Marvel's Questions Confirms MCU Phase 4 Needs an Avengers Movie
Marvel decided not to release an Avengers movie as part of Phase 4 - a decision that had a bad impact on the overall story of the MCU.
The MCU's messy and confusing Phase 4 slate suggests Marvel needs an Avengers movie. Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially come to an end, but it hasn't really been the massive success Marvel Studios had hoped for. There have always been criticisms that Phase 4 felt rather disjointed, and this feeling was subconsciously reinforced when Marvel officially announced that Phases 4-6 would collectively be referred to as "Saga of the Multiverse"—since only a few Phase 4 movies and TV shows are about this and the multiverse.
The main problem, of course, is that MCUs are now expanding at an unprecedented rate. The MCU has become a sprawling transmedia multiverse, with modern Disney+ TV shows playing a vital role in the ongoing narrative. This means that the total runtime of Phase 4 - over 50 hours - is more than Phases 1-3 combined, and it's much simpler to maintain a cohesive story. That's especially true considering all of these movies and TV shows were being made at the same time, but Marvel could have improved matters with a single decision - throwing an Avengers movie into the mix.
Why MCU Phase 4 Didn't Have An Avengers Movie
According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Marvel Putting the Avengers movies in Phase 4 was never even considered. Back at SDCC 2019, he explained that Phase 4 was supposed to be the beginning, and the Avengers movies were meant to be the end. "Phase 4 is about getting started," he notes, "Phase 4 is about learning new things about characters you thought you already knew, like Black Widow, meeting incredible new characters like the Eternals and Monk Chi , new adventures with Doctor Strange and Thor, and I promise these Disney+ shows will be spectacular and not what anyone was expecting.” The benefit of this approach is that it provides some respite for the Avengers franchise. space, as Marvel is clearly feeling the pressure to find a way to outshine Avengers: Endgame - something only possible through years of build-up.
Of course, there are practical reasons for having fewer Avengers movies. The Avengers' ever-expanding roster of characters made organizing the film a logistical nightmare. To complicate matters further, there is evidence that Marvel Studios has changed the way it handles contracts and no longer requires actors to sign for a decade or more; Oscar Isaac, for example, only signed for one season Moon Knight, season 2 has yet to be confirmed. As a result, the contracts for the upcoming Avengers films will need to be renegotiated, and the schedule will be difficult to manage. Understandably, while they're expanding Phase 4 to an unprecedented degree, Marvel has no interest in trying to make it happen because their team would become overwhelmed.
How An Avengers Movie Would've Made Phase 4 Better
However, the underlying issue is that the Avengers films will provide structure to Phase 4 of the MCU. The first three phases of the MCU are structured on the pattern of the earlier events in the comics; each phase ends with a major "event movie," an Avengers movie that brings together many of the narrative threads in Together -- and, crucially, it can serve as a launch pad for the next phase. The Avengers in 2012 was the climax of the first phase and the basis of the second phase, Tony Stark suffered from PTSD, Thor took Loki to Asgard for trial, and Steve Rogers began to fight with S.H.I.E.L.D. cooperate. Avengers: Age of Ultron featured the destruction of Sokovia, which led to Phase 3 of the Sokovia Protocol. Much of the Phase 4 story takes place after the Blip, during the five-year period Half of all living things in the universe have been wiped out. Phase 4, however, lacks this - it feels like the threads are loose, the plot hangs in the balance, and the future direction is unclear.
Marvel's Phase 4 release was of mixed quality, with some disappointing missteps. However, it's easy to forget that the first three stages aren't perfect; instead, they're easier to remember because they're part of an overarching narrative of success. Without this, and the Avengers movies will provide it, Marvel's failings and mistakes are even more apparent in Phase 4.
What An Avengers Movie In Phase 4 Could've Looked Like
Of course, the interesting question is what the Phase 4 Avengers movie will look like. Marvel's best approach might be some sort of Young Avengers project, building on the legacy theme that was integral to Phase 4. The Young Avengers roster is almost complete, with potential roles including Kate Bishop's Hawkeye, The Wizard, Speed, Cassiron, Elijah Bradley, America Chavez and Riri Williams, and Ms. Marvel. It's easy to imagine such a scenario as a setup for the next phase of the Multiverse Saga simply because the comic book Young Avengers contains a variant of Kang the Conqueror - The greatest villain in the multiverse saga.
A Young Avengers movie is easier to pull off than another full Avengers epic. It doesn't require as many actors, which makes it a lot easier to arrange and produce. More importantly, though, it could subtly diversify the Avengers brand. Marvel's current plans seem to have locked the studio into what could be called "power creep," a phenomenon in which Marvel desperately tries to get bigger and more explosive with each generation of Avengers movies. The Multiverse Saga is building Secret Wars, and Avengers 6 may bring back heroes from past non-MCU films for an even more spectacular team-up. Such an event would be even bigger than Avengers: Endgame - but it would be hard to top, and Marvel's current model means the studio will be expected to do just that. A Young Avengers movie would help break that trap.
Oddly enough, it actually looks as though the Phase 5 movie will serve as the launching pad for the next phase of the Multiverse Saga; Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, which is expected to introduce the MCU's main Conqueror, Kang. Hopefully this means Phase 5 is better structured, as if there's a real story running through it all. But it won't do anything to fix Phase 4 of the MCU, which always seems like a disappointment compared to what's happened before.