Marvel Studios’ Phase 4: A Study in Loss and Tragedy

mcu loss

With the conclusion of Loki‘s first season, a theme is emerging in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. Our heroes might not win as much as we’d like them to. Even victories could turn out costly at this point. Between episodes 4 and 5, I began to think about how Ant-Man and the Wasp would fare against Kang the Conqueror in his earliest introduction. By the time the Disney+ series had concluded, I was beginning to feel like maybe our heroes might experience a lot of loss in the coming projects.

With no major crossovers confirmed, and Kevin Feige saying “Phase Four was always about continuing in new ways,” it seems Marvel Studios could be allowing room for our heroes to lose more than they win for the foreseeable future. Let’s look through the Phase Four projects and estimate what chances our heroes have, may it be a costly victory, an outright loss, or even an outright win. It could give us a glimpse of what shape Phase Four might take. In counting costly wins in opposition to clear wins, I am weighing that the toll from a conflict undoes a sense of achievement and damages long-term progress.

What If

Marvel's What If? Trailer Breakdown and MCU Easter Eggs Explained - Den of Geek

With the official trailer showing hints of an interconnected story that might not be solved in this season and the rumors that we’ll see a live-action Captain Carter in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it can be suggested the Guardians of the Multiverse might not win clearly in their first team-up. Will they mistakenly unleash something that will tangle with Doctor Strange? Will the whole team make it to the film? We’ll have to tune in from August 11th to find out.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi, the Mandarin, and the Ten Rings, explained by Marvel history - Polygon

As Shang-Chi is drawn into a confrontation with his father Wenwu and the Ten Rings organization, in an attempt to escape from his past, it’s clear as all superhero daddy issues are, that there will be some loss even in victory. However, with this particular tale, it seems there could be a reasonably high chance of a respectful conclusion to this father-son conflict.

Estimated Verdict: Clear win. 

Ms. Marvel

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Kamala Khan will gain polymorphous abilities and uncover a new side of what it means to be a hero. She’ll also probably be tracked and chased by people fearful of those powers. That is not all, as she will also be dealing with being a teenage Pakistani-American growing up in Jersey City. While she’ll be heading onto a cosmic adventure in The Marvels, it’s hard to imagine Kamala losing or winning at a cost.

Estimated Verdict: Clear win. 

Eternals

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As a race of immortal beings who have shaped Earth’s history, it’s difficult to see how the Eternals could truly lose. However, in the comics, there is often a traitor in their midst. Plus, despite their cosmic power levels, some members decide to be amongst humans while others prefer to take their places amongst the stars. It’s easy to imagine the team splitting and the stories continuing in different Earthbound and cosmic locations.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win.

Hawkeye

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It could be a bad time for Clint, as the series will take inspiration from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s My Life as a Weapon comic run. Luckily, it seems as though his protégé Kate Bishop and Pizza Dog will be there to support him. He’ll face attacks from Kazi and the Tracksuit Mafia. Even Yelena Belova joins the fray, who will be out to avenge her sister and Clint’s friend, Natasha, due to a misunderstanding.  They’ll also come across Echo, whose comic connection as Kingpin’s adoptive daughter could suggest an upcoming overarching story at the street level of the MCU. While Kate Bishop will undoubtedly continue as Hawkeye, maybe Clint will finally retire at the third time of trying.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Spider-Man: No Way Home

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With Peter Parker’s identity being released publicly at the end of Far From Home, it stands to reason that the villains will target Peter personally, which could result in a heavy cost even in the event of a win. With the rumors of classic villains from other Spider-Man franchises joining the film, it looks like Peter has a tough battle ahead.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win. 

She-Hulk

She-Hulk | Serie 2022 | Moviepilot.de

Besides having to deal with superhero-oriented legal cases, Jennifer Walters will have to take on the Abomination, Titania, and reportedly even The Wrecking Crew. All that while watching out for an Infinity Gauntlet-injured Professor Hulk. Don#t forget, she also has to balance her professional life with what will likely be at least one career-defining case. I would not be surprised if She-Hulk smashing the money trail of one of her cases leads to a much wider street-level conspiracy, leading to a bigger and more dangerous confrontation.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

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With Loki unleashing the multiverse and the Scarlet Witch prophesied to have “power [that] exceeds that of the Sorcerer Supreme,” it’s clear to me Doctor Strange will have a tough time on his hands. I don’t expect any major deaths, but I think it’s unlikely Wanda won’t get what she wants. The bigger question is, who will face the biggest loss throughout the multiversal adventure.

