For 11 years, Marvel Studios told the stories of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and everything in between to weave a cinematic story ever told over 23 films. The Infinity Saga was an achievement of blockbuster cinema and will go down as one of the greatest fan experiences of all time.
And while it is important and heartwarming to remember the first three phases of the MCU, it is also exciting and bold to venture into the next generation of Marvel Studios stories.
After a year-long delay caused by the pandemic, Phase 4 of the MCU ushers in the new era of the MCU with four movies and five Disney+ streaming series all within 2021. Fans have seen mantles get passed, supporting characters become stars, and new faces enter the cinematic universe they have loved for over a decade.
With the first nine projects of the next generation of Marvel stories set to be told by the end of 2021, it is time to honor the past by moving forward.
"We need new heroes." And the Disney+ app has given subscribers a look at the faces of the Silver Age in the MCU.
Disney+ Replaces Original Avengers
The Marvel section of Disney+ received an update on which heroes greet users when they enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe library.
The banner previously featured the original six Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow) and Nick Fury, but it now features an array of characters that have been featured so far in Phase 4.
Sam Wilson (Captain America) is the most prominent, followed by Captain Marvel, Loki, Wanda, and Black Widow (from her solo movie released in May 2021).
Also featured is MCU veteran Thor, who is set to be the first character to get a fourth movie in the MCU. Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther and his on-screen little sister Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) are also on this new banner, seemingly teasing a passing of the mantle in the Black Panther sequel, releasing in 2022.
Shang-Chi is the only rookie featured on the banner. This should not shock anyone after the raging box office and Marvel community success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This all but ensures that Simu Liu's martial arts superhero will be a prominent player in the overall MCU moving forward.
A New Generation of MCU Heroes
Firstly, it is a bittersweet moment for MCU fans to see the passing of the guard from the heroes that built the franchise to the heroes that are set to carry it into the next generation.
This entire cinematic universe became a force of nature when six Avengers circled up in the Battle of New York with a camera swirling around them. To see those heroes, along with Nick Fury, removed from the headline spot on the Disney+ app is a sign of change.
Moving forward with a new roster in the MCU is not something Marvel Studios has just radically sprung for fans. This is shown by the inclusion of Black Widow and Thor in the new banner. These original Avengers getting their spot on the next generation hero image is something that will bring a smile to MCU fans everywhere.
Obviously, Natasha Romanoff's story seems to be at an end in the canonical MCU. But with Black Widow earlier this year paying tribute to one of Earth's first Mightiest Heroes while also shining a light on the future of her IP, she and her story are an intricate part of the future of the MCU.
Thor being a part of this image is also special because he is the only original member who is set to return in a fourth solo movie. The plot of this movie is still unknown, and it is more than a little likely that fans see a passing mantle in the Thor franchise as well. But until that moment, Odinson is a part of the MCU's future until told otherwise.
Sam Wilson, Captain Marvel, Loki, and Wanda being front and center on the new artwork is a great showing of who will lead the MCU Phase 4 and beyond. Sam, Wanda, and Loki are all characters who were introduced in the Infinity Saga, only to be thrust into starring roles in their respective Phase 4 Disney+ series.
Meanwhile, Captain Marvel was a late addition to the MCU past and is set to be a prominent leader of the MCU in the future.
Speaking of the MCU future, Letitia Wright's Shuri once again pops up on a piece of Marvel branding, suggesting a larger role for her in the MCU. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is bound to deal with the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman by passing the Black Panther mantle to someone new. T'Challa's younger sister has the lineage, brains, and potential power to take on that role. She is one of the top contenders to be the MCU's Black Panther moving forward.
Finally, there's Shang-Chi. The instant fan favorite took over MCU fandom when his solo movie released in theaters, smashed box office projections, and essentially saved the theaters from the pandemic skid. Simu Liu has embraced MCU stardom like an absolute pro and deserves his spot on this artwork. The events of Shang-Chi are being touted as one of the MCU's best origin stories while also propelling the character into a spot to play a huge role in the overall scheme of things moving forward.
It's exciting to see new faces lead the charge as the MCU heads into the next generation. One thing that makes the Infinity Saga such a spectacle is that it holds so much finality while also beautifully setting up the future. Fans of the fantastic are eating well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this ball has no signs of slowing down.
The Infinity Saga and other Phase 4 Marvel Studios projects are available to stream now on Disney+.