Where is the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going next?



Whatever direction the MCU takes, it’s sure to be more polarizing than ever.

Dominique Moise, Online Editor

After 14 years of blockbuster movies, groundbreaking shows, and a myriad of characters, the first four phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are complete. Phase One (2008-2012) established Marvel’s cinematic dominance with iconic films like Iron Man and The Avengers. Phase Two (2013-2015) built upon the foundation well with releases including Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and classic shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Daredevil. Phase Three, the largest of them all, produced incredible features year after year. Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as Endgame, are just some of the flicks that excited billions across the globe from 2016 to 2019.

But after the chaotic events of 2020, it seemed like overnight the MCU had reached a crossroads of sorts. On one side, you had the original fanbase who grew up on the comics and therefore were critical of everything released. However, they simply wanted Marvel to respect the characters and expand the universal lore without destroying its legacy. On the other, you had a new generation of fans who ate up everything Marvel. They wanted more content, more representation, and more modern storylines. 

On one side, you had the original fanbase who grew up on the comics… on the other, you had a new generation of fans who ate up everything Marvel.

So, in an attempt to try and honor both sides, lead producer and president Kevin Feige, along with his team, put together Phase Four of the cinematic universe. The good news: it generated more content in a two-year period than ever before. The bad news: nearly everything that got released was met with historic levels of criticism, scrutiny, and hatred. 

It all started off with a bang in January of 2021 with Marvel’s first Disney Plus show Wandavision (starring Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) getting very positive reviews with a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Then came other shows like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Loki, and What If…? which all got praised for the most part. But then came the long-delayed Black Widow, which was deemed as a cinematic and critical flop.

Then, a see-saw effect truly took hold of the MCU. Shang-Chi and Hawkeye were solid, Eternals was trash, Moon Knight was alright, and Spider-Man: No Way Home was incredible. Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder were crazy but Ms. Marvel was innovative and childish. Werewolf by Night was underrated and She-Hulk… we don’t talk about She-Hulk. Finally, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was sentimental and The Guardians of The Galaxy: Holiday Special was heartwarming.

In essence, Phase Four has been a whole lot of things for a whole lot of people. Some consider it to be a step in the right direction, while others see it as a commitment to an unrecognizably political future. 

Marvel has gone through an incredible amount of change in the past few years. Epic characters like Iron Man and Captain America, who carried Marvel for years, are out of the picture. Meanwhile, new heroes like Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, and Kate Bishop have stormed onto the scene with varying levels of acceptance. 

Are the MCU’s new characters and stories introducing an exciting multicultural future or are they a part of some nefarious political agenda? Should our outlook on today’s polarizing political climate be integrated into a superhero story? Does it really matter what the heroes and villains look like as long as they have awe-inspiring power?

These are the questions that must be answered as Marvel transitions into the future of their cultural masterpiece. With a plethora of movies and shows beyond 2026 already planned out according to Feige’s master plan, the direction Marvel takes could radically redefine everything they have built up to this point. The time has come to make a decision and the paths are clear. 

Where will the Marvel Cinematic Universe go next?