After a year and a half with no new releases, Marvel Studios is firmly back on top of the entertainment world by kicking off Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision is already receiving high praise for its nine-episode run, which ended this past weekend before the story continues with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan teaming up for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Eight more Disney+ shows and movies are set to debut in 2021 alone, bringing the biggest year in MCU history after 23 movies in the Infinity Saga from 2008 to 2019. Included in these new entries will be more diversity and unique starring characters than ever before, specifically with individuals like Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan and Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight; this is even the case with boosting Anthony Mackie into more of a headlining role.
Through all of these exciting developments, Marvel Studios is still mourning the tough loss of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who lost his battle with cancer in August 2020. This continues to make an impact on the MCU's future, as was mentioned by the studio's fearless leader.
KEVIN FEIGE SPEAKS ON THE MCU'S FUTURE
In a recent chat with Variety, Marvel CCO Kevin Feige spoke on what's coming in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while tying things back to one of Phase 3's most prominent heroes: the late Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther.
While Marvel is still feeling "the repercussions of losing Chad," Feige talked about how "being honest in our storytelling" is something the studio is continuing to focus on. He also reiterated that this is "continuing with Mackie and this show.":
"The repercussions of losing Chad are vast. Being honest in our storytelling is something that Chad and Ryan Coogler, of course, always want us to lead the charge on, and that’s continuing with Mackie and this show."
In terms of the increasing diversity in the MCU, Feige discussed how their plans are a combination of it happening by design and through the progress of storytelling. While he said how lucky he and the team are to "have the comics to guide (them)", he made clear that Marvel doesn't want to have "a room full of people that all look the same" when planning their new stories:
"I think it’s a combination. We’re lucky that we have the comics to guide us. They have been relatively progressive over the decades for their time. The character lineup allows us — we’re not creating full-cloth any of our characters, they’ve been in the comics for years — and we’re finally able to tell those stories. Looking at the remarkably positive experiences we’ve had making sure that the room where it happens is not a room full of people that all look the same. When that’s not the case, when there are people from various backgrounds and genders, stories are better. Being at a company for 20 years and having released 23 movies, it is always been 'How do you keep things fresh and surprising on a story level?'"
With new entries coming to the MCU like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, Feige reconfirmed the studio's intentions to have writers and directors in play who connect to the new leading characters. With the progress Marvel Studios has made, he seems excited by the fact that "it doesn’t seem abnormal" to have a wide variety of people in high positions within the MCU.
"When your’e doing a story about a female lawyer who is giant and green [“She -Hulk], or a Muslim teenager with superpowers in Jersey City [“Ms. Marvel”], or working with filmmakers and writers of color as we are — it’s so prevalent and so much a part of who we are and what we do now, that it doesn’t seem abnormal. It’s no longer a headline. A woman is directing something! Wow! I hope this will become the norm to the extent that this is no longer a rarity."
MARVEL STUDIOS IS BECOMING MORE DIVERSE THAN EVER
The team behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not only finding a way to diversify the cast of the franchise but doing it naturally as the story continues.
Losing Chadwick Boseman at age 43 was undoubtedly the most unexpected passing the MCU and its fandom have had within its ranks, but Feige seems to be intent on continuing his legacy any way he can. This will be seen in the immediate future with Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson taking on the mantle of Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and it will continue through almost every release coming in 2021.
The movies will kick off with Cate Shortland directing Black Widow before Destin Daniel Cretton leads the way on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. On the Disney+ side, Kari Skogland is taking the lead on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier before new characters come into play in shows like Ms. Marvel in late 2021 and She-Hulk in early 2022.
Marvel fans are already hooked onto everything that's coming in Phase 4 after WandaVision blew minds worldwide. With such a high standard set so early in the process, Marvel Studios is certainly off to a perfect start.