First things first, if you haven’t seen it yet (and even if you did, watch it again), take look at this incredible video Marvel Studios put out, giving us a look at its upcoming films and reminding us why we love going to the movies in the first place! Watch it here:
My God, those sons of bitches at Marvel have done it again! Goddamn if this isn’t one of the most effective pieces of marketing material I have ever seen. The use of Stan Lee’s voice over, coupled with the images of all of the amazing MCU films we’ve seen so far was genius.
It was like in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke doesn’t want anything to with The Jedi or The Resistance. Trusty old R2-D2 decides to give Luke a little kick in the ass, by playing Leia’s message from all those years ago, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Luke gives R2 an annoyed, but slightly amused look and replies, “That was a cheap move.” Yeah. Sure. It was a cheap move, but it worked like a goddamn charm.
The video begins by showing us our most beloved moments and characters from throughout The MCU. All of this is set to Stan Lee’s beautiful voiceover. He delivered a message full of nostalgia, friendship, community, and hope. In other hands it might have sounded a little hokey, but this is Stan Fucking Lee. The guy’s a pro! From everything I’ve heard in addition to creating almost all of marvels most popular characters Stan was just a really good guy. Anyone who knew him talked about what an amazing person he was. He was humble man despite the indelible success. He always loved his fans and was genuinely grateful for reading his work. They didn’t call him Stan “The Man” Lee for nothing!
But then we’re shown a brief piece of footage, from an audience watching Avengers: Endgame opening night. A movie theater full of people, watching the now iconic “portals“ scene, culminating in Captain America’s unforgettable battle cry of “Avengers Assemble!” The theatre absolutely ERUPTS! Cheering! Applause! This is something I certainly related to because I had the exact same experience when I saw Avengers: Endgame opening night with my father. One of the things I’ve noticed over the last 20 years or so, is that for a really excellent film, if there was a rousing triumphant moment, people used to clap and cheer. Or even if the movie itself was just great, a cut above the rest, the audience would sometimes applaud. As if they were watching a Broadway show live. That has become increasingly rare over the last few decades. I can count on one hand the amount of times an audience has engaged with a recent movie like they did with Avengers: Endgame. The night I saw it, it wasn’t a special fans screening, it wasn’t a midnight show. It was just opening night, I’m sure a lot of the people in the audience were just movie fans not necessarily diehard marvel fans like myself and my father were. Yet when Cap picks up fours hammer and tape sign Thanos and when Captain America once again utters those immortal words “Avengers Assemble!” The entire audience flipped out, people were standing up and clapping as if it was a playoff game at a sporting event. That’s the kind of communal movie going experience I miss. That’s the type of audience interaction that I miss. For so long one of the big reasons I didn’t like to see films in theaters as much as I used to, is because audience etiquette has gone down the tubes. People talk and take out their phones. However if somebody yells something out, claps, or cheers simply because they got caught up in the moment, they became lost in the story unfolding on the screen, that kind of audience engagement is wonderful and has become all too rare. That’s the kind of movie magic Marvel is trying to remind us of with this amazing look at PHASE 4. it’s a big part of what I think is missing from the movie theater industry. It’s one of the reasons they’ve struggled over the last few decades. Marvel is sending us a very clear message here: LET’S GET BACK TO THE MOVIES!
A few interesting observations…
I really love how for some of these sequels were given new, creative titles, instead of just calling them part 2 or part 3. For example, we have Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (great title), instead of Black Panther 2. Captain Marvel 2 is now The Marvels and Ant-Man 3 is Ant-Man and The Wasp: QuantumMania
I thought it was particularly cool that Captain Marvel 2 has been re-titled, The Marvels. Carol Danvers is still the main character, but she’ll be fighting alongside two new lead characters with deep ties to Captain Marvel in the comics and The MCU. The film will feature Monica Rambeau, who was memorably introduced (and developed superpowers) in WandaVision, and eventually becomes the superhero known as Spectrum. To refresh your memory, the first Captain Marvel film took place in the 90’s and Monica was the daughter of Carol’s best friend. Monica was also one of the best side characters in WandaVision, so seeing her in the Captain Marvel sequel as an adult, with her own superhero experience, working alongside the woman she idolized growing up, will be a welcome addition to the film.
The Marvels not only marks the big screen debut of Monica Rambeau, but Kamal Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel, as well. Ms. Marvel is one of The MCU’s new Disney+ series premiering later this year. The story follows a Pakistani teenager named Kamal Khan from New Jersey who develops extraordinary abilities and her favorite hero just happens to be Captain Marvel. So Carol Danvers is a big inspiration for Kamala and connects to the character in some interesting ways that the Disney+ series will delve into. Ms Marvel is interesting because her story is basically a modern day retelling of Spider-Man. She’s a teenage girl juggling family, friends, and the life of a superhero. The Marvels premieres in late 2022, so we’ll get a much better idea of how this character will fit into this highly anticipated movie when the Ms Marvel Disney+ series debuts later this year.
The details surrounding Black Panter: Wakanda Forever are a little bit more ambiguous. I’ve heard conflicting reports about what this movie is going to actually be. Very early on, Marvel announced that they didn’t intend to replace Chadwick Boseman in the role of T’Challa. They were going to move forward with Black Panther 2, presumably with someone from the existing cast, most likely either Shuri or Okoye, taking up the mantle of The Black Panther. With the greatest respect to Chadwick Boseman, I think that would be a big mistake. I think if you could ask him, he would probably agree that characters like Black Panther transcend the people who play them, just like with Heath Ledger and The Joker. So often you hear actors compare these superhero roles to Shakespeare characters like Hamlet, that are interpreted over and over again by different actors. With each new actor putting their own spin on it. T’Challa is just too important and cool a character to introduce into The MCU and then not be part of it as we move into this exciting new future. I always thought the best course of action would be to, put that sequel on hold for a respectful couple of years, re-cast, and just make Black Panther 2. For a good while it seemed like that was not the way they were going to go, they were going to move on seemingly without T’Challa as the lead character. If that ends up being the way they go, exactly how they will explain his absence from the film is complete mystery. However, if some recent reports are to be believed, then there is a possibility they may be re-casting the role, which honestly I would prefer. I don’t think it’s necessarily in bad taste. As I said before I’m sure if you could ask people like Heath ledger or Chad Boseman they would agree that these characters are larger than the people who play them. They’ve been here before us and they will be there long after. Of course we will update you as information comes to light, but for the time being I will say I love the title of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever !
If your regular visitor to the website, you know how much I love The Fantastic Four and how much I’ve been dying to see them make an appearance in The MCU. We were teased at the very end of this presentation that FF is essentially going to be the last film in Phase 4. Now if I had to pick which of of these projects I am most excited for, it wouldn’t be FF. We just don’t know enough about Fantastic Four yet for me to be super intrigued, because I don’t know what their approach is going to be. I know that Jon Watts the director of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home will be directing FF, which I think is an excellent choice. But other than that nothing is known about the movie. I’m certain as more information comes out my excitement for FF will increase, but for now there are a lot of PHASE 4 projects highlighted here to get really excited for!
It’s important to remember that when Phase 3 of The MCU was announced, the slate of films that we got and what was announced have some major difference. Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 & 2 became Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The Inhumans film was dropped from the slate completely and made into a TV miniseries. Two Spider-Man films, as well as Ant-Man and The Wasp were added to the lineup. Marvel is always willing to change and adapt when it’s appropriate, which is one of its strengths. To wrap things up, this is an extremely exciting and impressive look at things to come from one of pop-culture’s most exciting storytellers.
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