Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Four Explained

From WandaVision to the Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special, Phase Four is the most ambitious and experimental chapter of the MCU to date.

From WandaVision to the Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special, Phase Four is the most ambitious, inexplicable, and polarizing chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Phase 4 marks the first leg of Marvel Studios' "multiverse saga," with the sacred timeline branching off into various realities such as What If...?, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Explore like crazy. The release schedule has changed a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the phase is still focused on the overarching narrative, such as the creation of the multiverse and the introduction of the next big bad, Kang the Conqueror.

Phase 4 expanded Infinity Saga mainstays like Loki and Wanda Maximoff, and introduced promising new heroes like Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, America Chavez, and Moon Knight. It also saw the main Avengers pass the torch to their successors, with Bruce Banner passing the Hulk mantle to Jen Walters and Clint Barton passing the Hawkeye name to Kate Bishop. The launch of Disney+ sees Marvel Studios expand its reach beyond movies to streaming series and a "special presentation" throughout Phase 4, enabling the MCU to tell broader stories And highlight the supporting characters, though that makes things tricky at times.

WandaVision (2021)

Set a few weeks after Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision sees a grieving Wanda Maximoff construct an idyllic sitcom-style suburban life with her lost love, Vision. The series introduces S.W.O.R.D. - the cosmic alternative to S.H.I.E.L.D. – and "White Vision," a new version of Vision that struggles with his identity. Wanda's sitcom Fantasyland gave Monica Rambo superpowers before she came to Marvel and introduced the villainous Agatha Harkness, who will star in her own spinoff in Phase Five. In a post-credits scene after the series' redemption arc wraps up, Wanda studies the Book of Darkness, setting up her malevolent turn in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (2021)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier explores the legacy of Steve Rogers and incorporates elements of the Truth: Red, White, Black comics to establish the dark history of the super-soldier serum. The series set up Sam Wilson as the new Captain America in the Phase 5 Avengers film after Steve gave him the shield in Endgame. Sharon Carter revealed to be a villain and disgraced John under the alias 'Power Broker' Walker was recruited into the MCU's Thunderbolts lineup by Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine. Contessa is set to darken as Nick Fury recruits an anti-hero for his Phase 5 adventure.

Loki Season 1 (2021)

After he stole the Cosmic Cube during the time heist in Avengers: Endgame, the titular trickster spent Loki's first season in the custody of the Jet Slack Authority. The TVA, a police force dedicated to keeping the space-time continuum intact and "pruning" the rogue's timeline, is central to the Multiverse Saga's interdimensional storyline. Loki's most significant contribution to the MCU canon was the introduction of the series' next Thanos-sized villain, Kang the Conqueror, and his variant "He Who Remains." The season ended with the creation of the MCU's multiverse (its new central plot), as the deaths of survivors destroyed the sacred timeline.

Black Widow (2021)

Between the main episode and final scene of Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow fills in Natasha Romanoff's backstory and introduces her surrogate sister and franchise replacement Yelena Bello baby. The film also debuts the spies who raised Nat and Yelena: former Black Widow Melina Vostokov and Alexey Shostakov, better known as the "Red Guard," the Soviet captain United States. Both Yelena and Alexei will be joining the MCU's Thunderbolts team. In the post-credits scene, the Countess recruits Yelena to kill Clint Barton, falsely blaming him for Nat's death, setting her up as a secondary villain in the Hawkeye series.

What If...? Season 1 (2021)

After Sylvie created the MCU's multiverse in the Loki finale, Season 1 What If...? blows it up. Each episode of the animated anthology series takes place in an alternate world of the MCU: one infected by zombies, one invaded by an infinitely driven Ultron, one destroyed by a heartbroken Doctor Strange. What If... an interdimensional adventure? Major multiverse players are introduced, such as Captain Carter (Peggy Carter's version of the super soldier who later made his debut in the Multiverse of Madness) and Star-Lord T'Challa. Unlike the hypothetical stories in the comics, the MCU's What If...? episodes are multi-canonical.

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021)

After Iron Man 3 portrayed the Mandarin as an imposter and the Ten Rings as the name of a terrorist organization, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduced the real Mandarin, Shang-Chi's estranged father Wen Wu, and the real Ten Rings, An ancient mystical weapon. Mid-credits scene introduces Shang Chi The Greater Avengers, Wong, Carol Danvers, and Bruce Banner are examining the ten rings he inherited from his father. The end-credits scene shows Shang-Chi's older sister, Xia Ling, taking over as the new leader of the Ten Rings despite her promise to shut it down, so she could become a villain in the future.

Eternals (2021)

The Eternals movie introduces 10 ancient aliens of the same name to the MCU ensemble, seven of which are set for future storylines: Thena, Druig, and Makkari have traveled to space to find other Eternals, Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo has gone into space to be taken by Arishem to judge humanity, and Sprite has become human so she can finally grow old from her childlike state. The mid-credits scene introduces Thanos' eternal brother Eros, who could be a key figure in the fight against Kang, and a late-credits scene sees Dane Whitman being gifted an ebony blade by an off-screen character (known as Blade) , teasing him that he transforms into the Black Knight.

