Considering how unrelenting Marvel’s success has been since it first rolled onto cinema screens 11 years ago, the franchise finds itself at a bigger crossroad than it’s typically been used to. The Avengers have come and gone to the tune of unprecedented box office success, several of its biggest stars have departed and winds of change are gathering apace. The question it leaves on the lips of the multitudinous fanbase they’ve brought with them is obvious then – where do they go from here?
Trust Kevin Feige, Marvel’s Multiplatforming Tsar (his official title), to provide us with a Christmas Star to guide we ignorant masses out of the darkness and into the light. Or, in less arch terms, to tell us where the MCU is headed. Speaking at the Comic Con Experience in Brazil, Feige indicated that the forthcoming sequel to Doctor Strange would tease the shape of things to come:
“The multiverse is the next step in the evolution of the MCU and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to crack it open in ways that will have repercussions for a Disney+ series before it that’s not WandaVision and for movies after it in a big fun way.”
Mind-bending mischief in the multiverse of madness sounds a treat. For those who haven’t been wholly enamored by Marvel’s creative output to date (not that I’m necessarily one of them. Please don’t lynch me), Feige’s intimations as to opening the multiverse door might suggest the studio are willing to experiment a little more, now that the project has entered its fourth phase (and first post-Avengers stage). Alternatively, it might merely entail the opening of even more multimedia possibilities – an infinite universe of them. I know which one I’m hoping for.
Phase Four is scheduled to begin with Black Widow on May 1st, 2020. I’m not sure that film is going to be the strongest indicator of Feige’s interdimensional masterplan, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough (144 days to be precise).