After a year of zero action on the Marvel Cinematic Universe front, the arrival of the Marvel Disney+ series WandaVision on Friday, January 15, marks the beginning of a new era. Well, technically it’s a new phase — Phase 4, to be exact. Throughout 2020, Marvel Studios repeatedly pushed back release dates for its big tentpole movies, including Black Widow and the Chloe Zhao-directed Eternals, as well as its Marvel Disney+ TV slate, which includes the aforementioned WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The culprit behind the delays was — you guessed it — the COVID-19 pandemic, a major force of change across every aspect of life in 2020. With all of the MCU Phase 4 scheduling shuffles, it’s only natural to wonder if the bigger Phase 4 story will be affected.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige indirectly commented on the grand design of the MCU‘s Phase 4 while in conversation with The New York Times recently. Feige was able to strongly imply that just because WandaVision is kicking off Phase 4 after a year of no Marvel movies or TV (versus the 2020 plan for Black Widow to kick things off), fans shouldn’t worry about this kind of schedule change affecting the bigger story being told.
Feige told the NYT that “if the run we had in 2018 and 2019 had gotten disrupted this way, in the buildup to [Avengers: Endgame], it would have been a bigger headache,” and went on to note that “with these projects, it worked well,” and continued by adding that the release dates for the Marvel Disney+ TV shows were bumped only “by a matter of weeks.”
Feige doesn’t speak specifically to what the bigger Phase 4 story could be or even the way WandaVision or Black Widow, which is still the first movie to arrive this year, will set up the story being told. As such, it’s unclear what the next Thanos-level MCU arc will look like or how it will be woven into each of the upcoming Marvel TV shows and movies. What we do know is that Phase 4 will be covering a lot of new ground as this cinematic universe expands. This is primarily seen in the move away from classic Marvel characters and the introduction of new ones, like the Eternals, Shang-Chi, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight. It’s also seen in Marvel’s efforts to take a closer look at characters who we’ve previously mostly in supporting roles, like Wanda Maximoff, Vision, and Hawkeye. With this in mind, any big arc is possible and will likely take a while to materialize, which means fans will need to pay attention to both the movies and TV shows to see what Feige and Co. are cooking up.
WandaVision is set to premiere on Disney+ on January 15.