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The Best Shows And Movies In Marvel’s Phase 4

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The Best Shows And Movies In Marvel’s Phase 4


Summary

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens up new possibilities and explores alternate universes, connecting to other MCU projects like WandaVision and Loki.
  • Werewolf by Night is a unique and strange entry in the MCU, taking a chance on an obscure character and introducing a major multiversal figure, Man-Thing.
  • What If…? Season One tells new and interesting stories by changing pivotal moments in the MCU, offering a fun and creative addition to Phase 4.


Since the original Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark hit theaters in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has captivated the world. Avengers: Endgame came out in 2019, marking the end of Phase 3 and the conclusion of the Infinity Saga. Many fans weren’t sure where the MCU would go from there. Half the Avengers were dead and gone and the other half were on the brink of retirement. Still, Marvel pushed into Phase 4, launching a string of new films and Disney+ original series to break through to the next chapter.

Phase 4 and Phase 5 have been rocky. Some entries, like Spider-Man: No Way Home, were a smash hit, while others, like Eternals, crashed and burned. Marvel fans have grown wary of the MCU’s survival, but Phase 4 had more good offerings than bad. For a long time, Marvel was a surefire hit. Phase 4 was the first time that the unshakeable powerhouse of the MCU was hit with a roadblock. Phase 4 marked the launch of the Disney+ original series that helped the MCU thrive, and it also brought some of the most iconic movies of the last few years.


10 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Opens Many Doors

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Movie Poster

Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Master of the Mystic Arts returns in Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Release Date
May 6, 2022

Director
Sam Raimi

Cast
Benedict Cumberbatch , Elizabeth Olsen , Chiwetel Ejiofor , Xochitl Gomez , Benedict Wong , Rachel McAdams , Patrick Stewart

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
126 minutes

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero

Writers
Michael Waldron

Studio
Marvel Studios

Tagline
Enter a new dimension of Strange. The possibilities are Madness.

Franchise
Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Released on May 6, 2022
  • 73% Tomatometer and 85% audience score
  • Out of the Top 10 selections, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is one of the lower-rated films, but it does break the Marvel mold in many ways

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness picks up where WandaVision left off. Unfortunately, this is the movie’s largest fault. It received fair criticism for ignoring Wanda’s development in WandaVision and turning her back into a power-hungry villain. While the movie portrayed her as a sympathetic character, she was once again forced into the antagonist role, which many fans didn’t like. It seemed as if Wanda had regressed to her Age of Ultron state, instead of moving forward. That said, the battle between Doctor Strange and Wanda was epic.

The movie pushed boundaries in a way that no other MCU project has, though. Multiverse of Madness graphically explores trauma and grief. It also leans more into horror elements than any other MCU movie has. Many parents were angry at the film’s violent and scary nature because they took their children to see it. At the same time, it helped the MCU feel a bit more grown-up. While this movie might have been a little more polarizing than some of the other Phase 4 projects, it introduced America Chavez, deep-dived into what the multiverse means for the MCU, and opened many doors for future projects. It also fulfilled some fan wishes like John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic.

9 Werewolf By Night Brought Back Classic Monster Cinema

Werewolf By Night Film Poster

Werewolf by Night

Follows a lycanthrope superhero who fights evil using the abilities given to him by a curse brought on by his bloodline.

Release Date
October 7, 2022

Director
Michael Giacchino

Cast
Gael Garcia Bernal , Laura Donnelly , Harriet Sansom Harris , Kirk R. Thatcher

Rating
TV-14

Runtime
52 minutes

Main Genre
Adventure

Genres
Action , Adventure , Drama

Related

10 Best Werewolf By Night Villains, Ranked

Although he’s a somewhat obscure horror character, the Werewolf by Night has faced several foes, including the king of the vampires himself.

  • Released on October 7, 2022
  • 89% Tomatometer and 89% audience score
  • Werewolf by Night is one of the most unique entries in the MCU canon

Werewolf by Night is a Disney+ original special that emphasizes the use of practical effects. The original version of the movie is black-and-white, though a colored version called Werewolf by Night in Color came out on October 20, 2023. The film follows the story of five monster hunters, including Jack Russell, the title character. They’re summoned by Verussa Bloodstone after the death of her husband, Ulysses. Verussa tells them that they will be competing for the Bloodstone to determine their new leader.

