Marvel Phase Four has brought us a lot of interesting, and some might argue, bad projects in the last two years. And while I have to agree that they seem to be rushing this phase, I’ve enjoyed each project for what it was. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very hard for me to rank each phase four project. For me, there are clear favorites and some that were just enjoyable in the moment. I don’t see myself rewatching some of these projects, but I recognize their potential importance in this next timeline of stories. I’ve tried to view each project as its own standalone story while also keeping in mind these stories will come together somehow in the end. It’s an attempt to enjoy these projects in the moment as they release and not at the end of the saga. I’ve also had to keep in mind that the pandemic really messed up production schedules for many of these projects and then affected releases.
First, I ranked the shows because this was easier for me to do compared to the movies. The movies all ranked closely together, while the shows had clearer standouts. Once I had both the shows and films ranked, I put them together to create a complete list of the phase four projects.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Starting at the bottom and working our way to the top, we have the newest theater release, Thor: Love and Thunder. While I enjoyed this movie, it just felt like something was missing. I was expecting just a little bit more from the story. I mean, you have a God Butcher as your villain, Jane Foster stepping in as Lady Thor, and we could have gotten a lot more character development from Valkyrie—I really wanted character development from Valkyrie! But alas, we didn’t get it. While I enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok with director Taika Waititi, I felt that Love and Thunder was a little lost with what it was trying to accomplish. It was trying to be the 80s-inspired adventure with a romance between Jane and Thor, which I enjoyed and appreciated; however, with the addition of the humor, it made it feel tonally confused. I don’t find myself wanting to rewatch this film.
The Falcon and the Winter Solider
Next is Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I was so invested in this show when it was released on Disney+. It was the second show released on a weekly basis during lockdown, and the Twitter and TikTok discourse was lively, to say the least.
Buckey Barnes and Sam Wilson’s dynamic was so fun to watch, and I loved getting to explore these two characters that, up to this point, were usually in the background. I thought the show had important themes and wanted to tackle important discussions that were glossed over in previous releases; however, I think they could have delved deeper into these themes.
From what I remember, the show dragged on a little in some episodes, which made the episodes feel a lot longer than they already were. For that reason, I don’t find myself wanting to rewatch this show because of how long it feels to get through.
This movie was a weird mix between too much information and not enough information. Within the first five minutes, you’re dropped right into the middle of the action, and from there, it’s non-stop going back and forth between past and present timelines. It felt very different from the rest of the MCU, but I think in a good way. I enjoyed the direction and cinematography up until that third act, where the fact that it’s an MCU film shines through. That last fight was a bit off to me. Very high stakes and yet resolved quickly. Compared to the first two, the third act makes for some weird pacing issues.
For obvious reasons, I did like most of the characters, the exceptions being Sprite and Ikaris. The character development felt a little forced with Gemma Chan’s character, Sersi, but I liked her throughout the film.
I have rewatched this film since seeing it in theaters. I love the idea and the lore of the Eternals, and I’m excited to see where they fit into the grand scheme of things. And in addition, where Sersi’s love interest fits in as the Black Knight.
Loki is next for me. I know, I know! Kinda low on the list…
It was pretty cool in its multiverse introduction and exploration; however, I didn’t like Sylvie at all. There’s got to be a universe where Sylvie is cooler; this was not that universe. I enjoyed every other version of Loki in the show, but Sylvie wasn’t doing it for me.
Loki’s character development was amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. I loved seeing him explore his character and become the Loki we knew at the end of the Infinity Saga. I’ve very curious to see what role he will play in this next saga.
This show can be seen as the beginning of the Multiverse Saga, which is exciting! I loved the sci-fi elements of this show, and its color pallet and lighting were amazing! It’s such an intriguing concept, and I’m excited to see where the timeline goes from here.
I LOVE Kate Bishop! I love her. Also, I love Yelena. These two in contact with each other equals my new favorite duo of Marvel going forward!
I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’m sort of anti-Clint… I was just never that big of a fan of him in the Infinity Saga. I didn’t care about his character or family storyline; it didn’t mean much to me. But this show made me appreciate him a little bit more. I’m still pretty indifferent, but I liked that this show included Clint and Yelena trying to mourn Natasha.
