The Marvel Cinematic Universe is inarguably one of the most important and influential film series of the twenty-first century. Just from a film history perspective, think about how many "cinematic universe" things we've been getting lately. A lot. But while the existing MCU has been essentially my childhood dreams coming true in a beautiful and glorious manner, there's still more I can hope for. Phase One was magical, Phase Two was expansive, Phase Three has been glorious, but what do I want out of Phase Four? Not what do I think will happen, but what do I want to happen? Well, here's a short list.
10. Movie/TV Crossovers
This one will probably never ever happen. I'd bet handily against it. But I would be in a state of pure bliss if we got some of the Marvel movies crossing over with the Netflix stuff.
Seriously, I've said before that I would kill to see Daredevil and Spider-Man onscreen together. Captain America decking the Punisher? I want it. A New Avengers team with Luke Cage and Spider-Man alongside Cap and Iron Man? NEED IT! The Man of Iron and the Fist of Iron going toe-to-toe? Come on, let's do this!
Oh, and Jessica Jones snarking at the colorfully costumed heroes surrounding her sounds like a fun time all around. Look, I love character interaction.
Seeing fascinating people interacting in new ways is one of the reasons I'm so excited about Infinity War, and getting to watch the Netflix crew interact with the mainstream MCU would be rad as hell.
9. Buy Back the Fantastic Four
This one will NEVER HAPPEN. Or at least not in Phase Four. But the Fantastic Four are a vital and important part of the Marvel Universe, and the lack of them in the MCU is a serious problem.
The First Family are tone setters, and beyond that, they're just really cool. They aren't superheroes, they're explorers. They venture into the unknown to uncover new worlds and discoveries, and just so happen to often wind up fighting monsters and supervillains.
The MCU is big and expansive, but it lacks a First Family to center everything else. Plus, I'd love to have Human Torch palling around with Spider-Man, Invisible Woman going on missions with SHIELD, Mr. Fantastic matching wits with Tony Stark, and The Thing having an old school punch-up with The Hulk. Again, it's very unlikely that it would actually happen, but so was Spider-Man a few years ago, and look at him now.
A lot of people seem convinced that the FF are somehow bad characters because their movies suck, but that couldn't be further from the truth. And a well-done MCU movie might finally prove that point.
8. Keep Making Spider-Man Movies
Just make more Spider-Man. This isn't hard.
Homecoming was fantastic, and it captured the unique energy of the Wallcrawler better than any other film. So now, we finally have a solid Spider-Man who can interact with all the other Marvel heroes. Please keep making movies with him. Let him grow over time. Let him become the forefront of the MCU as he grows from young and fresh Spider-Boy to elder statesman Spider-Man. You have a unique opportunity here, Marvel.
Don’t screw it up. I mean, you haven't really screwed anything up so far, but please, listen to me on this. I have some advice: Don't let Sony do anything. You know when you're playing Mario Galaxy with a cousin who's terrible at video games, so you just let him hold the other controller and collect star stuff, because he can't possibly mess that up? Let Sony be that crappy cousin! Just give them something shiny to distract them (Venom will work), and keep making awesome Spider-Man movies. Remember Amazing Spider-Man 2? Don't let them do that again.
In conclusion: Marvel, please don't let Sony break the cool thing you made.
7. More Supernatural Marvel
Well, we finally got Doctor Strange into a movie. I am impressed, folks. I thought that was impossible. But now that we have, can we please get some more weird magic stuff into the MCU?
I know, Agents of SHIELD did Ghost Rider, but come on. Let's get more in here! Let's get Daimon Hellstrom, let's get Johnny Blaze to appear again, and for more than ten seconds this time! Maybe have some villainy from Mephisto or Nightmare? Supernatural Marvel has always been fun and cool, and we really do need to introduce some of that goodness into the films.
Also, I want the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider in some movies. That would be hell of fun. And I know they have the potential to do something with Carter Slade. Agents of SHIELD did introduce his descendent, after all.
I like Magic Marvel stuff a lot. And throwing a lot of those gloriously weird ideas into the MCU would be incredible.
Plus, it would let us get Blade back. Speaking of which: Get Blade back. Blade is cool. Everybody likes Blade. Get Wesley Snipes back too. That's what everybody wants, when you get down to it. So do it.
6. More Cosmic Marvel
Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge, massive, beloved hit. And Thor: Ragnarok seems to get more and more hype with every trailer that’s released. So maybe this is a sign to Marvel to open up the cosmic floodgates.
I wanna see the Living Tribunal onscreen by 2024. Do it. Also, if you are somehow able to get the Silver Surfer rights back, that'd be rad. More specifically, it'd be Norrin Radd. That pun was award-worthy. You better have appreciated it.
Anyhoozles, Marvel Cosmic would let the MCU play with Annihilus, Quasar, Nova, Terrax, and way more. And I guess Adam Warlock, if you care about that sort of thing. Also, think about how cool it'd be if they expanded the Annihilation: Conquest arc for the MCU, James Spader as evil crazy Space Ultron????