In comparison to the rest of the MCU, Werewolf by Night is a unique and strange entry. It took a chance on a more obscure comic character and that chance paid off. While Werewolf by Night does technically exist in Phase 4, it’s hard to tell how the movie might connect to the rest of the MCU. On top of that, the movie introduced a major multiversal figure, Man-Thing. Overall, though, most Marvel fans who took a chance on the movie seemed to enjoy it.

8 What If…? Season One Told New & Interesting Stories

What If...?

What If…?

Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.

Release Date
August 11, 2021

Creator
A. C. Bradley

Cast
Jeffrey Wright , Sebastian Stan , Stanley Tucci , Chadwick Boseman , Josh Brolin , Kurt Russell , Samuel L. Jackson , Jeremy Renner , Tom Hiddleston

Genres
Action , Adventure

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
3 Seasons

Producer
Danielle Costa, Carrie Wassenaar, Matthew Chauncey, Dana Vasquez-Eberhardt

Production Company
Marvel Studios, Flying Bark Productions

Number of Episodes
19 Episodes

  • Season One was released on August 11, 2021
  • 94% Tomatometer and 92% audience score
  • What If…? Season One includes nine episodes

What If…? is an animated Disney+ series that first aired in August 2021, and it was inspired by the What If…? comic series. The show just celebrated a second season, but Season 1 is the portion of the show that exists in Phase 4. What’s fun about this series is that every episode is different. Each episode focuses on important MCU characters, but it asks questions that change the way the movies play out. “What if… Thor Were an Only Child?” “What if… Ultron Won?” “What if… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” These are just a few episodes from Season One that tell unique stories based on characters and canon MCU events.

This show has a little bit of something for everyone. Fans get to see their favorite heroes and villains again but put into new scenarios. What If…? also connects to the multiverse, because these episodes aren’t just exploring what could be different, they’re exploring what is different in other universes. While specific episodes of this series can be polarizing to the fan base, as a whole, What If…? is a great addition to the MCU.

7 Moon Knight Brings Egyptian Gods Into the Fold

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Moon Knight (TV)

Moon Knight follows the story of Steven Grant, who discovers his alter ego as the Marvel superhero Moon Knight.

Release Date
March 30, 2022

Cast
Oscar Isaac , Ethan Hawke

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero , Action , Horror

Seasons
1

Studio
Marvel Studios, Disney+

Franchise
Marvel Cinematic Universe

Related

10 Best Marvel Comics Starring Moon Knight

Moon Knight has had a long and storied run in Marvel Comics, and there are some comics starring the character that fans can’t afford to miss.

  • Released on March 30, 2022
  • 86% Tomatometer and 89% audience score
  • Fans weren’t sure Moon Knight would be a success when the series was announced, but the show quickly proved the naysayers wrong

Moon Knight is a Disney+ original series that stars Oscar Isaac as the title character. Marc Spector is in service to the Egyptian God Khonshu. With Khonshu’s gift, Marc can transform himself into Moon Knight. The only catch is that Marc isn’t alone inside his body. Marc has dissociative identity disorder (DID), which means that he has more than one distinct personality. The audience is first introduced to Steven Grant, another personality that exists within Marc’s system. Steven is unaware of Marc’s existence at the beginning. As the series goes on, Marc and Steve have to learn to coexist within their system and work together.

The series also teases a third member of the system, Jake Lockley. Moon Knight has been praised for its positive DID representation, a disorder that’s usually demonized in modern media (like the popular M. Night Shyamalan film, Split). This isn’t the only aspect of Moon Knight that makes the show amazing, though. Like the Thor franchise pulling Norse gods into Marvel’s canon, Moon Knight introduces the Egyptian pantheon into the fold. This creates a whole new layer of possibilities in the MCU canon. Originally, Moon Knight was supposed to be a limited series, but due to its popularity, it’s been green-lit for a second season. The first season doesn’t connect to the rest of the MCU much, so it can stand alone, but it’s only a matter of time before Marc and Steven are thrust into the rest of the universe’s problems.

6 The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ushered In a New Captain America

The cast on the promo for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Following the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience.

Release Date
March 19, 2021

Creator
Martin Spellman

Cast
Anthony Mackie , Sebastian Stan , Erin Kellyman

Genres
Action , Adventure , Drama

Rating
TV-14

  • Released on March 19, 2021
  • 85% Tomatometer and 82% audience score
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier includes six episodes

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was the second of the original three Disney+ series to kick off Phase 4. WandaVision was first and Loki rounded out the three series. Out of the three, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had the most difficulty with pacing and overarching stories. Where the series shined was focusing on the development of the two title characters. Both Bucky and Sam are learning to live in a world without Steve Rogers. They’re picking up the pieces of their lives after Avengers: Endgame and trying to move forward.

