Let’s just face the fact — MCU’s Phase Four, in terms of its films, has majorly been a disappointment. While the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, undoubtedly, saved it from completely drowning, it had enough misfires to get the label of being a disaster for many fans. Thankfully, the upcoming Marvel films in 2023, set to cash in on the persevering hype around the multiversal shenanigans, have more than ample potential to not only pick up Phase Four’s slack but also bless the MCU with Endgame-level momentum.
This year is set to see the arrival of three films — Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and The Marvels — and all of them fall in the category of MCU game changers. But which one has more chances of leaving us scrapping our hanging jaws from the floor? Time to rank these expected blockbusters by micro-analyzing what every one of them will be bringing to the table.
3. The Marvels
You know, we love the exceptional Brie Larson and are big fans of her turn as Captain Marvel. Standing alone, The Marvels would be the mega MCU offering of the year. After all, there are many existing factors that already make it a highly anticipated sequel to the first time we met Carol Danvers. For starters, it is set to be the big comeback of Captain Marvel after she kickstarted an avalanche of fan theories by shockingly switching places with Kamala Khan at the end of Ms. Marvel.
The film is also set to feature Teyonah Parris’ Monia Rambeau and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan along with Carol. Their coming together is already being labeled as a mighty team-up, what with Monica’s newly-received superpowers being the courtesy of Scarlet Witch’s chaos magic and Kamala being the mutant descendant of the Clandestines who have already been hopping dimensions. Who knows, maybe the trio will even end up usurping the Avengers of their throne of being MCU’s powerhouse.
While the possible appearance of Nick Fury — who has been up to god knows what in space — has been topping the list of expectations from the film, The Marvels has also riled up considerable hype with the confirmation that Zawe Ashton will be seen as the antagonist in the film and fans are already cooking theories about how she is going to play the Kree General Dar-Benn.
With the plot of the film being pretty vague at this point, fan speculations are measuring its potential in terms of what all it can achieve, which is ranging from setting up cosmic-level heroes and villains (like Nova, Galactus, etc) to teasing the eventual arrival of the X-Men, especially Rogue who infamously stole Captain Marvel’s powers in the comic books.
But what little is known about the film has made way for some raised eyebrows over minor details. Nothing major, just fans not liking the possibility of Kamala ditching her blue-gold domino mask when she appears next and the general concerns about the film’s screenplay after it was revealed four writers have worked on it — that is more writers than any other MCU movie in the past.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
By no means are we hinting that James Gunn’s final MCU outing has any less potential of making us feel that Christmas came early. In fact, seeing that it is the last time we will be seeing all the intergalactic heroes together makes it something of a fitting swan song for the Guardians and the director who brought them to the silver screen.
In many ways, GotG Vol. 3 is already a winner. It has put many fan speculations into motion, especially theories about whose luck will be running out by the end of the film and who will not be making it out alive. So far, Rocket and Drax have emerged as the possible characters we will be bidding farewell to. But who knows what tragic end Gunn has up his sleeves?
Then there are the less morbid and rather exciting details about the film that is keeping Marvel diehards on the edge of their seats, particularly the arrival of the hugely popular Marvel character Adam Warlock. Though he will be debuting as “not a good guy,” he is expected to return to his comic book roots eventually and become a force for good.
This is just a tick on the long list of firsts the sequel is set to deliver, which includes a proper look at Rocket’s history, introducing his new love interest Lylla, and of course, ushering in the new arch-villain, the High Evolutionary who has ties to both Rocket and Adam Warlock. Also, the alternate Gamora will be reuniting with the Guardians after being MIA since Endgame and hopefully, answer if Peter Quill has any chance of escaping the MCU’s love for ill-fated love stories.
It has already been named the most anticipated movie of 2023. So, why did we delegate the second spot on this list? Well, mostly because it isn’t entrusted with the task of unleashing the next Thanos-level monstrosity on the MCU.
1. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Normally, a film about Ant-Man, the least exciting Marvel hero — despite Paul Rudd headlining the series — would automatically be at the end of this list. But this time, the deal has been sweetened to the point that the fandom can’t wait to flood the theaters the second Quantumania lands.
The biggest slice of the cake obviously is the debut of Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, a mega-powerful villain who possesses the ability to rewrite existence and shatter timelines. And now that we have Kang Dynasty on the way, it is inevitable that Scott Lang, the very hero who saved the world in Endgame, will be instrumental in wrecking the fragile fabric of reality by unwittingly unleashing a danger worse than Thanos, who was — according to him at least — trying to save the universe in his own twisted way.
We will also be delving further into the Quantum Realm, which has been teased since the first Ant-Man film and only briefly explored in Endgame and get to see firsthand what makes the dimension so terrifying.
Then there is also the matter of the possible MCU debut of another superhero in the film if we dare to raise our hopes after seeing the official cast list for the film as it mentions that The Good Place veteran William Jackson Harper will be playing a certain “Quaz” in the film. Now, there is no Quaz in the comic books, but the name does bear a striking resemblance to Quasar, a cosmic hero who draws uses the accessories called the Quantum Bands to draw energy from the “Quantum Zone” and has the ability to “Quantum jump.”
Last but certainly not least is all the speculation around Scott’s future in the MCU. While the theories of him inadvertently creating variants of himself in the Quantum Realm are enticing, the official trailer of the film has made space for another speculation that has left fans panicked — that Scott’s most dangerous battle to date is also set to be his last. Yeah, MCU’s tiniest superhero hasn’t exactly been its MVP, but love for Scott Lang still reigns strong and only Ant-Man 3 can put these thoughts to rest.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is set to hit theaters this Feb. 17, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5 and The Marvels on July 28.