Following the death of Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame (2019), the year's most anticipated film, many Marvel fans were left wondering as to how the MCU will look with Captain America also exiting. However, Iron Man’s death, as well as the introduction of time travel and the multiverse theory in Avengers: Endgame, provided Marvel Studios with a broad array of opportunities to further explore the universe and introduce more superheroes in its cinematic journey. Moreover, just before the release of Endgame, Marvel's parent company, The Walt Disney Company, had completed the acquisition of 20th Century Fox and all of its properties, meaning Marvel now has access to famous characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
All of these advancements in the Marvel universe have sparked the interest of Marvel fans all over the world, and Marvel certainly delivered with their Phase IV announcements at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
Despite the fact that the Coronavirus epidemic forced Marvel to abandon their original plans, they moved forward with their very first television series, WandaVision, on Disney+. The series served as a crucial arc in building Phase IV and enabled Wanda to realise her full potential.
Since WandaVision, Marvel has gone on releasing more television series on DisneyPlus, including The Falcon and The Winter Soldier where we were introduced to a new Captain America, and Loki where the God of Mischief and his lovable variants wreaked havoc across the multiverse.
Marvel released two films in Phase IV, one of which was Agent Natasha's standalone film Black Widow, which was released exclusively on Disney+, resulting in a legal dispute between Scarlett Johansson and The Walt Disney Company, and to add to the problems, the film was not well received by the audience due to weak plots and wasted characters. The primary takeaways from that flick were the new Black Widow and some extremely Russian heroes.
Despite the pandemic, Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was released just a few weeks ago, performed exceptionally well in the US and international markets. In September of 2021, it remained the highest-grossing film in the pandemic, and its soundtrack record became a sleeper hit. The film introduces us to The Ten Rings, a long-awaited underground cult, as well as Shang-Chi, a brand-new Asian superhero. Its mid-Credit and post-credit scenes also provided an opportunity for Marvel to introduce the New Avengers that might be led by Doctor Strange.
Apart from films, Marvel has already established the concept of the multiverse in two of its television series, WandaVision and Loki, and acknowledged it in the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which features villains from both Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man and Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man.
With the beginning of a new phase, Marvel is expected to unveil a bigger and more powerful villain, and there are already theories swirling about the Marvel multiverse's newest menace. In Loki, we meet Kang The Conqueror, a time-travelling supervillain who primarily conquers universes using time travel and has the ability to correctly foresee the future, making him far stronger and wiser than Thanos. Furthermore, as Sony and Disney have finally established a solution to share Spider-Man and related characters across both cinematic universes, the idea of bringing The Sinister Six villains is on the table. Other villains speculated to appear in the MCU include Mephisto, an eternal devil, Kingpin, a mafia boss and arch-nemesis of Spider-Man and Daredevil, Death Dealer from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Mordo from Doctor Strange, and Gorr The God Butcher, played by Christian Bale in the upcoming film Thor Love and Thunder.
Marvel contents are not over for this year though. In November, Eternals will release in theatres and Hawkeye on Disney Plus, followed by Spider-Man: No Way Home in December. The Marvels, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will all be released next year. Throughout the year, Ms Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and Secret Invasion television series will also be available on Disney Plus. In 2023, we’ll get Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Blade and Fantastic Four are expected but have no confirmed release dates. Ironheart, I Am Groot, and Armor Wars are also awaiting proper release windows aside from Season 2 of Loki.
With all of these new movies and shows coming out every month in the coming years, it's safe to say that Marvel fans will be very busy on weekends, either cheering for their new favourite hero in the theatre or binge-watching an entirely new series based on a character they've only seen in comic books.