The show was a good time: right around Christmas in New York with Yelena trying to kill Clint?! Loved it!
Besides our main characters, I was very interested in Echo. I know she is getting her own show in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that brings.
It took me a while to sit down and watch this show, but once I finally watched that first episode, I was in it. And after episode four, the Doctor Strange episode, I was hooked indefinitely.
Tony Stark died at least five times in this show, and I thought it was pretty humous. Like, “oh, Tony already died in End Game… now we can kill him however many times we want!” And if we wanted the answer of if Wanda and Vision could ever be happy… we got our answer. The answer is no.
This show did a fantastic job of introducing the multiverse possibilities to set up for the Multiverse Saga. I also love the animation style. It looks like a comic book!
This was the first phase four film that was incredibly affected by the pandemic. It was set to release in May 2020 but was pushed back thrice. I was so excited about the movie that I put the first release date in my calendar in November of 2019 and then continued to update it as it kept getting delayed.
What can you say about Florence Pugh that hasn’t already been said? She is amazing always and especially as Yelena! I loved getting to know Yelena and learning more about Natasha’s childhood.
Now, I do agree that Natasha was never a thoroughly flushed-out character. We didn’t get to fully understand her as a character in her own rights (that’s a story for another time), so it was sad to see Black Widow leave the MCU without being fully explored as a character. There’s much more I could say about the MCU’s treatment of Black Widow, but we’ll save that for another time.
This film had one of the most memorable openings of the MCU. I really liked the villain and how real he is as a threat, and I liked Taskmaster and her arc. This was a wonderfully female-led film, and I love revisiting it from time to time.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
This movie physically and mentally destroyed me.
I agree with most when they say this film was a great time. I love these characters in any situation, so I was happy to see Peter, Ned, and MJ all back together again! (only for that to be ripped from my hands very dramatically) After watching Spiderman: Homecoming, I got back into the MCU, and I didn’t even want to see Homecoming! I remember I thought, “great, another Spiderman movie that we don’t need.” But then I saw that movie five times in theaters. And bought the DVD the day it came out. In doing all this, I grew very attached to the characters. So when I say No Way Home was traumatic is an understatement.
I really enjoyed seeing all the Spider-Men on screen together. Andrew Garfield brought so much life to the trio. I really enjoyed him back as Peter Parker. He was so happy to be back; you could tell through his performance.
That cafe/bakery scene at the end… I can’t speak about it. I’m excited to see Peter Parker start his new story. I will be crying along the way.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
I know what you’re thinking, and please do not think less of me for putting this so high on my list! As a disclaimer: I have not finished the show (I’m on episode 5), so I cannot speak to the finale, and I won’t speak on the CGI that was used in said episode, but I can talk about the nature of the show! That nature is very refreshing!
I honestly really enjoy this show. It knows exactly what it is and sticks to it. I love Jennifer breaking the fourth wall and how self-aware it is. It’s just a really good time. It’s not anything super serious, at least not in the first five episodes…
Listen, if you can look inside yourself and get over the fact that the CGI is just not good (I can admit that), I promise you will have a good time watching this show!
I love this show. I love the music, I love May Calamawy as Layla, I love Ethan Hawke as a villain, and I love Oscar Isaac. Literally, everything was a chef’s kiss.
The mystery the first two episodes built was outstanding. I didn’t know if I should be scared or what was in store for the next episodes. At no point did I know where the story was going.
Oscar Isaac’s performance was unlike anything I’ve ever seen him in; he was amazing! I enjoyed watching Steven and Marc interact with each other and with other people. Oscar Isaac’s depiction on them both is just, I have no words. This show handled Moon Knight’s dissociative identity disorder (DID)—better than any Marvel project thus far dealing with mental health. I love how they explore Marc’s childhood into his adulthood. And then, apart from that, the exploration of the Egyptian Gods was really cool to see. I will be rewatching for Steven because I love him very much.
