Phase Four has always been viewed as something of a transitional period for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with several heavy hitters bowing out after a decade in the limelight, while others step up to the plate to play bigger roles and inherit iconic mantles, all while a cavalcade of brand new faces make their debuts.
So far, it would be fair to say that Kevin Feige and his team have continued to knock it out of the park. Phase Four may have only kicked off in January of this year, but WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and now Black Widow have all offered at least one memorable character that fans have reacted to in exactly the way that was hoped.
WandaVision introduced Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha Harkness, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gifted audiences with the detestable presence of Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, and Loki has doubled down on instant cult heroes thanks to Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie and Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius. Black Widow only premiered on Friday, but Florence Pugh has already been marked out as one of the MCU’s latest breakout stars, and Feige admitted in a new interview that he’s been thrilled with the results so far.
“Seeing audiences respond to characters that they were not expecting, or that they were not asking for… I wouldn’t say there was a huge contingency of people banging down the door for Agatha Harkness to appear in the MCU, but she’s a great character portrayed by a great actress. By the first few episodes, people were asking, ‘Where is she gonna show up again? What else is she gonna do?’. I think the same thing is happening right now with John Walker from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, and certainly with Mobius M. Mobius, as portrayed by Owen Wilson in the Loki series.
So that is something that is so important to the MCU, is including new characters. The comic is filled with many lifetimes of spectacular characters, and when you find the best actors to portray them, it can quickly go from an audience never hearing of a character to then upset with us that we haven’t already announced their own standalone movie. That makes us all very happy.”
Before 2021 is out we’re getting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home, What If…?, Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel to bolster the ranks even further and provide an even greater influx of debutants and recurring heroes. The unstoppable expansion of the most lucrative franchise in the history of cinema, and now streaming, is only set to continue at an unstoppable pace for as long as people are invested in the MCU, which looks to be a long time to come.