I would pay money now, just based on the promise of that movie. Space Ultron versus Nova would sell tickets to me, even if it were only to me.
5. More Period Pieces
With the announcement that Captain Marvel is going to take place in the "˜90s, it looks like Marvel is listening to me before I've even posted the article. But why stop there?
Let's get a World War I-set Invaders movie. Or an Old West Ghost Rider/Red Wolf team-up. Or some Arthurian Black Knight stuff. Come on MCU, branch out. Hell, do Spider-Man 2099 if you want. Just have fun. The majority of superhero activity in the MCU seems to have taken place in the last ten years. I'm sure there were heroes before that. Or villains. Or weird magic users.
I'd be crazy down for a ’50s Agents of Atlas thing. Or the ’60s-set Fantastic Four movie someone pitched a while back. Or, like, I dunno, do some odd superheroing stuff set in an unexplored time period.
Devil Dinosaur? Please do Devil Dinosaur. Pretty please do Devil Dinosaur.
4. More Weird Genre Stuff
For superhero cinema to survive, it needs to keep on branching out into different types of movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy was superhero sci-fi, Winter Soldier was a superhero spy thriller, Homecoming was superhero high school drama. It's these changes in formula that result in fun and innovative movies that do well critically and financially. So I gotta say, just keep it up, Marvel.
More sci-fi, more war movies, maybe another heist flick that's more heist-focused than Ant-Man was. I dunno, throw Shang-Chi in there and give me some kung fu fun. Drop a Werewolf by Night thriller. There's a lot to go off of here.
Maybe a weird Hawkeye comedy or a Black Widow spy flick? Look, if you wanted to make one of these a straight-up musical, I would probably be behind that. Keep making weird movies, and we will keep paying to see them in droves.
3. Moon Knight
Not all of these are for you guys, okay? This one is my thing. I wrote out nine of these for people who aren't me; let me indulge a little bit.
Now, in all fairness, I'd prefer Moon Knight as a Netflix series. But if a movie is possible, I'll take that, too. Moon Knight is a great pitch: a superhero who struggles with DID and has not one, but THREE, secret identities. The ex-mercenary Marc Spector, the rich playboy Steven Grant, and the cab driver Jake Lockley all take turns in the spotlight, but when it's time to fight evil, the Moon Knight takes over.
Recent Moon Knight stories, especially Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood's run, focus on Spector's mental health as a running theme. Can you imagine a superhero movie where you spend the whole time wondering whether the main hero is actually doing good? Or if he's just a deluded and violent murderer? Especially if you keep him fighting werewolves and Egyptian cat people. Make him look crazy, and then show that the threat might be real.
Seriously, Moon Knight is one of the most underrated Marvel characters; show him some love. And now, back to the entries on this list for people other than me.
2. More Teenage Heroes
So, with Phase Three coming to a close, we're going to see a phasing out (PUN!) of many MCU regulars. And we’ll need new heroes to replace them.
But it's important to make sure that those new characters can last a while. I mean, it'd be good to not have to keep shuffling people off every five years. So how do you fix that? Start casting young characters and let them grow. The MCU’s Spider-Man will hopefully go from teenager to fully grown adult. Let's get more characters to do that.
Kamala Khan needs to be brought to life onscreen as Ms. Marvel. Maybe bring in Nova (Rich or Sam) or, once Tom Holland gets old, Miles Morales. Throw in some young blood to flesh out the MCU's younger cast.
Because if we want to see a Phase Six or Eight or Twelve or whatever, we need to start sowing the seeds for it now.
1. Way More Diversity
Uh oh, I used the D word.
Look, one of the reasons Wonder Woman was the buzziest superhero movie of the year was that it felt like something new. A big budget, female-led, female-directed superhero movie was unlike anything we'd seen before, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. The footage we've seen from Black Panther has similar heat behind it. As does Captain Marvel. I love straight white dude superhero movies, and I don't want those to go away, but at the same time, Marvel has such a great stable of characters who don't fit into those boxes, and they’re being wasted.
She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Blade, Wasp, Black Widow, Hellcat, Falcon, Isaiah Bradley, Wiccan, America Chavez, Union Jack…Holy hell, you guys, these are some all-time greats who should be used more.
I'm sure that pushing for this is going to upset some people, but the truth is that it will only lead to better movies. Think about how many awesome stories we got out of straight white dudes! There are easily that many awesome stories about every other group that we aren't getting! Being pro-diversity is being pro-awesome movies. This is straight-up irrefutable. I literally don't get why saying More people should be given the chance to make more varied types of superhero movies is controversial. But apparently it is.
But if there's one single thing we want to see more of in Phase Four, it's this. It's the key to the MCU continuing to be successful as the market changes. Good luck, Marvel, I have faith in you.