The Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 Exit Polls
After 7 films, 7 shows and one pandemic, the MCU has finally reached the end of Phase 4. What were the highlights? The lowlights? Where is the story of the MCU going from here? IS IRON MAN COMING BACK? Find out here with the MCU Phase 4 exit polls! Circuit Artwork ***This article contains spoilers for ALL of the MCU Phase 4 projects, including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the MCU has officially closed the chapter on Phase 4. Three years, 14 projects and one pandemic later and we now have the blueprint (sort of?) for the future of the MCU, and we can put the Infinity Saga in the rear-view mirror. Let’s kick off the Phase 4 exit polls by ranking the shows and films (separately). Here are the definitive MCU Phase 4 Shows rankings! 1- WandaVision 2- Loki 3- Hawkeye 4- She-Hulk 5- Ms. Marvel 6- Falcon and the Winter Soldier 7- Moon Knight Let’s start by saying the MCU shows as a whole have been disappointing and, in my opinion, pointless. The one time a show plot has crossed over into the films, they basically did a quick 5 minute exposition to explain away the show for those who didn’t watch. If these shows are required viewing, what is their point? The quality has not been great AND they aren’t consequential? I fear if the MCU ever meets its downfall, it will be due to watered-down products because of these shows. But I digress. WandaVision is by far the best Disney+ show the MCU has made. The finale left a lot to be desired, but episodes 1-8 were thrilling. It takes a lot to get someone on the east coast to stay up until 4am watching television, but that show did it. The mystery of this show makes it easily the best show the MCU has done. Loki was very good. It didn’t have the lows like the WandaVision finale, but it didn’t have the highs like WandaVison episodes 5 & 6 either. It was just a solid show that introduced us to the Multiverse Saga big bad. Plus, Tom Hiddleston. Here’s where my rankings get a little wonky. I loved Hawkeye ! I thought Steinfeld was great and I cannot wait to see her in the movies. Plus, the Christmas setting was straight vibes. Ahhh She-Hulk . The finale was awful. “ Oh, I bet you love it when Deadpool breaks the 4th wall though, huh? It’s just because it’s a woman doing it that you hate.” That’s the criticism that I get the most, but it’s inaccurate; I actually really dug when Jen Walters broke the 4th wall throughout the show. But going to Marvel Studios and meeting K.E.V.I.N. was ridiculous and made a mockery of the MCU. Hated it. But before that episode, there were some good moments. The show didn’t really have a point, but it was fun for the most part. This is where I will get shit, and probably deserve it! I found Ms. Marvel to be boring. Didn’t hate the character, excited for The Marvels, but this show just wasn’t overly entertaining to me. Falcon and the Winter Soldier should be the best show they’ve done. It featured 2 established Avengers, the Dora Milaje, and an Avengers-level villain in Zemo. How did this show fail? It should have just been a movie, instead of a show to set up a movie but will ultimately not matter in said movie. Jesus, Moon Knight started so well! Those first two episodes were great, but it was straight downhill from there. On the bright side, Oscar Isaac was absolutely phenomenal. Now let’s rank the films of Phase 4! 1- Spider-Man: No Way Home 2- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 3- Eternals 4- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 5- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 6- Thor: Love & Thunder 7- Black Widow I mean, does anyone disagree with this #1? No Way Home is one of the best MCU movies ever, period. There is absolutely no doubt that it is the best of the Phase 4 slate. Wakanda Forever is a movie masterpiece. Does it miss Chadwick Boseman? Of course it does. But the entire cast put their heart and souls into this film, as well as Ryan Coogler, and it shows in every scene. Shuri is my third favorite character in the MCU, and she shines in this movie more so than I ever imagined. T’Challa will always be our king, but Shuri is a pretty damn good princess. Haha. Oh boy. People will nooooot like this ranking. I liked Eternals a lot! What can I say? Most people disagree strongly with this ranking, and I totally get it. This film isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. I thought Shang-Chi was a really fun, classic Marvel origin movie. I found the final act to be less-than-inspiring, but the film made me very excited to see the future for Shang-Chi, which is the biggest thing for a first movie. Multiverse of Madness should be much higher. This film had so much potential, and in some ways it lived up, but in other ways it fell far short. Scarlet Witch was incredible in the film, arguably one of the best villains in the MCU ever. But the multiverse part felt lacking, which is a problem for a movie with multiverse in the title. Love & Thunder was silly. Gorr was cool when he was in the film, which wasn’t much. Jane Foster was great, but the cancer storyline felt a little lacking. Overall, there were just too many jokes and not enough weight to feel like a real MCU movie. For this film, I feel the need to clarify that I really like Natasha as a character and am glad she got her own movie… it was just three years too late. This movie should have come out before Endgame , before we knew her fate. It did give us Yelena, who is a burgeoning MCU star, but