Marvel's Phase Four

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Phase 2 is drawing to a close. Next month sees the release of Ant-Man, which promises to pull double duty in closing phase 2 and setting up phase 3, all the while telling a self contained story. But where do we go from there? Have we already had a glimpse into the future of the MCU with a brief look at phase 4? I think we have, read on to see what I mean… 

So phase 2 ends with Ant-Man and phase 3 kicks off with Captain America Civil War. You can read my theory about the hand off from one to the other here, and then it’s flat out from there all the way to Infinity War. On the way we stop off at, in no particular order: Thor Ragnorok, Docotor Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Phew. After that comes The Inhumans, and, I’m willing to bet, an as of yet unannounced third chapter in the Infinity War saga featuring the Guardians Of The Galaxy. Then that’s it, three phases complete. So what about life beyond (you’ll see what I’ve done there in a minute) phase three? Well I believe we’ve seen a glimpse of that and it just occurred to me over the weekend as I read a new comic book; Deadpool’s Secret Secret War. 

The opening panel of the new Deadpool series contained an image I’d all but forgotten about. Here it is for your reference: 

Now if you’re not familiar with the original Secret War series from the ‘80s then you’ll need a bit of background for this image. That busted Captain America shield is courtesy of Dr Doom, who has just slaughtered a God named The Beyonder and seized his power. Doom offered the heroes, including the Avengers, the Fantatstic Four, The X-Men and Spider-Man a deal, when they said no he destroyed them. Cap’s smouldering shield was the iconic image of the fall out from that decision. 

Seeing that image in the pages of the new Deadpool book reminded me that The Secret War series could be a viable candidate for a series of films told episodically, along the same lines a Captain America Civil war with a piece of story being told from a characters point of view in their own movie with occasional event movies bringing everyone together for a tent pole release. Then I realised we may have seen a hint at this in a recent release… 

Spoilery stuff for Avengers Age Of Ultron follows. 

Do you remember that vision Tony Stark had in Age Of Ultron. Scarlet Witch put the wammy on Tony and he trembled before a vision of his team mates laid out before him dead. Next to Steve Roger’s body lay a broken shield. What force could do this to Cap’s indestructible accessory? Not Ultron. A God maybe? 

So will we get a phase 4 spanning Secret War arc? I’m betting yes. The name has some weight now as this year sees the brand rebooted in the pages of the comic books. The series could be used to close the book on some of the legacy characters and their expensive real life counter parts, and there is a neat narrative lead in too.  

In the '80s comic book series there was an event that poked a hole in the fabric of space which allowed The Beyonder to see into our universe and he set about pitting heroes against villains in a gladiatorial battle on a purpose built planet. The whole franchise was an effort to sell toys, but there is a way to do something cool with this. Marvel have taken a series before, like Age Of Ultron, and rejigged the story to better suit their needs, they will be doing it again next year with Civil War. So don’t expect a step for step retread of the '80s story. Think of Thanos’ ultimate defeat as the event the tears open space, a bit like killing a huge Jaws like shark, only to have the resulting blood draw a bigger, badder toothier predator. The Beyonder.

Now in the books we see The X-Men and The Fantastic Four join our familiar heroes in battle, but that ain’t happening here anytime soon. But Marvel have been growing their roster of cinematic characters on both big and small screens. With the incoming Inhumans, and TVs The Defenders filling out the Netflix run, we have plenty of characters to fill in the litigious gaps. So I see this working. Where do you go after fighting a God, you fight another God, with higher stakes, in very Secret War. After that? Well Secret War ends with a soul searching Ben Grimm left on the Beyonders Battleworld. What if Banner took that part and stayed behind when everyone else leaves. That could set up Planet Hulk nicely right? Then lead straight into World War Hulk.

What do you think, could we see Secret Wars hit the big screen throughout phase 4? Could these films set up a series of Hulk films? Or would you rather see another series hit the big screen like Secret Invasion? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,