Making it into the top five is Ms. Marvel. This show, like She-Hulk, was very different from what we’ve come to know in the MCU. I loved how young it felt to accurately represent the young characters and loved the introduction of Ms. Marvel herself. I fell in love with her and all her quirks. I was able to see a lot of myself in her.
The finale was strong in its full-circle storytelling, with Kamala’s family at its forefront. I loved how prominent her family was in her life and how prominent her culture was in the show.
My only criticism: it could have been longer than only six episodes. I feel like the story moved very quickly after the villain was introduced, and everything wrapped up very abruptly. I would have liked maybe an extra episode or two to be able to fully explore these villains. But overall, I loved it.
And that end-credit music! I was NOT skipping that!
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
I will defend this movie with my life. I am team Wanda/Scarlet Witch for life. I will support her wrongs as much as I will support her rights, and in this movie, she was committing lots of wrongs, and I loved every second of it. At times I knew I should be rooting for the “good guys” (i.e., when she murdered like 5 people in minutes, or when she was like two seconds away from killing a kid, or when she was taking over another person’s body… you know there were a lot of wrongs) I was rooting for her. I was in her corner from start to finish. Her story is heartbreaking, and I’ve enjoyed seeing it explored in a not-so-glamorous way.
It was a Sam Rami film through and through. I enjoyed the horror elements incorporated with the magical aspects of the mystic arts and then set in a multidimensional world. Contrary to popular opinion, I quite enjoyed the odd transitions
and random montages. It was very ’80s-’90s, and I thought it was very well used in this film.
This was also a great introduction to another new character, America Chavez, who I am also very excited to see in upcoming projects.
Werewolf by Night
At number three, we have the latest release, Werewolf by Night. I was pleasantly surprised by this special released on Disney+. I went in completely blind and had no idea what to expect. What I got was really entertaining!
I loved the black-and-white style and the end references to the Wizard of Oz. I loved the shot compositions; the characters and designs were really fun!
I have no idea where this is supposed to fit into the MCU, but I heard that it is supposed to come into play in the future. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds!
Because it’s a fast project (only 50 minutes), it is extremely rewatchable. I highly suggest giving this a watch before October is over!
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
I saw Shang-Chi twice in theaters, once with my family and then again with a friend, and oh my god, was I living when this movie hit theaters.
It was another great introduction to new characters. Again, went in blind and came out loving the characters and added the film to my favorites list. I listened to that soundtrack like it was nobody’s business. So much so that most of it ended up in my Spotify Wrapped, even though I started listening to it in September.
I really like the family dynamics and the fact that there isn’t a main love interest involved. Shang-Chi and Katy’s friendship is so refreshing to see. I also really liked that the family would speak Mandarin Chinese with one another and that it was subtitled. It felt much more intimate and real to see a family speak their first language with one another, which was something I really enjoyed.
I’m SO excited to see what Xu Xialing does with her dad’s compound in future projects! There are so many layers to this next saga of Marvel; it is insane!
And coming in at number one, to no one’s surprise: WandaVision.
If you were not on Twitter or TikTok while this show was airing, I am so sorry that you missed such passionate discourse over whether a fly on Agatha’s curtain Mephisto was or not.
This show holds such a special place in my heart. No one knew what to expect because this was the first Marvel show to be released. So, when we finished episode nine, we were all floored by how incredible this show was in every aspect.
This show was phenomenal from the first episode to the last and has its ripple effects on the rest of the MCU. The storytelling and style were outstanding in their function and execution. The decade changes and Sitcom references that represented Wanda’s life were brilliant! Plus, the “commercials” that did the same thing were terrific. This show will go down in history.
Wanda quickly became my favorite after this show, and I will stand by her for the rest of the time. I am excited to see what Agatha: House of Harkness will have to offer!
So, that is my phase four ranking. We are still waiting for two projects in phase four: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set for its theater release November 11th, and another special, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, in December. Then we move on to phase 5, starting with its first film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and then season two of What If…?
What do you think? Is my ranking similar to yours? What have your favorite MCU phase four projects been, and what are you excited for in phase 5? Let me know!