overall the movie just fell flat. Now that we’ve ranked the Phase 4 properties, let’s look at some of the ongoing storylines that are the most intriguing, and the ones that we wouldn’t be sad to see disappear. Let's zoom out and look at what worked and what didn't in Phase 4: Three Phase 4 storylines I LOVED... Building this phase around grief... Grief is one of the most fascinating, plot-rich storylines out there, and it made a lot of sense to build phase 4 around the idea of grief. We as an audience were grieving the losses of Iron Man, Black Widow & Cap, not to mention we were grieving in the real world with the pandemic. The MCU had been on such an epic bender, from Civil War all the way through Endgame, and I think we needed these couple years to really process that things were going to be different now. The grief theme really worked for me in Phase 4 (but I'm excited to move on from that in Phase 5). The Madness of the Multiverse... The concept of a multiverse is a wild, exciting and confusing one. It was borderline euphoric to see Garfield and Maguire pop up in No Way Home, but did it make complete sense? Did that spell impact them as well? Are they coming back? How does this work??? Why do some variants look identical (Dr. Strange) and others are different species (Loki)? I really am digging the idea of the multiverse, but it's all just a house of cards... one mistake in a big movie, and the entire saga will come crumbling down in a pile of nonsensical narratives (or, Morbius ). The New Kids on the Block... The Young Avengers storyline isn't one that is overly exciting to me, as I don't love watching people fumble around not knowing how to use their powers. However, I do love the idea of these legacy characters and passing the torch. I don't need to see Prince T'Challa in a Young Avengers Disney+ show in 2024, but I love the thought of him headlining a new Black Panther trilogy in 2028, when we've had the chance to watch this kid grow up and become what he's meant to be. They are almost certainly going to rush these kids worse than NFL teams throwing rookie QB's to the slaughter, which will ruin it. But if they take their time with some of these kids and let them become well-rounded characters, the MCU will thrive for generations to come. Now for three Phase 4 storylines that I did not enjoy... The idea that every villain needs to be redeemed... Falcon & the Winter Soldier, Love & Thunder, Multiverse of Madness, No Way Home, etc... All these films felt the need to jam it down our throats that the villain is not really a villain, they are just misunderstood and are really more antagonists. What the fuck happened to just evil characters? Why can't we just have evil people on screen? That's why I loved Green Goblin in No Way Home. All the other villains in that movie were redeemed, but not that motherfucker. He was pure evil, and it was delicious. Sometimes we get a Killmonger, someone who does have merit in their ideas and that's great! I loved Killmonger. But this PC culture that needs everyone to have some good in them is just boring to me. Give me old men flying around on a hoverboard stabbing people and blowing shit up. Those villains can be fun too. DO NOT NEUTER KANG! Make him evil Marvel, please. The Madness of the Multiverse... "But I thought you loved this storyline???" I did! I also didn't like it. While it allows for immense fun like the Spider-Men, or Mr. Fantastic, it also means there are 0 stakes for anything moving forward. If anyone dies, we can just go get a carbon copy from universe 287 and it will be fine. I'm hoping that they push all their chips in the middle of the table in Secret Wars, bring back nearly every Marvel character ever, and then end that movie by closing off the multiverse so we can have a character die, and actually feel something. Introducing a billion new characters... What made the MCU so special in phases 1-3 was in part that it grew very slowly. We started with our core group of 6 (really 3), and then by Age of Ultron we had added what, 3 Avengers? Then by Infinity War we had expanded by 10 or 12 and we suddenly had a 20ish main characters over 11 years of storytelling. We've nearly doubled that roster size in Phase 4 alone, and that's counting the characters that have died! And that's not counting groups like the X-Men & F4 that are coming soon! I think they should have slowed their roll and only introduced a couple of new characters, and focused on wrapping up trilogies rather than starting a bunch of them. Dr. Strange is clearly the focal point of Phase 4, but it's going to be yearssss before we get his third movie! Before introducing 13 new characters, why not wrap up characters like Strange, Ant-Man & Captain Marvel first? They're biting off a lot here, I'm not sure they can chew all of this. Three future storylines that are exciting… Kang re-writing time itself… At the end of Loki, we saw that time had been re-written with Kang now in charge. It’s still up in the air as to how what happened in that show actually impacts the MCU, as it takes place out of time, but it has to mean something. I think Kang could be an even better villain than Thanos, so his storyline will certainly be intriguing. How many Kang’s will we see? How many timelines will we get? WILL TONY STARK COME BACK FOR SECRET WARS??? (the answer is yes. Of course he will. Because money). Young Avengers… assemble We have Kate Bishop, Wiccan & Speed (of course they’re coming back, come on), Patriot, Stature, Yelena Belova, Love, Riri Williams & a young (really young) T’Challa. Now these characters vary wildly in age, so I don’t expect them all to be on the same team at the same time, but the MCU is clearly setting up these legacy characters to take up mantles and form a Young Avengers team. Move over adults, the kids are back in town! All things Spidey… I mean, did you see No Way Home? Spidey is Marvel’s biggest franchise by a mile (outside of the Avengers movies, obviously), and now that Tom Holland is (allegedly) signed on for six more films, we’re going to be doing a lot more web-slinging in the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of this character and maybe, just maybe, get the symbiote. Now for three future storylines that are NOT exciting… Thunderbolts… disassemble… Having Elaine Benes in the MCU is so fantastic, let’s get that out of the way. But this movie just isn’t exciting to me, especially being the capper of Phase 5 (allegedly). It feels like an average Disney+ show, not a feature film. It has a bunch of secondary characters teaming up to fight bad guys Even though most of them are villains? DC did this a few years back with the first Suicide Squad and it didn’t work out too well. Just keep Bucky & Yelena and move on from this. Gods in the MCU… Eternals dabbled in the gods. Moon Knight went a bit further on the topic. And then Love & Thunder just smashed the ceiling and went full-Olympus on us. And yet… it all kinda fell flat? None of it seems to really matter, as this saga of the MCU is focused on the multiverse, not the gods. So why keep teasing this storyline? I’m sure it will result in something, but do we need it? I don’t think so. Skrulls running around in the MCU… I am really interested in the Skrulls storyline, but it feels like that momentum is gone. Now that we’re diving head-first into the deep end of the multiverse pool, it feels difficult enough to keep track of who’s who, but now we could have multiversal skrull characters? General audiences are not going to be able to follow that, and it could result in much too much confusion. I would love to see the Skrulls down the road, but maybe hit the pause button until after the Multiverse Saga. Now let’s close out these exit polls by handing out some Phase 4 awards! Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Phase 4 Film: Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man ( Spider-Man: No Way Home ) Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Phase 4 Film: Letita Wright as Shuri/Black Panther ( Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ) Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Phase 4 Film: Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher ( Thor: Love & Thunder ) Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Phase 4 Film: Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda ( Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ) Best Performance by a Director in a Phase 4 Film: Ryan Coogler ( Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ) Best Villain in Phase 4 Film: Namor ( Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ) Best New Character in a Phase 4 Film: Yelena Belova ( Black Widow ) Most Crushing Death in a Phase 4 Film: Aunt May ( Spider-Man: No Way Home ) *I’m not counting T’Challas death in Wakanda Forever here because that was a real-life death and wasn’t meant to be a part of the MCU story. In terms of emotional impact, of course his death was the worst, but it felt disrespectful to put him there. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but that’s my reasoning. Best 1st Act Fight Sequence in a Phase 4 Film: Bus Fight ( Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ) Best 2nd Act Fight Sequence in a Phase 4 Film: Earth 838 Illuminati Battle ( Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) Best 3rd Act Fight Sequence in a Phase 4 Film: Statue of Liberty Battle ( Spider-Man: No Way Home ) Biggest Draw-Jopping Moment of Phase 4 Film: John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic ( Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) **I fully recognize that No Way Home bringing the Spider-Men together was a bigger moment; but we all knew that was coming. I was genuinely surprised to see Krasinski, so that's why he gets the award. Phase 4 Film MVP: Doctor Strange Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Phase 4 Show: Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Moon Knight ( Moon Knight ) Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Phase 4 Show: Elizabeth Olson as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch ( WandaVision ) Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Phase 4 Show: Daniel Bruhl as Zemo ( Falcon and the Winter Soldier ) Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Phase 4 Show: Kathryn Hagn as Agatha Harkness ( WandaVision ) Best Villain in Phase 4 Show: Kang the Conqueror ( Loki ) Best New Character in a Phase 4 Show: Kang the Conqueror ( Loki ) Most Crushing Death in a Phase 4 Show: Fake Vision ( WandaVision ) Best Episode of a Phase 4 Show: Al-New Halloween Spooktacular! ( WandaVision episode 6) Best Fight Sequence in a Phase 4 Show: Car Chase (Hawkeye ) Biggest Draw-Jopping Moment of Phase 4 Show: Evan Peters/Quicksilver? shows up ( WandaVision ) Phase 4 Show MVP: Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch ( WandaVision ) There you have it! The MCU Phase 4 Exit Polls are in the books, and now it’s time to look ahead to Phase 5! Check back in periodically to see what’s next for Marvel content here at The Circuit!