Summary

  • If Disney had decided to focus on established characters and franchises earlier, Phase 4 of the MCU would have had different movies and TV series.
  • Established characters like Spider-Man and Thor would have kept their movies, perhaps with slight changes.
  • The MCU’s more experimental projects would likely not have happened, and popular charters missing from the MCU for years would have more appearances.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe would have unfolded very differently if it adhered to Disney’s new release plans for the MCU, with Phase 4 in particular featuring some very different installments. The MCU timeline has been evolving through the Multiverse Saga to include new characters from the comics who are less familiar to wider audiences. If Disney’s decision to slow down releases and focus more on established characters and franchises had occurred after Avengers: Endgame, much of the MCU Phase 4 would have looked very different.

Disney’s Bob Iger has announced that Marvel is going to start releasing fewer titles, focusing more on well-known characters with a stronger brand and steering away from introducing new characters into the franchise. This will have drastic consequences for the MCU’s future, greatly shaping the entire franchise and its direction. Interestingly, if this change had occurred earlier, Phase 4 would have featured a very different slate of movies and TV series.

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10 Captain America 4

Instead Of Falcon & The Winter Soldier

Instead of Falcon & the Winter Solder, the MCU would probably have made Captain America 4 sooner. The movie could have followed Chris Evans’ Captain America after Avengers: Endgame as he journeyed through time to replace the Infinity Stones and armed with Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. This would have made a compelling narrative, and a more bombastic conclusion to Captain America’s character arc. On the other hand, with Cap’s perfect ending in Endgame, the franchise could have also jumped straight to Captain America: Brave New World and depicted Sam Wilson assuming the Captain America title much sooner.

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9 Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home Would Still Exist

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Release Date
July 2, 2019

Director
Jon Watts

Cast
Michael Keaton , Tom Holland , Jacob Batalon , Jon Favreau , Zendaya , Samuel L. Jackson , Martin Starr , Marisa Tomei , Cobie Smulders , Jake Gyllenhaal , Tony Revolori , Angourie Rice

As Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most famous and beloved characters with a huge cinematic legacy, Spider-Man: Far From Home is one entrant in Phase 4 that would likely have remained the same. With Mysterio being a long-awaited and beloved Spider-Man villain, including him as a new character would still satisfy the new Disney release plans. However, it would have been less likely that Iron Man would have been killed off so definitely, and as such, Far From Home wouldn’t deal with his death so extensively. However, it could still have introduced Secret Invasion.

8 Secret Invasion

Nick Fury Is A Strong Marvel Brand

Secret Invasion

Release Date
June 21, 2023

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Secret Invasion would likely remain on the MCU’s Phase 4 slate, as Fury is a big name with general audiences. However, it’s less likely that the series would have introduced so many new and ancillary characters, focusing less on the complex political Skrull plot and center Jackson’s performance in an action-packed narrative. It’s also likely that Secret Invasion could have been a movie, as was originally planned, serving as an Avengers sequel. It would have brought the central Avengers team into the narrative and not just Rhodey’s War Machine.

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7 Thor 4

Instead Of Thor: Love And Thunder

Thor looks stoic in full armor in Thor Love and Thunder

Thor 4 would have been a very different movie than Thor: Love and Thunder. First, it would have starred Tom Hiddletson’s Loki in some form, retaining one of the most celebrated aspects of the preceding movies. It would also have less of a preoccupation with introducing Thor’s younger counterpart and providing a fitting farewell. Instead, Thor 4 could haverepeated its predecessors’ success and introduced a key aspect of the upcoming franchise, establishing a vital central element to the new overarching narrative. This could still have included Jane Foster’s turn as the Mighty Thor, exploiting a famed Marvel Comics story.

6 Captain Marvel 2

Instead Of The Marvels

The Marvels' heroes with Dar-Benn and Nick Fury

The Marvels

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Director
Nia DaCosta

Where To Stream
Disney+

Captain Marvel‘s box office success and obvious connection to the Marvel brand make Carol Danvers a strong enough brand to include a sequel in Phase 4. However, it’s less likely to have included Maria Rambeau or Kamala Khan in a manner that set up their own respective narratives and solo projects. Instead, Captain Marvel 2 could havefinished exploring the consequences of Captain Marvel’s rebellion against the Kree, exploring the famed Marvel Comics aliens to a more fitting degree. The narrative could have even established an X-Men connection, utilizing Carol Danvers’ association with Rogue to establish a mutant story.

