We’re only just embarking on Marvel Phase Three (there’s a handy guide courtesy of Coming Soon at the bottom of this article) and already it feel like a very different proposition to the first two phases, with loads of new heroes being introduced and the crossover movies feeling more ambitious and not just more of the same. But according to Marvel movie boss Kevin Feige in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Phase Four will be very different again.
“I think you look at comics as a guide,” he says, meaning that although certain titles may get relaunched or rebooted, the narrative exists on a never-ending continuum. “I think there will be a finality to moments of Phase Three, as well as new beginnings that will mark a different, a very different, a distinctively different chapter in what will someday be a complete first saga made up of three phases.”
We think by that he means that we should regard Phases One to Three as the first trilogy, and that to some extent there will be a sense of closure for certain characters and storylines, while Phase Four will set up a new trilogy. The obvious “conclusion” is wrapping up the whole Thanos and Infinity Stones gubbins so that there’s a new ongoing baddie and arc plot for Phases Four to Six.
But you do have to wonder if some other characters – maybe Tony Stark – may pass their superhero mantle onto somebody new. We wouldn’t bet against a film with a title like All-New Iron Man in Phase Four.
Then again, it may be more than just changing the window dressing. Marvel has already proven smart in realising you can’t keep pumping out movies to the same formula; they’ve played with different settings, different tones and different genres. And with Phase Three they’re really starting to experiment as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity Wars co-director Joe Russo points out in the same article:
“Things always get deconstructed, right? You build things up and people enjoy the experiences you’ve built up. But then you kind of reach an apex or you reach a climax, a moment where you go, ‘This structure is really going to start to be repetitious if we do this again, so what do we do now?’ So now, you deconstruct it. We’re in the deconstruction phase with Civil War and leading into Infinity War, which are the culmination films.”
Civil Wars is deconstructing things by have a heroes versus heroes movie instead of good guys versus bad guys. Although exact details of the plot haven’t been released, Infinity Wars sounds like it’ll be be more like a comic book “event”; not just a case of a bunch of heroes teaming up to fight a common enemy (though there will be an element of that), but characters from various franchises fighting a common war on different fronts.
So it sounds like Marvel won’t settle for reproducing a formula for Phase Four. Besides, unlike Phase One, it won’t have to be a series of origin stories, since there are loads of new heroes being introduced in Phase Three who will all be wanting sequels in future Phases. Whatever Marvel has planned, continued deconstruction sounds a good way to go. And there are plenty more genres they can cross over into. Anyone for She-Hulk romantic comedy or a Howard The Duck musical?