While the limited series might have fumbled the ball on its villain and overarching terrorist plot, it accomplished what it set out to do with Bucky and Sam. It allowed both characters to process everything that happened to them and form a friendship. It also made room for Sam to take up the Captain America shield while emphasizing how difficult that burden would be for a person of color. It even included Isaiah Bradley, the first man to see successful results from the super soldier serum. Isaiah was a black man forgotten by history because once it worked on him, the army made room for Steve Rogers, a white man, to take the iconic role instead. One of the less successful aspects of the series was Sharon Carter’s role. Carter was made into the villainous Power Broker, a role that fans hated for her and one that may even see some changes in future MCU projects.

5 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Recovered from a Serious Loss

Wakanda-Forever-Poster

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.

Release Date
November 11, 2022

Director
Ryan Coogler

Cast
Winston Duke , Dominique Thorne , Michaela Coel , Danai Gurira , Angela Bassett , Lupita Nyong’o , Letitia Wright , Martin Freeman

Rating
PG-13

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Drama , Action , Superhero , Adventure

Writers
Ryan Coogler , Joe Robert Cole

Franchise
Marvel Cinematic Universe

Characters By
Jack Kirby, Stan Lee

Prequel
Black Panther

Cinematographer
Autumn Durald Arkapaw

Producer
Kevin Feige, Nate Moore

Production Company
Marvel Studios

Sfx Supervisor
Allison Gainza, Bailey Eller

Related

10 Life Lessons Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Teaches

One of the MCU’s best, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a tragic film about life, loss, and grief.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had to overcome a huge obstacle because Chadwick Boseman, the actor who portrayed T’Challa in the original film, passed away from colon cancer in 2020. Marvel wanted to pay respects to Boseman’s legacy, so they chose not to recast T’Challa. Instead, T’Challa’s death was written into the film. This left a massive hole in Wakanda Forever, though, because T’Challa is the Black Panther. Boseman’s absence created a challenge for the writers because having a Black Panther movie without the title character seemed impossible.

Fortunately, Wakanda Forever managed to tell a beautiful story of loss and the stages of grief through T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. Throughout most of the film, Shuri is trapped in the anger phase, unable to cope with her loss. By the end of the film, she overcomes her hatred and ascends to become the next Black Panther. Not only is this movie powerful and culturally rich, but it also opens up plenty of opportunities for Shuri and other Wakandans to thrive in later MCU installments. It also introduced Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart.

4 WandaVision Broke Fans’ Hearts

The superheroes in WandaVision Disney Plus Poster

WandaVision

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

Release Date
January 15, 2021

Creator
Jac Schaeffer

Cast
Elizabeth Olsen , Paul Bettany , Kathryn Hahn , Teyonah Parris , Randall Park , Kat Dennings

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Drama , Sci-Fi , Action , Comedy

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
1

Production Company
Marvel Studios

Number of Episodes
9

  • Released on January 15, 2021
  • 91% Tomatometer and 88% audience score
  • WandaVision includes nine episodes

WandaVision was the first Phase 4 Disney+ original series, and it set the standard for every other series that followed. Sadly, only a couple of Disney+ series have managed to reach the heights that WandaVision did. WandaVision picks up with Wanda’s story after the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame and the loss of her lover, Vision. Wanda’s magic has grown so powerful that she manages to take an entire town hostage and force all the citizens to play parts in her perfect fantasy life. Vision is still alive, and they had two beautiful boys together.

As the series goes on, Wanda’s delusion begins to shatter, and she slowly realizes that what she’s done in her grief is not only a lie, it’s hurting people. Breaking free of her delusion (and her magic) means losing her family and her happiness. Not only did this show push the limits of what magic could do in the MCU, but it also approached dark and depressing topics in a way that the audience could easily digest. It also opened up the door for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Agatha’s upcoming Disney+ series, and whatever might await Wanda’s next adventure.

3 Loki Is One of Disney+’s Most Successful Series

Loki TV Show Poster

Loki

The mercurial villain Loki resumes his role as the God of Mischief in a new series that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Release Date
June 9, 2021

Cast
Tom Hiddleston , Owen Wilson , Gugu Mbatha-Raw , Sophia Di Martino , Tara Strong , Eugene Cordero

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
2

Related

10 Stellar Plot Points & Details in Loki Season 2

Loki Season 2 was one of the best entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a long time and it was all thanks to it’s stellar and heartfelt plot.

