Phase 4: The Multiverse Arc
Who are you in this vast multiverse?
Earlier this year, I wrote a theory piece on how Marvel Studios could delve into this idea of the multiverse for Phase 4 of the MCU. At the time, we had a very vague understanding of what the MCU was preparing for us. Since then, we’ve had casting confirmations, trailer releases, interviews, poster art, and after last week’s Disney’s Investor Day, we finally have a clearer picture of what we can expect for this next phase of the MCU.
Brief Recap: What is the Multiverse within the MCU?
Compared to other franchises that have utilized the Multiverse as a plot device for their stories and films, Marvel went an unconventional route and created their own definition of how the Multiverse works. To quote me from when I first discussed this concept in Reality Checked; based on Professor Hulk’s and the Ancient One’s descriptions of how time-flow works, whenever someone from the future alters the events of the past, they create another timeline based on the alteration of those chain of events, thus creating a brand new universe. It’s a form of the butterfly effect, in which our decisions branch out into two realities, one where we made the decision and another where we didn’t.
What is the Multiverse Arc?
So, it’s been said that rather than focus on a story told across a large, 23-film saga like “The Infinity Saga”, Phase 4 and beyond would begin to tell stories across small arcs of 4-5 different MCU projects. Now, in my head, I’ve already mapped out a ton of different arcs which we will get into detail later on, but the main arc that’s about to kick off Phase 4 is an arc I’m dubbing is the Multiverse Arc. If I were to give you guys a synopsis of what I think that arc would delve into, it would go a little something like this. “The Multiverse Arc encompasses a set of stories that push beyond the physical confines of time and space within the MCU. As the line between realities start to blur and timelines cross over and collide, the Cinematic Universe we all know and love is about to change forever.” So what projects do I think are part of the Multiverse Arc? Well, let’s see.
1. WandaVision (January 2021)
This is where the Multiverse Arc and Phase 4 are going to begin. I believe a lot of people are truly underestimating the potential this show is going to have in terms of setting up, not just the Multiverse Arc, but pretty much Phase 4 as a whole. Now the show has already been discussed a lot theory-wise. Among the things people suspect might happen during the show include the possibility of Elizabeth Olsen’s “Wanda Maximoff” going all “House of M” on the MCU. The most prevalent theory about the show is that Wanda might create an alternate pocket reality around her using her power and imagination. Since she does not possess much control over her powers, she’ll begin to lose control and ultimately affect the MCU reality as a whole when her trauma over the course of the past years starts to seep in. Point in-case being, whatever happens in WandaVision will ultimately be the catalyst for a lot of the upcoming Phase 4 projects moving forward.
2. Loki (May 2021)
Ah, the God of Mischief, back to his antics once again. While the show’s details are relatively vague, we know that Loki takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame with Tom Hiddleston returning as the titular character alongside Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, and Richard E. Grant. The reason why I’ve included Loki here in the Multiverse Arc’s storyline is that the show involves a certain agency known as the TVA. The Time Variance Authority in the comics is this bureau that was formed with the goal of monitoring an infinite number of realities throughout the multiverse and to keep temporal interference to a minimum. Since this Loki, and by consequence the series, exist in a new timeline separate from our Main MCU one thanks to the antics of the Avengers during Avengers: Endgame (2019), it is possible that the TVA intervened immediately after those events to prevent future ruptures in the timeline. We also had hints that the show might explore alternate realities due to a particular of the exclusive trailer, where we saw a dystopian New York City, possibly a timeline where Loki won the Battle of New York (2012). Speaking of which…
3. What If…? (Summer 2021)
I like to refer to What If…? (2021) as the interlude of the Multiverse Arc. But just because it’s an interlude, it does not make the show any less important to the rest of the Multiverse Arc. “What If…?, which takes inspiration from the comic books of the same name, flips the script on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and reimagines famous events from the films in unexpected ways…each episode will explore a pivotal moment from the MCU and turn it on its head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.” The reason why I include this series as part of the Multiverse Arc is that I believe the show’s focus will be to present to us episodes that explain what would have happened if a pivotal moment in the MCU occurred another way, which is essentially a prime example to the definition of the MCU’s Multiverse. This show will provide us with a window into other universes.
4. The Untitled Spider-Man sequel (December 2021)
Now we need to tread carefully when discussing Spider-Man 3 because there are so many rumors regarding this film that no one really knows what’s going to happen. With villains from other iterations reprising their roles to former Spider-Men gracing the screen one last time, the film certainly is shaping up to be what many consider a possible iteration of a live-action Spider-Verse film. And it certainly doesn’t help when Kevin Feige confirmed during Investor’s Day that the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will tie in with this film. How exactly it all plays out is something fans will have to wait and see when Spider-Man 3 rolls around next year.
5. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 2022)
As the name implies, the Doctor Strange sequel is definitely looking to address the Multiverse and will address the events of WandaVision and the untitled Spider-Man 3 film. Directed by iconic Horror Movie director; Sam Raimi, the sequel is set to see returning cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo). We will also see Elizabeth Olsen return as Wanda Maximoff and newcomer Xochitl Gomez who will portray America Chavez in the upcoming film. Right now, the film is currently filming in London and with a name like the Multiverse of Madness, I expect this film to close the Multiverse Arc off with a bang.