Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has just come to a close with “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special“. And on the whole, this was one of the most interesting points of the MCU. This was the franchise’s first foray into streaming and dealing with the worldwide Covid Pandemic. Phase 4 of the MCU has been diverse in its content; the phase has had:
- 7 Theatrical Movies
- 8 Disney+ Shows
- 2 Special Presentations / Television Specials
- 1 Animated Short Series
So, on the whole, Marvel has been interesting, but that does not mean it’s been good. In my opinion, The phase is a mixed bag and mishmash with many fun ideas that do not work. After Avengers: Endgame’s conclusive story, the franchise is trying to find a new footing. So this is just a compressive list where I rank the movies from the best to the worst. This will include the seven theatrical released films.
Spiderman: No Way Home
This was not even a contest. Spiderman: No Way Home is easily the best movie of phase 4. Spiderman: No Way Home is a perfect blend of nostalgia and good storytelling. No way home is a fantastic spiderman story with peter learning to face the consequences of his actions. Tom Holland is excellent in the film as an inexperienced and out-of-control spiderman. It is masterful how Tobey and Andrew’s Spidermen are handled with respect and deliberation. The movie is immensely rewatchable. The ending is perfect, taking down the MCU Spiderman back to his classic roots, which is so exciting for the future.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not a perfect movie, but it is one of the most deliberate movies from marvel. After the passing of Chadwick Bosmean, the film had to be rewritten. The movie is a really good homage to how his presence is still felt throughout. The conflict of a nation dealing with losing its leader is fascinating. Angela Bassett’s performance is moving. Her grieving for her son’s loss while running the most powerful country in the world is very compelling. Almost all of the cast brings their “A” game.
Namor and his underwater people are genuinely terrifying. He is a great manipulative villain who flies off the pages of the comics. His arrogance and charm are just great. His backstory makes us understand where he comes from. I am interested in how this movie affects the wider MCU. The story does seem a bit messy and weird with its pacing, but on the whole, it works well.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
I would say that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun MCU movie. Personally, I do not have much to say because the movie is not that remarkable. The movie has a charming protagonist, Shang-Chi, with some enjoyable action scenes. But the movie is nothing special, with its cliche story. It is told well enough for the most part. But by the end, the movie falls apart with its big CGI climax. Still, it is a fun and entertaining film.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Personally, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a mixed bag. It can be great based on what you like. I loved how much Sam Raimi’s influence showed in the movie. The Camera angles, editing and especially the final Zombie Doctor Strange are pure awesome and are rare in a Marvel film. Wanda is an excellent villain and is genuinely terrifying. But the movie sadly fails to live up to the part where it is about Multiverses.
There is only one different universe in the whole movie. The movie has exciting parts, but I could not care l about Doctor Strange and Cristina. That storyline is the film’s heart, but it never really lives up to it. Just like her comic counterpart America Chavez is an ok character at best. So yeah, even though I love parts of the film, it falls a bit short of its potential.
Eternals is a very odd movie. The MCU has always had a specific tone when it comes to its properties. That certain action-comedy tone is what defines the MCU. Eternals has been the first movie to break away from it. It does not work, in my opinion, but it is a good attempt. The film looks great with its cinematography. But the good direction and cinematography cannot save boring characters and a bland story.
As we follow the titular “Eternals“, they feel so unreliable. I get that they are supposed to be dry with how they are immortal and jaded. But they do not make good leads for an action comedy. The movie still tries to make jokes with its drab tone, and it never really works. But at least the MCU tried to experiment, the TV side was better, but Eternals was a misstep.
The first movie was the phase was one of the worst. Black Widow as a movie feels so inconsequential. The movie is almost five years too late. It is a prequel about a dead character, taking place in two movies with the most significant ramifications in the universe. This leaves no place for the main character to go anywhere. The movie does introduce Yelena Belova, who is super fun.
I think that the movie could have been better if it was an actual spy story. But it went for a big action movie with a character who is supposed to be a spy. The CGI is also horrible in the final action scene. This is one movie which feels like it could be better done as a show. But as a movie, it barely works.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Who would have thought that the sequel to Thor: Ragnarok would be bad? But here we are with Thor: Love and Thunder, which is one of the most insufferable movies I had to sit through. The story is a mess with many threads in a way terrible Marvel movies can be. The film introduces and kills Gor: The God butcher, and Mighty Thor (Jane Foster) in a sad and unsatisfying way. The comic storylines, which spanned years, are crammed into one movie, and it does not work.
Gor being the main villain is actually well done; we get his motivation and drive in one scene very efficiently. Christian Bale is just really good in the role. But the jokes are insufferable. They are smug and condescending, undercutting most of the serious parts of the movie. Thor: Love and Thunder is a movie which shows the worst parts of the MCU.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has entered a new Saga, The Multiverse Saga. And it is off to an interesting start. At least with the movies, it has been mostly a mixed bag. But it is at least interesting to see the biggest franchise is the world trying new things. Hopefully, this pans out better in the upcoming Phase 5.