Without a shadow of a doubt, Phase Four has been the most polarizing chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by far, matters that haven’t been helped by Kevin Feige and his team stretching themselves thinner than ever before by expanding into television via raft of Disney Plus shows.
Then again, criticism of any franchise tends to be fairly cyclical, with veteran supporters of the comic book saga noticing that we’ve been down this slanderous road before. Following The Avengers, the MCU was firmly established as the biggest game in town, but the second wave of projects don’t exactly rank among the very best to emerge from Marvel Studios.
Thor: The Dark World is arguably Chris Hemsworth’s weakest solo outing (depending on how you feel about Taika Waititi’s Ragnarok), Iron Man 3 continues to divide opinion to this day, Guardians of the Galaxy was being predicted to bomb by many ahead of its release due to the obscurity of the characters, Ant-Man has never been deemed as top-tier MCU, and Avengers: Age of Ultron has only very recently undergone a reappraisal.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier completes the lineup, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about the Russo brothers’ debut. Funnily enough, the denizens of Reddit have noticed that Phase Two came under eerily familiar fire, and it’ll no doubt happen again at some point between now and the end of the Multiverse Saga.
Criticisms of underwhelming solo blockbusters, the connective tissue being forced in, the loose nature of how the overarching story ties together, lack of clarity about what the future holds… are we talking 2015 or 2022?
It’s definitely going to happen again, such is the nature of the beast, but it’s nonetheless interesting to note that the disgruntlement of the fandom has already doubled back on itself, and will absolutely do so again.