple different personalities, and seeing how they interact is ingenious. Then, the costume design is next level. I’m excited to see the bigger role Moon Knight plays in the MCU.

“Ms. Marvel”: This show is different from everything as it sets the tone of a high school comedy with some superhero shenanigans. It actually has a style to it and it’s different from everything else in Marvel. The casting of Ms. Marvel was perfect and her love for the character can be felt. However I could barely sit through watching this show. The show’s most important thing was to introduce Ms. Marvel for the “Young Avengers”. It still in all this falls short of being something special instead it falls into bad writing and terrible CGI.

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law”: This is an episodic show which takes a different approach from the rest of MCU shows. However it is a welcomed difference, as she is an interesting character who I’m excited to see more from. The CGI is pretty mediocre throughout the entire show, but the casting for She-Hulk is perfect. It features fun cameos ranging from Hulk, Wong and Daredevil.

“Werewolf by Night”: This special was great. It was formatted in an hour special, making it easy to watch and introduces characters we wouldn’t typically see. The editing is black-and-white, reminding viewers of an old horror movie. It’s interesting seeing the MCU take an artistic approach, creating something that differs from the formula. Introducing Jack Russell, Emma Bloodstone and Man-Thing, the special was a pleasant surprise to be released on Disney+.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special”: This was a nice little bow to Phase 4 with a wholesome Christmas special in the company of our favorite aliens from out of space including the whole gang in their new home. The special starts with an animated flashback with Peter and the Ravagers putting up a Christmas tree and gifts for everyone. Then, it’s ruined by Yondu who comes in and shuts down any celebration. This leads the crew to believe that Christmas was ruined for Peter, and Mantis along with Drax decide to go to Earth to fix Christmas for Peter. As a whole, this special is just really sweet as we learn Mantis is Peter’s sister and Peter embraces her with a renewed sense of joy.