Welcome to the new saga: a misdirected Marvel Cinematic Universe

New Marvel content is meandering, does not meet expectations

The year is 2018. Written in my calendar is “Avengers: Infinity War” on April 27. The anticipation and excitement I have for the movie is immeasurable, with over a decade of Marvel superheroes and villains coming together in one epic adventure.

I would give anything to have this feeling of enthusiasm again.

Marvel released WandaVision and Loki in 2021 following the events of “Avengers: End Game”. These shows found popularity, but their connection to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe is as of now unclear. (Photo from ComicBook)

After the last film in Marvel’s phase three released in 2019, Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and TV series have failed to live up to the expectations set by the previous films and have followed a confusing trajectory. 

A Marvel “phase” refers to a grouping of movies and TV series that develop plot and characters along one larger storyline. Phase three began with “Captain America: Civil War” and concluded with an epic final battle with characters from all phases. Phase 3 movies are generally considered fan-favorites for their introduction of characters such as Spider-Man and Black Panther.

It is not easy to follow up one of the highest-grossing films of all time, “Avengers: Endgame,” so to compensate for this, Marvel tied up loose ends with movies like “Black Widow” and TV series like “Loki” and “WandaVision.” I enjoyed these projects, but I could not escape the feeling that the only reason they were entertaining was their connection to phase 3 characters.

Characters like Natasha Romanoff and Wanda Maximoff are some of my favorites for their depth of character, while Loki is a favorite for his charming personality and wit. These characters did not receive proper denouements in phase 3 when I was merely looking for closure. 

Since then, Marvel has introduced a multitude of new characters and storylines, but none come close to filling in the gap left by the previous characters. This may seem like an unrealistic expectation, but I see it to be quite fitting. I expect the new content to not only make up for characters like Iron Man and Black Widow, but to be better. Marvel in itself is worthy of its popularity, it just needs to produce content worthy of it too. 

In the past few years, most Marvel movies and TV series have all been related to some form of the multiverse, the idea that multiple universes exist at the same time. At first, this new plot really intrigued me and made me excited for the moment when the different storylines would tie together. 

However, after almost four years of waiting for some understanding, I still have no idea what’s going on. I have watched almost every single movie, TV show and short relating to the MCU and I am still confused on the direction of these plotlines. 

On one hand, you have almost world-destroying interactions with the multiverse in “Spiderman: No Way Home” and on the other hand, you have character variants running rampant in “Loki.” I am ready for the buildup to end and for some actual connection and progress to occur between these characters and storylines. 

Although I may seem cynical, if I, someone who has been following Marvel films since 2016, cannot understand what is going on, how does Marvel expect the average viewer to understand? 

Marvel has had great success in the past, but it needs to stop resting on its laurels and develop a clearer sense of direction in its new content. I am waiting, and may be waiting for a while, for the feeling of excitement I once had to return. When it does, I am hoping it will be worth the wait.