Hawkeye (2021)

The Hawkeye series introduces Clint Button's successor, college-age archer Kate Bishop, and the anti-hero Echo, who is getting her own series on Disney+. Kate set to join MCU's Young The Avengers fight alongside characters like Ms. Marvel and America Chavez. Yelena is back, hoping to avenge Nat by killing Clint, and has an interesting relationship with Kate in the process, teasing further collaborations between the new Hawkeye and the new Black Widow. Hawkeye's final few episodes brought Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin into the mainstream MCU as the series' big bad, making it possible for him to fight Spider-Man or Daredevil in future projects.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Marvel Studios joins the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Return, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man join forces with Tom Holland (and Several of their villains) return together. Thanks to an opening credits cameo from Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock, who left some of the Venom symbiote for future storylines, Nowhere to Go links the universe of their previous Spider-Man series with Sony's The Marvel Universe was established together as an alternate dimension in the MCU multiverse. Charlie Cox cameoed as Matt Murdock, providing Peter Parker with much-needed legal advice and finally securing his place in the mainline MCU.

Moon Knight (2022)

Marvel's first full-fledged psychological thriller, Moon Knight, adds another ancient myth to the growing roster Gods in the MCU with Egyptian idols Khonshu and Taweret. The series splits time between menacing mercenary Mark Spector (the human incarnation of the Egyptian moon god) and his suave alter-ego Steven Grant. Mid-credits introduces a third personality, Jack Lockley, a more ruthless limo driver than Mark. Moon Knight doesn't have much connection to the wider MCU, but Oscar Isaac has confirmed (via that he's in discussions with Marvel Studios about Moon Knight's return.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follows up WandaVision's end credits scene in which Wanda is completely corrupted by a dark spell and willing to kill to become a mother. Multiverse of Madness introduces interdimensional traveler America Chavez as Stephen Strange's latest teenage protégé and Clea, Dormammu's niece (and Strange's wife in the comics), teases the "invasion" that could lead to the creation of Battleworld in The Avengers : Secret Wars. After attempting to capture America's dimension-hopping power, Wanda realized her mistake and sacrificed herself to destroy every incarnation of the Dark Lord. Since she didn't die on screen, and a sympathetic Earth-838 variant exists, Wanda may return in the future.

Ms. Marvel (2022)

Portrayal of Ms. Marvel Its protagonist broke away from comic book lore, making Kamala a mutant. This marks the first confirmation of the existence of a mutant species in the MCU ahead of the highly anticipated debut of the X-Men franchise. The elves' homeworld, Noor Dimension, confirms that dimensions and parallel universes are distinct in the MCU's world-building, so the multiverse has mentally alternate dimensions in addition to parallel worlds. Brie Larson's mid-credits cameo as Carol Danvers and her body-swap with Kamala in the season finale set the stage for their partnership with Monica in the Marvel films base.

Thor: Love And Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder sees Thor take on Gore the Godslayer after vowing to slay the gods. The movie introduces the Almighty City, home of the gods, and gives Zeus and his son Hercules the main roles. Hercules is sent to kill Thor in the post-credits scene, teasing the Thor 5 storyline. Jane Foster sacrificed herself to defeat Gore and added Valhalla's Heimdall in the post-credits scene, adding Asgard's afterlife to the MCU canon. Love and Thunder ended with Thor adopting Gore's revived daughter, Love. 'Love and Thunder', it turns out, is the name of a new father-daughter superhero pair The two join the Avengers.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (2022)

Bruce Banner's blood is fused with his cousin Jen Walters, turning her into the titular Superman in She-Hulk: The Lawyer, a superhero action series with the fourth-wall-breaking Legal procedure sitcom combined. Jen represents a mix of familiar MCU characters like Wong and those new to the franchise like Leap-Frog. She-Hulk gave Cox's Daredevil a much bigger role than Way Home, leaving behind the gritty tone of his Netflix series and establishing what the character's upcoming Disney+ show Born Again will showcase. A more fun, comic book tone. She-Hulk deconstructs the entire MCU, Jen hops through the Disney+ library, and confronts K.E.V.I.N. On the grounds of Marvel Studios, reinventing herself for the season finale.

Werewolf By Night (2022)

The MCU's first "special", Night of the Werewolves - a Halloween special based on the classic black and white B-movie - sees a group of monster hunters gather at the Temple of the Bloodstone. Night of the Werewolf is largely disconnected from the wider universe, and it's unclear where in the timeline it takes place. The special does introduce several key horror-themed Marvel characters to the ensemble, such as Man-Thing, Elsa Bloodstone, and Jack Russell's version of Nightwolf. special ends with werewolf night Teaming up with Man-Thing, Elsa takes the estate for herself, establishing an MCU niche that can embrace the horror-tinged colors of Blade and Moon Knight.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

After Chadwick Boseman's untimely death, Ryan Coogler rewrote "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" to revolve around an encounter with T'Challa. Grief over the death of the king and Wakanda's struggle to get over the death of its king unfolds. T'Challa dies offscreen in the opening scene, and his sister Shuri takes over the Black Panther mantle. Wakanda Forever introduces Namor, ruler of the undersea kingdom of Talokan, as more of a sympathetic antihero than a straight-up villain. The film also introduces Riri Williams, a gifted American college student in flying armor who will star in her own Disney+ spinoff, Ironheart, after developing a strong bond with Wakanda.

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special wraps up Phase 4 on a lighthearted note. It marks the first MCU appearance of Cosmo the Spacedog, the latest addition to the Guardians roster. This also confirms that Mantis is Ego's daughter, making her Quill's half-sister, as a scene to the same effect from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. made it to the finale The big screen adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Teams are tighter than ever. Now that their sibling secrets are out, Quill and Mantis may grow closer in the trilogy.

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