5 Hulk Not She-Hulk

Instead Of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

Mark Ruffalo's Smart Hulk and Wil Deusner's Skaar at a garden party in She-Hulk Attorney at Law's finale

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Release Date
August 17, 2022

Cast
Ginger Gonzaga , Jon Bass , Josh Segarra , Tatiana Maslany , Tim Roth , Renee Elise Goldsberry , Anais Almonte , Mark Ruffalo , Benedict Wong , Jameela Jamil

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a prime example of an installment that wouldn’t have been made in Phase 4 under Disney’s new release plans. Rather, the MCU would have released a Hulk movie or miniseries – which could have adequately explained the existence of his son, Skaar. A solo Hulk outing has been a conspicuous absence in the MCU owing to complicated character rights with Universal Pictures. Nevertheless, a Hulk movie could depict Hulk’s adventures between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok, setting up the rumored World War Hulk narrative for the MCU’s future.

4 Hawkeye

The Hawkeye Miniseries Would Be Very Different

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton's (Jeremy Renner) Hawkeyes battling the Tracksuit Mafia in Hawkeye

Hawkeye

Release Date
November 24, 2021

Cast
Zahn McClarnon , Fra Fee , Brian D’Arcy James , Hailee Steinfield , Alaqua Cox , Vera Farmiga , Jeremy Renner , Tony Dalton

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Hawkeye‘s general premise of the eponymous Avengers facing the consequences of the Blip and his brutal deeds as Ronin would still constitute a Hawkeye in the MCU’s alternate Phase 4. However, one major difference would have been the prominence of Echo and Kate Bishop, who were both introduced in the series to establish their own narratives and entrants into the franchise. As characters fairly unknown to the wider public, Hawkeye would have instead focused primarily on the hero, perhaps even still reintroducing Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin and positioning him as the primary antagonist in Avengers 5.

3 Doctor Strange 3

A Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness Sequel Would Be Likely

Wong and Doctor Strange in Kamar-Taj in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness

Release Date
May 6, 2022

Cast
Elizabeth Olsen , Michael Stuhlbarg , Benedict Wong , Chiwetel Ejiofor , Xochitl Gomez , Benedict Cumberbatch , Rachel McAdams , Bruce Campbell , John Krasinski , Patrick Stewart , Hayley Atwell , Lashana Lynch , Anson Mount

After the roaring success of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s highly possible that Doctor Strange 3 would have quickly followed, particularly given the movie’s highly consequential narrative to the unfolding Multiverse Saga. Doctor Strange 3 would have been the primary installment to continue the multiverse narrative, finishing Doctor Strange’s unresolved narratives from the first movies – such as Dormmamu seeking his revenge and Baron Mordo’s pledge to rid the world of sorcerers. The movie could have also established Doctor Strange as a fully-fledged member of the Avengers ahead of Avengers 5.

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2 Loki

Loki Would Have Been One Of The Few Disney+ Series

Boastful Loki, Kid Loki, Alligator Loki and Classic Loki in The Void Spliced With Tom Hiddleson as Loki Smiling Bittersweetly

Loki

Release Date
June 11, 2021

Seasons
2

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

As a wildly successful character, it’s probable that Loki would have received his solo series on Disney+. On the other hand, other shows, such as Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and WandaVision would have been less likely. Shows like Hawkeye and Secret Invasion were attempts to shake up the MCU television shows and explore new territory and characters and would have thus been markedly different, leaving only Loki as an established character with a clearly defined narrative trajectory. This could also maintain Loki‘s depiction of the multiverse and alternate timelines, establishing the overarching narrative more firmly.

1 Avengers 5

Every Phase Should End With An Avengers Movie

The Avengers of the MCU's Phase 1 in a poster for the 2012 movie

Until the Multiverse Saga and the introduction of new characters into the MCU, each phase ended with an Avengers movie. It’s probable that an alternative Phase 4 would have ended with another team-up, bringing together the established and surviving characters from the Phase and seeding the overarching narrative for the saga’s conclusion. This could have even constituted the Secret Invasion movie or Avengers: The Kang Dynasty with a more streamlined Multiverse Saga. If the MCU were operating under Disney’s new release policy, the Multiverse Saga would have been very different, including more movies with all of Marvel’s most famous characters.

All of the MCU’s movies and TV shows can be streamed on Disney+

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