  • Released on June 9, 2021
  • 92% Tomatometer and 90% audience score
  • Loki Season One includes six episodes, and it is currently the only live-action Disney+ series with a second season

Loki felt like a long time coming. As Thor’s little brother turned villain and then turned antihero, Loki has become an MCU fan-favorite since his first appearance in 2011’s Thor. Arguably, Loki’s popularity surpassed that of his brother back in Phase 1. Loki getting his own show just felt right and to date, it’s one of the most successful Disney+ series to ever hit the streaming service. Loki tells the story of Loki escaping arrest at the end of the original Avengers film with the Tesseract. His escape makes him a variant in time because that was not how the events after Loki’s defeat were supposed to go.

As a variant, Loki is arrested by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and put on trial. Here, Loki discovers that there is only one timeline. Any person who deviates from the Scared Timeline will be destroyed along with the branching timeline their actions created. This ensures safety from the multiversal war that He Who Remains, the creator of the TVA, once experienced. Loki meets other variants of himself as he works alongside the TVA. The show even confirms that Loki is gender-fluid and bisexual. Loki also gets to use more magic in the show than any of his other appearances in the MCU. The events of Loki are some of the most important pieces to the multiversal puzzle, but more importantly, they finally allow Loki to grow into the person he wants to be.

2 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Is a Mystical Adventure

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Fiml Poster

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi, the master of weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.

Release Date
September 3, 2021

Director
Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast
Simu Liu , Awkwafina , Tony Leung Chiu Wai , Ben Kingsley , Meng’er Zhang , Fala Chen

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
132 minutes

Writers
Dave Callaham , Destin Daniel Cretton , Andrew Lanham

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings feels like a spiritual successor to Black Panther. The two films have nothing to do with one another, but it genuinely feels like Black Panther walked, so movies like Shang-Chi could run. Without the critical success of an almost all-black-cast superhero film, a film starring mostly Asian characters and heroes might never have gotten off the ground. While Marvel (and Hollywood, for that matter) still has a long way to go with proper representation, Shang-Chi, and Black Panther prove that representation doesn’t just matter, it sells.

Shang-Chi brought Chinese mythology to the MCU mystically and epically. When the movie’s first trailer dropped, MCU fans who may not be familiar with the comic character weren’t sold on it, but the touching story of loss, running away from abuse, and finding family touched the hearts of millions. Not only did the film bring new characters and culture into the MCU folds, but it’s also one of the highest-rated films in Phase 4.

1 Spider-Man: No Way Home Made Dreams Come True

Spider-Man: No Way Home poster

Spider-Man: No Way Home

With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.

Release Date
December 17, 2021

Director
Jon Watts

Cast
Tom Holland , Zendaya , Benedict Cumberbatch , Jacob Batalon , Jon Favreau , Jamie Foxx , Willem Dafoe , Alfred Molina , Benedict Wong , Tony Revolori , Marisa Tomei , Andrew Garfield , Tobey Maguire

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
148 Minutes

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero , Action , Adventure

Writers
Chris McKenna , Erik Sommers

Studio
Sony Pictures

Franchise
Marvel Cinematic Universe

Box Office
1.9 Billion

Prequel
Spider-Man: Far From Home

Cinematographer
Mauro Fiore

Producer
Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal

Production Company
Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures

Budget
$200 Million

  • Released on December 17, 2021
  • 93% Tomatometer and 98% audience score
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home is the crossover event of a lifetime

Spider-Man: No Way Home might be the best movie MCU Phase 4 has to offer. Critics and fans raved about this movie when it first came out and people still aren’t over it two years later. That’s largely due to how No Way Home connected Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s renditions of Spider-Man. Maguire and Garfield weren’t just cameos or Easter eggs either, they were main characters front and center throughout the film. Both were variants of Peter Parker who accidentally stumbled into the MCU’s New York City.

The various Peters meeting one another has been a long-running joke in the Marvel fandom. For years, fans talked about what might happen if they met each other, but No Way Home made that speculation a reality. The movie also teased Miles Morales, hitting that he may also come into the live-action superhero movies in the future. No Way Home opened up many possibilities, not just for the multiverse, but for Maguire and Garfield to continue playing their renditions of Peter Parker.



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