Estimated Verdict: Clear loss.

Moon Knight

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Moon Knight’s complexity as a vigilante suffering from dissociative identity disorder with multiple distinct personalities is only matched by the problem of possibly being the chosen avatar of Egyptian God, Khonshu. Or is it all in Marc Spector’s head? If he is real, would his goals come at the price of his sanity? In all likelihood, the situation will get worse for Marc before it gets better.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Thor: Love & Thunder

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Gorr The God Butcher is coming for the pantheons of aliens that claim to be gods. While Thor will have lots of support, his track record in clean wins is not high, and it’s easy to see how Gorr will cause some damage that could be hard to recover from. As Thor: Ragnarok taught us, Thor’s victories always come at a price. Hopefully, this time it isn’t something the Asgardians have to pay as well.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

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By opening up to the world Wakanda has risked quite a lot, and alongside having to manage a new throne succession process, they will reportedly have to deal with Prince Namor and his oceanic kingdom. If this conflict goes anything like how it goes down in the comic, the Wakandans tribes will need to band together to withstand the waters coming at them.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Secret Invasion

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This will clearly differ from the comic arc of the same name. For now, little is known about how it might turn out and what new twists they’ll add to the iconic storyline. However, Nick Fury and Talos discovering that a secret sect of Skrull has every level of life on Earth seems like a scenario that can’t be won cleanly. It also feels like it could lead to a galactic clash in The Marvels.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

The Marvels

Marvels Zukunft ist weiblich – Kritik zu Captain Marvel

Although Carol defeated the Kree Supreme Intelligence, which is seemingly no longer in charge of the Kree Empire in modern times, there are almost certainly still extremists roaming the galaxy. Ronan The Accuser was most likely not the only one believing in their old traditions. It seems like Carol, Monica, and Kamala could be caught in the start of a reignition of the massive galactic war between the Kree and Skrull, where there are few winners.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Echo

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Amidst Maya Lopez debuting as Echo in Hawkeye, there is a reasonable chance her comic father issues could extend into an overarching story in her own show. Having such closely tied connections pointing in a direction she will likely be turning away from suggests any about-turn could be painful for her.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Ironheart

Marvel is Reportedly Planning an IRONHEART Series at Disney+ — GeekTyrant

Little is known about what genius inventor Riri Williams’ first adventure as Ironheart will entail. Although, there are some theories we might see her sooner than her own show. It’s fair to assume that Riri will be able to solve any problems thrown at her initially. She might get a slow introduction into the dangers of being a hero.

Estimated Verdict: Clear win

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp' Unanswered Questions After the Movie

While Ant-Man and the Wasp will likely be joined by Cassie Lang’s Stature, it’s hard to envisage that they’ll truly defeat Kang the Conqueror. Even if they do manage to strike a blow upon him, surely another Kang Variant will appear from a Timedoor to continue the previous Variant’s mission. It may only be our first introduction to how fearsome the Conqueror truly is throughout the multiverse.

Estimated Verdict: Clear loss.

Armor Wars

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Rhodey has already suffered quite a bit in his tenure as War Machine, but his best friend’s legacy doesn’t feel like something that could be easy to put to bed, especially when Star’s technology falls into the wrong hands. Although Rhodey will likely solve the imminent danger, some of the nastier technologies Tony created are bound to persist and make his life a living hell.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

James Gunn schließt Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 aus & möchte nicht, dass dieser Schurke zurückkehrt!

This outing is likely to be the last of this iteration of the team, so it is easy to envision that they might be heading for a split. Even if they do defeat whatever threat they are up against, there might also be some major deaths from the Guardians’ ranks, making this adventure a high-priced victory. We’ve seen in the past that James Gunn doesn’t shy away from exploring a story of loss.

Estimated Verdict: Costly win

So having looked at how our heroes might fare in their next adventures, I think it’s fair to say that the majority of confirmed Phase Four projects are not clear wins for our heroes. While this being the start of a new saga, many heroes are continuing from previous arcs. There is a decent amount of room for them to suffer major setbacks. Perhaps in some ways, this part of the second saga is in tribute to The Empire Strikes Back. At least in the way, it might dish out painful truths and physical humblings. It could also set the stage for even more powerful emotional moments and team-ups than the Infinity Saga before multiple teams have to find a way to band together against an even worse threat eventually.

Source: YouTube

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