For the last thirteen years, Marvel has more or less dominated cinema. For better… and for worse. Still, for a while, it was really cool! An interconnected series of films spanning over a decade, all building up to a grand conclusion against an ultimate evil! Say what you will about Infinity War and Endgame, but those movies earned the grand finale they presented.
Problem is: they kept going after that.
The post-Endgame era of MCU movies and TV shows has been… let’s say bizarre. It no longer feels like it’s really building up to anything. More it feels like a series of random disjointed comic book stories. Which is fine in comics, but in a series of films known for their interconnected storylines? It’s a bit of a problem.
We’ve been in Phase 4 for a while now. There are so many movies and TV shows and almost all of them have been completely forgotten by now. Remember Eternals? How about the Black Widow movie? Don’t tell me you forgot the Hawkeye show that no one watched! It’s gotten to the point where trying to keep track of it all has become a living nightmare! An exhausting one, at that.
Fatigue has set in hard for these films, and for the superhero genre as a whole. While there are still hardcore Marvel fans who still eat it all up, the majority of people are just kinda done with it. A problem further exasperated by the lack of focus in Phase 4. Not to mention how drawn out it all feels; let’s be honest, half of those TV shows could have been shortened down into movies.
Not to say that there haven’t been some successes. I really enjoyed Spider-Man: Far From Home (even if no one else seemed to) and everyone loved Spider-Man: No Way Home. Of the TV shows, Wandavision proved to be pretty popular, Loki was super popular, and the Moon Knight show ended up being a decent enough time. And while Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness had an abundance of issues, it’s creative visuals and dynamic cinematography more than made up for it, at least for me.
Also, I got to see Jim from the Office get turned into human spaghettis. Which was just delightful.
As a whole, though, all of Phase 4 just feels like filler. Like the heads at Marvel don’t know where to take the MCU after the whole Thanos plotline and now they’re just trying to keep going and make some money in the meantime. Which only feels even more true with the recent announcement of the Phase 5 film lineup. Yes, Phase 5 seems to be more of the same ol’ movies and TV shows all leading up to another Avengers movie. But maybe now they’ll start to regain the focus that the MCU had back in Phases 1-3.
That being said, I don’t think there’s anything they can do to alleviate the superhero fatigue that’s set in. It started to settle in back when Infinity War came out and it’s only become worse since. People have gotten tired of the formula and they just want something new. That’s one of the major reasons why The Boys has gotten so popular; it cleverly (and brutally) subverts the tropes of the genre that everyone has pretty much gotten sick of at this point.
Trust me, we’ll get to that topic soon enough.
As for me, I’m more or less done with the MCU. Unless it has the words Spider and Man connected by a hyphen somewhere in the title, I’m not going to bother anymore. To me, the MCU ended with Endgame, and everything afterwards has either been fun little epilogue stuff or just a waste of time. If you still enjoy it, more power to you, but I think I’m done.
2 responses to “Let’s Talk About Phase 4 (Marvel)”
I’m still going to the movies because on an individual basis they’re not all bad… But I’ve given up hope on any connected narrative.
And in truth, only Phase 1 kinda sorta managed a connected narrative. From there on, it gets a lot messier.
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Phase 1 is really charming in retrospect. The other phases are fun, but they’re so formulaic and messy, like you said. It was kinda nice back when the MCU was smaller and more focused.
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