Ever since Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to a close with “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019, fans have wondered how the MCU could move on from something so epic. It has cast a fair amount of doubt towards projects that were to come with Phase Four and beyond, however, I think the MCU has been doing just fine.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” was an excellent bridge between Phase Three and Phase Four of the MCU as Spider-Man himself dealt with the repercussions of fighting Thanos. Due to COVID-19, “WandaVision” was delayed and the first two episodes of Marvel’s first limited series weren’t released until Jan. 15, 2021. The delay wasn’t intentional, but it allowed fans to fully process the events of Phase Three. With clear minds and a longing for something new from Marvel, the excellence of “WandaVision” became even more special.
The MCU’s shift into Disney+ series was brilliant. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki,” like “WandaVision,” had one hand in the pre-Thanos MCU days and one hand in the MCU’s future while diving into incredible storylines. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” did an excellent job covering issues of race surrounding Sam Wilson while his role as The Falcon evolved into taking up the delicate mantle of Captain America alongside Steve Rogers’ oldest friend, Bucky Barnes. “Loki” allowed the MCU to take a huge step into the possibilities of the multiverse and the fabric of time while everyone’s favorite Asgardian anti-hero got some well-deserved character development.
Summer 2021 finally gave the MCU’s first female superhero her long-awaited spotlight with “Black Widow,” also bringing in Florence Pugh as Natasha Romanoff’s sister, Yelena Belova. It gave fans the chance to say goodbye to a beloved character while setting up Yelena’s future in the MCU, as seen in “Hawkeye,” in late 2021. The latter also introduced Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop and showed audiences Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton as he went through the grief of losing his best friend. The influx of female heroes and not shying away from the tough subject of grief made these projects far from ordinary.
December 2021 saw the highly-anticipated “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which is undoubtedly one of the greatest superhero films of all time. Bringing in Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to revive their respective Peter Parkers as well as Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin and Alfred Molina as ‘Doc Ock’ was a whirlwind of nostalgia and pure joy for fans.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” made Simu Liu the first Asian superhero in the MCU. Directed by Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao, “Eternals” is the “most diverse cast that’s ever been made in a film,” said Salma Hayek, who plays Ajak in the film. The main cast includes female, Latina, queer, deaf, Asian, South Asian and Black representation, which is a huge step forward in inclusivity in entertainment.
“Moon Knight” further expanded the inclusivity of the MCU, Egyptian screenwriter and director Mohammed Diab immersing audiences into Cairo, Egypt, and establishing May Calamawy’s character, Layla El-Faouly/Scarlet Scarab, as the MCU’s first Arab superhero. The series also tackled dissociative identity disorder with the main character, Steven Grant/Marc Spector, who is played brilliantly by Oscar Isaac. The complexity of mental health is not ignored and the series has been credited with doing so well in its portrayal.
“Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” took all previously laid groundwork for the existence of the multiverse and jumped in head first with Elizabeth Olsen further proving how amazing she is in the role of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. Additionally, Xochitl Gomez, who plays America Chavez, became the first Mexican-American teen to portray a superhero in the MCU.
Marvel introduced audiences to the world of Kamala Khan in “Ms. Marvel,” as the first Muslim superhero in the MCU. Not to mention that it’s one of the “highest rated shows of its kind.” Most recently, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” introduced Tatiana Maslany as the amazingly intelligent lawyer Jennifer Walters, who makes becoming a Hulk look easy.
It’s hard to build off of the success of something as unforgettable as the original six Avengers. However, I think between the number of firsts in diversity and all of the new characters that have gotten their chance to be adored by fans, Marvel has done a really excellent job of creating something new that still provides the familiarity of the MCU’s origins.
Tate Raub is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tate know by tweeting her @tatertot1310.