Joe and Anthony Russo respond to fan criticisms of the MCU’s Phase 4, which say that the latest Marvel era is disjointed and disappointing. Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo have responded to fan complaints about Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU began in 2008 with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, and has since expanded to include 29 films and 16 television series, with even more on the way. The MCU is currently the biggest film franchise in the world, and the ninth largest media franchise.
With so much content having been released across nearly 15 years, the MCU is divided into several ‘phases,’ demarcated by different Marvel films. The first 3 phases encompassed the Infinity Saga and built up to the massive Avengers: Endgame. Since then, the MCU has settled into a vastly different era as it works out its path forward after Endgame. Phase 4 has been comprised of new genres, styles, and characters. It has also welcomed the arrival of some very divisive projects, with movies like Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder sparking some of the lowest Rotten Tomatoes scores in the entire MCU. Some Marvel fans have heavily criticized Phase 4’s content, saying that it doesn’t live up to the high standards created by the first three phases.
Phase 4 The MCU’s Worst? Why Marvel Is Marvel’s Phase 4 the worst thus far? Why Marvel has become more divisive than ever, with an abundance of content and a meandering direction. MCU Phase 4 the worst yet for Marvel Studios? After completing MCU Phase 3 with the triumphant box-office smash with the one-two punch of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame—and the denouement of Spider-Man: Far From Home—Marvel Studios was forced to look at the future without many of their staple characters that built the epic legacy of the MCU. Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Natasha Romanoff were taken off the chess board, while many of the surviving characters that helped forge the original Avengers team were scattered to the wind in spinoffs, solo projects, or even made into villains.
Marvel’s “Phase” construct began with 2008’s Iron Man, which left viewers wanting more with the first post-credits scene (which featured Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury), ending with the team-up audiences had been waiting for with 2012’s The Avengers. MCU Phase 2 saw the introduction of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Vision, Wanda Maximoff, The Wasp, and The Winter Soldier, coming to a conclusion of sorts with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Phase 3 of the MCU boiled to the epic conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, bringing in heavy hitters along the way with Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Doctor Strange, following a continued narrative that built and teased to an inevitable final confrontation with Thanos that felt like a carefully orchestrated build-up that paid off audience expectations in dividends.
Phase 4 had the unenviable task of essentially restarting the next big MCU narrative that would flow between the films (and now TV shows), building to something akin to Avengers: Endgame in terms of audience expectation. Following in the footsteps of the second-highest grossing movie of all time is no small feat, but given the success of the MCU Phases 1-3, it would seem that Marvel would have a more clear and concise plan for where the MCU is going. Instead, it feels like characters and stories are being introduced without any real connective tissue to the greater MCU, while the next great threat, Kang (shown in the finale of Loki season 1), has been glimpsed only once, leaving fans wondering if devouring each new show and movie is worth the investment, especially when the quality appears to be dipping as it moves forward.
Phase 4 has been all over the place. For every fan favorite project like WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home, there are others that get dinged for things like inconsistent tones and jumbled plots. If there is one thing that has truly defined the MCU’s Phase 4, it is a desire to stretch the bounds of what a Marvel project can be. WandaVision brought classic sitcoms to the superhero world, while Eternals strove to tell a millennia-spanning epic.
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